Recently, I had the privilege of interviewing another fellow Datsun enthusiast about another awesome car. This one is a little different. I know not all of us here have S30 Z’s, me included, and not all of us have 510’s either, (me also included), so we here at DPAN heard you. And since we have so many cool rides in this community to choose from, we decided to give Darren Power and his 280ZX the limelight. I’ve been aware of… and maybe a little jealous of… the Datsun scene in Australia for a while as I’m sure most of you are. There are so many Datsun’s that are common place there that we can only dream about (unless you have a lot of money or live outside the US.) But when interviewing Mr. Power I realized it goes both ways, sometimes we got the more “desirable” cars. Darren’s car is beautiful, in fact, I can honestly say it’s one of the cleanest best looking, S130 2+2’s I’ve ever seen. This story is about doing the best with what you have available, and that’s exactly what Darren did with his car. Now, without further ado, on to my interview with Darren!
DPAN: So to get started, why don’t you tell me about yourself, what got you into the hobby? Why Datsun’s? What’s your back ground?
Darren: I grew up with an inherent love of cars passed down to me from generation to generation, as long as there has been wheels around someone in my family tree was racing, crashing, hotting up or just plain loving on some mode of transportation. My mates were mechanics growing up, while I started my auto career through the wholesale / trade side of the market, where I have done many things, today I run a branch of Australia’s best wholesaler / importers of the automotive aftermarket, where I live and breathe car parts ..Lol
Now the important questions right? About the car…
DPAN: The one everyone will want to know… why a ZX? And a 2+2 are you crazy!?
Darren: When I was about 12 years old my mother came home with this black bat-mobile which to me at that age looked similar to an e type jag at first glance, but somehow cooler! This was the car I learned how to drive in; this was the car I “borrowed” to go to parties and formals etc.! … I did crash it once … I eventually bought this car from my mum upon her telling me she was buying a new car. At the time I was earning about $130 per week at the age of 17, but luckily she let me pay it off… So it was mine! It took me 12 months, and then the modifications started. Why a 2+2? Well, that’s all we were given here in Australia from Japan, we didn’t have a 2 seater option. It wasn’t until many years later while in L.A that I saw a 2 seater. That argument however is subjective as the North Americans mostly had 2 seaters and some 2+2’s I believe, but we didn’t have any 2 seaters, so to my eye the lines of the 2+2 are really nice and the 2 seaters look a bit stumpy and short. I totally understand, it’s the reverse for the majority of Americans, who seem to be the most vocal about hating on the 2+2 …lol
DPAN: What’s the best part of the car in your opinion?
For me the best part of a 280ZX S130 is the lines of the car especially around long bonnet. The best thing about my car is the feeling I get when I drive it! These cars have given me so many good memories, so many things spark these memories, from the awesome looking dash, to sitting in the car as a kid, pushing the system check button wishing it could speak to you like KIT from Knight Rider, being crammed in the back with my older brother when we went on drives to the coast, having my freedom when I got my license and driving the car. We all know when you first get that freedom to just take off, you really rack up some kilometer’s… Oops sorry “miles” …lol
DPAN: Why did you decide to do the swap?
Darren: After building some big HP cars and very quick Jap cars, all after owning my first ZX. When I searched to purchase this one I wanted to make sure I could make it quick. I started by purchasing any L28ET parts I could find. I had everything ready to go, and then I thought I want more than this engine can give me. I also want more reliability, so I sold off the L28Et gear and purchased a R33 Skyline as a donor to give me the running gear. It is by far more reliable now, but it still sits in standard configuration with 12psi and not much more. The next 12 months should see it gain some goodies to get closer to the HP figure I have in mind.
DPAN: Is there anything you’d change about the build if you could?
Darren: Yes, I want to find some good seats that will fit me in more comfortably, at 6ft 5” I am surprisingly OK for leg room, but I do need to sit lower in the car. The other thing I would have changed is the fabricator I had do the mounting for me, not because he did a bad job, but because he was a knob!…lol. He stuffed me around and let’s just say I had a unpleasant altercation with him.
DPAN: What would you tell someone looking to do a similar build?
Find a good fabricator who can do your engine mounts, gearbox mounts, and custom oil pan. And make sure it is someone that understands your build and communicates with you well. The 280zx worldwide community has been very helpful, but everyone’s build has been done a different way, and although some tips were useful the whole left hand and right drive thing threw a few curve balls into those scenarios.
DPAN: I want to tell you, you have the cleanest 2+2 ZX I’ve ever seen, beautiful car!
Thanks, I appreciate the comment, this car was a track pig when I found it, belly scrapped to buggery and running triple OER carbs, which I could never keep tuned. Cheers mate, and thanks again to DPAN for the interest in my little Z
Link to the build sheet, and specs…
Story by: Logan Neet
Photos courtesy of the owner Darren Power.