Read to the end for the big news!

 

 

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Hey DPAN, It’s been a while. Remember Project Panama? Anyone? If you do, you probably thought it was dead by now, totally understandable. Well, it’s definitely not. This build has been much like my wife and I’s life living in a foreign country, a roller coaster. Just a quick recap if you haven’t followed along. Two years ago we decided two sell our 3 Datsun’s, and everything we own to move to Panama and experience a different kind of life. Not long after we got settled a good friend of mine and co-founder of this fine Datsun community, Isaiah Taylor and I hatched a plan for an international project car. The idea was to get your input (yeah you), and sponsor support to build a car that would further put Datsun’s on the map. We had a few failed attempts in the beginning with a couple 510’s that were just too… dead (see previous chapters). But finally after moving to a small town in the Panama mountains along the Costa Rican border I found something interesting. It was a 1972 Datsun 1200 wagon, being driven by a bearded, older, chain-smoking, hardly Panamanian looking man who we later found out had a reputation in the whole area for being a pathological liar. We were fortunate he didn’t rip us off, and he almost did. The car was rough, and unreliable and it was our only car. It left us stranded so much, I lost count of all the times the strong desire to light it on fire and watch it burn crept up into my mind. But with months of work, it was running good and usable. About this time my wife and I revived some bad news, the government had changed the rules on tourist visas literally over night. We were no longer legally able to make border runs and now us and many other expats were forced to leave or apply for permanent residency. Not being able to afford the almost $5,000 that was going to cost, we had a decision to make. But enough about us, you’re here for the car right? Well… that was a big decision too, we couldn’t take it with us and we didn’t want this project to die. That’s when DPAN agreed to buy the car and ship it home. It was a win for everyone, and now the car would be stateside and much easier for a DPAN build, and I would still get to see the picture I have in my head come to life. But like everything here it wasn’t that easy. After a few days of searching, I quickly realized that even though this was one of the busiest shipping countries in the world, getting a car shipped to the states was nearly impossible. No company called me back, no one wanted to take it on. Until we met Steve. Steve is Texan living here and running a hardwoods and shipping business and he was the only one crazy enough to take on the challenge, we didn’t see eye to eye at first but Steve has become an irreplaceable asset to this project. Of course it helped that he used to restore Ferrari’s and Porsche’s and had an appreciation for old hunks of metal. The paperwork hoops one has to jump through to get this kind of thing done is unreal and many times we thought it was over. As it turns out, this had never been done before in the country of Panama and there was not really any exact process for how it should be done. We learned that the title needed to be sent to Panama City for them to check the history of the car and then send back a special export title, taking the car out of the Panamanian system. As it turned out, the car was so old there was no longer a history of it ever existing in Panama. Because of this there was no way to prove it’s history, whether it was stolen or if anything was owed on it. Steve called me from the Aduana building (government office) in David with this new news, he was agitated not knowing what would happen at this point. The agent told him that he would have to file for permission to export the car with the capitol and provide pictures. Then it got really interesting… I sent him some recent photos of the car and he showed them to the official who imminently said “I know that car! That was my cousin’s car! He painted it green!” Just so you know how amazing this was, if that particular agent had not been there at that time on that particular day, he could not have vouched for the history of the car to the government and the project would’ve been dead. Now with most of the drama out of the way, the car will go to inspection early next month and be on the ship to a port in Texas by the end of it. That is IF the inspection goes without a hitch…

But now for the big news, what are the plans? I am very happy to announce that we have been able to bring some very talented people in on the project. The car will hang out with Isaiah in Indianapolis for a while and then head out to Bill Brinkworth’s shop on the west coast for the restoration work. The car will be getting a custom Brinkworth kit designed by myself and rendered by Steve Wishman of Datsuncrush. This will hopefully be the first ever true Hakotora wagon, using an actual Sunny wagon as a donor. The kit will be like nothing else on the market. The goal for the car is classic, clean and aggressive. Will we be keeping the old A-series? Nope. With the wide kit and overall look we’re going for that just wouldn’t do. The current plan is to stuff a VH45DE under the hood, providing that classic hot-rod v8 sound while remaining pure Nissan. If all goes to plan you’ll see the car at SEMA. We’re extremely excited about all of this and we hope the group is too. But… I digress, we still need to get this thing out of Panama. As always, we’ll keep you updated!

 

 

 

 

Oh.. and you might be wondering what happened to us, are we coming home too? No, we’re now in Mexico. Look forward to a new Mexican Datsun project in the future…

 

Words by; Logan Neet

 

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