DPAN: Hey Steven, can you tell us a little about yourself for our readers?
Steven: My name is Steven Oe, I’m from Diamond Bar, CA. I work in education and drive a 1973 Datsun 240Z.
DPAN: Perfect, so what got you into Datsuns, and why the 240Z?
Steven: I have always been a fan of Datsuns mainly 510’s. I had a buddy who picked up a one owner 510 with red interior back in the early 2000’s. I always tried to convince him to sell it to me but he refused. After looking through adds for 510’s for sale and aftermarket parts back in 07’/08’ I came across Z’s and eventually started getting more and more interested in them. After watching YouTube videos of Z’s ripping through the streets and canyons I really started telling myself I needed one. That started me down the rabbit hole and I started looking into aftermarkets parts and going through forums trying to gather as much information possible.
DPAN: Very cool. It seems like people are interested in Z’s first and then 510’s later, It’s cool to hear it was the reverse for you. So tell us about how you came to own this particular car?
Steven: Fast-forward about 10 years later, I was talking to my wife one night and mentioned that I really wanted to buy a Z, (which she already knew), that’s when she finally gave me the “thumbs up” to start looking. It took me a couple months of looking through Craigslist ads and Facebook Marketplace to find one that fit the criteria that I was looking for. I eventually found one out in Eastvale, CA. The car was owned by a college student who had only had it for about 6 months and he had picked it up from guy in Arizona. It was definitely in rough shape in the beginning, but it ran and interior was intact. It eventually sat in my garage for about a month while I figured out the best way to start this new project and waited for parts to arrive. For the next year I dumped a whole bunch of time and money in it to get it where it is today.
DPAN: Haha, happy wife happy life right? So what is it that makes the Z special to you?
Steven: The Z gives off a very nostalgic vibe and the rawness of the car is what gets me. It seems that no matter what shape it is in people who grew up during that time tend to gravitate towards the car and reminisce about the time they had one or a family member had one.
DPAN: Your car and Nino’s are obviously very different, while his is so clean I think I’d be afraid to drive it, yours looks like a blast to drive, it looks very purpose built. The engine on the stand in a few of your Instagram pictures makes it pretty clear that you have a definite purpose and direction for this car, can you tell us more about that?
Steven: The great thing about Z owners is the fact they already have an idea of what they want their car to represent. Even though we may have similar ideas every Z is different and represents the person that owns it. Yeah, Nino’s car is on a totally different level when it comes to a build, but the great thing about his car is the fact he is not afraid to drive it. I think that’s what all Z owners strive to go for; a car that people will stop to admire, but also a car that is driven and appreciated. With my build it is very much in the beginning stages and still has a lot more that needs to be done. I have gone back n’ forth for the past year figuring out what direction I wanted to go with the build. I think I have finally come to the point where I can say it’s time to make those changes, as you can see by some of my Instagram posts I have been hoarding and collecting parts for the past year. I definitely have big plans for the car this coming year. It will be sent to Uncle Gene at Finishcoat for body and paint, it will then get a new motor, suspension and interior. I want the car to standout but I also want the car to be functional. You’re dealing with a car that is almost 50 years old, so updating and upgrading is key to longevity for these cars.
DPAN: That’s very true. Wow, we can’t wait to see the car when it’s done! The car is obviously beautiful as is, but as you have made clear you will be taking it a step further, would you mind going into a little more detail about those future plans?
Steven: I get that a lot from people, they like the car and how it currently stands because of the imperfections, it gives the car character. As for the future plans the car will be torn down completely. The motor and tranny will come out, the interior fully gutted and then sent off to my uncle to paint. He just moved here from Chicago and has 30+ years in the industry so I have been waiting for him to get settled before sending my car over to him. The plan is to paint the car Millennium Jade from the R34 skyline. Then I’ll be swapping in a built L28 (well 2.9 now) and a new tranny. The car will get an R180 Diff out of a 04/05 Subaru STI and the suspension fully redone. Lastly I’ll be looking into a half cage set-up.
DPAN: Sounds amazing, loving the color choice! So, how did you and Nino meet?
Steven: We actually met at our local Cars and Coffee in Diamond Bar. I did not see any Z’s around my area, so I assumed I was the only one that had one. I soon came to realize that when you have a Z it’s only a matter of time until you start seeing and meeting more and more people with them. We connected at the show and started talking about our cars, the current state that they are in, and our future plans. The thing about Nino is that when he does something he does not do it half assed which I appreciate, he gives 100% in everything that he does and I see why he is well known locally in the Z community. You can tell by just by how much detail he has put into his build. We have a running joke that every time we hangout or talk it cost us $1000.00 because we are always talking about and looking for parts that you don’t normally see here in the states on Z’s. Nino has definitely dropped a lot of knowledge and he’s very quick to lend a hand if needed. He has also introduced me to a lot of great people in the Datsun community which I definitely appreciate.
DPAN: Very cool. I think we can all relate similar experiences of friendships forged out of love of Datsuns and this awesome community. Thanks for talking with us about your awesome car. We look forward to seeing what your Z becomes, but we also have to ask; Do you have any other current or future projects you’d like to build?
Steven: I would love to build a 510 wagon, Datsun 620 and/or a late 70’s Toyota Cressida Wagon. Just have to figure out how I can justify that to the wife. LOL
DPAN; Awesome, we will definitely be checking back in and haha, again, happy wife happy life.
DPAN: Well Nino, it’s your turn to talk about your Z. One look at your IG account and it’s pretty clear you’re dedicated to Datsun’s. Can you tell us about yourself and what you do?
Nino: I’ve always been into all kinds of cars, I’ve owned a Nissan Se-R, 1st Gen MR2, Miata, BMW M5 etc, but I’ve always been a Nissan guy. I took around an 18 year break from the car scene, when I got back into it I got into the older cars I’m kinda old now hahaha… so I’m from the era of Battle of the Imports, Hot Import Nights, Turbo and Sport Compact magazine, the street races at Milliken in Ontario and Compton… It was a more grassroots era for import cars when I was in it. That was around 1992 up to 1998 then I took a long break from it and got back in it around 2016.
DPAN: Very cool back story, I have to say I love the style of your Z, it’s exactly how I would do one. It has all the right vintage touches. How did you get into Datsun’s and Z’s specifically?
Nino: After my long break from cars, I got a BMW F10 M5 and I did KWV3 suspension and wheels. When it was time to do the engine I popped the hood and it was so crammed, there was just no room to work in there. Also there wasn’t much else to do to it as the car had more than enough power already. So I started getting bored and started looking for cars, I’ve always wanted a Datsun 510, I always liked sleeper sedans so I wanted a 4 door. My friend of 25 plus years had a 72 240Z and it started catching my eye so I switched from looking for a 510 to a 240Z. Once I found a Z another buddy of mine suggested I make an Instagram account just for the car so I could document the progress.
DPAN: How did you find this particular car, what’s the story behind it?
Nino: I looked for a while, it was hard because I wanted an early 70 car. The guy selling it got it from his grandfather who owned it since the late 70’s. He was working on his main project car which was a 68 Camaro and decided to sell the Z to fund that project. The Z was an abandoned project for him, it was torn down and he had lost pretty much all the interior pieces, trims, badges etc.
DPAN: Wow sound like it was a rough start, there has to be something about this car that makes it special to you?
Nino: The fact that it is old. It takes me back to my younger days when I was working on my cars at my friends’ shops. I like the vintage scene better since owners tend to do the actual work on their own cars. So when you go to car meets and shows and make friends with other Z owners there’s a wealth of information, of tips and tricks because of the lessons they learned by actually wrenching on their own cars. I didn’t see much of this in the euro scene where most of the time its an ECU tune, or piggy back, or upgraded turbos but they are mostly done by shops. I’m a tinkerer and I also wanted to get away from the world of fuel injection and check engine lights etc.
DPAN: I couldn’t agree more. We love details here at DPAN and your car is full of them, and anyone who knows what they’re looking at knows you spared no expense on this car… that Falcon wheel.. anyway, what are your favorite details on this car, or parts that were hardest to find?
Nino: There’s a few details I like. The Datsun Competition Mikuni 44phh carbs are a hard item to find. I actually did not know they were comp carbs until 2 years later, I just thought they were standard 44s. I love the sound and simplicity of the carbs. The Autolook seats from the early 80s is another thing that took me almost 2 years to find a pair in good shape. The Devil Shadow wheels took about 3 years to find. The two knob rally clock is also another rare hard to find piece that I like.
DPAN: Definitely some amazing details and pieces. Your car is a series one, the holy grail of attainable S30’s, was that always your plan to build an early car, and if so why?
Nino: Yes, that was the plan. I just figured if I was going to invest time and money into a car, I needed to start with a car that’s deserving. There was less series one cars produced and there’s details on the early cars that I just fell in love with.
DPAN: Well the car is beautiful as is, but do you have any future plans?
Nino: Yes, its never done. I got the HKS surge tank I plan to install along with an E31 head that’s been ported and fitted with bigger valves. Mostly engine work is what’s next, the plan is to keep the matching number original L24 engine in it, stay carburated and do a blow thru set up with the HKS tank. I’ve also always wanted to build a 3.1-3.2 stroker and I have been slowly buying parts to build one, but that really might need to go on another Z. After the engine stuff… I’ll just drive the car, get more rock chips in the canyons and maybe do a glass out color change in 3 or 4 years.
DPAN: Sound like it will be even more of a beast! Do you have any other projects in the shop.. or Datsun’s you’d like to do in the future?
Nino: I just finished wiring my friends ITB and ECU on his 73 240Z, I have a 73 Celica that’s still on hold and a 93 Miata. There’s a ton of cars I still want to do like a KP61, its a long list. There’s always cars here in the garage being worked on.
DPAN: Thanks a lot for taking the time to talk with us. We look forward to seeing your future plans for the Z come to reality and the other awesome cars we’re sure will come out of your shop in the future!
Snaps by Jesse Hernandez
Words by Logan Neet