Spotlight: LT1 Swapped 1973 Datsun 240Z
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Would you vote for this unique Datsun?
Bart Zandbergen bought a Datsun 240Z specifically because it was the first car he and his wife agreed they both liked. His wife wasn't a fan of his other choices, like Corvettes and Porsches, and it was important to him that she really liked the car that would eventually consume so much of his free time. Beyond the initial approval of the model, the whole family got involved with ideas about the direction of the car. When they came up with a plan, Bart bought his 240Z in 2004 and found it was "blank canvas" when he got it.
After the car got home to the family, there were no major surprises, but he had more work ahead of him than expected. The body panels were not properly aligned, and Bart had to weld and grind material on the leading edges of the doors to fill in the gaps.
After doing a few things, things got serious for the Datsun build. Bart pulled an LT1 engine from a 1994 Camaro Z28 and a T-56 six-speed gearbox to fall into the 240Z. The drive train has been redesigned with a completely overhauled top end with ported and polished heads, a new intake and throttle body, a specially ground camshaft and new roller rockers - the construction now has more than 360 hp rear wheel.
Since that newfound power actually has to come to the ground, the Datsun has independent rear suspension from a 94 Infinity Q45 to handle the increased power and ensure limited slip. While the differential was bolted properly, the axles took more work to get them to bolt.
The gas tank was upgraded with a 2000 Trans Am gas tank with a tank pump to support the engine with fuel injection. Another benefit of the new tank is that Bart was able to fit a real double exhaust under the body of the car without having to redirect the pipes in crazy ways.
With more power, more braking power is needed, so the rear drum brakes were thrown for discs and the front ones were converted to ventilated disc brakes on a Toyota truck. Bart also implemented five wheel hubs from a 280ZX and re-drilled the rear wheels so he could ride much wider wheels. What the car is now rolling are custom-made 17x10 "wheels at the front and 17x12" wheels at the rear. To take the car with you, the suspension was upgraded to use height adjustable coilovers and adjustable front and rear wishbones.
The body includes additional fender vents from a Camaro from the late 1970s, shaved the door handles, added custom vents to a 280Z hood, and put together a one-of-a-kind wide body kit with a custom front air dam, side and rear aprons, rear spoiler. and highly modified torches made by putting two separate kits together. Bart also updated the bumpers to thinner, more streamlined early JDM units with no overriders and no rubber strips around the perimeter.
The interior has been updated with individually painted door cards, individually diamond-stitched headliners, leather seats from an Acura RSX and leather-covered tunnel cover, dashboard and center console. The speedometer and RPM have been replaced with auto meter units, and the auxiliary displays all use electroluminescent panels to ensure that all displays are similar in appearance.
There weren't any big surprises when I got it home, even though it took more work than I expected. All of the body panels weren't that well aligned and I ended up having to weld material on the leading edges of my doors and then sand it back to get the gaps where I wanted them.
"I don't have any future plans right now," says Bart, "but I've already gone through several iterations, including different paint jobs, a bonnet and carbon fiber hatch that I later removed and converted into a wide body." ""
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