Class Act: The Zero-4 Fairlady Z

Medieval writers never wrote original stories. Their tales were always reinterpretations of existing fables, and they never denied the fact.

Today, authors, artists and designers would never get away with simply reinventing the wheel. Fresh ideas, originality and innovation are encouraged in the 21st century. But even new ideas are inspired by existing things because the world around us shapes how we think, including what new ideas we come up with.

When Malcolm Sayer and Jaguar founder Sir William Lyons began to come up with designs for the E-Type, the initial sketches were heavily influenced by fighters such as the Supermarine Spitfire. If you cut off the Spitfire’s long tail, you can easily see how it inspired one of the most beautiful cars ever built – a long nose with a proportionally small cabin set far back, not a straight line or angle in sight.


The Jaguar E-Type instantly became a classic, with Enzo Ferrari himself naming it “the most beautiful car in the world”. It’s understandable, then, that in late 1960 Nissan design chief Yoshihiko Matsuo – with his team of Akio Yoshida and Kumeo Tamura – took inspiration from the E-Type when designing the S30 Fairlady Z/240Z. Just like those medieval writers, imitation is the highest form of flattery.


The owner of this particular S30, Sakamoto-san, also took inspiration from a bygone era. The racing Zs of yesteryear featured amazing livery and aerodynamic features, with flared fenders that became the most imitated street car modification.


Cars like the Bob Sharp Racing 240Z and the No.72 car at Le Mans have been an inspiration for generations, spawning countless silhouette racers around the world. But in more recent times, achieving a racing look with your classic Z has become much easier thanks to visionaries like Kei Miura. Sakamoto-san used a combination of Miura’s Rocket Bunny Pandem kit (modified) and Zero-4 parts (his own tuning product line) on his S30, adding a lot more width to the Z and making room for some extra-wide wheels.


These wheels are machined with four spokes also by Zero-4 that measure 16×9.5 inches up front and a mild 17×12 inch rear. All of them are shod in Toyo Proxes R1R tires, 225/45ZR16 and 245/45ZR17 front and rear, respectively.


But the really cool parts on the car were made by Sakamoto-san himself. Dry carbon front hood, bumper, sunroof, roof and rear trim add lightness to the car, plus plenty of street presence.


Under the long, sleek hood is the L28, which now displaces the 3.0L. This build features forged pistons and connecting rods, a modified crankshaft, and a fully machined cylinder head with big valves and a racing camshaft. With triple Solex 50mm side draft carbs, a custom exhaust and a serious fuel system, it’s a sweet naturally aspirated package.


The engine is mated to a Nismo Reinforced Cross 6-speed gearbox (based on the S15 transmission) via an OS Giken Super Single clutch and turns the rear wheels via a Nissan R200 limited slip differential running a 4.1 final drive.


Looking inside the classic Nissan, a custom aluminum roll cage sits snugly into some modified door cards, which is a nice touch. There’s a Bride Histrix driver’s seat with a TAKATA Racing harness, a Momo Prototipo steering wheel, and Stack gauges to read speed, rpm, fuel level, air/fuel ratio, and oil and water temperature and pressure. Oh, and let’s not forget the old school Denon CD head unit or the upgraded Vintage Air A/C.


Sakamoto-san’s Fairlady Z draws inspiration from cars and designs that span decades, yet manages to maintain an air of class. It just goes to show that if treated right, a timeless design will always last.


Stay tuned because next time we’ll be looking at another classic Nissan that Sakamoto-san has gone under the knife.

Toby Thayer
Instagram _tobinsta_

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