The Datsun 240z: Collectors Era

By | August 12, 2015

I’ve always been fond the nostalgic Japanese cars.  Partly because they are about the only “classic” cars I can afford, partly because I see their future value, and mostly because the Japanese just do things right — unless we’re talking bosozoku… that’s just weird.

Honda CRX Si

I got my first taste of future Japanese classic metal when I purchased a 1989 Honda CRX Si.  It was an Arizona car which meant no rust but also no paint — and destroyed weather stripping.  I cared less what the car looked like because it had the venerable B16 DOHC VTEC under the hood.  With Megan Racing headers & exhaust, and a nicely weighted Skunk 2 short shifter my CRX was anything but boring.  I very much enjoyed surprising Mustang GT’s and 350z’s at the stop lights.

The CRX was a gem and Honda’s have a special place in my heart, however, down deep I’m a Z guy.  The 350z came out when I was in high school and the 300zx Twin Turbo has always been a bucket list car of mine.  I was in the market for a clean low mileage 300zx Twin Turbo when I stumbled across a series 1 Datsun 240z on eBay.  We’re talking the father of Japanese sports cars (I don’t count the Toyota 2000GT because of it’s rarity and insane price tag).  It was essentially a one owner, had very little rust, and it was a numbers matching original… minus a repaint to a different color.  I bought it, flew to California and drove it 600 miles home.  In those 600 miles my first Z car worked its way into my soul and I knew that I’d be a Z guy forever.  I still have my 1st Z and drive it regularly.

Datsun 240z

Last week, I was cruising craigslist for 240z’s.  It’s a regular ritual for me as their values are skyrocketing and 2015 is widely considered to be the last year to pick up the early Z’s for under $10,000 in good condition.  I read an article by Hemming’s that said “The Japanese bullet train is leaving the station”, I would agree.  I was on my way back from a business trip in Northern Idaho and as fate would have it, a series 1 240z had been posted on Craiglist that night in the town I was staying in.  For the condition that the car appeared to be in, the price seemed almost too good to be true.  I called on it immediately.  The next morning I went and met the owner and drove the car.  The Z was white, its original color, with a blue interior — one of the most rare combos in a series 1 240z.  The owner was 87-years-old, had brought the car up from California where it has spent its entire existence and he was just the second owner.  In the glove box I found the original owners manual, pink slip, and warranty book with the original owners signatures and address.  The interior was perfect and everything worked… including the clock and those almost never work.  The car was wearing an older repaint of its original color and it was holding up great, it never sat outside.  The sole red flag; on our test drive the differential started emitting sounds similar to that of marbles in a blender.  Honestly, I didn’t care.  I bought the car on the spot, rented a car hauler from U-haul and pulled that baby home.

Series 1 240z After getting her home I discovered no fluid in the rear end and some metal shavings.  After a good flush, some fresh Royal Purple 75W90, and a friction modifier called Archoil I got the Z back on the road.  The diff is definitely damaged but she’s driveable and the more I drive it the quieter it seems to get.

So now I’ve got two Z cars.  Both are numbers matching series 1 240z’s.  I’ve already turned down an offer for my 1st one that was what I paid for the second, regardless of the fact that it’s not nearly as cherry.  I’ve considered going to rehabilitation but I don’t want it.  The 240z is my unicorn.  I’m no sailor but if I was the sirens would sound like an L-series straight six with glass packs.  Sure, my garage is seriously crammed, the Z’s are parked the wrong direction, and I have to do a 6 point turn to get them out but I think they are money in the bank.  The 240z is the car that made Nissan relevant as a brand in the USA, they are widely regarded as the every man’s E-Type, they were legendary at the race track, and they are one of the most gorgeous cars every penned.

Datsun 240z's

This is me telling you to buy a good Z before all the good ones are snatched up for an affordable price.  “I bought a Z car and regretted it”, said no one, ever.  Even that guy in the weird Japanese film called “Devil Z” couldn’t get over it after wrecking it three times.  The Z bug will get you.

 

Racing Blip: 2015 Continental Tire Road Race Showcase

By | August 9, 2015

No. 01 Ford EcoBoost DP

No. 01 Ford EcoBoost DP

Racing Blip: 2015 Continental Tire Road Race Showcase

Heading south from Green Bay, Wisconsin, for about 80 minutes, you’ll come across Road America in Elkhart Lake. One of the oldest, still functioning, race tracks in the United States. This scenic track is the setting for the latest round of IMSA/TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.

With race week practice sessions being hampered by rain, not all the teams and drivers had all the time needed to really “dail-in” their cars on the 4.048 mile track.

Here’s a brief rundown on what to watch for on today’s race:

Joey Hand piloted the No. 01 Ford EcoBoost Riley DP to their first pole of the season, 0.5 seconds ahead of the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP. As what seems to be typical, the P2 cars – er – car appears to struggle to keep the pace of the DP cars. The No. 60 MSR Ligier JS P2 Honda qualified 5th, 1.05 seconds behind. We won’t talk about how poorly the Mazda Prototype machines did.

As seems to be the case, GTLM still brings about the excitement. Porsche North America’s No. 912 set a blistering qualifying lap time of 2:02.384. A new track record by the New Zealander, Earl Bamber. Following closely behind was the No. 3 Corvette Racing C7.R driven by Antonio Garcia.

Expect this to be a solid battle across the board. Road America offers plenty of staigtways that favor the larger displaced engines to really BREATH, yet many twists and turns for the smaller and more nimble cars to showcase their strengths!

How to watch?

Best to head over to IMSA’s site for streaming and TV broadcasts.

Always, here’s the spotter’s guide.

Race starts at 3:05 ET.

Or catch it later on IMSA’s YouTube channel.

[photo | IMSA]

Racing Blip: 2015 Northeast Grand Prix

By | July 24, 2015

No. 85 JDC Miller MotorSports

No. 85 JDC Miller MotorSports

With 5 stops remaining in the season, the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship rolls into picturesque Connecticut for the 2015 Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park. This stop, the only classes running are the Prototype Challenge (PC) and GT Daytona (GTD) cars.

Today’s qualifying, on this short 1.474 miles track, had it’s share of excitement. In GTD class, 0.009 seconds separate the pole sitting, No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Audi R8 LMS and the 2nd place No. 33 Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper SRT piloted by Ben Keating!!

Qualifying in PC was cut a bit short due to the No. 16 BAR1 Motorsports car spinning out and smacking into the guard rails causing a red flag. At the end of the abbreviated session, less then 1.5 seconds separate the pole sitting No. 85 JDC Miller MotorSports car and the fifth place No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports car.

Despite the smaller amount of cars running, Saturday’s 2 hour 40 minute race should provide some solid entertainment!

You can catch the live stream on IMSA’s iOS/Android app or their website. The race starts at 3:15pm ET this Saturday (7/25). Or catch the re-broadcast on Fox Sports 1, starting at 5pm ET on July 26h.

The every handy spotters guide.

[photo | IMSA]

Racing Blip: 2015 Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park

By | July 12, 2015

Wayne Taylor Racing No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP

Wayne Taylor Racing No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP

Welcome to the 7th stop of this year’s IMSA/TUDOR season. The 2015 Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix. Taking the quick jaunt from wooded beauty of Watkins Glen, to the wooded beauty of Canadian Tire Motorsport Park – formally MoSport.

At this stop, only the Prototypes, Prototype Challenge, and GTLM classes will be running.

A couple of quick items about the Prototype class this race. Mazda is only running one of its two cars for this race. Earlier this week, the No. 70 was tested at CTMP with an AER gasoline engine. Rumor has it the Mazda LMP2 cars will be swapping out the the 60% stock SkyActiv Diesel engines with AER supplied power plants. Looks like the test bed has run its course.

Ricky Taylor, in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP, became the first two-time pole sitter of the season. The last time Ricky Taylor earned pole was back in Long Beach.

Lastly, there’s 1.02 seconds separating the top 6 P-classed cars. If the DPs don’t walk away near the beginning of the race, it should prove to a be a decent battle between DPs and LMP2 cars.

And speaking of repeat pole winners, Porsche North America’s, and recent Le Mans overall winner, Nick Tandy took the top honors in the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR in the GTLM class on Saturday. For those keeping track, this ends the streak at 16 unique pole winners in GTLM since the beginning of this series. And hot on Tandy’s heels is the No. 25 BMW Z4 GTE, piloted by Dirk Werner, by a scant 0.028 seconds! The whole GTLM class is separated by less then 0.8 seconds! Beating a dead horse, GTLM is still some of the best racing out there!

The race starts 12:05pm ET today (Sunday, July 12th). How to watch?

Head on over to IMSA’s website for the details and various live streams.

As always, the handy spotters guide.

And for your viewing pleasure, IMSA’s preview of the race is embedded below


[photo | mike gillilan]

 

Racing Blip: 2015 Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen

By | June 28, 2015

No. 5 Action Express Racing

No. 5 Action Express Racing

With many teams just getting back to the USofA from Le Mans, it’s a quick turn around for the 2015 episode of the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen. This is also round 3 of the Tequila Patón North Endurance Cup.

Now, I should be talking about what happened at qualifying on Saturday. My take on how the “Balance of Performance” is working out and what tweaks IMSA has made. How the Daytona Prototype cars are still a bit too fast and how the P2 cars seem to be pushed to the back. How great the racing is in GTLM and in a surprise for me, how I’m starting to enjoy PC racing.

BUT, The Glen being “The GLEN”, rain..rain..and MORE rain. So much so, IMSA canceled qualifying.

So, the starting grid for today’s race will be based on team points with the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype will starting from pole. The No. 54 CORE Autosport Oreca FLM09 will lead PC filed. In GTLM, Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia in Corvette Racing’s No. 3 Corvette C7.R will lead in their class. Lastly, No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Audi R8 will lead GTD class.

How to watch the race?

Easiest thing is head over to IMSA’s website for the various ways to watch the 6 hours of the race. Green flag drops at 10am ET this morning.

And of course, the ever handy spotters guide.

[photo | IMSA]

Hot Rod Power Tour: Day 7

By | June 13, 2015

The SEMA Crew

In seven days our group of SEMA Young Executives have traveled over 1,500 miles (some much farther), crossed 7 state lines, and networked with 100′s of young professionals and enthusiasts.  We’ve braved hail, flash flood warnings, and even tornados.  Most importantly, we have shown our commitment to the SEMA cause and the industry that is our passion.

Forbes magazine did a study a number of years ago on how people felt about what they do for a living.  According to their study, there are three options in earning a living.  There are those that have jobs, those with careers, and those with callings.  24% of employed people have a job… in other words they don’t look forward to going to work everyday, they hate it.  63% have a career — it’s just a means to an end, nothing special.  13% have a calling, they love their job, they feel like they are benefiting others and themselves, and what they do each day brings them joy.  I can honestly say that I fall within the 13%.  It took several years to get there but I love what I do and it doesn’t seem like work.

C7 Corvette Stingray

The automotive aftermarket is a diverse workplace.  Our team this week met with entrepreneurs, sales people, engineers, marketers, technicians, photographers, and a variety of other professionals.  All under the umbrella of the automotive industry.  At SEMA, we focus on the specialty side.  SEMA member companies specialize in developing, distributing, selling, and installing products that make vehicles look, sound, and perform better.  America has had a love affair with the automobile since its invention and the annual Hot Rod Power Tour is proof that that passion is still going strong.  An average of 3,500 cars made the long haul trip this year from Madison, WI to Baton Rouge, LA with thousands more that joined us throughout the trip.  Each car had a story and the variety of vehicles on the trip was staggering.  Resto-mods, street rods, 4×4′s, classic trucks, sport compacts, modern muscle, rat rods, you name it.

Throughout our trip we met individuals that worked in the industry but didn’t know how to break into the aftermarket.  We met young enthusiasts that didn’t know where to even start looking to get into the industry, and we met folks that didn’t think it would be a possibility.  We know there are skilled people out there and it’s our goal to connect those ambitious people with a network of young professionals who are looking to grow and ensure the success of our industries future.  We also know that there are people out there that don’t think they’d be able to get into the automotive aftermarket and don’t have a clue of where to start.  That is why we spent time at several different trade schools.  The students need to see that we’ve made it and they can too.

IMG_4381

A fresh new group of SEMA Young Executives will be selected next year for the tour and they’ll be on a new route to spread the good gospel of how great the automotive industry is and what opportunities are available.

On our final day of the trip we headed West from Gulf Port, Mississippi en route to Baron Rouge, Louisiana.  Our group of five vehicles nearly made it the entire trip without so much as a hiccup.  After going through a heavy rain storm soon after entering Louisiana, Tim Brueggemann’s starter engaged and hung up on the flywheel.  By the time he’d gotten it powered down the teeth teeth on the starter were no more.  Thankfully the F100 is a standard and we were able to push start it the rest of the day.

IMG_4391

As we all travel our separate ways, back to Idaho, California, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee; we’ll all head back to the office on Monday.  The difference is, this Monday we’ll have a hand full of life long friends and connections that we didn’t have before and we all have a renewed fire to help make our industry better.