Aardvark’s new shoes – Datsun 350Z build report

It’s been more than three months since I’ve shown you the progress of our Nissan 350Z-powered, 200SX-suspended Datsun 260Z build. Well, as they say around here, slow work takes time. But when it comes to transplanting the heart and limbs of two different animals into a third beast, one really must measure twice before the singular cut.

Rota RBX 9,5" x 17 ET-19
Rota RBX 9,5" x 17 ET-19

As you probably know, building a race car usually starts from the ground up, that is by choosing the tyres that you are likely to run and the rims to mount them to. This is because wheel/tyre choice has a profound effect on everything else, and what you may fit under the arches is usually dictated by the sanctioning bodies.

No such luck/constraint here. In drifting and time attack you can nearly use whatever you find, while in any other established forms of motor racing you are disqualified by the mere idea of mix’n matching together a car from such distinct relatives. So wheel choice got down to issues of taste and practicality. As both the Datsun and the S13 use 4 x 114.3 wheels, and I have my brakes set up for that stud pattern as well, it was decided that we’ll be sticking to that.

300ZX TT brakes
Fat 4 pots with unnecessary spacers

The current front brakes are 280 x 32 mm discs with 4 pot callipers from a 300ZX Twin Turbo, and chances are I’ll keep them for the time being. These require at least 16“ wheels. Diameter-wise 15 inches would suffice, but the fat callipers usually hit the spokes of anything under 16“. As I think that oversized rims with thin-film rubber look rubbish on old school cars, anything above 17“ was ruled out. That’s when I spotted the painfully gorgeous Rota RBX-s in the Driftworks webshop. I’m slightly worried by the immense width and the large offset, but I’ve always been a sucker for shiny fat lips (hi there, Angelina), so I decided that engineering doubts shall be cast aside. We’ll fix that screwed scrub radius later.

200SX rear suspension under old Datsun
200SX rear suspension under old Datsun

While waiting for the wheels, Leslie finished the rear subframe transplant. That was the easy part: after making sure that the subframe is straight and level with the chassis, he cut and modified the Datsun’s rear chassis rails to accept the S13 mounting points, that were plasma cut from a dismantled car’s floorpan. The subframe is installed roughly 2 inches deeper (higher) within the chassis so that the rear suspension arms keep their near stock geometry while the car’s body does get closer to the ground. This way you can lower a car without making the control arms point up too steeply, which usually hurts handling.

Fattened Datsun with Rotas
Wide waist + widened panels + flares = nearly wide enough

Then the wheels came. Then I came, for they are mind-boggingly beautiful. Then we trial-fitted them, and realised that the custom fiberglass widebody rear quarter panels were not nearly wide enough. Then I ordered a set of ZG flares, to fit over the widened over-fenders. Those finally covered the rears. Sort of. Almost. And so it happened that I ended up with a chopped up Datsun as wide as a 911 GT2. You just gotta love that.

Rear end to show the width
And those aren't even the Rotas. Add 1 inches on each side for those. The ugly bar belongs to the rotisserie.

9 thoughts on “Aardvark’s new shoes – Datsun 350Z build report

  1. Pingback: One of the most beutifull drift cars ever ?
  2. Ive got a 73 240z and wanted the same size wheel with lower profile tire 45-40. What are the dimensions of those tires? I’ve been doing this kind of body work for over thirty years; I do things a little different in the measuring department but I like the over all look. Measure twice and even three times, but cut only once… You are exactly right about the stance and desired end result, I like it. I plan on running the Gnose and wide body, need wheels need wheels, needs wheels.

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