Ford V8-powered 1976 Datsun 260Z

A Japanese car painted a Holden colour and with a Ford engine? For his Datsun 260Z rebuild, Tony Moit reckoned: Why the hell not?

Datsun 260Z
Gallery26

SYDNEY’S Tony Moit is around five years younger than his brother Michael, who owns the mental WOG-007 Cortina we featured in the SM Yearbook 2020. Tony spent his teenage years tagging along with Michael as he immersed himself in the 1980s hot car and street racing scene, so it’s not entirely surprising that he was keen to get into a tough ride as soon as possible – even before he got his licence. But the car he chose was a little out of the ordinary.

First published in the April 2021 issue of Street Machine

“Everyone was doing Cortinas and Capris, and I wanted something different,” Tony recalls. “I found this 260Z sitting in some overgrown grass with a blown motor and gearbox and asked the owner if they wanted to sell it to me. When they said yes, I called Bob Pennell and asked him what he could do with it. He said: ‘If you want something different, we can put a 302 Windsor in it and get it engineered.’ As soon as he said that, I bought the car and had Bob do the conversion.”

Street Machine Features Datsun 260 Z Front Angle
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The gorgeous Sting Red paintjob is the work of the very talented Andrew Poole at AWP Classic Restorations. Photos: Ben Hosking

Although the paint left a lot to be desired, the Datsun’s body was in pretty good shape, with minimal rust. “It was an easy car to strip down and repaint,” Tony says. “Back in the day, George from Thornleigh Auto Body Alignment painted it. I used to go down there after work and we would work on the car all night long. We played around with it for about three or four months before he put the paint on, and that paint was on it up until three years ago, when we started this rebuild.”

The Datto was still in fairly good nick even after all that time, but there was a bit of rust in the sills and floorpan that had to be addressed. Once that was sorted, it was time to strip the entire car back and lay on a fresh coat of paint. In the 80s, the car was swathed in Porsche Indischrot, aka Guards Red, a colour that graced many a street machine back then. This time around, though, Tony knew exactly which colour he wanted – Holden’s Sting Red, a very clean and bright shade that suits the car perfectly.

Street Machine Features Datsun 260 Z Front
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Early Z cars are a classic sports car design, and the black bumpers and trim on Tony’s example add to the aggressive look

While the colour may have stayed similar, the overall look of the car has been changed dramatically with the blacking out of all the brightwork. “It was all chrome before – the bumpers, around the windows – so it’s a complete change,” says Tony. In fact, there’s no chrome on the car at all, not even in the engine bay, with just the brushed aluminium of the radiator and bare aluminium engine parts contrasting against the sea of red and black.

The 302 that Bob Pennell built back in the day had stayed in the car for over 30 years, but that has now been retired and a new 347 Windsor was built by Anthony Geha of Geha Race Engines. “Anthony is my best friend; we grew up together, went to the same schools and still catch up weekly,” Tony explains. “He’s known the car from day one – he was our mechanic, though he wasn’t building motors back then.”

Street Machine Features Datsun 260 Z Underside 2
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It took a bit of effort to get the twin system all the way to the back of the car and underneath the IRS. A new fuel tank was also fabricated by Moits Motorcars

What Anthony screwed together is still a Windsor, but it’s been stroked out to 347 cubes using a Scat rotating assembly topped with SRP pistons. The heads are AFR Renegades, while the Edelbrock Performer Air-Gap manifold has Bosch port injection and is topped with an Aeroflow throttlebody. A solid cam with 620thou lift and 256 degrees duration makes all the right noises through the 15/8-inch custom-made headers and tightly packaged twin 2.5-inch exhaust.

The rest of the driveline consists of a C4 built by Protrans and the factory R200 IRS diff, which has been beefed up with an LSD centre and billet Newby axles. Tony admits the diff was always the weak point of the car and it took them about three goes to get it right – and get it to live, given the higher power levels the car now has.

Street Machine Features Datsun 260 Z Engine Bay
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Geha Race Engines built a fresh 347ci Windsor for the Datto that sports a set of Renegade heads and an Aeroflow throttlebody controlled by a Haltech Elite 950 ECU

Without doubt, the most obvious change to this 260Z is the wheels. The car has worn several different wheel and tyre combos over the years, but this time around Tony settled on an absolutely classic look with the fitment of 17-inch Watanabe eight-spoke rims. They’re an iconic wheel in the JDM scene, although traditionally people would run 14s; that’s not really possible though when you’re running a giant set of Wilwood brakes on all four corners. The rubber meets the road with a set of Pirelli P7 tyres that measure 205/50 at the front and 245/45 on the rear. A Maddat coil-over strut conversion gets the front down, while lower springs in the rear struts drop the back end down to match. The stance isn’t super-low, but it’s spot-on.

Street Machine Features Datsun 260 Z Interior Front
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The interior has been restored to original; after all, there’s not much you could do to improve on the design

Tony credits Moits Motorcars entirely for the quality and direction of the build, especially Glenn Davies and Bill ‘Perko’ Perkovski. Glenn was the main man behind the fabrication work, especially the new fuel tank, which replaces the old one that looked more like a Torana drop tank. Perko took care of the final fit-up and making everything, especially in the engine bay, as neat as a pin.

“It’s finished better than what I ever thought it was going to be; I didn’t think I’d have under the bonnet looking as nice as it does,” Tony says. “Except for the paint colour, they picked all the colours and finishes, the wheels, and really put it together well. She moves now – a lot quicker, a lot tighter, just so much more responsive. You wouldn’t even think you were driving the same car.” Given Tony’s owned this Datto since the 80s, he would know!

Street Machine Features Datsun 260 Z Fat Pizza
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HOT PIZZA

BADWOG gained infamy as Sleek’s pizza delivery car in the highly popular Fat Pizza TV series, making several appearances until it suffered a blown diff. The 260Z was then replaced by a 280ZX two-seater (right) – a very rare car in Australia – which was owned and driven on the show by our mate Simon ‘Gonzo’ Travaglini. He’s got a great story that he may or may not have done a burnout out the front of the Enmore Theatre in Newtown at the premiere screening of the Fat Pizza movie. But this wasn’t just some burnout machine. Simon raced the car regularly, running low 11s naturally aspirated and low 10s with the plate nitrous hooked up. If not for the limitations of the IRS, it may well have gone into the nines!

Street Machine Features Datsun 260 Z Badwog Plate
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TONY MOIT
1976 DATSUN 260Z

Paint: Sting Red

DONK
Type: 347ci Ford Windsor
Inlet: Edelbrock Performer
Induction: Aeroflow throttlebody, Bosch injectors
ECU: Haltech Elite 950
Heads: AFR Renegade
Valves: 2.02in (in), 1.60in (ex)
Cam: Solid, 620thou lift, 256deg duration
Pistons: SRP
Crank: Scat
Conrods: Scat
Radiator: Custom Moits Motorcars
Exhaust: Custom Moits Motorcars, 15/8in primaries, twin 2.5in system
Ignition: MSD

SHIFT
Gearbox: C4 by Protrans
Diff: Nissan R200, KAAZ centre, Newby billet axles

BENEATH
Front: Maddat coil-over strut kit
Rear: Nissan R200 IRS
Steering: Standard rack-and-pinion
Brakes: Wilwood (f & r)

ROLLING STOCK
Rims: Watanabe eight-spoke; 17x7 (f), 17x9 (r)
Rubber: Pirelli P7; 205/50R17 (f), 245/45R17 (r)

THANKS
The boys at Moits Motorcars; Geha Race Engines; AWP Classic Restorations

 

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