1973 Datsun 240Z (S30) – In Memoriam


The idea of fate is a very interesting concept. The idea that some sort of higher power controls how our lives pan out can be comforting at times. Sometimes things come together in a way that just works in the grand scheme of things , although logically it may not make sense. Perhaps this illusion of fate can be credited to your own persistence and hard work, a factor that is easy to overlook from a first person perspective. As the saying goes: Fortune favors the brave. The events leading up to the purchase and build of this breathtaking ’73 Datsun 240Z might just be considered destiny.

CA, Andrew Wong was surrounded by cars, as a young boy growing up in San Gabriel Valley. Living in the very heart of where the exciting new import car culture was taking off, seeing fixed-up Civics, Integras, and Eclipses was a daily occurrence for him. Somehow this wasn’t as exciting to him as it was to his friends, these cars just weren’t for him. His mild interest for cars didn’t show any signs of developing until he joined a racing team in high school, which sounds typical enough for a California resident in the mid ’90s-except this racing didn’t involve engines. Andrew had joined his high school’s solar-powered car racing team. As a part of this team, he helped design and build an electric solar-powered car that would go on to compete in a national championship. During his time with the team, his passion for all things mechanical blossomed, guided by his teacher’s emphasis on the importance of light weight and handlingefficiency and reliability of fuel injection. The gears started turning in his head, the insatiable need for this car growing by the minute. He was absolutely convinced that he would own his very own Z car, and have Vildini perform the engine transplant.

Around the time Andrew graduated from The Culinary Institute of America, his father’s health had been declining. His family decided to make the move to Northern California to be closer to a doctor who specialized in his father’s illness. From the day he first saw the 240Z on the road, Andrew knew that he wanted to share the experience of owning and building the Datsun with his father. After countless nights of searching the Internet together for more information and photosUsually buying a car 400 miles away is something that most people try to get over with as quickly and efficiently as possible, but Andrew wanted his father to share the experience of finally purchasing his dream car with him. They decided to make a family trip out for the occasion. When they reached Los Angeles the day before the meeting with the seller Andrew’s father became sick. They spent the next two days in the hospital. Andrew contacted the seller to explain the situation, but (understandably) the seller assumed that Andrew was simply flaking on the deal; at this point the car was the furthest thing from Andrew’s concerns. Once his father’s condition stabilized he told Andrew that as they were already in SoCal it might be worthwhile to at least see the car. The car was exactly as it had been described, well taken care of with a quality engine transplant, a perfect starting point. The sale was finalized.

Back in San Francisco, Andrew resumed his daily routine as a chef for a high-end restaurant and the 240Z became his daily driver. Working long hours prevented him from doing any real work to the car. Still, while the car was a blast to drive even on stock suspension, Andrew caught the modification bug and sourced new parts for the car. While browsing local Z and listings forums, he came across a set of Watanabe R-Types that would suit his needs perfectly. When purchasing the wheels the seller identified himself as the owner of Vildini Motorsports; these were the exact set that he had seen at Super GT. At this point there was no turning back. Now that he owned the wheels from the car that had set him on this path years ago, he was determined to see the car that he had envisioned take form before his eyes. It’s no secret that one of the most important additions to a project car is another car, a daily driver. Andrew understood this completely and started his search for a suitable commuter, finally deciding on a first-generation Mazda Miata. Now that the Z was relieved of its daily driver duties, it was dropped off at the body shop for a fresh coat of Dodge Candy Red paint. Andrew relocated back to SoCal for work, as soon as the car was back from the body shop.coilovers and Wilwood brakes. Every bit of rust was removed from the car, the underside of the body was sprayed with an insulated coating, and the rest of the car was resprayed. After one year away from his car, Andrew was finally back in the driver seat of his prized 240Z. The hunger for power is one that is rarely satisfied, even though a stock SR20DET is more than enough power in a 2,000-pound car. To feed this desire, Andrew replaced the original exhaust manifold with a Tomei piece and the intake manifold with a Greddy part, improving flow and response. A Greddy turbo elbow directs exhaust gases out of the turbine into a custom stainless steel turbo-back exhaust system crafted by Vildini Motorsports.

Andrew grew up in a family who drove only Nissans. He shared with us that his father had a very strong influence on his automotive tastes, so it comes as no surprise that he chose the S30 Z platform as the canvas for his masterpiece. Despite facing hardships in his life, Andrew saw the potential of this car and made a commitment to complete it. The decision to start the project when he did stemmed from the fact that Andrew knew he wanted his father to be as involved as possible in the build before he died. This has led to his strong connection with the car, which was essentially built to honor the memory of his father. Andrew considered parting ways with the car at times when the emotional connection may have become too much, but now it serves as a reminder of what his father taught him. Andrew plans to continue building the car, because as we all know, a true project car is never completely finished.