The number of JDM fetishists seems to be on the rise and, every now and then, a standout build comes out and spreads the message even further. Well, this 1972 240Z, a street car impersonating an IMSA racer, is one of those presences.
The Nissan S30, which is the original Z car (this was sold in America as the Datsun 240Z) was born in 1969, the same year that saw the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) taking shape. Naturally, the Japanese machine entered the said sports car racing arena, with the IMSA GTU S30s remaining in the memory of many enthusiasts.
As mentioned above, this road-going example impersonates its motorsport sibling, showing extreme levels of dedication. And while the entire project comes with an aura of minimalism, this is one extroverted contraption.
The car first stepped into the light last November at the SEMA show, having been put together by Riko Gutierrez, an enthusiast committed to preaching the Japanese automotive ways of old (more on the man below).
The IMSA cosplay goes deep
Once you manage to look past the uber-vivid paint, which is dubbed Inca Gold and was applied by California-based 24/7 Autobody, you’ll notice the monstrous IMSA-style widebody coming from Ztrix. As for its origins, these take us back to the late 1970s, when the Association’s rules allowed wider rear tires to cope with the meatier power levels, which is how super-super-sized fenders showed up.
And the extreme aero also involves the nose, along with the integrated spoiler, giving the vehicle a fast-while-standing-still look.
However, the ode to motorsport goes well beyond the said elements, as, for one, the headlights are covered. This has also been translated into the cabin, with examples including the NASCAR-style protection bars on the driver’s side (this is a left-hand-drive car), the complex roll cage surrounding the Bride Low Max bucket seat.
Behind that streamlined nose, sits a 280ZX Turbo straight-six that’s been bored to 3.1L by Top End Performance, while featuring a Slover cylinder head. The unit sends its power to the rear wheels via a rebuilt T5 five-speed manual from the same 280ZX Turbo and a limited-slip diff (by the way, have you seen this 280ZX “Home Depot” project?).
The suspension features Tein coilovers, while 18-inch Work Wheels fill those massive arches. Behind them, we have Wilwood brakes, which fortunately don’t have to deal with too much weight.
The 240Z is expected to tip the scales at around 2,200 lbs (1,000 kg), which is why its N/A motor packing 300 horsepower isn’t an issue in this era when you can buy production cars making three times or more power than that—it’s all about the experience, Riko explains.
And what an experience this is, with the fiberglass doors packing no windows and a generous exhaust with a twin exit in the middle—another IMSA nod—providing the soundtrack. Alas, we can’t sample the voice of the motor just yet, but, with its triple Mikuni 50 carbs (apparently, these are rarer than hen’s teeth), this probably sounds like a riot.
Who is Riko?
As custom car aficionado Riko explains in the Larry Chen-delivered video below, he’s head over heels for JDM toys, especially those with a retro flavor.
“I am trying to elevate these old Japanese body styles. I feel that we need the same attention that the American car customizers give to their rides. That our cars deserve the same amount of attention that Italian cars get, that German 911s get. And I’m just trying to motivate and draw people towards that era,” the aficionado states.
The enthusiast, who spends his business hours as a commercial contractor, is working to make a name for himself on the U.S. custom car scene, as clearly visible thanks to the “Riko” branding on the vehicle and the shade of gold he chooses for his cars, which, by the way, got a little brighter for this 240Z.
Having already gained credibility thanks to building a Toyota AE86, Riko was able to achieve support from multiple builders that have been in the game for decades when putting the Z together—he lays it all out in the clip.
PS: If all this talk has gotten you into the mood for some builds based on the 2023 Nissan Z, we’ll remind you that a Formula Drift champion has already shoved an R35 GT-R engine into one, despite deliveries officially set to kick off next month.