OLE ORANGE BANG: TILL DEATH DO US PART

It saddens me everyday as I drive around Los Angeles, stuck in traffic surrounded by big metal things with four wheels. They are not cars, they are simply methods of transportation, also known as ‘mots.’

You don’t fall in love with a mot. You trade it in when it gets old, you smash it into things when you get bored. It’s a cookie cutter world and most people drive mots.

Speedhunters is about car culture and Ole Orange Bang is most definitely not a mot. It is a car, and it has become a living breathing part of my family. ‘Till death do us part.

On my wedding night instead of being ferried away in a fancy limousine, I drove my beautiful wife home in my 1970 SR20DET-powered Datsun 240z.

Since it had been sitting for a few weeks, I thought it was about time to take it out once again – not only so it could see the light of day, but also to do some much needed canyon carving.

Wedding burnouts really take a toll on the cleanliness of the car, so I wanted to make sure it looked its sunday best before I took it out for a stroll.

Nothing pains me more than seeing carbon fiber parts fade in the sun, so I always make sure to take extra care of my hood.

I am sure this is a familiar sight for you Speedhunters out there. It’s funny because my neighbors look at me weird and ask me why I don’t just take my car to a car wash. They just don’t understand because they drive mots.

Since my last post I haven’t done much to the car besides adding a new steering wheel. I really liked the wooden look of the stock wheel…

… but it was too large. That, and I’ve always wanted a premium steering wheel.

I left the Kazama shift knob alone because I actually really like the feel of it. It’s solid and quite heavy and as our fearless leader Rod Chong always says, one of the most important parts of the car are the surfaces that you touch when you’re using it.

Because I’m away from home for weeks at a time I end up having to jump start my car everytime I want to drive it. My wife took notice and bought me this trickle charger. You see why I married her?

I’ve made it a ritual now everytime I drive the thing. I have to unhook the battery charger…

… and I have to check all its fluids. As this is an old car, at one point or another everything has leaked.

The summers in Los Angeles get quite hot so I added some Red Line Water Wetter. I also figured I would put in some Fuel System Cleaner as the motor already has about 3000 miles on it now since it was built.

Just one last touch and I was ready to hit the road. This metal Speedhunters license plate surround will be available soon…

I’ve driven nice roads all over the world, but there is something special about a palm tree-lined road leading into the mountains.

With a full tank of fuel and the pre-flight check looking good, it was time to do some canyon carving.

I decided to hit up some local roads just a few miles away from my house. This road sign should actually read “Fun for the next 20 miles.”

The road is much less traveled as currently it does not go anywhere. You can check out the route (courtesy of Google Maps) here.

It’s located right next to the much more famous Glendora Mountain Road, also known as GMR.

On the way up you pass this beautiful recreation area. There are many places around here for camping and hiking, as well as one of the largest shooting ranges in the area, located in the mountains. This is America after all.

This area is also an off-road haven for the four wheelers and trail riders out there. You just have to pay a small fee.

Here are some of the trails that you can drive on. Just don’t get stuck.

It seemed like the ribbons of hot asphalt were never-ending on the lower portion of the road with many sweeping third and fourth gear turns. I always take it easy as there’s no way to tell what is going to be around the next bend.

As I was about to start climbing to around 7000 feet I left my AEM multi gauge on the water temperature setting just to keep an eye on it.

As I neared the top section of the road, the turns got tighter and tighter, which meant I was mostly using second and third gears.

In the winter time it actually does snow up here. It’s hard to believe you can walk on snow just a few miles outside of Los Angeles.

I’ve driven these roads before with snow banks lining the outside. It can be quite dangerous though, as they don’t use salt on them so black ice can form very quickly.

Since I’m covering events on the weekends the only time I get to take the Z-car out is during the week.

This road is practically empty with very little traffic during the weekdays. Sometimes I try riding my road bike up the same road, only to fail half way and turn back.

It was about 95 degrees fahrenheit down by my house, but up in the mountains it was a cool 65 degrees.

Many people come up here on the weekends to go fishing at Crystal Lake, and that’s pretty much the only traffic this road gets now.

This road used to connect to the other side of the mountain, but a few years back it rained very heavily and the road was damaged due to landslides.

Ever since then they closed the road to all traffic. It has created a sort of motoring heaven, as you don’t really have to worry about traffic.

Maybe in a couple of years they will fix this portion of the road, but until then I will continue to come here and enjoy the wonderful drive.

If you look over the cliff you can see the stretch of road leading up to the top.

The view from the top was breathtaking as always. You can see the smog in the distance creeping up the mountain, but the air quality was drastically cleaner up here.

Every now and then I could hear the note of a performance exhaust echoing off the face of the mountains, but it was quite rare.

As a tradition I always stop by the cafe located right next to the lake for a bite to eat.

They should probably just leave the needle on critical, as it always seems like Los Angeles is on fire in one part or another.

If you ever happen to drive this dream road make sure you spot by this little trading post – they make great tuna sandwiches. Everybody loves the tuna there.

My car is now 43 years old, much older that I am, but from the day I laid eyes on it I’ve taken good care of it. It has brought me so much joy and hopefully one day my children will be able to enjoy Ole Orange Bang…

What sort of dream roads do you guys drive your cars on?

 

Larry Chen

 

 

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source: speedhunters

MODERN HEART: ROCKY AUTO’S RB30 POWERED Z

Nothing is as it seems in Japan. As a rule of thumb you should never, in any circumstance make any sort of assumptions about any car you see on the street. This is especially true if that particular car proudly wears the Rocky Auto name, a shop we are all pretty familiar with these days. With the Nostalgic Two Days show coming up tomorrow I though we might as well start getting into the vintage swing of things and what better way than a high performance classic from Watanabe-san at Rocky.

“Modernizing” is something a lot of people are attempting to do with their cars, even those that aren’t that particularly old. Heck I’m attempting to do the same to my GT-R, trying to add upgrades and other little bits and pieces that will help bring some aspects of the whole package into the new millennium. Except what you see here sort of takes that whole notion to extremes.

This is the point purists should probably look away. While Watanabe-san does offer authentic restorations, it’s not something his customers are exactly into. The whole idea behind one of these cars is the fact that they manage to combine the looks and feel of a classic car – in this case an S30 Fairlady Z – with a modern, reliable and more powerful engine and driveline.

Built last year, this is one of a few rides that Watanabe-san classifies as his “favorite.” Looks wise he has gone with the “ZG” look…

…painting the car in the period correct dark maroon and adding the long-nose conversion, the fender flares the trunk spoiler and the fender-mounted mirrors.

The car is fitted with special modern-day dampers that Rocky Auto developed for the classic Z and sports a set of 16-inch Watanabes wrapped in Bridgestone Potenza GIII street tires, 205/50 up front and 225/45 at the rear. It’s from this point on that you begin to notice the subtle yet important changes that have been made, like the front 4-pot AP Racing brake calipers and cross-drilled rotors.

But things don’t really get serious until you lift the stock hood…

…revealing the awesomeness that powers this Fairlady. As Watanabe tells us, it’s not all about horsepower numbers; he’s built some very powerful Zs in his time, but he much prefers creating something more balanced, a conversion that builds upon the car’s original character, making it even more evident.

He has found all of this in the RB30-based engine he has created for this, as well as a few other builds. It’s a straight six just like the L24 that powered the S30 in the first place, naturally aspirated and delivering just the right about of power to the rear wheels. It all started with an Australian-sourced RB30 bottom end, onto which he dropped an RB26 twin-cam head. The engine breathes in through six aluminum velocity stacks – part of the “sports injection” system that Rocky Auto devised. If you recall the Rocky carbon bodied Fairlady we featured last year was also powered by an RB30, except it was running on 50 mm Solex carburetors and higher lift & duration cams. Watanabe really liked that car but wanted something a little bit easier to live with, something more street oriented.

As if seeing a gold RB26 head in the engine bay wasn’t enough, Watanabe-san made sure that the visual aspects of this engine swap didn’t end there…

…fabricating a beautiful and complex set of stainless steel headers, the same 46 mm 6-into-1 items that were used on the carbon car…

…helping to really emphasize the unmistakable straight-six sound that exits through the rest of the exhaust system.

The engine is good for just under 300 HP, about double what the S30 came with back in the early seventies. To transfer drive to the rear Cusco 2-way LSD a R32 Nissan Skyline 5-speed transmission was fitted, more than able to deal with the power at hand and the occasional track day abuse.

Out on the roads around the Rocky Auto HQ in Okazaki, the Zed looked phenomenal, the RB30′s scream reverberating across the hills we went to shoot around on. The three liters of capacity and the somewhat mild stock RB26 cams all help deliver a very strong low and mid range, making it a pleasure to drive around on a daily basis. Despite the longer stroke the RB30 is still and RB, so has no problem to rev to higher than normal rpm. For durability however the redline has been set at 7,000 rpm.

The restoration-slash-modernization of this S30 continues inside where, along with a dose of spot welding around the door openings, glasshouse, front and rear suspension turrets, engine bay and other strategic locations – a bolt-in roll cage was added.

This spans to the rear of the car and down behind the seats, helping increase torsional rigidity of a frame which is well over 40-years old now.

There’s no doubting that Nissan really got the interior design right all those years ago, standing up to the test of time rather well. Still, to make things nice and comfortable Watanabe spent some time adding a few nice touches like the R32 Skyline automatic climate control system, modern HD navigation with pop-out LCD screen…

…and a pair of Recaro leather/alcantara seats – with Willans harnesses for the driver.

The mix of old and new continues with a classic Datsun steering wheel…

…original main gauges….

…and the addition of a triplet of modern clocks from Blitz.

The period correct wooden shift knob and well used leather boot serve as a constant reminder of the car’s vintage-ness.

It might be a different school of thought to those that restore older cars in a more period-correct way, but for some reason the Japanese manage to pull it off so well especially when applied to cars like the Fairlady Z. Even if you may be a purist, it’s hard not to admire and appreciate the work that went into creating something so special. If that’s not the case maybe a quick ride in this RB30-powered Rocky Auto creation may change your mind…

 

Specs:

Engine: RB30/RB26 hybrid engine swap, Rocky Auto engine mounts, Rocky Auto sports injection with aluminum velocity stacks, Tomei Powered fuel rail, RB26 injectors, Rocky Auto 46 mm 6-into-1 exhaust header, Rocky Auto stainless steel exhaust system, Billiion power steering reservoir tank, Rocky Auto gold head covers, clear cam covers, Koyo radiator, HKS oil cooler, R32 Skyline fuse box & wiring loom, Power FC ECU

Transmission: R32 5-speed transmission, Exedy single plate clutch, Cusco 2-way LSD

Suspension & Brakes: Rocky Auto front coilovers, Rock Auto rear dampers, Cusco carbon front strut tower bar, AP Racing 4-pot front calipers, cross drilled rotors

Wheels & Tires: Watanabe wheels 8Jx16″ front 9Jx16″ rear, Bridgestone Potenza GIII 205/50R16 front, 225/45/R16 rear

Exterior: ZG nose, ZG front & rear overfendes, ZG rear spoiler, ZR side mirrors

Interior: Spot welded and reinforced shell, bolt-in roll cage, Recaro driver & passenger seats, Willans drivers-side harness, Datsun spot steering wheel, R32 Skyline A/C unit, Carrozzeria HD navigation system, Blitz dials (ex. temp, oil temp., water temp.

-Dino Dalle Carbonare

 

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source: speedhunters.com