Now this is weird….considering that the 240Z is Van’s favourite car and that it’s resplendent on the GrandJDM banner itself, it’s a little surprising that we haven’t done any historical articles on the 240Z yet. Well, hopefully we can rectify this situation in the next few weeks!
We’ll start with the Super Samuri, which is real period piece. In the early 70s, the 240Z was hot property everywhere, and given that its drivetrain was very heavily based on the 510 sedan used widely in motorsport, it was only a matter of time before Zeds were modified for speed. One of the most notable 240Z modifiers are the Samuri Motor Company, who in the early 70s, built modified 240Z for sale as turnkey offerings.
The stock 240Z is no slouch, weighing only slightly over 1000kg and being equipped with a 150hp 2.4L straight six. However the motorsport (and especially rallying) community knew that the L-series motors had great potential, and with an extra 400cc and 2 cylinders, the 240Z would have the potential for real supercar humbling performance when modified.
Enter brit Spike Anderson. At the time he ran a business called Race Head Services, and he was no stranger to performance tuning. Having bought a stock 240Z, it wasnt long before the Zed was taken apart and put together faster. Much faster. A UK car magazine published a glowing review of Spike’s personal car, and the next thing he knew the Samuri Motor Company was born, offering modified 240Zs and performance parts to the buying public. Spike and the Samuri name are also notable for another reason, which is the all-conquering “Big Sam” 240Z racecar, but that is a story for another day.
In the end, the oil crisis curtailed a lot of the petrolhead fun that had been on the boil since the late 60s, but even so, Spike managed to sell a healthy 74 Super Samuri 240Zs before calling it a day in 1974. So what makes a Samuri so different?
Firstly the cylinder head was removed and shaved for a half point more compression (to 9.5:1), and the ports opened up. The stock setup of twin SU carbs were ditched in favour of triple 40DC0E Webers, and the stock headers replaced by a set of freeflowing headers. Pretty tried and true old school Datsun tuning (even to this day) but even with the stock cam in place for driveability, the power leaped from 150hp to 190hp, and the performance gain was significant.
Whereas a stock 240Z would cut a 0-60mph time of low 8s and quarter mile times of flat 16, the Super Samuri raised the stakes to 6.4s and 14.8s, with a top speed of 140mph (up from 125mph). Fast enough to match roadgoing Porsches and Ferraris of the time. Typical of the time, suspension and brake tuning came in for somewhat less attention, with only a set of lowered springs and bigger wheels added to the recipe.
But perhaps the most memorable aspect of the Super Samuris were the 70’s-on-acid styling. Spike’s own car was bronze over orange with white pinstriping, and while not all Samuris left his Leamington Spa factory in those retina-searing hues, one thing they all do have in common are that layered paint scheme.
Today, a Super Samuri will fetch a healthy price premium over a normal 240Z, and while Spike’s performance mods and power level can be replicated (or in fact, easily surpassed) by any good tuner today the secondhand values reflect the fond nostalgia of the bygone days when men had big hair and wore flared pants.
And oh…so why did Spike choose the “Samuri” name? Well he actually wanted “Super Samurai” but that name was already taken by another business so he shortened it to Samuri!