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JNC Project Hakosuka Build Thread

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  • kev
    started a topic JNC Project Hakosuka Build Thread

    JNC Project Hakosuka Build Thread

    Regular readers of the JNC blog will know that GrandJDM and JNC are now merged into one, due to the fatal hacking of GrandJDM about a month ago.

    So one of the first orders of business is to resurrect Project Hakosuka over here, and we felt that it would be nicer to bring it back as a forum topic. That way updates can be made more often and readers will find it easier to get involved. By all means feel free to comment, tell me I've done it wrong, etc

    It’s been quite interesting for me to read over these old updates, and in hindsight, I was so unbelievably optimistic about getting the car on the road quickly and how, at every step of the way, I was convinced that we were “close”!

    Ahh…so innocent.

    Without further ado, here are the original GrandJDM Project Hakosuka updates, reproduced!

    15th Feb 2008: So…..I bought a Hakosuka

    It's been quite a long time in the making, but I think we can now let the cat out of the bag. Late last year we hinted that we had some surprising big plans for 2008, and this is one of them. I've bought a Hakosuka!
    She arrived on the back of a tow truck today, fresh from her long journey from Japan, and I can't tell you how excited I am. I'll tell the whole story soon, but getting this beauty into my garage was a very long journey that began in October last year.
    She's a KGC10, so not a proper 2000GT-R but a replica instead, having began life as a 120ps 2000GT in 1971.

    As for what happens now? Well there's a lot of work to do before she's ready for registration and can hit the road.
    But I hope you guys will enjoy this latest facet of GrandJDM, I'll keep an ongoing diary of what's happening with the car, as its maintained, restored and upgraded, and the long term goals are that the motor will be beefed up for more power, and the brakes and suspension will be uprated for track events and maybe even a tarmac rally or two. I'll document the highs and the lows (well hopefully there won't be too many of those!) as we live life with a Hakosuka.

    Over the next few weeks, we'll have more articles to tell the story of how this old lady ended up in Sydney, and we'll also do some articles on hints, advice and pitfalls on how to charm a piece of JDM history into your own garage. And I'll tell you a little bit more about the car itself soon, too.

    Can't talk now...'got some Webers to go and take apart.
    Welcome to Project Hakosuka!

    17 Feb 2008: Project Hakosuka: Right Back At The Beginning (Part One)

    Well, I guess I better tell you guys a little more about the car! And I suppose the best place to start is at the beginning.

    It was almost three months ago that I decided to take the plunge and buy a JDM classic. I'd owned JDM imports before (there are plenty of second hand imported JDM cars in Australia) but nothing this old. So on 12th November I send an email to our friends at J-Spec.

    I want a Hakosuka I said, and described what I wanted. Initially, I was quite flexible about buying a 2dr or a 4dr, my main aim was to buy the best-condition car possible, irrespective of the number of doors.
    What then happened was quite wonderful...everyday, my email inbox would be filled with new Hakosuka candidates, as J-Spec searched available dealer stocks in Japan and sent the details and pictures to me. This was both wonderful and a curse, since it meant that from November to December, I didn't get any work done and spent the days emailing pics back and forth with my friends, discussing the merits of each basically about 20 of my friends didn't get any work done either!

    Now let me tell you something about this stage of the process....they ALL look great. It's like being a kid in the most awesome, biggest candy store. But that was also the problem...pretty much any car will look clean and straight in a picture, and of course the Japanese have such great taste in wheels, stance, etc that there is a great temptation to assume that every car is perfect. As western car guys, we tend to assume that if something looks right, it is right, but that turned out to be a very dangerous attitude to have when it came to shopping for JDM classics.

    One rather shocking learning from this whole experience is that when it comes to buying classic JDM, you should be extremely careful. And the reason for this is a difference in focus between western car enthusiasts and JDM car guys.

    In western car culture, good workmanship or a good restoration, is in the detail. It's all the little things that make the difference, and the mark of a good restoration is in the quality of work done in the areas that you don't normally see...but in Japan, a good restoration is simply one that looks good. It may be a generalisation, but in my experience, most JDM car guys would be happy for their car simply to look good from 5-6ft away.

    It's not a question of dishonesty or anything like that, things are just a bit different in Japan. For example, when a car is resprayed a different colour, in 90% of the time the engine bay will be left the original colour. In 10% of the time, the door jambs will be left the old colour too! Very often, old cars are given very "cosmetic" restorations, where all the work is focussed on the shiny-side and no attention at all is paid to rust removal. It's not uncommon to find tuner shop demo cars, and even showcars, that look a million bucks on the top, and it'll have all the cool hardware, and the right wheels, etc but have holes in the floor under the carpets.

    Here's an example below. This is a Tokyo Autosalon showcar, a highly desirable and gorgeous classic with the right look and all the good hardware. It's also one of the most expensive examples of its kind on sale in Japan currently, at a very well known classic car dealer. But when you look at the detail, it is simply not of a standard that would satisfy most car guys in the west.

    Like I said, it's not a matter of dishonesty (and I certainly am not trying to be judgmental), it's merely a difference in focus. In Japan, the money simply gets spent on other things: things that make the car look good, and go good....and let's face it, it is those things that we love about JDM classics in the first place.

    But buying a JDM classic is an expensive business, and so we tend to expect that the car of our dreams will still look good in 10 years time, but the reality is that a great proportion of JDM restorations will not meet that expectation. There are, however, like-minded JDM car guys out there so it's a question of sorting out the cars that were good, from the cars simply looked good. And the search threw up some stunning examples.

    This 4dr was an awesome example. Not only was it in great condition, but the seller was also keen to show what lengths had been gone to during the restoration to do it all right...a very good sign.

    But unfortunately by then I'd decided that I really wanted a 2dr a light colour (preferably white) with flares front and back, a hot engine and Watanabes....BIG Watanabes. The right car eventually came up at Tokyo nostalgic dealer, Red Megaphone.

    Like all the others, it looked a million bucks, but the details were promising. The car had been restored 2yrs prior, an engine-out, glass-out resto that saw the interior, engine bay and boot repainted. The floor underneath had been rust treated and repainted too. The engine had triple Webers, extractors and dual exhaust...and yes, it had big Watanabes. The fact that it wasn't a recent restoration was a plus in my book: if there were any really serious short cuts taken, then we should see rust bubbling up or excessive filler start to crack and swell by now.
    J-Spec are great for us classic enthusiasts because they're quite willing to look for the oddball cars, and then they're quite willing to check it out for you. They have their own car inspectors in Japan, so I agreed to pay the A$250 to get the Red Megaphone car looked over.

    What came next was a total surprise: a very long and detailed report (that even covered gearknob wear) and a few hundred pictures of the car. J-Spec's guy even lifted the carpets to take pictures of the floorpan, I got pictures of the chassis rails, engine bay, door jambs, pretty much every nook and cranny of the car.

    The verdict was that it seemed to be quite solidly restored. Not perfect in the areas you can't see, but all the rust repairs looked sound, and the car was straight.

    There were some minor things, like a little rust in the rear quarters, but overall the pics assured me that all the areas had been addressed in the resto. In typical JDM style, some of the detail work in the boot shut, door jambs etc were a little rough, but at least I could see that it was a proper repair and the important things like shutlines were great. So the car looked solid and built to last, and it fulfilled all the various things I wanted in my car. So on the 14th December I made a telegraphic transfer for the purchase price to Japan....

    What happens next? Tune in tomorrow...same channel

  • og rob e
    Such a great thread. GLWS

    Leave a comment:

  • Tad_07
    Long time lurker, first time poster [in your thread]. Any updates? I've read from pg 1-here and learned a couple of Hako specific things...Thanks

    Nevermind, I see on the FB group that your selling her
    Last edited by Tad_07; 07-05-2019, 04:29 AM.

    Leave a comment:

  • OtakuRevel
    Phew. Just spent my Sunday reading this from start to finish. Pretty incredible journey for the car and yourself. Thank you for such thorough postings, pictures, and explanations! I can't imagine how you were able to put that much thought into your posts. I already can't remember what I had for lunch today. Amazing hako BTW!

    Leave a comment:

  • kev
    The Hako got a fair bit of love and sprucing up prior to the GT-R Festival a few weekends ago, but there was one thing that I didn't get around to doing until after the show, which was to tidy up some of the bodywork.

    So she's looking good now...

    But there was a little damage to be fixed,

    which was from getting a cone wedged under the tail at a motorkhana about a year ago.

    And to fix some rust on the rear pockets...which aren't really noticeable unless you're under the car. The car came with them from Japan, I'd painted something onto them years ago, and they haven't gotten any worse in the intervening 11 years, but it seemed like the right time to address it.

    And lastly you might recall that several years ago I had a go at fibreglassing the cracked spoiler...

    ...and I did a home-sprayjob on it, using a rattlecan of "paint to sample"...which wasn't really a great match.

    It was a little too golden and not silver, but it wasn't really that noticeable and no one ever mentioned it.

    But now that they're firing up the spraybooth, it seemed a good time to fix it all in one go. The front spoiler came out great...hmm actually you can't really tell the colour because it's in the shadow of the bumper...

    It's a great match though.

    The beaver panel came out great too

    As did the rear pockets. My friend Col said that the rust was just superficial and hadn't penetrated the sheetmetal, so it was a simple repair.

    ...let's hope I don't mess it up again! Many thanks to Col and his team at Gordon Smash Repairs for looking after me, as always.

    Leave a comment:

  • kev
    There's been a few really nice videos made about my Hako over the years, but recently my friend Daniel Karjadi asked if I'd like the car to be in a series of videos that he's doing for Turtle Wax.

    And I think he did a great job!

    The visuals are amazing, and we had a good long relaxed chat in the garage, which I think came through quite nicely.

    Leave a comment:

  • kev
    One of my favourite events took place on the weekend, which was the GT-R Festival at Sydney Motorsports Park:

    It's a car show with added drag racing and gymkhana, and it's become a huge annual show that celebrates everything Skyline (hence all the sprucing-up I've been doing on the car in the past few weeks). So it's a great show with seemingly hundreds of really nice cars in attendance.

    I was too busy flitting between the events to take many pictures, but there were zillions of GT-Rs, and plenty of special ones, like this Nismo Z-Tune

    So the first order of the day was to get our parking spot in the Old School section of the car show sorted, then we hit the Gymkhana, which was a part of the dragstrip car park (which is also used for the Twilight Rallysprint series). But before this year's event, I had a go at addressing the rather extreme tail-squat that my car gets on a dragstrip launch. You might recall that I have really severe axle tramp issues if I give it some off the line, which meant that I had to baby it on the launch and then floor it, and that felt like I was leaving a lot of time on the table.

    I figured that maybe the extreme angles of the suspension arms and driveshafts might have had at least something to do with it, so to limit the tail squat for this year, I decided to extend the rear bumpstops, which live inside the rear semi-traling arm, within the spring.

    To get it out, you have to be able to prise the suspension arm low, so in order to do that the shock and driveshaft has to be unbolted, so that you can remove the spring.

    The bumpstops I'm using are shortened ones from which are intended to be an "end of the world" bumpstop for very slammed Hakos. So I actually space them up with a stack of wide washers, which brings them into play well before the shock bottoms out. But as you can see from the pic above, it does allow a generous amount of suspension travel, which results in a lot of tail squat under power. So I'm re-using a nylon spacer I made as an experiment years ago, which is the middle setup below. At the time, I was using 600 pound springs and I felt that the tail bounced off the bumpstops quite noticeably (so I removed the nylon spacers in favour of a shorter stack of washers). But now that I'm on 1100 pound springs, the tail should keep off the bumpstops a bit more and it might work. The one on the right is the stock bumpstop, which is so tall that at my ride height it would be permanently compressed.

    Bumpstop/spacer installed...

    And button it all up again. On the road, I can barely tell that they're's only noticeable on big speedbumps, where you feel the tail snub against the bumpstops.

    But it seems to work, with the Hako no longer having the comical tail-down attitude off the line. These awesome pics below have been kindly provided by Dabboussi Photography, please do check him out on:

    In terms of handling, I was worried that the tail would now be more skittish, as it would body roll onto the bumpstops early in the corner. But I reckon it's actually better: handling is flatter, there isn't the feeling that the inside front is pointing in the air coming out of corners, and while there definitely is less power-down grip on corner exit, it moves earlier and more predictably into power oversteer now, and is easier to drive sideways.

    It was only intended to be a one-weekend only drag racing mod...but I think I'll keep it for a while

    So without further ado, we drive from the gymkhana to the scrutineering booth for the drags. Interestingly the car's roadgoing weight is 1140kg. It had a 1090kg weight when I had to get a weighbridge ticket for initial registration in 2009, but that was without a lot of stuff like a stereo, toolkit, jack, spare wheel and a whole bunch of other stuff that might have been missing. And no, the weight gain is not because that guy has his foot on the weighbridge

    And we're off!

    Although...that first run wasn't without its dramas

    And did the bumpstop mod work? Well yes I suppose it did, in that we went from 14.6 last year to a new best time of 14.1 @ 102mph.

    But as you can hear from the video above, I still did get some axle tramp on the 1-2 shift. On a later run I had a go at higher launch rpm with a bit of clutch slip...but got bogged down with an excess of traction Oh well, I guess we can add drag racing to the growing list of things I do quite poorly Oh, this is my mate Brad's lovely Kenmeri, by the way.

    Oh, and as for the mechanical mishap on the first vid above, it was due to the coil lead popping off. There was quite a bit of axle tramp coming out of the burnout bath, which caused a fair bit of engine shake that pulled off the coil lead. Now I'd made the lead with a little bit of excess length to accommodate engine movement, but it looks like it wasn't enough.

    So I made a longer one, which isn't as elegant looking but at least it's more functional Thankfully the MSD Streefire plug wire kit was for a V8 and I could cut up one of the spare wires into a new, longer coil lead.

    The other highlight of the weekend was seeing my good friend Peter's new Hako on the road for the first time. Fresh out of the spraybooth, it's been a race against time to get the mechanicals ready for the mainden voyage to GTR Festival, and it came right down to the wire, with registration sorted only hours before it was too late.

    It's a lovely, lovely thing with a VERY strong stroker L-series.

    It'll be a lot of fun to see it run in anger next year

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  • kev
    Now that I've done a big spruce up on the front end, it seemed a shame to stop. So the rear end comes in for some love too.

    The chromed potmetal tail light bezels had gone a little dull with the deposits from the exhaust, and without removing them, you can't really hoe into it when polishing. But once they're off, you can really go to town with a polishing ball on a cordless drill.

    The red lenses are detachable too, and the one above the tailpipe was noticeably dull. But I find that Meguiars Plastic Cleaner and Plastic Polish gets the fine swirly scratches out, and gets it looking reflective again.

    Then we move onto the engine bay. I think I haven't detailed the carbs in years, and heaps of crud and yellowy fuel stains came off when I had a go with some brake cleaner and a brush.

    ...and then you notice that the drip tray looks a little dull below the shiny carbs, so that gets a polish too.

    I'd given the piping and rocker cover a polish from time to time, but you get much better results when you take it all off and attack it with the polishing ball/drill. Barrel Bros Lip Balm polish works really well.

    The next bit was something I'd been putting off for ages, which is to sort out the messy routing of the spark plug wires. The car had come with some plug wire brackets, but I think they aren't actually for L-series, as I had to resort to all sorts of weird lengths of plug wire to get it to work, and it looked messy. I'd been meaning to buy a replacement set of 240Z plug wire brackets and clips, but they seem to only be available in USA 240Z webstores. I always thought that I'd eventually order some other parts, and get the plug wire clips at the same time. Well, I never did So I decided to splash out on the unreasonable shipping charges to get the little plastic clips sent out.

    I did get one other part though: a reproduction brake booster sticker, but that's it

    Before we start on the plug wires, I decided to make a recent addition a little more fancy. Hayashi Racing (of Hayashi wheels fame) is now making some really nice pieces for old Nissan engines; which are mainly for historic racing in Japan, where things like Tomei rocker covers for Nissan A-series go for thousands. So I had to get their billet oil filler cap. It has provision to be lockwired, and since the Hako has a big appetite for oil, it isn't the most practical idea to lock the filler cap in place...but it does look nice Check out the other cool stuff at And in Australia, you can get Hayashi Racing gear at Barrel Bros:

    I have an MSD6A CDI system and MSD8285 hi-output coil, so it was nice to discover that MSD also do universal plug wire kits that you make yourself into custom lengths.

    You get 8 plug wires and one coil wire; each one is overlong and is already fitted on the plug-side. So you have to cut them to length and fit the plug end for the distributor-end. This is the #5551 kit, with straight fittings at the plug end.

    The kit comes with different types of fittings for the distributor end...we'll need the ones on the left.

    It also comes with this super handy-dandy tool, which is used as a cutting guide for the plug leads, and can be used to crimp the fittings too.

    First you measure up the length you need, then use the cutting guide to partially-cut the wire. You place the blade at a certain spot and rotate the wire to make the cut...then twist off the excess.

    It cuts only just deep enough to expose the insulated wire core, and leave just the right amount of it sticking out.

    I don't know how well you can see this, but you fold the central wire around the outside of the plug lead, leaving a little loop so that it doesn't touch the white insulating material.

    Then stick it in the vice and crimp it down.

    It leaves a super strong crimp and're meant to slide on the rubber boot beforehand...

    And you now have a legit spark plug wire. Now to make 6 more...

    Once they're all done, test for fitment.

    And as a last step (thanks to L'Antagonista on Instagram for suggesting it), rub the white lettering off the plug wires with a rag soaked in acetone, which looks a lot more period-appropriate.

    The new 240Z wire brackets and clips get the plug leads routed really nice, in comparison to what I had before...

    Looks much neater than before, and I really should have done this years ago.

    yes, you can get off the shelf plug wire kits for 240Z, but what fun would that be? The MSD kit was really satisfying and easy to use and gets a great result.

    Leave a comment:

  • KiKiIchiBan
    Originally posted by kev View Post
    Oops....sorry for the late reply. The Kameari uses the later-version distributor driveshaft with the star-shaped end, and yeah it just dropped right in. No need to force it.
    Hey, no worries thanks for getting back to me.

    I purchased the spindle gear with it so not that. Maybe I'll do a light gentle sand to try open it up slightly.

    Leave a comment:

  • kev
    Originally posted by KiKiIchiBan View Post
    Evening, do you remember when fitting the Kameari distributor if it was a tight fit? I was expecting to line up the spindle gear and drop it in. I didn't force it down but it would need it to sit it down enough to bolt it in. Didn't feel right.
    Oops....sorry for the late reply. The Kameari uses the later-version distributor driveshaft with the star-shaped end, and yeah it just dropped right in. No need to force it.

    Leave a comment:

  • kev
    Lately I've had to remind myself that a lot of the stuff I did at the beginning of the restoration, is now ten years old. Some of the new parts I fitted are possibly now older than the parts they replaced and some of the restoration work needs to be refreshed.

    I'd repainted the grille and headlight bezels years ago, but lots of roadtrips since then have left them with a bit more patina than I'd like.

    The headlight bezels and grille surround are chromed potmetal castings, which have black-painted sections, but stonechips have taken their toll.

    In fact, I distinctly remember that painting the fender mirrors was one of the very first things I did, way back when the car didn't run and I tried to keep myself busy

    So off they come, and I'll be using these. 180 and 320 grit sandpaper, VHT Roll Bar Black and my usual staple of Tamiya pinstripe tape.

    The first job is to sand back all the stone chipped areas with 180grit paper, then scuff the rest of the areas to be painted with the 320grit. Then mask up the bits that we want to leave as chrome. The Tamiya tape is flexible enough to bend around some of the corners, and is forgiving enough that you can unstick and reposition them a few times. And as we'll see, they are very resistant to paint bleeding under the egdes.

    The edges are done in Tamiya tape, but then I fill in the bigger areas with 3M blue.

    Hit it with about 7 very light, misting coats of the Roll Bar Black, then blow the painted parts with a hairdryer to speed up drying in between coats. I find that if I keep the coats very light, it dries super fast and 6-7 coats only take about an hour to apply, where thick coats need much longer between coats. And peeling off the tape is very satisfying, especially the Tamiya stuff as that always leaves a rock solid, crisp edge.

    And you can get really delicate masking shapes with the Tamiya tape too, and it's almost always perfect.

    Relatively speaking, the 3M stuff usually will bleed here and there.

    Everything's looking nice and fresh again.

    Before we get to the grille, I picked up this little trinket recently. I'd resisted putting on GT-R badges on the car, as it's not a GT-R but the tail badge I fitted last year looks so right, and the car kinda looks naked without them. So now we fit a front badge.

    The badge was supplied by Vega Autosports ( who can source any oem parts as long as you can provide the part#. Surprisingly a lot of the restoration parts available from the Hako specialists in Japan are actually still available as OEM. Basically all the badging and small items like window winders, interior trim pirces and headlight rings. So hit up Vega Autosports if you need anything from Japan.

    Now in terms of where it's meant to go...funnily enough even period pics of the stock GT-Rs show that badge wasn't really consistently in the same spot. But it's never in the exact middle of the grille, it's always slightly higher than the middle.

    The mirrors came out nice too. Again, I do 6-7 light misting coats, and if I do it that way, it dries with a little bit of texture, which I figure might have been what the factory finish may have been like.

    And that's all she wrote for this little project. GT-R Festival is a month away, and the Hako will be partaking in the drags and gymkhana, so there'll be a few more little projects before then.

    Leave a comment:

  • KiKiIchiBan
    Evening, do you remember when fitting the Kameari distributor if it was a tight fit? I was expecting to line up the spindle gear and drop it in. I didn't force it down but it would need it to sit it down enough to bolt it in. Didn't feel right.

    Leave a comment:

  • Mlracing
    Nice vid

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  • KiKiIchiBan
    This came up on my YouTube recommended viewing last night. Good video. Car looked a little smokey on power though.

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  • kev
    There's been some really nice videos made of the Hako, I really love the HoonTV and Nulon ones equally.

    But recently asked if they could do a feature on the Hako. The production values on their video car reviews are really good, and I'd known their senior writer Richard Berry for years, so it had to happen.

    I'm glad to report that it's quite a different take on the Hako, compared to the other vids, and so well-crafted too.

    The shoot took a whole day, about 4 cameras, two cameramen and two chase cars.

    They sure had some nice toys, like the steadicam rig...

    Which could be panned remotely by a second person

    Many thanks to the nice guys at, please check out their video car reviews on YouTube, and their Oversteer blog too:

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