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 Post subject: The story of my Stanza coupe (PA10) build
PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2010 11:41 pm 
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Location: Melbourne, Australia
Hi all

OK, as promised, here is the story of the build on my Datsun Stanza Coupe.

Sorry for the poor quality photos, I had to scan them at work on a crap scanner (no scanner at home) as none of these images were shot on digital.

So…it starts in 1992. Yes, 1992. Long time ago….

My girlfriend at the time had gone off to the U.S. for 6 months work experience (in Rockland ME) and it was looking to be a lonely Christmas. We were getting around in a little Datsun 1000 that wasn’t far from dying when I spotted the Stanza in a nearby car yard. Liking the brand and also the unique shape, I paid the $3000 ($AUS) the salesman wanted and drove it away, slimy gunk in the coolant / radiator and all. It also had the sloppiest gear lever I have ever moved around in a car – half the time you weren’t even sure you were in a gear, let alone the gear you wanted to be in! :shock:

I guess with no girlfriend around I had some spare time on my hands and thought she might like an upgrade from the 1000 when she came back from the states. I was also living with my folks at the time and they were beginning to drive me crazy. I needed a project. So this is what I started with:

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Everything except the wheels was standard – L16, 4 speed box, rust in the doors and rear hatch but the chassis was straight and cancer free.


Anyway, I drove it around for a while, fixing little problems along the way, waited till the girl returned home and then found out she wasn’t waiting for me, so NO car for her.

It would have been around 8 months after I bought it that I noticed it getting hot while driving. I checked the water level while out at the shops and noticed the dreaded bubbles. Bugger, head gasket time. While I was driving home and thinking about when I will be able to fix the head gasket, some guy in a van ran up the back of the car directly in front of him. Only problem, I was right behind him and had nowhere to go but up his arse! :(
Damage: Front bumper, bonnet (hood), grille, passenger side guard, apron, headlights, radiator, radiator support panel.

I got it towed to a panel shop where they straightened out the support panel and fitted a replacement bonnet, front guard and apron. I then got it towed to my parent’s house where it sat while I figured out what to do next.... :|

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Next instalment coming soon....

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 5:42 pm 
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Did the Oz-built cars all have those big bumpers? I thought just North America got saddled with those... :P


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 7:07 pm 
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Location: Melbourne, Australia
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Did the Oz-built cars all have those big bumpers? I thought just North America got saddled with those...


If I remember correctly, the base model sedans got the shorter bumpers with no rubber ends etc... The bumpers with the rubber ends and overiders (rubber bits in the middle) went on the 'deluxe' models. All the Oz made coupes got these bumpers.
For some reason the car market at the time saw the bigger bumpers as a 'prestige' look.

After a while, you get used to seeing the cars with these bumpers on so that the smaller ones end up looking odd.

PS: I prefer the bigger bumpers, I think I subscribe to the prestige thing...

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 10:08 pm 
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OK - The first job was to get the radiator repaired and re-fitted so at least I could drive it, if only for short distances. Then the front guard and apron went on.

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By this time I started to think that if I was going to rip the top off the motor to replace the head gasket I may as well make it worthwhile. A bit of research led me to seriously considering an engine upgrade to an L20B with some decent intake gear. Crunching some numbers and the decision was made – L20B with twin side draught 45DCOE 13 Webers!!
I managed to source an inlet manifold through a friend and then dropped the car off to get the motor fitted and reconditioned Webers put on. To keep costs down, the top end was kept stock. I figured I could always upgrade this further down the track when funds allowed. :)

This is what I ended up with:



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The Webers needed a bit of fine-tuning but I was enjoying the extra power, even though I still only had a 4-speed gearbox to play with.

This is how it looked for a couple of months while I saved a bit more cash.

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The Stanza coupes in Australia got a grille with circular headlight surrounds while the sedans got one with more square surrounds. Luckily I found one with the circular surrounds to keep it original. 8)

Sedan grille:
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Coupe grille:
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One thing that had been really annoying me was the spare wheel well. It was so rusty that holes were appearing and threatening to drop the whole thing, wheel and all, on top of the fuel tank (it sits directly below the well).

Through a chance meeting at a datsun wreckers, I got in contact with a bloke who actually had two of these Stanza’s at his place. One was written off and was now a shell, the other was being put back together slowly after an accident.
Angle grinder in hand, I went up and cut the wheel well out of the shell, paid him some cash and went back and cut the wheel well out of my car. A friend offered to weld in the better well and presto! No more wheel falling through the car! (although it did need a small amount of body filler to patch up some small holes – still, miles better than the old one…).

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Not long after this I happened to be at a friend’s place where I met some of her friends. One of these friends would end up being my wife, while another took an interest in the story of the Stanza so far.
He then told me he had owned one of these a few years ago, he planned to rebuild it but lost interest and that the car was at his Dad’s place and I can buy it from him if I want to!
Needless to say, the next weekend it was on a trailer heading for my place.

Apart from having a parts car to source bits from (like having your own personal wrecking yard), the major attraction was the five-speed gearbox – with the dogleg 1st gear. The car itself wasn’t in great shape but it was straight and relatively rust free (I think I paid $500 for it).

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It also had 14” wheels from a 200B (810) so I threw them on mine to see how they looked and checked for clearance (planning to upgrade from the 13” hotwires in the future).

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Because Nissan only made 125 of these in Australia, parts weren’t plentiful so to have rear guards, hatch, doors, windows and all interior trim was reassuring. And also to accidentally stumble across two people (in a short space of time) that had these cars and parts was part good luck, part amazing… :D

stay tuned for another instalment soon....

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 10:13 pm 
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those bumpers are smaller than the usa spec anyway

your car reminds me of this old pic
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 10:46 pm 
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Man that's close to mine.....and it looks great! Plus it's RHD and has a terrific stance. :tu:
matt, where did the pic come from?
It would be brilliant if this one is still floating around out there somewhere....

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 10:52 pm 
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Pockets wrote:
Man that's close to mine.....and it looks great! Plus it's RHD and has a terrific stance. :tu:
matt, where did the pic come from?
It would be brilliant if this one is still floating around out there somewhere....

i think i got it off ozdat or datnet classifieds ~5yrs ago?
she was minter, but the guy wasn't into the "newer" dattos :lol:


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 08, 2010 4:52 am 
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I love that it has both door mirrors and fender mirrors. Best of both worlds? :P


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 08, 2010 5:42 pm 
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Very nice. I love the color, and the fact that the ding guards end with the badge instead of stretching all the way to the wing tips.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jun 09, 2010 4:01 am 
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Looking forward to the rest of the story - I know then end result but not how you got there...... great read 8)

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 09, 2010 6:01 pm 
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Continuing on….

Deciding that the handling wasn’t really up to scratch, I took the Stanza back to the guys who fitted the motor and Weber’s – a rally car preparation shop, where they fitted some firmer front strut inserts (Tokico) and rear shock absorbers (KYB). Once again, sticking to a tight budget, I didn’t replace springs or struts as these seemed fine, I thought I would see how the new dampers worked and take it from there.

The next job was to fit the 5-speed gearbox from the parts car. The 5 speed has a different cross member to the sedan, so I packed it all in the car (as a passenger) and took it to a gearbox/clutch specialist. He also restored and sold Jaguars as well so it was interesting to see my little Japanese coupe sitting alongside some old 1960/70/80’s English Jags… :)

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So, with a bigger motor and terrific carbs (oh what a beautiful noise they made too), an extra gear and less bouncy suspension….it was now time for the panel shop to get involved.
I didn’t want a ‘look at me’ type of colour – I figured the discreet look was better (‘sleeper style’) so I went with the original colour (Nissan called it ‘Gibson Tan’). It also meant I didn’t have to paint the engine bay and interior, keeping the costs down.
Some rust removal in the doors, rear hatch and rear quarter panels and then the paint went on. It came back looking like this:

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Then the fun part began – putting it all back together! I even got my Mum involved, checking the pin striping for straightness as I was applying it!
The hardest part was putting the rear bumper on. As the parts car came with a tow bar (and I occasionally towed a trailer) I decided to fit it. The only problem is the mounting points for the tow bar brackets are the same as the bumper brackets which also share the same bolts as the fuel tank supports! :o
With the help of my Dad we had to position (and balance) the bumper and fuel tank, line up the tow bar brackets and then hope that the bolts go through and find threads, without damaging the new paint….

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When we were all done, it looked like this:


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And this with the sedan grille:

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A side on view:

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A bit of brown matting on the dash to hide the cracks and then I went all out and bought a Momo 4 spoke steering wheel and a Momo gear knob. Sporty luxury! 8)

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The wheels and tyres were something that had annoyed me off right from the start. The 13” Hotwires had been scuffed and marked and only ever looked good after a severe polish. The tyres were 1 size too wide for the rims and made the wheels out of balance (the car got the 'wobblies' at speed…). I jokingly used to call these tyres ‘balloons’… :)

Keeping it in the datto family, I found a set of Skyline Coupe (C210) 14” alloy wheels and cleaned them up, painted them silver and put some decent tyres on. :tu:
They immediately gave the car a better look and improved the stance. The handling got a truckload better as well thanks to the lower profile tyres…. No more balloons… :D


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A few extra touches I added were a pair of bonnet clips (anyone notice?), a pair of 130W driving/high beam lights and a rear anti roll bar (from the Aust delivered sedan 'SSS' version).
I also painted the wiper arms matt black to avoid the 'rustic' look! :tu:

And that’s how it stayed for a few years. It became my daily driver once I got married and I even displayed it at the annual NDSOC concourse d’elegance a couple of times… :D

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Anyways, remember this?

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I had to do something with my parts car as it was now just a shell sitting at my parents' place and they were getting antsy about it, wanting it moved on…
So, I made a few calls and the guy who had the two Stanza coupe shells up in the hills (you may remember I removed the spare wheel well from one of them) was looking at getting another as he found major problems with the shell he was trying to put together. Deal was done and he took the parts car away…..
A year or so later I caught up with him where he worked and snapped a photo or two of the result. Colour change and steel wheels but a nice unit all the same. He still lived in the hills so the dirt was a common fixture.

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still more to come....stay tuned

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 6:23 pm 
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On with the story…

The year is now 1999 and the Stanza is still going strong. A few minor issues had popped up here and there – new water pump, exhaust/inlet manifold gasket (what a noise that made!), new thermo fan, re-gassed the rear hatch struts (no need for the cricket bat anymore), exhaust flange gasket, new tyres…nothing too difficult.

Then I started to notice it was blowing a bit of smoke at high revs, particularly on the over run. I suspected that the top end (which I think was the original head off the L16) was getting a bit tired. As I didn’t spend any money on the top end when the L20B and Webers went in (some 6 years ago now), I thought that it might be time for a freshen up and a spend up. Now the guy who had done the build on the L20B had long ago retired, so I took it to Datrally, a well known rally/circuit workshop in Melbourne. They had it for a day, took the top off it and recommended this:

New valve seats and h/duty valve springs
Valve regrind
Mild Camshaft – 733A grind
New rocker arms and lash pad set
Port tidy up and shave head face 020” to run on 98 octane fuel
New set of Extractors (headers) – (I was running the stock exhaust manifold to a 2” system)
Ram tubes for the Webers and a set of Unifilters (socks for each ram tube)
Dyno tune

I gave them the go ahead and a week or so later I picked it up and the engine now looked like this:

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On the initial drive, I did notice a difference, there seemed to be more.........................POWER!!!!! and shitloads of it!!! (yes, in the context of this post, ‘shitloads’ is a correct technical term).
I thought it went good before, it went bloody awesome now! And the sound! Those new ram tubes, the air filters (socks), the extractors (headers), the whole thing! I was one happy dude. :D :D :tu:

I toyed with the idea of fitting an electric dizzy (from later L20B’s) to allow more tuning (and therefore power), and a proper LSD differential, but the budget had been stretched enough so far and the wife and I were saving to buy a house. Once again I figured that this stuff could wait for a while. I just had to enjoy what I had.

And that’s what I did for a few years. It was still my daily driver and although the fuel bill was high, I loved driving it and enjoying the comments from fellow drivers and people.
Quite a few people would remark how clean and tidy it was and they were looking at buying something like this as a first car for their daughter - is it for sale? I told them they don’t really want this car for their daughter, they would ask why, I would then proceed to start it up (if it wasn’t already) and give it a rev. The look on their faces was great, and the noise and then rumble at idle was enough to convince them that I was right. 8)
PS: Is this the true gauge of a ‘sleeper’? Also, throughout the time I owned it, I never once got pulled over or hassled by the Police.

Anyway, time went on, I became a house owner, I changed jobs and things got complicated because fuel prices kept going up (especially for the high octane stuff) and my job required me to carry gear in the car. Lots of gear. The poor little Stanza was crammed so full of stuff on some days that going round corners without things whacking into interior bits was getting hard. After a long think, the decision was made to sell it to make way for a wagon. :(
I also thought that whoever bought it may have enough funds to turn it into the rally / circuit car that it deserves to be.

So this is how she looked after the last wash and detail. Obviously I had to make her pretty for the ‘For Sale’ advert and I felt I owed it to her.


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The good news is that I sold it, and the guy who bought it turned it into a rally car! He entered it some Historic Rally Association events in Victoria and then sold it to another guy who did the same thing. I managed to find a few images from the internets:

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And that’s the last I saw of her. I had owned her for over 11 years and had terrific memories of building her up and learning a whole heap of stuff along the way. I met some great people as well; some who shared ownership of this small piece of Oz Datsun history and some who made me feel at home in the various Nissan/Datsun clubs I joined. Although I spent a truckload of money on her (but could have spent a truckload more…), I don’t regret it one bit. 8)

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed the story.

Craig.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 07, 2010 2:46 am 
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matt wrote:
those bumpers are smaller than the usa spec anyway

your car reminds me of this old pic
Image


I know this car except it is no longer brown. A mate of mine bought it about 4 years ago and resprayed it yellow. I think he posted some pic's of it on here just after it was sprayed.
Edit:Here it is below.

Nath


Last edited by Nath76LA on Wed Jul 07, 2010 6:12 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 07, 2010 5:19 am 

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Awesome story! I LOVE my coupe. She had an FJ20 with quad throttle bodies in her, but having a rally car made that seem kinda redundant, so I put in a nice L20 with a sidedraught 40mm weber, extractors and a SSS 5-speed, and she's lovely to drive now (if a little slower...). She's about to go onto historic rego as I've bought myself an M35 Stagea as a daily driver :D . Photo below of the coupe...(Note the door mirror has been removed and the holes welded up)

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 07, 2010 8:41 pm 
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Awesome story. Was a hot lil car. :tu:

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 Post subject: Re: The story of my Stanza coupe (PA10) build
PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2011 1:42 am 
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HI - G'day,

Just to let you know, I saw/passed this Coupe up in Bendigo last Sunday. Guessing the day had finished or it was running between Stages, close by was an Old Skool Galant.

It's still dressed in it's club rally uniform, minor dent in the left hand front guard.

I like these things a lot, I'd have one no worries - but to see one getting bashed in club rally is Sad.

Mike.

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 Post subject: Re: The story of my Stanza coupe (PA10) build
PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2011 10:41 am 
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beautiful car, nice story.. too sad you had to let it go.... :cry:


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 Post subject: Re: The story of my Stanza coupe (PA10) build
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 4:12 pm 
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Location: Melbourne, Australia
Hi All
Thought I’d give everyone an update as to what has happened to the Stanza in the past few years.

As I mentioned in the story, I sold it to a guy who turned it into a rally car. As luck would have it,I ran into him at work about a year ago, he came in to buy some welding gear. He told me he had sold the stanza to a colleague who ran a workshop nearby and they were running it in some local rallies run by the Historic Rally Association (HRA) in Victoria. (See pictures of the old girl in full rally dress in the story above). He also told me that for a while he ran the stanza with an SR20 turbo in it! Needless to say he reckons it went like a jet and kept up with some V8’s at the local circuit racing track (Sandown) during some club events.

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Sorry about the quality of the pic, he photocopied the only photo he had of it in his workshop. Last corner of Sandown and on three wheels!

He put the L20B back into it before selling it. Not long after this meeting, I received an email from a guy who reckoned he now owns the Stanza. I quizzed him a little and the facts turned out to match up so he sent me these photos:

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This was about 1 ½ years ago and his plans were to get a bit more power and settle the suspension down for better rally traction. As you can see from the photos, she has suffered a few dents and dings and some of the rust is coming back but I was happy that she was still going as a rally car and that she was also in good hands.
It turns out that his Dad also owns a Stanza Coupe, a granny spec version in the same colour ! Before anyone gets excited, apparently he has no intention of selling it and plans to keep it as stock as possible. You can see this car in the following pictures:

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Back to the rally version, a new camshaft was fitted along with a matt black bonnet (hood), navigation instruments, new brake lines and a hydraulic handbrake, thicker gauge metal in matt black for the bottom sills (good for stone protection) and some different wheels for rally tyres.

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He has had some good results with it and entered a few recent events but as he is moving interstate later this year he has decided to sell the old girl. If anyone (in Australia) is interested in a great rally car (with log books) you can PM me and I can pass on the details.

I can only hope that she goes to a good home and can still blast around the forests.

Thanks for reading.
Craig.

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 Post subject: Re: The story of my Stanza coupe (PA10) build
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 12:58 am 
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you should get it back!! :tu: :tu: :mrgreen:


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 Post subject: Re: The story of my Stanza coupe (PA10) build
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 12:07 pm 
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My friend has one of these, great fun to drive. Awesome read...and I agree, you should get her back!!!

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