Eighty-two years ago today Nissan Motor Company was established. What better way to celebrate than with a slew of photos of its most iconic sports car? Fortunately, the recent Z-Bash show in Anaheim, California had approximately 400 of them.
JNC was there early on, and as booths were being set up the most rabid of Zed Heads were already queueing up. The line grew minute by minute, each arrival announced by the rumbling of six-cylinder engines.
The show took place at Angels Stadium, home of the Anaheim Angels baseball team, which mean that,iIronically, this huge gathering of Zs was held under a giant A.
Though Z-Bash is not a name you might be familiar with, it’s just an old show with a new name and a new location. It’s still organized by Motorsport Auto, the Z specialty store, which has hosted the event at its Orange, California headquarters in recent years. In a former iteration, it was called the Z-Car West Coast Nationals.
With the new location came a lot more space for Z-Cars of all generations and stripes, from bone stock to race cars to works in progress.
We were honored to have the G-nose Datsun 240Z once owned by Yutaka Katayama himself as our official JNC booth car. The custom yellow paint, a non-factory color chosen by Mr K, shined like a jewel on the otherwise overcast day. Polished up for the show, you would’ve never guessed that it had just come from an 8-hour, 200-mile Touge California outing a few weeks earlier.
Oddly, we had another yellow Datsun bookending our little aisle of booths. Right beside us was the official JCCS and Nissan Jam booth, with organizers Koji and Terry Yamaguchi’s beautiful ki 510 Wagon on the other side.
Even Nissan USA made an official showing, debuting the 2017 Nissan GT-R for the first time on the west coast after its New York Auto Show launch. They were giving away these Nissan DNA Garage T-shirts for the price of one tweet. Inspired by the door to the Zama collection, it bridges all generations of the Z with an S30 on one side and the latest 370Z NISMO on the other.
One of the most eye-catching Zs of the show was a yellow 1971 240Z on matching Glow Stars. Though perhaps the most faithful stateside tributes to Inoue-san’s Star Road Zs, dare we saw we actually prefer its look due to the more traditional body and bumper treatment? The gray spoiler, flares and rear panel were a smart choice; black would have made it look perhaps a bit bumblebee-ish.
Leaping straight from the cover of your Trapper Keeper was this purple 280ZX, exhibiting a uniquely 80s California style. Though there were some modern touches under the hood, the body is pure 80s, and it’s not hard to imagine it cruising through the frames of a music video, with T-Tops off, of course.
Normally 2+2 Zs are unloved, but there’s something so right about this 4-seater 280Z with its big bumpers and stripes. It’s not pretending to be anything its not, and wears its Malaise Era origins proudly on its exterior. A Kousoku Yuen reader would probably go nuts over this car.
John Williams’s 240Z is another Touge California survivor, having completed the inaugural event in 2015. Don’t be fooled by the sleek paint; it’s really a race car in street car clothing and John isn’t afraid to flog at the track.
This looks like a regular blue Z34 and it’s certainly not nostalgic yet, but this 370Z is owned by a celebrity in the automotive world. Troy Sumitomo is founder of 5 Axis Design, and he is responsible constructing many, many of the manufacturer concepts you see at auto shows.
Our friends at Datsun Freeway brought many wares from Japan, including these incredibly detailed, 1:87 scale Zs spanning every variation and generation you can imagine.
Our pals at JDM Car Parts brought out the Phantom Z sport wagon, a real-life recreation of an alternate Z body style penned back in the day by Yoshihiko Matsuo, designer of the original S30 Z. They also reproduce a host of hard-to-find parts for the Z, everything from key blanks to plastic dashboard bits.
Founder Jay Ataka gave us flag and sticker with deep meaning behind it. When Mr K was leaving Japan to become president of the fledgling Nissan USA, his brother gave him a maritime signal flag for the letter Z, which bore historical significance during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904. Mr K kept it for many years, even using it to motivate Datsun employees when times were tough. It is said, of course, that this Z flag was also the inspiration of the 240Z name.
Nearby, the crew from Zociety marketed Z goods to a new generation of Zed Heads, including a selection of wheels and louvers (even for newer generations).
Nearby, a mobile dyno was set up for those wanting to see how many horses were under the hoods of their Zs.
Show cars were not limited to Zs, though, and a small selection of Skylines, GT-Rs, and even trucks made an appearance. Somehow the juxtaposition of Godzilla and a Hardbody, both finished in black, made for a fun photo.
For something different, a Datsun 610 on 13-inch Libres stood out. Though it was missing some trim, its white interior had survived many decades in surprisingly good condition.
John Baker of El Segundo won third place in the People’s Choice Awards for his immaculate Datsun 2000 Sport roadster. It’s a rare event when a non-Z wins such a prize at a show celebrating the Z.
Unbeknownst to us, the organizers of the show had prepared two trophies for the JNC staff to award to two deserving Zs. With many fine examples present, it was extremely difficult to choose. If we had three JNC trophies to award, one surely would have gone to the brilliant white 240Z that looked like it had just rolled off the showroom floor.
However, with a limited supply of awards, we felt we that Scott Kunisaki deserved one for his incredible 1971 240Z. On the outside, it sported a beautifully finished Fairlady Z exterior that would fit at any kyusha meet in Japan. Under the hood, it sported the best of American tuning with a 3.2 Rebello stroker breathing through triple Mikuni 44s. It is a beauty and a beast, and thus deserving of a Japanese Nostalgic Car Z-Car of Distinction award.
Our last award was a no-brainer. Matt Kochaon’s 1972 240Z was completed only a week before Z-Bash, but damn, is it a stunner. This isn’t a case of just slamming a car to the ground with cut springs. One of the reasons it looks so good is that loads of details are baked into the body itself, things that are incredibly subtle but cost an unfathomable number of man-hours to achieve.
The metal flares are a work of art, making for a incredible fitment for his 16-inch SSRs. We’ll be doing a full feature on Matt’s car soon so we we won’t spoil it any more, but for now suffice it to say that it is one of the finest Z builds we’ve ever seen (and we’ve seen a lot). It should be noted, that Matt also won the People’s Choice Award, proving that sometimes, people do indeed have good taste.
Overall, the Z-Bash is an excellent gathering of what is one of the strongest model-specific communities in the Japanese car world. When the Nissan founders formed the company 82 years ago, they probably didn’t expect to create such an iconic car, but we can’t think of a better way to celebrate. Happy Birthday, Nissan!
For more Z-Bash, see the bonus gallery below.
Great photos! Although, photoshopping in an overcast Minnesota sky into every image must have taken forever! Thanks for the tour, Ben, and for showing me that you actually have a non-blue sky every once in a while.
Ha! The clouds were a nice respite from the blazing sun that fries me to a crisp at all the other car shows.
Judging from the terrific pictures a great time was had by all… particularly like the Phantom Z
Sport Wagon… very well done and very tasty, too bad that one did not make the cut in the day…
Wow…some very cool Z’s. Great to see so many different styles and eras of Datsun’s and Nissan’s Ben.
My internet service was down for approximately 2 month. I return to having internet service and Ben is living the dream. in a sea of Z cars. Thanks for the stories and photos. Ben and crew you should consider stopping by the Mt. Shasta Datsun Roadster Meet, July 14-16 in the beautiful mountain community of Mt. Shasta http://mtshastaroadstermeet.311s.org/ It is a relaxed laid back weekend with a hard core group of mainly older people who worked for Nissan back in the day that arrive annually coming from So. Cal to Canada and across the country.
I am such a Z fan. My 72 has been slowly re-built to OEM specs and wish I could make it out there 1 day from FL. Great pics and thanks for sharing!
For those of us on the east coast who couldn’t attend,how can we get one of those nice Nissan DNA t shirts?