It was 10:00pm on a Saturday night when I received a phone call from Mayday David. David was out at a local car meet when he stumbled upon a classic beauty that we had yet to see in our neck of the woods. At the exact moment of the call I was in the symphony listening to the legendary Nobuo Uematsu (the creator of the Final Fantasy music) getting my nerd on. It was intervened by the call that went a little something like this, “John, where you at?” David said. I responded, “Jones Hall, the symphony”. David responds, “Well, you better get your suited up ass over here to this meet, because there is a Datsun you HAVE to see”.
We have featured a Datsun before on this site, Van Luong’s, which, in my opinion is pretty damn clean and hard to top, so if these guys are making me come out to a meet in a symphonic suited up fashion, then, this HAD to be an awesome whip, and they were right. One thing I was not prepared for was the perfection that I was about to cast my eyes upon, Khanh Le’s 1972 S30 240Z.
The reason we had not seen this car before is because Mr. Le had just come here from California. Originally from Texas he moved to California when he was a kid, and has lived the majority of his life there. Seeing from his build he definitely has some west coast flavor thrown into the mix.
Starting with a Nissan 200sx Mr. Le was destined for the nostalgic realm. When he was in his adolescent days of ricerhood and just getting into tuning, all of his friends owned Datsun 280Zs, so, feeling left out he went on to purchase his first Fairlady, a Datsun 240z. The purchase occurred 15 years ago from a gentleman for a measly $750.00!!!! Originally the 240z came in a light blue which he had converted to the JDM Fairlady maroon. Mr. Le noted however that, “the color got old, and it was time for a change.” So he went with what he felt was a fitting color, The Lexus is300 graphite gray. I personally love this color because it gives that sinister feel to the car without having to go all the way to black. Also, it complements the black Watanabes as well.
One of the crazy things that Mr. Le threw out there is that most of his friends on the West Coast no longer roll in those 280z anymore. Now they cruise around in suited up RB26 and 2JZ powered S30s, which makes for a pack you definitely do not want to mess with on the street.
An admirable aspect to this classic is that the whole entire car was self built. From the ground up Khanh did it all, and not only did he stick to as many oem + parts as he could but he also used some fairly unique parts as well. For instance, check out the mirrors. You cannot order these from any JDM catalogue because they were made for restoration of American Classics. Therefore when asked about why Mr. Le chose these mirrors over the JDM chrome originals, he stated, “because they look better, and I really do not like the JDM alternative, so I fabricated my own brackets and made it work.” Great answer if I’d say so myself coming from a true tuner, not just a parts picker.
When looking at the engine bay, you can tell mucho TLC went into the heart. Aside from the custom intake manifold, brake booster, and other aesthetics, when I asked Mr. Le about the internals I had to pause for a WTF moment. He told me that the motor was stroked to 3.1 liters using a Maxima diesel crank. Ok, a maxima diesel crank? Really? Most people out there don’t even know that Nissan had a Maxima that was diesel, let alone taking the crank out of one and using it to stroke a L28 out of a Fairlady to 3.1 liters. Damn Gangster.
Our friend Eory put it pretty well as we were gawking at the car in the Graveyard, “This is one of the best examples of old meets new, in an aggressive way.” I mean, there are cars out there that are faster, and handle better, but for some reason, the feeling you get when staring at Mr. Lee’s S30 is almost like that of when Ice Cube and Chris Tucker yelled DAYUMMMMMM at Mrs. Parker’s ass in Friday, so nice.
Hell even Mayday Mikey wishes that this guy was his dad. Who wouldn’t want a Pops that creeped around in this sinister madness? Mikey put it as “Aggressive but not too aggressive and subtle but not too subtle” “Meaty tires and full race this car looks like it belonged in Wangan Midnight.”
The funny thing is that Mr. Lee is also building another Datsun on the side too, another 240z, this time, with a RB26. This isn’t just talk as it exists in his garage and is almost done. According to him it is going to eclipse this fine example seen here, we can’t wait.
When we asked him what was next after all the Fairladys, we had figured he might throw something out there like an NSX, Ferrari 360, Bimmer, really anything that jumps into the upper echelon, but the answer we got was…ready for this? A Datusn 510. BAD ASS! We love true ricers, and we definitely can’t wait to see the next project that Mr. Lee whips out next!
Khanh Le’s 1972 Datsun 240z
Engine and Transmission
280ZX L28 Engine Swap
3.1 liter stroker with Maxma diesel crank
Port and Polished head
Custom Intake Manifold
Z31 Turbo transmission
Rollers & Suspension
16” x 10” & 16” x 9” Watanabes
Fairlady Z31 Brakes
Momo Steering wheel
& Some Thump
All Pictures taken exclusively for Mayday Garage by Khiem Pham and Andrew Machac.
For all of the photos in High Resolution, click HERE!