October 2008: Jonathan Buhler’s Classic Datsun 240Z
With the vast import scene growing in Atlanta, a young kid in Dacula, Georgia had a dream to build a nostalgic car from the ground up, along with having the pride of driving something he built himself. For this month’s Ride of the month, we bring you Jonathan Buhler’s 1973 Datsun 240Z. This 240z started out in California, but after Jonathan’s father brought it to Georgia in the 80s, it has truly become a part of his family. With its combination of old and new, this Z car was a special project for both Jonathan and his father Ed.
“I am a musician; this was something that I did without prior experience. I learned a lot about how every part works. Not being mechanically inclined, this was all new to me. And this was mainly a backyard build; almost everything was done in my garage with the help of my dad and friends.
After receiving the car for his fifteenth birthday, Jonathan knew that it was going to take a lot to get this car going. Spending weeks stripping it down to bare bones, the Z was ready to start its transformation. Soda blasting and body work were the first things that needed addressing for Jonathan’s Z. Then after a month of bodywork and prep, the car was glazed over with the 350z La Mans Sunset Orange paint. A dash of flake and the car was now on it’s way to becoming the stunning image Jonathan had envisioned.
Getting it back into the garage, the inside and underside were treated with undercoating to insure no more rust, and dynamat was lined to keep the rattling to a minimum with the large system going in. Besides new carpet and installing a new Auto Power roll bar and carbon/Kevlar-backed High End Performance seats with five point TeamTech harnesses, the interior stayed original. A NR-G quick release and a Nardi steering wheel were also added but the last thing to go into the interior was the sound system. Custom pods were developed to hold the Polk Momo 61/2 mids and tweeters. Then a custom stealth box was built in the trunk to hold the Polk Momo series 10inch sub that is powered by a 1400 watt 4 channel amp with two separate crossovers.
Jonathan then focused on the motor. Pulling the motor before paint, he was able to take the stock L24 block and began working on it while the car was away. Taking the engine apart, Jonathan had help from a good friend who just happened to be the master mechanic at the local Nissan dealership. “The help from Allen helped me better understand the engine and it was great to have him there to help teach and show me a thing or two.” Replacing all of the old worn out engine parts, Jonathan had the head ported and polished but decided to keep the bottom end stock for the time being. “Performance was never the main concern with the engine build, but we did manage to pull some horses out.” Upgrading the stock SU carbs and going with an anodized 6-1 MSA header to a Tanabe exhaust helped with the horsepower. A new performance radiator, electronic ignition and many polished parts finished out the engine project. The tranny was refreshed with a Fidanza flywheel and CenterForce clutch, and to top it off the rear end was replaced with a R200 LSD.
Keeping the era-specific motor wasn’t the only classy or nostalgic thing Jonathan did; on the outside you’ll notice the era-specific Rota RB wheels that match the look of the OG Watanabes. Nothing beats having an old school car with old school wheels. Also on the outside you’ll notice the true Japanese temporary tag given to Jonathan by a good friend who happens to be the owner of the 71 skyline which graces the NICOclub poster. From the outside in, Jonathan has been very particular in choosing his parts, especially with the suspension. Arizona Z Car billet aluminum front and rear control arms can be seen and felt and the Cusco strut tower defiantly helps with the stiffness. All new bushings, tension rods, and sway bars with the new eibach springs and tokico struts round out the suspension mods.
“I am so thankful for the all the help from my dad, friends, my uncle and High End Performance.” Like most of us, his car project has no end and plans on upgrading to ITBs and stroking to a full 3 liters. With all the blood, sweat and tears, Jonathan Buhler’s Datsun is one 240Z you can really appreciate.