It was 1969 when Mr. K—the man responsible for shifting Nissan from its traditional common-car focus to one of performance—released the first Fairlady Z to the public and revolutionized the motoring world. It was designed to be the perfect blend of Jaguar E-Type styling and brute Porsche performance. Specifically calibrated with near-perfect weight distribution, the short-deck styling of the car was given a long hood, under which the original inline, six-cylinder, SOHC L20 engine produced 130 hp from far back in the bay. In the decades that followed, Nissan’s inline-sixes evolved to become lighter, more efficient, and vastly more powerful—nothing short of legendary. So, what’s a four-cylinder SR20DET doing under the hood of this Z?
Laid out before you is Noriaki Miyamoto’s S30 Fairlady Z. If the mention of Noriaki-san’s name—or the look of this particular S30 Z—didn’t ring a bell, refer back to our October ’10 issue where we featured his more widely known Super Pearl White ’74 Z, powered by a now 600-whp RB26DETT. Why wasn’t the same treatment given here? After all, replacing an inline-six with a more modern and powerful inline-six just seems to be common sense . . . but is it really so simple? With two turbos, the DOHC RB26 significantly outweighs either of the Z’s original L-series powerplants. Surprisingly, the turbo-four SR20DET also outweighs either L, but only slightly, and its smaller dimensions allowed Noriaki-san to position one lower and farther back in his Z’s bay, preserving—if not improving—Mr. K’s sought-after ideal weight balance. Factor in the SR’s huge power-producing potential and aftermarket support, and in the end, the decision was just as easy as it seems.
Another bonus to the SR’s space-saving size: using one here afforded Noriaki-san more than enough room to incorporate a custom V-mount intercooler and radiator system for improved cooling. Like his über-powerful RB26 car, this Z also sports sportbike carbon-fiber side mirrors, FRP ZG-style flares, SSR MS1 wheels, and a BRE front lip. However, unlike the white car, this one retains much of its original interior, with the addition of a matching leather bucket seat for the driver, and rusty floorpans for all to enjoy.
Click through the photos on Common Snapper’s website and you’ll see that their focus is very wide, ranging from “domestic” JDM cars, to “import” U.S.D.M. hot rods and lowriders, to trucks. When it comes to this S30 though, it’s clear that Noriaki-san’s intent with modifying it held true to the spirit of balanced, exciting, dependable motoring Mr. K had in mind when he famously exclaimed, “Love cars, love people, love life!”
Behind the Build
Iga, Mei prefecture, Japan
Performance tuning, fabrication, bodywork
Ocean diving, cars, goldfish breeding, deep-sea fishing
“Everyone loves an old man’s car!”
Nissan S30 Fairlady Z
Output: 280 whp (est.)
Engine S13 SR20DET; S15 T28 turbocharger, custom Greddy V-mount intercooler and radiator setup; custom coolant overflow tank, tubular stainless manifold, painted valve cover, relocated battery tray
Drivetrain Five-speed SR20DET transmission; custom Common Snapper driveshaft
Suspension Custom Common Snapper coilovers
Wheels/Tires SSR MS1 wheels (18x8.5 front, 18x10.5 rear, -17mm offset); Nankang Ultra Sport NS II tires (225/40-18 front, 255/40-18 rear)
Interior TND Motor Sport Rapido steering wheel; bucket seat; custom rust anti-carpeting.
Exterior ZG-style FRP fender flares; sportbike carbon-fiber side mirrors; BRE front air dam; shaved rear corner marker, badging; rear hatch and hoodpins