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DATSANITI - '80 210 Wagon VQ35 Swap

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2019 $2000 Challenge Recap


For me, the Challenge started Wednesday night when I hosted a couple other Challengers on their drive down. Always good to see old friends!




Thursday I borrowed Dad's truck, picked up a trailer, and hit the road with my teammate in time to catch the tail end of the parking lot builds. Friday morning, we applied the sticker package and made it through tech inspection, which was a bit lax to be honest.





I think the sticker package really suited my livery well!




Autocross - 43.380 - 4th place


Even though I have been autocrossing this car all year to find and address issues, I never ran it on a full set of Hoosier A7's. I made the decision to go full Purple Crack after realizing how poorly this car autocrosses on a mix of drag radials and A7's. I simply didn't have the budget for an extra set of tires, nor the time/skills/effort to scrounge a cheap enough set of drag tires. I did 3 runs to warm up the tires, getting times in the 45's and 46's. I left the trans in "manual mode - 2" which holds 2nd gear no matter what, which meant banging the rev-limiter on three different sections of the course. It was awesome.


Then I handed the duck-taped key to pro driver Robert Lewis, who is an awesome autocrosser and person. He immediately clicked off some 45 and 44 sec runs. On one of the runs, the car just shut off after coming to a stop. This sent me into panic troubleshooting mode, but the car fired back up after a hard start. I think somehow the torque converter was sticking or locking up, allowing the brakes to stall the engine in gear as it came to a stop. Never happened again and thankful for that. After figuring out the best strategy to use the tiptronic shifting, which I don't recall the exact details of, Robert nailed a 44.380 sec on the final run, good enough for 4th place in autocross. FTD was 43.738 from a gutted and beautiful Cadillac CTS-V. I was about 2 tenths behind a crazy turbo rotary-powered Porsche 944. Overall, I'm extremely pleased with the performance and happy the car did exactly what I've been training it to do all year without breaking.


Feedback from Robert was pretty positive. He said it felt pretty well sorted, though a bit of instability under braking, which helped it rotate or something (I don't really speak autocross fluently yet), and it needed more front camber and possibly more rear sway bar because it was pushing through turns. But otherwise he seemed pretty impressed by it, not only from his verbal feedback but also the giant grin I could see through the windshield after his first run!




Drag - 13.109 @ 109 MPH - 9th place


Since I committed to running A7's the whole Challenge, drag prep consisted of installing the bottle and airing down the rear tires. I started at 24 psi and worked my way down to 19 psi. I also started with the 75hp jets, which I knew worked for a 13.1xx. And that's exactly what it did, 13.132 at 107.58 MPH on the 75 shot. Definitely traction limited. The tires would spin and the engine rev straight to redline when spraying in 1st or 2nd gear. It was totally fine spraying through the 3-4 shift. After 2 runs, I swapped the jets out for the "trailer spec" shot, 150hp worth of nitrous. The first run was actually slower, because the spinning problem simply got worse. Then I figured out how to modulate the throttle a bit while spraying, then gradually getting back into WOT. 2nd run on the 150 shot was 13.109 at 109.81 MPH, my personal best. It was still spinning tires all over the place though.


As I crossed the finish line, the check engine light (normally on at all times) started flashing. Something I've never seen it do before. I pulled into pits and checked it out - in addition to the normal 7 codes it throws, it also had a Cyl #1 misfire. Huh, that's odd. I was pretty satisfied with those times already, so I let it cool off and watched the drags with good company. I told them about my issue, and it was recommended to gap the plugs down for nitrous. With 1 hour of drag racing left, we went back to the car and pulled #1 plug to check its gap. That looks a bit out of spec.




Nick and I decided to rush over to the local O'Reillys to pick up a replacement, because it ain't called the $2000 Walk In The Park. They had it in stock, so I bought it, and threw it in the car just in time for one last run on the 150 shot. But only managed a 13.3 with the same traction issues. Oh well, at least we tried! 




Good enough for I think 9th in the drags, which put me at 3rd in the Dynamic Score, behind the Hong Norr CTS-V and Ed Malle's amazing Mustang GT, both LS powered cars. 


Concours - 21.66 / 25 - 2nd place


This turned out to be my strongest event. I didn't have much of a presentation prepared, I just told the story of the kickoff build party weekend and which parts were from what on the car. I pulled a fender off and mounted it on my custom fender concours display stand, made from a minivan brake rotor and scrap tubing. This showed off the boundaries between Datsun, Infiniti, and Insanity (stuff fabbed by me). That winter of widebody welding, the weeks of bondo sanding, the fiddling with paint and sprayer settings, and the weeks of wetsanding and buffing really paid off and showed for themselves. Concours score was 21.66, 2nd place behind Wreck Racing's 22.5, which was very well-earned. There were some amazing looking cars this year.





Overall - 1st place!




My most prized possession and now living room focal point. Stampie builds one helluva trophy.¬†Thanks for reading along! I have no idea what the future holds for this car, but in the short term, I at least want a 12 sec quarter mile on proper drag tires ūüôā

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  • 2 weeks later...

Datsaniti is now a 12 second car!


With a 100hp shot on drag radials, I kept putting down 13.1's just like I did all summer and at the Challenge. Turns out you can just spray right off the line to remedy the torque bog that always happens at launch due to the low stall oem torque converter. That means spraying at like 2000 rpm for a brief moment, conrods be damned. Changing nothing else, this brought my 60' down from my previous best 2.0 to 1.8! Good enough to squeeze my way into 12's.



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Well, the same full squirt, just much earlier on. I've heard an Uprev tune can eliminate the torque bog off the line and sharpen the shifts. Maybe add some power and pull timing for the nitrous. It was really hanging between 1 and 2, bouncing the rev limiter...while spraying...oops.


12-second $2,000 street legal Datsun wagon. 

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  • 3 months later...
On 3/11/2020 at 3:19 AM, thisismatt said:

Question about your fuel pump - how did you mount the pump? Is it using the stock o-ring or did you change to a more flat gasket, assuming you made your own mounting ring welded to the tank.


It's the stock G35 pump/sender unit with stock o-ring. Correct, I just cut my own flat mounting ring, which I welded some screws to match the G35 flange. It's not perfectly flat but hasn't leaked yet. 





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1 hour ago, Maschinenbau said:


It's the stock G35 pump/sender unit with stock o-ring. Correct, I just cut my own flat mounting ring, which I welded some screws to match the G35 flange. It's not perfectly flat but hasn't leaked yet. 





Thanks! I was thinking of doing similar but my OCD wasn't sure if making a groove for the o-ring was necessary...

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  • 7 months later...

Nothing new with¬†the car!¬†I've been autocrossing it all year in SCCA's new Xtreme Street class, which is basically me and every turbo Miata in the Atlanta region. I'm winning ūüôā It sits in my driveway for 2-6 weeks, fires right up, drives to the event, and doesn't have issues. I can't ask for more with such¬†a crazy¬†autocross car. It has really helped me hone my driving skills this year.


I'm thinking about selling after the racing season is over. I have too many cars and I don't use it enough. It would make an amazing drift missile. 





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I'm honestly not very emotionally attached to it. I'm not really a big Datsun/Z/VQ fan, it's just what made sense for this build. I set out to build this car with the intention of winning the $2000 Challenge, so it has served its purpose, and I enjoy the build more than the ownership experience. I would like to try out drifting before I sell it, otherwise it's driveway art...which I have lot of right now. Out of view are two more damn cars. The El Camino is my beloved first car. That's the one I would miss forever.




If anyone is interested in the Datsun let me know. I'm in Atlanta if you want to come see it.

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I salute you on the build.  I totally understand that the journey building a car is often far more valuable than the owning of the car afterward.  Good luck with whatever your next your is.

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