If you ever wondered where Nissan Z cars – those goodlooking, reliable, high performing yet relatively affordable little coupes – got their start, here is one off the genesis block.
The classic yet funky Datsun 160Z definitely helped popularise the Z cars in South Africa and this one, lovingly restored and owned by one Adrian Lakay from Athlone, is a real head-turner.
Adrian has been a petrolkop since the age of 10, following in his father’s footsteps.
It’s just over 50 years since the S30 Fairlady Z was introduced in Japan, the car that arguably established Datsun/Nissan as a desirable brand outside of the land of the rising sun.
However, there was such a worldwide demand for these little racers that once it became clear that South Africa was not to receive any, we made our own plan. Datsun SA commissioned the 140Z, working off the base of the 140Y GX Coupe. The result was a sub 10 second, 85kW, 1.4-litre four pot that stunned spectators at the 1978 Kyalami 1000km race by being the first two over the line, beating the Beemers.
In 1978 the twin-carb 160Z in it’s trademark canary yellow, red and black colourway was released, with less output but more torque.
In total, 241 Datsun 160Z cars were produced in 1978 and 1979, so owning one is certainly a rarity.
Adrian has kept that canary yellow theme, saying: “I’ve done no exterior work as I wanted to leave the body as standard as possible.”
You might have seen Adrian’s cars on these pages before as he is an avid Datsun/Nissan fan and collector.
He says: “My first love was the Datsun SSS, the baby blue one. Then I added the Nissan Skyline GTR R33 and then a Datsun 521 bakkie to my collection.
“There is no need for a sound system at the moment because the sweet sounds are made by the engine.”
He does intend to return it to the original colourway and adds: “I still need to add the Datsun 160Z genuine strip stickers to complete the look.”
Adrian enjoys the acknowledgment from those with an appreciation for such classics. He says: “If you drive this Datsun around you see all the older guys giving you a thumbs up and that’s a feeling I can’t explain.”
He stays loyal to the marquee except when asked what his dream car is: “The car I’d really like to ride is a Bentley Phantom, but that would only be one day when I'm big.”
Follow The Datsun Charity Maniacs for a closer look at Adrian’s collection of Datsuns.