Over a series of posts, we’ll take a look back to where Z1 Performance began. We’ll chronicle some of the projects, and events from back in the day and share some old photos and stories along the way.
Z1 Performance, the brainchild of a few die-hard Datsun fanatics, saw Adam’s 1979 280ZX as a veritable guinea pig in a project that would strive to blend old school and new in a timeless package.
Mike was the owner of Z1 at the time and an experienced mechanic. Along with Billy (an equally knowledgeable tech) they had been restoring, repairing, modifying and racing Z-cars for years prior. They had the experience, parts and knowledge required to get this project off the ground. Together with Adam’s vision, they targeted the ultimate street car of the time; the 993 911 Turbo, capable of running mid 12-second 1/4 runs with a full interior, A/C, and stereo.
This ZX was not destined to be a trailer queen. Rather, it would be a fully functioning daily driver as comfortable cruising to work as it was on the drag strip. As the project grew legs, progress was made quickly. It wasn’t long before we were all spending Friday nights at Long Island Dragway for test-and-tune. The boys would have hours to make countless runs, note changes and results.
Phase 1 was simple: Turbocharge the higher compression N/A 280zx motor using OEM Datsun turbo parts along with a rising rate adjustable fuel pressure regulator.
Phase 2 required the stronger Turbo motor’s internals, a front mount intercooler (Starion core) high flow fuel pump, larger turbo and a programmable ECU (Electromotive TEC II).
Phase 3 would bring along a fully built motor, aggressive cam, massive injectors, larger turbo and intercooler plus loads more boost.
Once armed with the ECU, Adam scoped out the few dyno’s available in the area at the time and gain some experience tuning the L series for boost. We’ll have to search for dyno sheets!
Success wasn’t always the name of the game, and driving the ZX to and from events and testing would often mean long nights prepping and repairing. I recall one particular test session at LI dragway when the original N/A tranny finally let go…after perhaps one run. After a tow back to the shop (and a large bill), Mike and Bill had another tranny bolted up in under and hour and we drowned our sorrows with pizza and beer.
Through it all, we built not only fast cars, but solid friendships that would stand the test of time. While Mike and Bill have since moved on to other careers, they are still very much a part of the Z1 family and continue to offer their assistance, experience and knowledge in their free time.
Is it a prybar or a boost controller?
Likely waiting for an authentic LI Dragway hotdog in between runs
There we go!
That's right, a brushed aluminum gas cap in '96. Z1, setting trends!
Compensating for something?
Now that's competition!
Would this be called "attack mode?"
Who won the holeshot?
On the dyno, after a quick stop at the airport for jet fuel! No joke.
All of it, impossible without this man (Mike). That hat was stlyin in '96!