Last fall, we had a typical-for-TTAC slap fight between Bark and Mark, centered around Nissan. I’ve been ruminating on this argument for months, but my conversation last week with NISMO chief Hiroshi Tamura — and seeing what Nissan chose to feature in New York — finally pushed me over the edge.
As I walked through the glass doors in the Jacob Javits Center last Wednesday morning, preparing for my first auto show as a member of the press, the automaker that’s defined much of my motoring life was front and center.
Somewhat inexplicably, Nissan had rented possibly the best, highest-traffic space in the entire hall and filled it with a tribute to a six-figure supercar, complete with a bunch of old cars the U.S. never saw when new.
I was turning sixteen the autumn of my junior year in high school, and if I wanted to get a job, I needed a car. Ideally, I’d have begun working at 14 and saved up myself, but I lived several miles from anywhere a teenager could reasonably expect to find gainful employment.
Dad took pity on me and offered to give me a car. Not just any car, mind you, but a pristine 1973 Datsun 240Z that he and I had done a mechanical restoration on. However, the Z had never seen snow, and I told my dad that it would be a crime to subject the Z to an Ohio winter.
So he sold it, and used the proceeds to buy me an ’85 Nissan Maxima. I’m still kicking myself.
I see endless Z31 300ZXs in junkyards, and I usually don’t pay much attention to them (unless we’re talking about a rare 50th Anniversary Edition with BodySonic butt-vibrating seat speakers with super-futuristic digital dash, of course). Even 280Zs and 280ZXs are plentiful in self-service wrecking yards, so I don’t photograph many of them. However, an optioned-to-the-hilt 240Z, complete with automatic transmission, sunroof, and Malaise Era brown paint is worth shooting, so here we go! (Read More…)
We lived in Los Gatos from 1987 to 1993. It was already becoming a high-priced enclave for Silicon Valley high fliers then, and now it’s utterly transformed. The Ford, Chevy and even the Honda dealers are now all shuttered, but the RR, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Lamborghini and Bentley dealers are flourishing. Disneyland-esque mansions the size of hotels have replaced little ranchers. Driving back into to town after a wonderful hike in the hills with friends, I saw the ultimate extremes: a brand-new “reproduction” full-sized water-wheel “mill” on a dry, scrubby hillside, “turning” slowly while the pump-fed recirculating “stream” spilled from its “sluice” to “power” it. This thing was the size of a two or three-story house; a “lawn ornament” of grandiose proportions straight out of a theme park. Ok; I don’t have any problems with folks having lots of money; but do they have to spend it in such grotesque ways? But just a block away from our old house I found the perfect antidote to my nouveau riche nausea: a 1977 Datsun 810. (Read More…)
Revivals are notoriously unsuccessful. But the lure of recapturing the magic of of the past perpetually goads men into futile pursuits, whether it be cars or women. The problem is that the changed circumstance of the times aren’t properly considered: the chemistry that worked so well twenty years earlier may not today. But it all makes for colorful stories, depleted bank accounts, dented egos, bent valves and prematurely rusty cars. (Read More…)