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Me & My Z - 40th Anniversary


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September 13, 2012, marked the 40th anniversary of my ownership of my Z-Car. If someone told me when I first bought the car that I would have it for 40 years I would have said “you’re nuts”! Anyway, I was out of town on the 13th so no special drive or other activity with the Z on that day. Today, I was fishing at a local lake, snapped a quick photo of the car, and thought I’d share the anniversary with the board members. Most of the bio below was posted on earlier threads about “the story behind your Z” but I’ve revised it to bring it up to date.

I read the road test of the 240Z in the April 1970 issue of Road&Track magazine and recognized the car as a great value. Then, in 1971 I visited my brother down in Miami and he pulls up in a blue 1970 Z - so that was my first ride. Between the article and that ride, I said to myself: I should get one of these someday...

Bought my Z new in 1972 while in the Marines, using a re-enlistment bonus to pay cash for the car. Had a BRE/Interpart header, spook, and rear spoiler installed by the dealer at delivery. After I had the car for a while, drove up to the BRE/Interpart shop in El Segundo, CA and bought the Mulholland suspension package. In ’73, put in a hotter cam. In ’74, bought a new WR OD 5-speed, driveshaft, and R-190 LSD w/4.44 gears from Datsun Comp ($575 through a mechanic friend at a dealer). The car scooted pretty good with that gearing. Car was up on blocks for a year while I was stationed in Japan in late ’74 into ’75.

By 1977, I wanted more power, so skipped the triple carb scene and went with a 331ci SB Chevy – 11:1 forged, cam, Edelbrock Tarantula manifold, 650 Holley double-pump carb, headers. Had to pull the R-190/4.44 out and put a R-180/3.36 in for the V-8 (the R-180 lasted while the V-8 was in). In 1978, I had the Acra-Trac front suspension mod installed (who remembers Acra-Trac?). After 5 years with the V-8, I got married, needed a better transportation car, and was getting caught up with smog/legal issues with the swap, so in 1982, put in an L-28 with just a slightly hotter cam, and another Datsun Comp 5-speed. In 1983, the R-180 pinion gear finally failed while I was doing a spirited 1-2 shift (must have been something to do with the V-8 service!) so put in an R-200/3.54. Also in 1983 I made the +1 upgrade to 15” wheels.

In ‘86/’87, did a moderate refresh of the car – went through the mechanicals, had it repainted original color (901 silver). Then, didn’t do much but drive and enjoy it for nearly 20 years. In late 2005, I started a mechanical refresh again (mostly suspension). In December 2005 (unfortunately) the head cracked and I had an oil pan full of coolant – so, an unplanned engine rebuild. As long as the engine was apart, went with flat-top pistons and a hotter cam. In January ’06, decided to go to the MSA show, so I worked on the cosmetics a bit and finally refreshed the interior. In 2007 I installed Z-Therapy carbs with SM needles. After those refreshes and rebuilds, I figured the car would be ready for another 20 years of trouble-free driving.

In 2008, I moved from Southern California to rural Tennessee. I had planned to drive the Z across but couldn’t make that work with the household move so it was shipped to TN. Since the move, the car is used mostly to get me to my local fishing lakes, but occasionally I take it for a spin down a deserted country lane and blow it out with a couple of fast runs.

Over all this time, the car has only been out of service (not counting the year on blocks while I was in Japan) for about 6-7 weeks due to engine swaps/rebuilds, paint, etc. It was a daily driver for the first 17 years, about a “twice a week” driver for the next 17, and has been about a “once a week” driver for the past 6 years. It’s been a long, but fun, 40 years of ownership.

Future plans? Perhaps reverse some of the mods I made to the car over 35-40 years ago (mostly non-stock instrumentation and other interior mods). At some point in the future, with upper body strength diminishing, I’ll have to consider pulling out the quick steering knuckles and putting stock ones back in, along with perhaps a larger diameter steering wheel, to reduce the steering effort. A problem that will continue to get worse over the future years may be finding appropriate performance tires for 15” wheels (of course, as I age, perhaps I shouldn’t be exploring the capabilities of performance rubber!). Otherwise, the car is mostly good to go – let’s see how much longer we stay together…!


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Welcome to the 40-year club!!! Great looking car and great ownership story. If you are not in Carl Beck's original owner's registry, by all means get over to his site and submit an application. There are a few commonalities in our respective ownerships: my selling dealer had already added the BRE 1st-gen Spook and spoiler to the car when I first saw it. I later switched out the exhaust manifold for the Interpart 3-2-1 version and also installed the Mulholland springs and shocks. The springs are still on the car; the drivetrain is refreshed but esentially still as-delivered.

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Thanks guys. It's amazing how many folks have kept their car all these years. I parked the Z outside a mini-mart a few weeks ago and had someone ask me how long I had owned the car. I replied "nearly 40 years." They responded with "Oh - four years, that's not long." I answered "NO - FORTY years." They said "WOW - that's really something." My final reply was "thanks, I bought it when I was 12..." ;)

Jim - thanks for the welcome. I registered on Carl's original owner page a while back.

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Great story! I'll be celebrating 41 years of ownership in a couple months. As there are many original owners in this group, it might be interesting if we all shared our memories when we hit a milestone date - things like what other cars we considered before buying the Z, what we traded in for the Z, what was the dealership like, waiting list, what we've done to our Zs over the decades, and Z adventures.

Had someone told me in 1971 that I'd be driving a 41 year old car in 2012, I'd have thought they were crazy.


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Thanks again to all - especially to the other original owners - are we crackpots....or just very, very wise!

....... it might be interesting if we all shared our memories when we hit a milestone date - things like what other cars we considered before buying the Z, what we traded in for the Z, what was the dealership like, waiting list, what we've done to our Zs over the decades, and Z adventures.

Other cars considered? A crazy list which I still remember. I had re-enlisted in the Marines and was sitting on $8000 after taxes - a tidy sum in 1972...and of course I was prepared to blow it all - who needs to invest for the future when you're that young! So, my list was: Jaguar XKE V-12, Lotus Elan+2, Corvette LT-1, Porsche 911, and Pantera. A wildcard was a used Ferrari (they used to depreciate pretty fast back then). Some of those I would have had to finance and didn't want to do that. At the end of the day, I went with the most practical selection - the Z. Of course - all those other cars would be worth MUCH more now - but I probably wouldn't have been able to afford to keep them this long...

Car traded in? A 1969 Datsun 510 wagon (wish I still had that).

Dealership experience? A guy named Ron Marsh was the saleman - a nice enough guy - but then all he had to do was process the sale. NO negotiation on price - full sticker plus the options they loaded the car with: AC, mag wheels, undercoating, front bumper guard.

Waiting list? By September '72, at least in Southern California, they were JUST about caught up. There was only a single car at the dealer in the showroom (an Ontario Motor Speedway pace car replica as I recall). So, I had to wait for the next shipment to the dealer. Four cars came in - they called the next 4 people on the list and I was #4 so I only waited a few weeks. A coincidence that when I got the call to come to the dealer, it was my birthday - Happy Birthday to me! The only choice the 4 people on the list got was color. 1st on the list got first pick, then down from there. By the time it got to me the only color left was silver...and that was fine with me.

Z-mods over the years? In my original bio above.

Z adventures? Gosh - that would be a whole 'nother thread. Some random thoughts: Driving the car a hundred miles a day a number of times when I first got it - just couldn't stop - and gas was 35cents/gal back then. Driving the car to the east coast and back to SoCal in '74 and '75. Getting TWO speeding tickets on the same day - trying to win the Yuma to El Toro Grand Prix. When the V-8 was in - blowing off the outside rear view mirror while doing about 145 way out in the middle of nowhere in northern Nevada. The pits that are in my windshield happened on that trip as well. Same trip - being in a windstorm and opening the door of the car - it gets yanked out of my hand and the door got sprung - have a problem with the drivers door to this day. Also with the V-8 - getting caught by CHP while top ended (145) - but he only wrote me for simple speeding at 99mph - he gave me the "military discount." Every important person in my adult life has ridden in the Z. Coming in hot on a left turn, a little moisture on the road I wasn't counting on, went to 10.5 tenths, started to spin, and hit a sharp curb - toasted the rear suspension and cracked the right rear mag. Enjoying lots of country drives. Transportation car - back and forth to the range or to the lakes. The "sleeper" aspect of the V-8 - blew off lots of expensive cars. The quickness of the car with the 4.44 gears - drove a 289 Mustang nuts for a few lights in a row - just from the light up to the 45 speed limit. Driving southbound on 395 from Reno back to LA at night - mostly all two-lane back then - on the first day of a 3-day weekend - every car in LA was headed northbound - blinding lights for hundreds of miles - most miserable drive ever. And on, and on, and on - 40 years is a long time.

Before I forget - the greatest Z adventure was when the Z saved my life. Probably in the mid- to late-90s, I was heading into an intersection - I had the green light, it was a 55mph zone and I was right-on 55. Just as I'm getting close to the intersection, a car headed towards me made a left turn RIGHT in front of me. Somehow, the Z moved sideways to the left, then sideways back to the right. I cleared the other car by what seemed like inches...maybe not, but it was REAL close. I pulled over to the side of the road, stopped, and my hands were shaking on the wheel. A guy pulled up behind me and said "whoa - you alright - I've never seen a car turn like that" (or something like that). I said I was ok. Got calmed down a bit, started the Z back up and drove off. I don't think I would have made it in a stock Z - I think the suspension and hi-po tires saved me big time. Had I been in another car...I don't think I'd be typing this now...

Edited by Goose52
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