Throwback Thursday: The Imai Works Z

2023 Introduction

It’s Thursday, which suggests it’s time for an additional 10-year throwback publish from the Speedhunters archive. This time round it’s our first take a look at Jun Imai‘s iconic S30 Datsun 260Z.

Even in the event you’re not acquainted with Jun’s identify, we will assure that you simply’ll be acquainted with a few of his work. And never simply his 1:1 creations. Presently of this authentic characteristic in October 2013, Jun had been working in Mattel’s Scorching Wheels design division for nearly 10 years. He’s the man largely chargeable for bringing the die-casts all of us like to hunt for to fruition. Whereas he’s since moved on from Scorching Wheels HQ in El Segundo, he’s nonetheless primarily based in California and nonetheless working his 1:64 design magic, however these days for his personal firm: KAIDO☆HOUSE.

We re-featured Jun’s Z once more in 2017, however within the six years since there have been much more modifications, a lot of which you’ll be able to see on his Instagram. A second re-feature is lengthy overdue, so hopefully we will make that occur within the close to future. Within the meantime although, the story beneath offers you a fantastic perception – in Jun’s personal phrases – to how the automobile got here collectively the primary time round.


Welcome To Imai Works

If there’s one factor I can admit to, it’s this: I completely love a undertaking, and each side of it. From the preliminary imaginative and prescient, whether or not it’s an image in my thoughts or a sketch on a sheet of scrap paper, to the procurement of the belongings, then working via the pains and pleasures of the method – it’s all good enjoyable. The second you get to the house stretch and embark on that maiden voyage down the road (in no matter it is likely to be) there’s nearly no better reward. The dedication, time administration, and the help you get from family and friends, all of it comes collectively at that second. For many who have been there, you already know the sensation; you couldn’t wipe the smile out of your face in the event you tried.


Welcome to my humble storage, which I affectionately name ‘Imai Works’. I named it that as a result of that is the place all of my private initiatives, massive or small, go down. I wished to share just a few of those initiatives with you earlier than we get to my newest construct. And you’ll have to excuse the mess, as my workspace was nonetheless reeling with vitality from the pre-JCCS thrash-a-thon every week earlier than, getting vehicles prepared for the present. This additionally occurs to be the favourite a part of the home for my two yr outdated daughter. We spend many weekend mornings right here, the place she assists me by hiding my sockets, wrenches, and the rest she will get her little arms on.


It’s a small workspace, however I handle to suit numerous stuff in right here. On any wall, you’ll see artwork items from buddies, a bustling toy assortment and memorable souvenirs from my travels.


I also have a few derelict 1/10 scale initiatives sitting round, ready for a bit of affection. One in every of nowadays…


Now about these 1/10 scale initiatives. RC vehicles have been a giant a part of my childhood. I’ve spent many days driving my bike to the pastime store after college to gaze on the shiny kits and funky field artwork. I hoped that I’d be offered with one for a birthday or vacation.


Though I fully thrashed the primary few vehicles I obtained, finally I turned fairly good at constructing, tuning and racing this stuff.


About 10 years in the past, I began resurrecting no matter outdated vehicles I had, and started restoring them, together with different used and abused examples of my favourite fashions rising up.


Though RC vehicles are nice enjoyable, I made a decision to make the bounce and work on a full scale undertaking just a few years again. I picked up a 1971 Datsun 510 wagon that a few of chances are you’ll be acquainted with – it debuted on the 2012 JCCS occasion after a prolonged construct course of. All of it was carried out proper right here, within the Imai Works storage, from the suspension to the bodywork. I’m presently doing a fast refresh on it; maybe we will take a look at it in additional element within the close to future.


However the actual purpose I’m right here at present is to speak about my newest undertaking, a 1974 Datsun 260Z that I bought shortly after JCCS 2012. I used to be fairly happy with the progress on my 510, so I wished to alter issues up and construct one thing completely different. Whereas I went for a extra shakotan type with my wagon, I actually wished to construct a works-style road bruiser. At first, I had my eye on a primary era Toyota Celica, however I used to be by no means pleased with the examples I checked out. Actually a day after taking a look at one other beat Celica, an excellent good friend of mine known as and requested if I knew anybody who wish to purchase his 260Z.

I took this as an indication, and instantly considered the chances. A works type Z? A imaginative and prescient popped up in my head, and I used to be bought. A deal was made, and I took supply of the automobile just a few days later.

The Undertaking Begins


The automobile actually had an eclectic combination of excellent and unhealthy. Stainless brake strains, a semi-decent repaint on a stable physique, the gauges and lights labored sometimes and it ran for somewhat bit earlier than overheating. Not too tragic for an outdated automobile. But it surely was the unhealthy stuff that might take me for a tough experience. It was working on 5 cylinders, second and fifth gears have been gone, the engine was leaking fluid from each potential space, and it regarded like nobody had ever bothered to wash any of it through the a few years of operation and neglect. To prime it off, every week earlier than the automobile was bought to me, my good friend bumped right into a truck on a freeway on-ramp, crumpling the hood, passenger facet fender and accompanying sugar scoop. Malaises apart, this automobile meant so much to my good friend, and I wished to ensure it turned one thing he’d be proud to see after a makeover.


I’ve constructed a private technique that has labored for my initiatives, no matter scale. I’m a budget-minded builder, and I take pleasure in discovering price efficient options. I attempt to reuse every little thing I can earlier than throwing it away and changing it. In fact, if the integrity of a component is compromised in any approach, it is going to be changed. However many instances, an excellent cleansing and light-weight restore could make a component look, work and really feel like new. Be it consumption manifolds, suspension elements and even the engine {hardware}, most elements are price saving.


However, there are lustful elements which might be price blowing the funds for, and make all of the distinction. For me, wheels and tires make or break a automobile. Since I used to be constructing this automobile for brutal steadiness, I used to be not going to compromise right here. I went full tilt and settled for the most effective.


Work Meister CR01s wrapped with meaty Yokohama ADVAN Neova AO48s was the proper mixture for this undertaking.


The measurements are 15×9 ET-58 wrapped with 205/50 for the entrance, and 15×10 -58 with a 225/50 for the rear.


When it was time to order the wheels, it was a complete mind buster deciding on end. I ended up committing to the polished faces with gloss black barrels, and I couldn’t be happier. The offsets are aggressive, however they full the look together with the monitor prepared rubber.


With offsets like these, the faces disappear into the barrels in varied angles…


… and devour Andrew Jacksons with no hiccup. Thanks for the $20, Larry!


Containing this footwork required some large flaring, so I sourced a set of works-style flares from Japan. For the numerous who requested me the place they’re from, they’re made by Arita Pace. Buying them was no downside for me, however I needed to undergo a community of buddies in Japan and right here in LA who went via some inventive delivery options to get them to my door.


The outcomes are well worth the effort, and they’re complemented by the three piece wing that was a fortunate discover on Craigslist. Most individuals often take away the rear bumper with the works flares, however I stored mine to maintain it road. All the ancillary and trim elements are completed in matte black. This was a simple technique to get a cohesive and aggressive look. For these of you contemplating the works flares, needless to say they’re designed for the G-nose, which I do not need and aren’t simply sourced within the US. I got here up with an answer that you simply’ll see in a second.

The Little Touches


As a designer, I take pleasure in giving my initiatives private touches. These are the little bits of particulars I look ahead to creating for my automobile, whether or not it’s a one-off sticker design…


… or a novel half I made utilizing uncooked supplies I’ve within the storage. Somebody not too long ago requested me how I drilled all of these holes within the inspection lid. I simply informed him that I’ve a gentle hand and numerous drill bits. In fact, I later talked about that it’s a customized half.


And in the event you can’t repair it, characteristic it. After straightening and grinding the fender steel, I obtained this neat blown-out look, just like the tail finish of a jet engine. I couldn’t be bothered with repainting it on the time, so I simply added a transparent coat and a message. It’s numerous enjoyable when those that aren’t essentially automobile people see this and ask if a ball of fireside goes to shoot out from there.


The NOS Fairlady Z emblem was a present from a fantastic good friend. It took him a very long time to trace it down, and meaning so much to me.


I obtained the #MaximumAttack sticker once I met with Rod at SEMA final yr. I’ve been ready for the proper place to stay it on to, and right here it’s! It’s a neat location as a result of it glows brilliant orange in entrance of the headlight.


Getting the engine bay sorted took a really very long time. I started engaged on it instantly after I obtained the automobile, as a result of frankly I couldn’t even see the block or head beneath the entire sludge and dirt. After I was carried out scraping the gunk off, I used to be comfortable to discover a L28 block in there. I started dismantling every little thing from the engine bay for a correct cleansing, inspection and refinish/substitute course of. I didn’t need to go overboard right here, however as you already know, the additional you dig, the extra stuff you discover.


It took just a few months with the restricted time I’ve, however I managed to make some easy and efficient modifications. First I painted the engine bay and block. I relocated the battery to the within of the automobile, and rewired the whole engine harness. Each connection was on the verge of breaking off, so I began with recent wire and connectors, and rewired all of it. Whereas at it I did a gentle wire tuck and hid the numerous relays to scale back the litter. I cleaned and rebuilt the carbs, and had the top totally rebuilt by a neighborhood machine store because it was cracked on the within, which defined the useless cylinder. I cleaned, restored or changed each half that got here off earlier than it went again on the engine. I’m comfortable that I used to be in a position to save a lot of the elements, except for the gaskets and rubber hoses which I changed. I added a Koyorad radiator, and changed the ailing transmission with an an identical substitute five-speed. So long as the tranny was out, I changed the drained clutch with an Exedy OE unit.

The Pleasure Of Undertaking Vehicles


And to be trustworthy, this was the primary time I’ve ever gone thus far on mechanicals. I’ve by no means taken an engine aside so far, not to mention redone the entire wiring, substitute a transmission and do a clutch job. I adopted the FSM’s and recommendation from buddies to a T, and obtained all of it carried out. I used to be elated when the Z fired up after the entire work. I had a good friend come by to assist me tune the carbs, and it was good to go. Ultimately I’d prefer to go together with a set of triples and actually make the motor sing, however for now I’m content material and the recent headwork makes the engine really feel like new.


The inside was fairly full, however I spent numerous time cleansing issues up and getting the gauges and lights to work. I discovered an outdated Nardi wheel for $10 at a swap meet in Japan, which was excellent for this automobile. Once more, funds is essential and I do my greatest to remain on it.


The TRD-like racing bucket was additionally a swap meet discover in Japan. I initially had it in my 510, however have repurposed it for Z responsibility. However why is it on the passenger facet? I wished to make use of it as the driving force’s seat for this Z, however it’s insufferable after just a few miles. It appears to be like nice, and it’s light-weight, however it’s a backbreaker and that’s why I roll the stocker beneath my rear. Mounted behind the seats are a set of Pioneer TSX-200 audio system, a contemporary tribute to the old-fashioned shakotan speaker packing containers.


Now again to the outside for a minute. Utilizing the works flares with no G-nose requires a little bit of trickery. I researched the methods individuals get round it, and I wasn’t pleased with them. I wished that massive chin spoiler look whereas utilizing the inventory valance, on the similar time mixing in to the flares. After attempting just a few premade options that didn’t work, I ended up making my very own. It took a number of cardboard mockups, however after the tenth made mine out of a wide range of supplies together with ABS, and it really works nice. It creates an excellent quantity of downforce and has held as much as some exhausting driving and unforgiving LA roads!


Regardless of all that I’ve carried out, I nonetheless have a technique to go on this undertaking. I didn’t focus on suspension on this characteristic, just because this automobile presently doesn’t have an excellent set-up in the intervening time. I’m planning on a correct coilover system with adjustable inserts, and a brake improve. Maybe the subsequent time round, I’ll have that sorted. Within the meantime…


… I benefit from the experience, and also you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.


I’ve actually loved sharing my story with all of you Speedhunters on the market, and hope you’re having as a lot enjoyable as I’m engaged on these initiatives. Be impressed, and get inventive. See you round!

Jun Imai

Images by Larry Chen
Instagram: larry_chen_foto

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