Swap Insanity: LS1-powered Datsun 280Z
As long as there have been cars, there have been engine transplants. As there are ever more cars and engines that would make good swap candidates, people have been getting more creative with their swaps. The LS1 engine, “the new small block” as some would call it, is one of the most popular swap candidates for just about any ride.
During the 1970’s, when American automakers were struggling to produce cars worthy of the “performance” moniker, the Japanese were slowly but surely invading with fleets of lightweight, low-horsepower sports cars. While they lacked the raw brute force of the era’s Mustangs or Camaros, their lightweight and sporty handling made them popular with those looking for something other than American muscle. Nissan (then called Datsun) was the sports car leader, and thirty years later their Z cars are still popular among enthusiasts.
And so are these classic Z-cars. While the original six-cylinder engine struggled to make 100 horsepower, the engine bay is certainly accommodating enough for something more stout like say, an LS1 engine. So that’s what this particular car guy did, and with some basic upgrades quadrupled the original horsepower rating to over 400 at the wheels. That’s good for a claimed 11-second run down the drag strip. A T56 manual transmission, 300zx rearend-upgrade, and other addendums bring this Japanese classic into the 21st century with ease. It looks as though a lot of attention to detail has been paid, and while we’d like to take it for a test drive first, we might actually prefer this classic over a contemporary Camaro. It’s just so… different!