Classic Twist: RB26 Datsun 260Z

12 Replies

The appeal of modifying and tuning your own car is simple – you want something unique, one of a kind, and that carries your own personal touch.  RMS member Ian Cormak took this mantra to heart when building his 1979 registered Datsun 260z, and turned it into something quite special.

He had bought the car back in the summer of 2013, however long before the purchase he had decided he wanted the ultimate 500bhp road going 260z, and had most of the research for the build completed beforehand.  Ian had himself previously converted a 2.0 VTEC EF Civic, which he still owns,  which taught him electrical and fabrication skills he wanted to bring to bear in his next project.

Aside from the classic coupé styling and heritage that comes with the 260z, the low kerb weight and lack of electronic aids, it was the readily available chassis tuning parts available, mainly from the US, that helped guide him in this direction.

Even in standard guise, Ian’s 260z was in great shape, with only 30k showing on the odometer.  However it wasn’t long until he had sourced a 2.6 Twin turbo power plant from an ex-race R32 Nissan GTR, with a 700bhp heart built by renowned tuner RB Motorsport.  Turbos were exchanged for slightly smaller HKS GTS-S items to reduce lag and improve on road drivability, with full boost being achieved around 3k rpm.

Unlike the GTR donor, Ian’s 260z is rear wheel drive, so this meant sourcing a Skyline GTS-T gearbox, and installing a 1.5 way OS Giken limited slip differential to help put the power down.  With 480bhp and 490lb/ft torque, in such a light body with no electronic driver aids, every little helps

There was a great deal of fabrication required to install the RB26 into the Zed, including prop, exhaust, cooling and associated pipework, fuel system and more.  All installed with care and aid of custom fabrication to give an OEM finish that is prevalent throughout the build, right down to the Speed Hut Gauges that resemble the original Z clocks.

Not only was Ian’s 260z project ambitious and costly, it was also a struggle from a planning perspective.  With working away from home sometimes several months at a time, each visit home was carefully planned around the next stage of the build.  Ian would come home to rooms filled with parts he had ordered, and this limited time was spent working long hours to help realise his dream.

Ian tells us:

“I wanted an S30 ever since seeing one for sale in Japan a few years before I got mine, I instantly fell in the love with the shape and the style and thought it was one of the coolest cars I’d seen. At the time it was just a dream that I hoped would happen as soon as I had the means and luckily enough a few years later I was able to do so, one turned up that I couldn’t pass on and it was the colour I had always planned for my Z to be from the start, at first the owner had changed his mind about selling it but I eventually persuaded him to part with it, so I went to England to view it, loved it, bought it and drove it home to start my project.

I always loved the style so I knew I wouldn’t have to change it much from stock but from day one I had always intended to increase the performance quite dramatically. The idea was to keep the old-school style and feel but have the performance of a modern day supercar. I don’t get on well with modern cars, they just don’t provide the same sense of connection and feel that you get with an older car.

Originally I wanted to put an S85 V10 from the BMW E60 M5 into it as V10’s are my favourite engine layout, however due to my job I wouldn’t have the time for the amount of fabrication that would be necessary to do so and I figured the costs would be out my budget. The other option was an engine I’d always loved, the RB26DETT from the Skyline GTR, I think that this engine fits the car better than the V10 would have as the L6 engines originally installed in the S30’s are what the RB engines were based on, so it feels like the correct evolution and it’s a joy to drive with this engine, plus it just looks so right in that long bay. I always wanted the engine and engine bay to be like a work of art so I put a lot of thought into making the installation as neat and as tidy as possible, I think the RB26 is one of the best looking engines available so I had a good start already.

I can’t say it’s been an easy project, but most things worth doing are not easy and I enjoyed the challenge. I must have spent 1000 hours researching various aspects and searching for hard to find parts, one part I really enjoyed was specing and drawing up the custom parts. I learnt a lot from my EF Civic project which I put into this but it’s fair to say I still learnt a lot from this and theres some things I’d know to do differently on my next project (won’t be soon, but may happen, and this one will have a V10) The build may be nearly finished, if such a thing exists but there’s still a lot I want to improve and refine in various areas, progress never stands still.

It’s been great to see the Z get such a good reception with virtually everyone who sees it and its rare that I stop somewhere without getting a few people coming over for a chat, its been like this from the day I bought it and its something I never expected, it gets more attention that a 454 Italia would. I’d say I’ve achieved my goals, its definitely got old-school style and with 480hp and only 1200kg’s giving a power to weight ratio of 400 its got some great performance (a Lambo Murciélago LP640 has 352 for comparison) You would think that with nearly 500hp in a lightweight RWD that originally has less than 170hp and is getting on for 40 years old that it would be too much however its a credit to Yutaka Katayama and how well designed the S30’s are that even with that much power it feels in control and certainly doesn’t feel overpowered as long as treat it with some respect. I love the engine and I love driving my beast and really, that is the only thing that matters to me.”

Photos by Reinis Babrovskis

RB260z Spec List

Body and Misc
MSA Front Air Dam
Airdam to core support diffuser made from alloy sheet
Carbon Fibre Rear Spoiler – BRE style
Camber plates welded in front strut towers
Stitch welded seams
Jap style indicators
H4 headlights Upgrade
Headlight Relay Upgrade
Strengthening braces on upper chassis rails
Cusco Front Strut Brace
Cusco Rear Strut Brace
Braille Carbon Fibre Battery with alloy mount
Negative terminal mounted battery kill switch
New balljoints and bearings all round
Stainless Steel bolts all round
Rota RB-R Wheels 8×16 ET10
Toyo R1R tyres – 225/45/16
Project Kics R26 open ended wheel nuts
Custom R34 GTR Style Engine Plaque
Nismo oil cap
Greddy clear cam gear cover
Underneath sealed with stonechip and lacquered
Void Spaces sealed with Dynax S50
DEI Reflect a Gold heat shielding around downpipe area

Engine – RB26DETT


05U Block – 2628CCTrust 87mm pistons
Tomei piston rings
Tomei Forged rods
R34 GTR crank, balanced
Tomei conrod bolts
N1 conrod bearings
ACL Bearings throughout
N1 oil pump
Nismo Water Pump
Greddy Cambelt
ATI 1200bhp Harmonic Crank damper
Enlarged oil drains to help oil return from head
Custom rear oil sump, extended capacity with baffles and trap door setup
Custom Mounts
Custom Duraflex Poly mount bushes

Flowed/ported/matched by RB Motorsport
Tomei bronze guides
Tomei PonCam Bs
Tomei Valve springs/Retainers
Tomei Lifters
Tomei Pullies
Mines Baffle plates
External drain to sump at rear of head
Tomei layered 1.5mm Head Gasket
Tomei Oil Galley Restrictor
ARP Headstuds
HKS Throttle body gaskets
SFS Radiator Hoses
Fuchs Titan Race Pro S 5W-40 Oil
Millers Anti-freeze with Millers Extra Cool coolant Enhancer and Corrosion Inhibitor
NGK Iridium Spark Plugs

Turbo / Intercooler:
Twin HKS GT-SS Turbos
Ceramic Coated and ported stock Manifold
HKS Manifold Gaskets
Tomei Turbo Elbows – Ceramic Coated
Custom Stainless Downpipe
Split Twin Turbo Pipe
Custom Pro Alloy Intercooler
Stainless Braided oil and water lines
Synapse Engineering Synchronic BOV
Custom Intercooler Piping – Polished Stainless Steel
Custom Stainless Intake piping
Twin K&N Air Filters
Custom SS Exhaust System


Custom Pro Alloy aluminium fuel tank, built in fuel pump, baffle foam, baffles and internal collector
Tomei Fuel Rail
Asnu 700cc Injectors
DeatscheWerks DW300 Fuel Pump
Aeromotive Fuel Pressure Regulator
Fuelab Inline Fuel Filter
Goodridge hardlines, fittings and hoses


Link G4+ Exreme ECU with knock control, OBDII, Launch Control and High and low boost map
Braille Carbon Fibre Battery
MGT Crank Trigger Kit
Rywire Custom Mil Spec engine harness and fuse box
RB Motorsport R34 Ignition Coils
Spal 16” Fan

R33 GTST Gearbox
Tomei Shortshifter
Nismo Super Coppermix Twin Plate Clutch
R200 Rear Diff with OS Giken Superlock 1.5 way CLSD
4.11 Final Drive
Custom Propshaft
Z31T CV Joints with custom shafts
Modern Motorsports Billet companion flange adaptors
Chequered Flag Racing Billet Chromalloy Stub Axles
RT Front Diff Mount
SS Clutch line
Millers Oils CRX 75W-90 NT Competition Oil
OS Giken OS250R LSD Diff oil

SS braided lines
SS Hardlines
Millers 300 brake fluid
Wilwood 1” Master Cylinder
Wilwood Adjustable Prop Valve
12.2” Wilwood Superlight Callipers front
Hawk HP+ Pads
Custom 12” brake setup rear – Mustang GT rotors, Lincoln LS callipers with custom alloy brackets, custom handbrake cables
EBC Redstuff pads
Custom Coilover setup
Full re-bush with poly bushes
AZC Billet Steering Knuckles
ARP Extended Wheel Studs all round
Adjustable Camber Plates at front
T3 Adjustable Tension Rods
Urethane steering coupler bushing

Custom Red stitched Gear Gaiter
Nardi 360mm Classic Steering wheel, Perforated Leather with red stitch
HKB Boss
Billet Alloy lock pulls
Custom Black Floor mats
VDO Fuel Gauge
Pioneer Head Unit
Speed hut Gauges: Tachometer, Speedo, Boost, Water Temp, Oil Pressure

Ian would like to Thank: Alan @ AG Automotive, Sean @ SMD Motorsports, Johnathan @ AI Autosport and Greg @ Protuner



About Author

Andy is the founding member of RMS, and when he's not following motoring events around the UK and Ireland he can be found on the track (sideways, having competed in top level drifting for a decade), or of course he'll be on the forum.

RMS Forum Comments

mcmurray replied at 09:15, Mon 08 Jun, 2015
You don't do things by halves @EF Ian. That is some spec list. Fantastic car you've built. Hopefully see it out at a few shows if you're home this summer. Great job on the photos too @Reno_LV . (y)
davecoupe replied at 10:02, Mon 08 Jun, 2015
Awesome car and Great shots @Reno_LV
ChrisL replied at 10:43, Mon 08 Jun, 2015
My god that car is absolutely stunning, perfectly captured by Renis as always ... This picture is just fantastic! Its artwork ...
Dave.S replied at 11:36, Mon 08 Jun, 2015
Fantastic build and write up. I remember when these first came out and our neighbour got one. He took me for a spin, very spirited drive and it looked like a Ferrari, what more could you ask for :-) @EF Ian it is a credit to you, all the hours spent researching, building and finally driving - well done.
EP82JM replied at 12:56, Mon 08 Jun, 2015
Jeeeesssuss! Thats amazing! impressive pictures too,few screensaver worthy ones lol
Reno_LV replied at 13:03, Mon 08 Jun, 2015
Thanks for the kind feedback regarding pics! The car is an artwork and was a pleasure to photograph
Neil_M replied at 19:14, Mon 08 Jun, 2015
What a truly epic car. IMO you picked a better engine combination than the V10. Gives a little nod to lineage. @EF Ian you sir are a hero! Keep it up :).
andy_gdon replied at 19:24, Mon 08 Jun, 2015
Tremendous build. What a car!!! Pictures are fantastic too...very vivid
Cro replied at 20:33, Mon 08 Jun, 2015
Holyyyyyyy shizzballs. Epic photos of a great build, i'm convinced Reinis' photos get better everytime I see a new feature
Reno_LV replied at 20:48, Mon 08 Jun, 2015
Thank you very much @Cro, appreciate it. If you don't get better what's the point in doing something - I want to bring joy to owners with my work!