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 |   |  1975 & 1977 Nissan Fairlady Zs - Born Beneath the Same Star
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1975 & 1977 Nissan Fairlady Zs - Born Beneath the Same Star

A Tale of Two Fair Ladies

Micah Wright
Dec 27, 2019
Photographer: Christopher Jue

Located just northeast of Tokyo, Star Road sits at the corner of a sleepy intersection, tucked behind bushes and a wall of vending machines. A mere three bays wide and a little more than 2 and 1/2 car-lengths deep, it would look like just another service station if it weren't for all the vintage Japanese automobiles sitting outside.

1977 Nissan Fairlady Z Front Lip 01 Photo 43/43   |   1975 & 1977 Nissan Fairlady Zs - Born Beneath the Same Star

We're not talking about a few rusted-out Sunny trucks, either, but an all-out Datsun blitz, with a carport on one side packing row after row of donor cars and covered classics alike. It's a place where Fairlady Z restomods and retro Skyline staples come to have single-overhead cam revivals, and some of the rarest Nissan parts on the planet reside. This explains why there is not one, but two Datsun Fairlady Z sports cars in contrasting colors sitting in front of you today, both of which wear some of Star Road's finest attire.

While Americans continue to stuff big-ass V-8 engines into damn near everything with four wheels on it, not to mention how high-end Japanese tuners lean toward modern incarnations, the guys at Star Road prefer to do things the old-fashioned way. Original engines, overbored blocks, zero boost, and shit-tons of widebody attitude-that's the Star Road approach to constructing a classic.

1977 Nissan Fairlady Z Rear Wing Photo 43/43   |   1975 & 1977 Nissan Fairlady Zs - Born Beneath the Same Star

The self-proclaimed "Vintage Car Specialty Shop" is known for taking neo-vintage restoration to a whole new level. Turning rust-begotten buckets into dream machines is the Star Road calling card, and it can all be seen via the shop's blog, which is often filled with tetanus-strewn photos of half-century-old automobiles.

Mean Green

1975 Nissan Fairlady Z Star Road Rear Wing 01 Photo 43/43   |   1975 & 1977 Nissan Fairlady Zs - Born Beneath the Same Star

But we're not here today to talk about the nitty-gritty, rust-riddled side of the business. The finished products Star Road churns out are far more glamorous, illustrated here by the forest green '75 Fairlady Z. This car may not feature earth-shattering performance numbers, but where it lacks in raw power, it more than makes up for with pure class.

Taking the tried-and-true approach to making power by overboring the block and head alike is where most of this Z's 325 lb-ft of torque materialize. Oversized 89mm pistons and forged rods give the rebuilt bottom end new life, while up top, a fully ported and polished head and loaded valvetrain allow the high-revving Datsun to reach nearly 300 hp. These modifications are fed by mirror-polished Solex/Mikuni 44mm side-draft carbs and a custom Star Road fueling system. It also packs the shop's Fairlady-exclusive exhaust, which starts with an "Octopus Foot" header and concludes with an equally aquatic "Devilfish" low-clearance muffler. Some other engine notables include a Star Road triple-core radiator and updated, period-correct components, like a Bosch fuel pump and Mallory ignition system.

1975 Nissan Fairlady Z Mikuni Carbs Photo 43/43   |   1975 & 1977 Nissan Fairlady Zs - Born Beneath the Same Star

The Z's FS5W71C five-speed manual transmission has been outfitted with a single-disc clutch and flywheel from ORC and comes accompanied by an R200 4.1 rear differential. Slip and slop are both negated via a limited-slip differential and short-throw shifter from NISMO.

1975 Nissan Fairlady Z Star Road Devilfish Exhaust Photo 43/43   |   1975 & 1977 Nissan Fairlady Zs - Born Beneath the Same Star

Handling is covered in part by Star Road 30-way adjustable coilovers, perhaps the most "high-tech" component on the car. The suspension additions are accompanied by a modified power steering rack and stitch-welded chassis for improved agility and rigidity. Springs are comprised of a custom 8K front, 6K rear setup, and sit next to Star Road forged four-piston calipers up front, while a disc conversion clamps things out back. Upon closer inspection, you'll see Star Road has also outfitted this dark green Z with an oversized brake booster and a beefier master cylinder for even more stopping power.

1975 Nissan Fairlady Z MOMO Jet Carbon Steering Wheel Photo 43/43   |   1975 & 1977 Nissan Fairlady Zs - Born Beneath the Same Star

Star Road also has its own wheel line, appropriately named "Glow Star." Available exclusively in a 15-inch diameter but ranging from a 5- to 12-inch widths, these retro-inspired alloys are about as cool and old school as it gets. This particular Z comes with a two-tone black and bronze theme, measuring 15x8.5 in the front and 15x10 in the rear.

But for as badass as those alloys are, it's the classically inspired lines Star Road creates that make it such a highly revered vintage Nissan specialist. By outfitting this Fairlady with its house-made over-fenders, front lip, and rear wing, Star Road has given fresh life to a once tired chassis, while preserving the profile its creators originally intended. Naturally, there was some serious sheetmetal work and paint along the way as well, but that goes without saying, especially when plopping 10-inch-wide wheels in the back.

1975 Nissan Fairlady Z Mercedes Benz Headlights Photo 43/43   |   1975 & 1977 Nissan Fairlady Zs - Born Beneath the Same Star

Cabin mods are much like the rest of this classic Japanese sportster: tasteful and minimal. Outside of the obvious Bride seat swap, the matching MOMO carbon steering wheel and shift knob are the most notable additions to this interior, followed by a line of Auto Meter gauges, and a custom shifter and e-brake boot.

Red Wine

1977 Nissan Fairlady Z Star Road Super Wide Kit 05 Photo 43/43   |   1975 & 1977 Nissan Fairlady Zs - Born Beneath the Same Star

As for the "Red Wine" Z with the far bigger booty, it's almost identical to its more reserved older sister in the engine aspect and aesthetically prefers to keep things clean and retro as well. Where these two "Ladies" begin to diverge from one another is when you look at their drivetrains, with the red Z favoring an OS Giken dual clutch over the ORC single-plate design, which likely has more to do with driver preference than anything else.

Another difference is the red Z received an R32 Skyline GT-R front caliper conversion, with everything else brake-related being in the same vein as its green sister. The red Z also rocks slightly wider Glow Star wheels in full bronze and a separate offset, while Star Road's nine-piece Super Wide Kit covers everything from bumpers and flares to the rear wing and grille. Interior differences include Recaro seats instead of Bride butt-huggers, but save for that, this cabin is pretty much left bone-stock and is all the more beautiful for it.

1977 Nissan Fairlady Z Engine Bay Photo 43/43   |   1975 & 1977 Nissan Fairlady Zs - Born Beneath the Same Star

So perhaps the greatest thing about these cars isn't what's been changed but what has been retained. It is this mindset that makes Star Road so special and such a highly desirable Nissan specialist. The crew isn't trying to remake the mold or change the game. Blending classic car customization with just enough modern engineering is all it takes to bring a once virile sports car back to life.

1977 Nissan Fairlady Z Recaro LX Seat Photo 43/43   |   1975 & 1977 Nissan Fairlady Zs - Born Beneath the Same Star

Personally, we find this old-school approach to car building to be a refreshing break from all the mad-cap craziness sweeping the States. Nothing against extreme swaps and insane fabrication, it's just that builds like these, which are just as timeless as the automobiles themselves, deserve some recognition and respect. Don't believe us? Try calibrating a Mikuni/Solex carb setup and then tell us if you've developed a newfound respect for OGs like Star Road.

1977 Nissan Fairlady Z Front Bumper Photo 43/43   |   1975 & 1977 Nissan Fairlady Zs - Born Beneath the Same Star
1975 Nissan Fairlady Z MOMO Jet Carbon Shift Knob Photo 43/43   |   1975 & 1977 Nissan Fairlady Zs - Born Beneath the Same Star
By Micah Wright
80 Articles
1975 & 1977 Nissan Fairlady Zs - Born Beneath the Same Star
Tuning Menu
1975 Nissan Fairlady Z
Owner: Shouji Inoue
Hometown: Tokyo, Japan
Occupation: Owner, Star Road
Instagram: @starroad_official
Power: 296 hp; 325 lb-ft of torque
Engine: Ported and polished head; custom cam; adjustable cam gear; oversized valves; titanium valvesprings and retainers; mirror-polished Mikuni carb intake system; semi-mirror-polished exhaust ports; 89mm forged pistons; forged connecting rods; Solex 44mm side-draft carb setup; Bosch fuel pump; Star Road fuel system, "Octopus Foot" exhaust manifold, "Devilfish" low-clearance stainless exhaust, triple-core radiator; Mallory ignition system
Drivetrain: FS5W71C five-speed manual transmission; R200 4.1 rear differential; NISMO limited-slip differential and short-throw shifter; B90/D90 driveshaft; ORC single-disc clutch and flywheel
Footwork & Chassis: Star Road coilovers with specialized mounts; 8K front, 6K rear springs; custom power steering rack; stitch-welded chassis
Brakes: Star Road forged four-piston front calipers, rear disc conversion, master cylinder, oversized booster
Wheels & Tires: 15x8.5 -34 front, 15x10 -28 rear Glow Star wheels; 195/55R15 front Bridgestone RE11A tires, 225/50R15 rear Bridgestone RE01 tires
Exterior: Star Road front lip, rear wing, fender flares, sheetmetal work, and green paint; Mercedes-Benz modified headlights
Interior: MOMO Jet carbon steering wheel and shift knob; Auto Meter gauges; custom shifter and e-brake boot; Kenwood head unit; Bride seats and rails
1977 Nissan Fairlady Z
Power: 296 hp; 325 lb-ft of torque
Engine: Ported and polished head; custom cam; adjustable cam gear; oversized valves; titanium valvesprings and retainers; mirror-polished intake manifold; semi-mirror-polished exhaust ports; 89mm forged pistons; forged connecting rods; Solex 44mm ITB setup; Bosch fuel pump; Star Road fuel lines, equal-length exhaust manifold, low-clearance stainless exhaust, triple-core radiator; Mallory ignition system
Drivetrain: FS5W71C five-speed manual transmission; R200 4.1 rear diff; NISMO limited-slip differential, short-throw shifter: B90/D90 driveshaft; OS Giken twin-disc clutch, flywheel
Footwork & Chassis: Star Road coilovers with specialized mounts; 8K front, 6K rear springs; custom power steering rack; stitch-welded chassis
Brakes: Star Road R32 Skyline GT-R front caliper conversion, rear disc conversion, master cylinder, oversized booster
Wheels & Tires: 15x9 -53 front, 15x10 -78, rear Glow Star wheels; 195/55R15 front Bridgestone RE11A tires, 225/50R15 rear Bridgestone RE01 tires
Exterior: Star Road Super Wide Kit, sheetmetal work, "Wine Red" paint, LED headlights
Interior: MOMO Jet carbon steering wheel; custom shifter and e-brake boot; Recaro LX seats and rails

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