Simon and Ron Ray's 2 Seater Datsun 280zx



Here is something you certainly wouldn't see everyday on Aussie roads. A Datsun 280zx with a twist. This rare by Australian standards 280zx only has 2 seats. Never officially sold in Australia in this configuration the 280zx features a different roofline, which some would argue gives the ZX a sexier shape.

Considering the age of the Z (nearly 30 years old) it looks surprisingly modern, something very few models of the same vintage can claim.

Owners story

Simon has been involved with Datsun's his whole life, the lifetime passion is a direct result of his parents influence. His parents are founding members of the Nissan Datsun Sports Owners Club (NDSOC) for short. Initially his parents were into the Datsun Fairlady Roadsters his mother (Rhonda) and Father (Ron) were very active members of the committee. So active in fact that Simon's first track day would be at 6 weeks of age.

His parents finally moved away from Roadsters and onto the S30 Z series. From a young age Simon was learning to work on Z's and he even learned to drive in a 260z 2+2. At 19 years of age Ron and Simon jointly owned a 260z which was their project car.

They entered the car into Winton raceway, but Simon would later need money to buy a house, hence he had to part with his pride and joy. It wouldn't be long however before Simon got itchy feet and needed another Z to fill the gap.

It was 2006 and Ron and Simon were browsing the Trading Post (a local paper in Australia). What was interesting is that although the 280zx 2 seater is quite rare in Australia they had 2 different cars to choose from. Both cars were black on the exterior, but the nicer of the 2 had a red interior and as Simon put it "looked really good". The other car was black on black (interior) and had been parked up in a country shed for about 7 years. "It looked like it too" as Simon put it.

The sensible thing to do would be to buy the good condition car (red with black interior), but that's sensible and when you have a father and son project sensible isn't always the way to do things. So they bought the cheap, run down country shed (black on black) 280zx 2 seater.

The good news was that the country shed had shielded the car from the elements for the most part and was a good solid car to begin the project with. Before beginning the project Ron and Simon needed to agree on what direction to take the car.

They finally settled on a club sprint, hill climb car that would be eligible for CH plates (Classic Historic Registration). What they didn't agree on was that Ron wanted to put a quick motor in it from the outset, while Simon wanted a good handling car. Fortunately the car helped them decide, when they begun working on it, it became obvious that certain areas needed attention and after entering a few events, something would inevitably break here and there.

The first event would be Sandown, with the proud claim to fame of being 2nd slowest competitors in class. At least they could only go up from there right? They also experienced their first track failure when the brake pedal decided to call it a day whilst approaching a 90 degree bend at speed. Thankfully without too much drama as a result.

Their next outing would be Calder park, where again brakes would be an issue. Worn pads meant they had to call it a day. This time they didn't finish last.

The Haunted Hills would be the next track and it would be the first time on the newly completed track. Simon had a ball and recommends it as a great spectator sport. How does Simon know? They ended up watching the event after they managed to shear a half shaft adaptor plate halfway through Ron's 3rd run. Simon had managed to finish 6th from 14 entrants in the same class. A good indication that the pair are starting move into the faster end of the field.

Although most of the competition isn't neccessarily between their competitors but between Ron and Simon. As Simon says "God forbid the day dad beats me, as I give him such a stir for being faster".

A worn out gearbox would see them miss the next few events, whilst the box was getting rebuilt. Plans are to compete again in April at Winton raceway.

Future plans for the car include, a custom shifter which has been designed already, adjustable front end may also be a possibility. A full engine rebuild and additional performance work to bring the old girl up to speed as she currently lacks a bit of oomphhh. The list of goodies may include flat top pistons, crow camshaft. The hope is to double the current power output, but Simon admits that may be a bit optimistic.

The most frustrating part of owning the car is that Simon and Ron feel it spends too much time in the garage and not enough time on the track. In the past year and a half its probably only been driven and handful of times. As a new years resolution for 2010 Simon aims to make more use of the car so keep an eye out for improved times at the track.

Member Ride Specifications

Vehicle Category Details and Modifications
Name: Simon and Ron Ray
Previous Rides: Datsun Roadster and 260z 2+2
  • Extractors and 2.5" exhaust system
  • Recurved electronic distributor
  • Triple Mikuni 40mm carbs sitting on a canon manifold
  • 4L Oil catch can
  • Thermo fan to replace clutch fan
  • R200 4.375 ratio LSD diff with CV half shafts
  • Gearbox fully reconditioned
Suspension & Brakes:
  • Brake booster reco with oversize bore to 1"
  • 4 spot brake callipers and 296mm x 30mm slotted rotors up front, new slotted rotors on the rear with a full set of braided brake lines all round
  • Tokico Illumina shocks in the front and Tokico HP strut in the rear with 40mm lowered heavy duty King Springs
  • Nolathane bushes and new front end components
  • Front and rear strut bars
  • Double sway bars front and rear adjustable
Wheels and Tyres:

16" Watanabe's with Bridgestone RE55S semi slick tyres.

  • New carpets
  • New roof lining
  • New stereo
  • Race seat with 3 point harness, set very low to fit Simon's 6'5 body with a Helmet.
  • Fresh black paint
  • Smoothed rear bumper (shaved)
  • Front air-dam
  • Headlight covers to improve aerodynamics