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Time to introduce The Datsun Drive

Jeff Glucker July 11, 2012 Announcements, Featured 85 Comments

I have a friend who likes to buy cars. He owns quite a few, and I’ve even helped him pick out a couple of them. Recently, he began to fancy the idea of putting a Datsun 240Z in his garage. As a Z fan myself, I told him this sounds like a great idea. I helped him find the right 240Z, and the car was quickly scooped from the pages of Craigslist.

The new owner, my friend, lives just outside of Boston, Massachusetts. The Z I found was located in Redondo Beach, California. Currently, the car is sitting in my garage with a cover on it, but the cover is about to come off… because I’m driving the car from Huntington Beach, California to Boston.

The chariot of choice for the journey is a 1972 Datsun 240Z. It’s had a few upgrades, but it’s the type of modifications that stay in the Nissan/Datsun family, and retain the classic character of the car. The original brown paint has been swapped out for a delicious red taken from the Corvette palette of colors. A new cam was inserted along with an aluminum radiator and the flywheel from a 280Z. Add in the short-shift kit, and we’re dealing with a lightly modded 240Z that drives better than the original without losing any charm or style points.

I plan on taking the southern route for my trek across the country, but I’m still mapping it all out. My brother will play the role of co-driver, and I will be driver/photographer/videographer/mechanic. I hope I don’t need to step into that last role though, because it will consist of me swearing and staring, while my brother dials up the nearest Z shop. It shouldn’t be an issue though as the car is in great shape. Still, it’s a 40-year-old machine and I will have it checked out before embarking.

Stay tuned for more posts as the journey unfolds. I hit the road on Sunday the 29th of June July, and I plan to arrive in Boston on August 2nd. If you can think of good places for me to stop, sound off in the comments. If you want to jump on the route and say hello, sound off for that as well.

Next up in the saga of The Datsun Drive, we’ll introduce you to the car.

  • $kaycog

    That sounds like fun! If you hit the road the 29th of June, you're late.

    • Good catch… fixed.

  • Hit Kansas City and you've got a free dinner and/or a guest room to crash in, of course.

    …at Alff's place.

    (Just kidding about the Alff part. You're welcome at my house anytime.)

    • Well since you beat me to the KC welcoming mat…

      • We can all take him out to dinner and throw him a party.

        …And by that, of course, I mean we wait until he's asleep and then beat him with D batteries in gym socks.

    • me thinks Kansas City is a bit far north from the path… I appreciate the offer though.

      • jeepjeff

        Really? If you take I-15 up to Utah, you hit I-70, and that will take you through Colorado to Kansas City and on to St. Louis which looks like the place where you'd be able to arc further north.

        Or are you planning on heading through AZ-NM-TX-OK before turning north east?

        KC looks like a reasonable way point (Bay Area would get a funny look from me, otherwise I'd offer a beer, Mr. I Couldn't Take The Heat At Buttonwillow).

        • Yea, but I wouldn't wish that stretch of I-70 through eastern Colorado on anybody, unless they've paved over those expansion joints every 12 feet…

          • jeepjeff

            I'll have to remember that. I've only been on I-70 in Utah and Colorado (EDIT: and the part in Colorado was only the very western most bit).

        • I'm running out through AZ – the plan is to avoid the Rockies.

          • jeepjeff

            Fair enough. My natural inclination is to go straight through the heart of them (but I like mountains). Arizona and New Mexico are also very pretty.

            Still, you have to turn north at some point. KC is kinda in the middle of everything.

          • craigsu

            Keep plenty of coolant on hand. That southern route is killer hot this time of year.

          • discontinuuity

            You're missing some great mountain roads.

            • I know – but I have bad memories of huffing a four-cylinder Wrangler through those climbs in the dark. Doing that in a 40 year old car makes me more nervous

  • GlassOnion9

    Stop in NM and eat green chile.

    • Where in NM? I'm dying for some green regulars from Acapulco Burrito in ABQ.

      Dang, now I might have to make a trip there myself.

      • GlassOnion9

        I'm from southern NM, but I lived in Albuquerque for 5 years or so.
        I've heard really good things about Bobcat Bite for green chile burgers, although I'm partial to the Owl Bar myself.

        • XRSevin

          I second the Owl. Never been to the bar, but the cafe will fill you up at a reasonable price. Green chile burger and a vanilla shake!
          <img src="; width="600">

      • Hatch. Gotta eat lunch in Hatch, if it's not too far out of the way. That's where green chilies come from. Last time I passed through there, I ate at a nondescript taqueria on the main street there, and the chili verde plate blew me away. Lordy, it was good.

    • I will be in Sante Fe next week for something unrelated to the Z.

      • GlassOnion9

        OOh, then you should definitely go to Bobcat Bite.

      • TheOtherMacLeod

        Well. I have a guest apartment with a rather nice bed or two on the outskirts of Santa fe, and would love to check out the car! Also, beer

  • If you take I-10, it will be a toasty ride, but I know at least one of us lives in Tuscon (Cpt. Severe?), you can get some awesome Mexican in NM, see the Alamo in San Antonio, take a short drive up to Austin, visit muthalovin, and head east towards Kansas City and stay with Alff, and see Tanshanomi. From there, choose either to engineered™ in Michigan or longrroffan and Tonyola in Florida before heading up the East Coast.

    Did I just creep some of you out/Sorry if I missed you!

    • GlassOnion9

      If you do take I-10 and need some recommendations for places to eat in Las Cruces, that's my old stomping grounds.

      • Indeed, I went to NMSU between 2004 and 2006. Pretty fun little town.

      • flr1975

        I always liked the Double Eagle in Old Mesilla.

        So hey, on to El Paso: eat at Casa Jurado (either one) and avoid Jaxon's at all costs. Or, seek out the Bunny Burger at H&H Car Wash (no actual bunnies are involved in its production.)

        • GlassOnion9

          The Double Eagle is awesome. If you like Mexican food, La Posta (next door to the Double Eagle) is also excellent.

          Hahahah. Jaxon's. I haven't thought about that place in forever.

    • Tuscon may be the first stop actually.

      • Tombstone's not that far away from Tucson. Seventy miles. Hell, I'll comp you on the mine tour if you stop by. Also, beer. We have a bar at the mine tour. A fully equipped facility.

    • Austin might be fun… I've always wanted to see that city.

      • So long as you got A/C, you should be able to do the southern route without losing 25 pounds of sweat.

        That, or t-tops. Because t-tops always keep you cool.

        • the A/C … doesn't work.

          • Oh. This will be extreme. I look forward to it.

          • jeepjeff

            Hey man, you'll just get to rock it like I do. 2×70 A/C! It's the best!

            Be sure to invest in sun tan lotion though, and go heavy on that left arm and shoulder.

          • jeepjeff

            Oh, for prolonged use of 2×70 A/C, I suggest a box of . Who needs sound deadening weighing down your car when you can just deal with it in the one place that counts?

          • Plecostomus

            as a former Z-owner, two things: Vent fan on high, windows down.

            This will not be pleasant for you, especially in the humid bits of the country. >_< owning my Z sans A/C was AWFUL in Iowa.

          • And you're deliberately taking the Southern route? Instead, make a beeline to I-80 then turn right.

            • jeepjeff

              That's not a terrible idea, except that I-80 is waaay to the north. However, there is a fun way to hook up to I-80 in Colorado.

              I-15 N out of LA, then north on US-395. Hook east on US-6 and take that across Nevada. Now, it joins up with US-50 on the east side of Nevada, and US-50 will get you to I-70 faster, but I'd take 6 all the way until it hits I-15 again just south of Provo. The section of 6 east of I-15 down to I-70 is frickin' awesome. 100% worth it (Canyon Carve through like 40 miles of actual Canyons! It was fun in an Aerostar with an automatic). Then hit I-70 E to Denver, and cut north to I-80 via I-25 N out of Denver. That will take you through the Rust Belt to get to New England.

              Yes. I know, that route goes by Death Valley, straight across Nevada and through some of the warmer parts of Utah. He's starting in LA. It works better from SF (you start on I-80, bail onto US-50 in Sac and take 50 through Nevada to get to US-6 in Utah). Also, this is not optimized for time. It is optimized for awesome. (And, of course, it also fails the "avoid the Rocky Mountains" constraint.)

              • US6 from Spanish Fork to I-70 is one hell of a drive. That's Spanish Fork Canyon, down through Helper and Price, and it's way twisty. Careful, though, Utah drivers get way too brave through there. If it's raining, look for rocks all over the road.

      • MVEilenstein

        If you're going to Austin, you need to visit Circuit of the Americas. Tell them you're with Mario Andretti and see if you can get a lap in.

  • PowerTryp

    Well I'm excited. This is gunna be awesome for the verse!

  • I y'all get tired, pull over and rest. If ya get hungry, eat something.

    • Thanks Gump

    • flr1975

      If ya get bored, try naming nuts.

      • PowerTryp

        Well the left one is Charley and the right Eugene.

        • MVEilenstein

          Pancho and Lefty.

  • If you drive through Boston… oh… never mind. If you break down within a reasonable distance from here I'll come and get you.

  • rpdred6

    This sounds awesome, very excited

  • Beers on me in Salt Lake City! Well, should you go that route. I'm sure we can round up Ray and Scott too for some Hoonanigans.

  • skitter

    Should you be as far south as Atlanta, I've downgraded my accomodations, but I have good lines on pizza and beer.

    • And really, there isn't much else to life than pizza and beer.

    • GregKachadurian

      I'm in the ATL area as well. I think he's a bit crazy though if he comes down this far south with no AC. I can barely stand the heat down here even with AC!

      But if you do head through Atlanta, dinner's on me… just know that it might be Waffle House.

  • If you swing through Central Kentucky, hit me up for a free place to stay. We could do a Datsun Bourbon Tour. 5 distilleries in one day, should be trouble fun.

  • JayP2112

    COOLCOOL! Roadtrips are awesome!!!

  • EmbracingEntropy

    Jealous… of you for the drive and your friend for the car. Looking forward to the posts!

  • facelvega

    29 July to 2 August is too few days for this trip! Because if it was longer there would be time to stop at Watkins Glen for a quick tour around the track on the day before Boston. Where in the country would be better for a 240z to find itself? Usually the track tours are limited to 55mph, but I bet for Redusernab they would do an extra run…

  • Plecostomus

    Reminds me of my own literal epic Datsun Drive.

    Flash back to February 2, 2003. Los Alamitos, CA. I grabbed my stuff at 11:00pm and headed out for Iowa City, IA. I had $200 total for gas money and food, a case of water in the back and a case of granola bars to eat – all into my 1979 Datsun 280ZX 5-speed base model coupe.

    I drove through snow-covered Utah and crossed the snowstormtastic Rockies through CO, avoided all of the tire chain checkpoints because chains simply were not in the budget, and even spun the car going 70mph on I-80 through Nebraska when the wind blew the tail slightly off-line. I then managed to drive myself back out of the median (to hell with a tow) and still arrived in Iowa City, IA around 9:00pm CST on February 4th, 2003.

    I hope I never have to make a drive under such conditions again – sleep deprivation, snow and RWD… not a good mix, but then again I was a stupid 18 year old at the time. The other thing driving that far did was show me just how small the world actually seems to be these days.

    • MVEilenstein


      • Plecostomus

        Oh– and I also forgot to mention – coping with snow for the first time while driving on the trip, too.

        As much as I ended up ultimately regretting going to Iowa and staying, I don't at all regret experiencing that journey- the rockies on I-70 and I-76 were bloody gorgeous dusted with snow – and driving through the rockies blasting the F-Zero GX soundtrack was pretty damn amazing.

    • PowerTryp

      I totally read that in a Film Noir voice, and it was even in black and white to boot.

  • Try to check out the huge meteor crater in Arizona right next to the interstate.

  • If you end up in the Seattle area, you're lost.

    • MVEilenstein

      But I'll be happy to buy them drinks.

    • Bwaa-haa-haa!!!

      Wait… oh crap…

  • I am thinking of pushing for ten hour drive days, but I might cut that back to eight hour if its too taxing. I'm leaving an extra day just in case I slow down a bit.

    • MVEilenstein

      It's really 12 hours when you factor in pit stops. 8 sounds about right to me, assuming there's not a huge rush to get there.

    • craigsu

      Well, Huntington Beach to Boston via Tucson is a good 45 hours of driving time. Over 5 days that's about 9 hours a day. Certainly doable without a great deal of fatigue, but it doesn't leave much sightseeing time. That extra day may come in handy.

      • I've driven cross country a few times so the sight seeing isn't as important to me, though it might be for my brother.

  • Jealous!

  • Matt

    Nice, gotta love the impromptu roadtrip! Best of luck and don't forget your tow strap.

    Reminds me of a trip a buddy of mine and I took last year. Impulse got the better of me and I bought an Australian Falcon ute on craigslist in LA. You'll best me by about 1,000 miles though as we stopped in detroit.

    • whoa whoa whoa whoa…. When was a Falcon Ute on LA Craigslist?!

      • Simca1204

        Last September. It was up for a few hours! Found it by luck.

        • Simca1204

          This is the username of 'Matt'…by the way.

  • mr. mzs zsm msz esq

    So how are you getting back Jeff? I suggest Kamil find something for you two on CL near Boston to drive back in. But I just don't think you have given yourselves enough time. I can't really suggest anything to see then because of the time crunch. No wait, Indianapolis, you should be hallucinating by then, go to the childrens' museum. Also if you end-up near to Chicago, you're both welcome. Good road!

    • Hmm…

      • mr. mzs zsm msz esq

        They have this glass colorful ceiling in one room, it will make Jeff taste time as a dimension that alternates between clicking and melting when he looks up after so much of that drive. Your wife and kids are away, find the return vehicle!

    • Smells_Homeless

      And don't forget the giant dinosaurs attacking the museum building. It IS pretty awesome.

    • I'm flying home. Hopefully with a first class upgrade…

  • Van_Sarockin

    No AC? Really? What's it cost to fix. Don't think. Pay the man. The trip will be hot as hell anyway. So, second order of business is to buy the biggest damn icechest that will fit in the back. Fill it halfway with ice, and the rest of the way with drinks. Then I'd make a beeline up to I-90, don't forget to say hi to Canuckistan. One of my favorite drives was ferrying a 280Z from Denver to KC. I hope you have at leat that much fun.

    • It's not as bad as you think. The monsoon's started here in Southern Arizona, and it's only in the low nineties, and not all that humid. On the freeway, with the windows down, it's not bad at all. Going through a good thunderstorm will slow you down, though, they can be pretty intense. Cools it right down, though. This is really the nicest time of year to be here. The desert is just green as hell and looks beautiful.

    • I'm taking the car to a mechanic today – the AC is on the to-do list (unless it's totally toast)

      • Lee Thompson

        AC on these cars are usually gummed up, might opt for a more northerly route. Mine has been removed entirely.

        • It;s heading to my mechanic for a thorough look through on Tuesday.

          The northern route is crossing my mind.

  • Lee Thompson

    Post on ClassicZcars.com when you need any technical help. You could probably get wrench help from Datsun-ologists all the way home. I cross posted your blog there.

    • Thanks! I will keep that page bookmarked.



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