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ZERO to SEMA in 60 days – a 1972 Nissan Skyline Hakosuka Project Car

3 min read

When I first saw the car, it was literally in pieces scattered all over his backyard. It looks more of a parts car than an actual project. Saying that the car is still in a restorable state is in itself an already challenging task, but to tell that it would be turned in to a show car for the SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) within 60 days sounds a bit more of a wishful thinking.

Joel Tan is one of the respected car builders in Southern California. He owns another Hakosuka and a few other award-winning cars including the famed owner Jeep that we once featured here at Lumang Oto.  

Joel’s 1972 Nissan Skyline is everything you would not expect from a typical Hakosuka build. For starters, the Hakosuka is one of the holy grails of the JDM world that there seems to be an unwritten rule of keeping it all Nissan to preserve its heritage. Any deviation from what’s norm is sacrilegious and outright frowned upon by traditionalists. But Joel is no stranger to controversial builds. When he built the dropped to the ground Jeep equipped with an SR20DET motor, it shocked a lot of hot rodders in the U.S., as the Philippine Owner concept is still foreign to the American car culture. You see, Joel builds whatever pleases him. After all, it’s his car so he can do whatever he wants without any regards to the naysayers of the car community.

What’s really cool about this car is that it was literally a backyard build. I would admit I was one of those skeptics who thought the car may not be completed in time for SEMA. But is spite of Joel being pressed to complete the car within 2 months, the Hakosuka became sort of a “bayanihan” community project of a bunch of Filipino car guys willing to give up their after-office time to help out Joel in completing the project. There was so much camaraderie involved as it was more than just helping out Joel in building the car, it also became regular weekend nights of potluck, barbecue and drinks. Yes, you will never be able to take out that Pinoy tradition anywhere you go.

Instead of the Nissan S20 engine you would normally find in a traditional Hakosuka build, Joel opted to drop a 450hp Toyota Supra 2JZ turbo motor he obtained from JDM California, hooked to a 5-speed manual gearbox from a Lexus IS300. All the turbo piping was conceptualized and built by Joel himself.

To add more controversy to the build, Joel decided to make it a left-hand drive just because he wants it to be different. Besides, he already owns a right-hand drive Hakosuka. Joel then had to fabricate its instrument panel copying the stock dashboard of a Hakosuka in a mirror image. Steering column comes from a Datsun 240Z and the steering rack came from a KP61 Toyota Starlet. Coil overs were from a Honda Civic.

The car sits on an S13 subframe and marrying it with the Hakosuka body resulted into some clearance issues on the rear suspension so Joel had to do some major modifications by creating Cantilever rear shock absorbers which had been a challenge as it needs to be geometrically correct in order for it to work properly. The car rolls on 14 x 9.5 Collin Project rims wrapped on 225/50/15 Toyo Tires.

Everything looked so correctly done with this Hakosuka in spite of the fact that there were so much fabrications done, fitting whatever parts that were available. I guess that is what’s cool about the car. A purist’s nightmare, but haters going to hate anyway. But the finished product was one heck of a show car. And as doubtful as I was, Joel’s Hakosuka not only made it in time for SEMA, it was one of the cars that became a star that battled toe to toe against gazillion dollar over-budgeted cars but at a fraction of their costs. One man’s vision that practically took a village to build in 60 days became one incredibly cool SEMA reality.

Happy Lumang Oto motoring folks!

Lumang Oto

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ZERO to SEMA in 60 days – a 1972 Nissan Skyline Hakosuka Project Car