While car culture is a long-enduring constant created and fueled by enthusiasts, the themes to define it at any given instant change with the times. Circumstances dictate trends, so it is important as true car guys to remember that fashion and style are two different things. A perpetual benchmark of any ‘cool’ build, however, is attention to detail. Regardless of the particular genre or scene, genuine gearheads can collectively respect and appreciate the considerable time and effort it takes to intimately personalize our cars.
Once a year, we are all afforded the opportunity to come together as a community and celebrate this notion in its ultimate manifestation at the Specialty Equipment Market Association, or SEMA, convention. The show can be overwhelming to even veteran attendees, and without some kind of preliminary game plan, you are surely in for a case of sensory overload. There are so many cars, parts and people to see, that you can easily become insta-jaded and overlook what might otherwise be a really great build.
That being said, it takes a special car to stand out from the crowd and make an enduring first impression, and that is exactly what three-time Formula Drift champion Chris Forsberg‘s 1975 280Z did. Wait a minute DL, I’ve seen this car before! Indeed you have, in Clarion’s Dream Like a Champion by the always-rad Shoot First Media. OK, so why the throwback? The car has since completely transformed, and in its latest guise, we have rarely seen a drift-oriented build with such aforementioned attention to detail.
Truth be told, Chris drives his cars exactly as they are intended and well-beyond, and while they always seem to be reliable and well-built, it would be relatively counter-intuitive to fit rare, unique and expensive parts on a missile or pro car. Forsberg is well-known for his Nissan chassis loyalty, and this S30 is a superb demonstration of Chris’s personal taste and style when he does not have to worry about dragging bumper on the pro circuit or tapping doors on the fun circuit with his bros.
The exterior of this Datsun is immediately striking, fitted with the first Carbon Signal Moonbeam aero kit finished in Trans Am Coronado Gold by Sam’s Auto Land. In the era of Kei Miura, it is refreshing to see a different interpretation of the over-fender movement. Restomod lighting can be tricky to get right, but Forsberg opted for tasteful sealed-beam projector units from Dapper Lighting up front, and their advanced sequential LED taillight conversion out back. In this case, function need not be sacrificed for form, and the lights both look and work better.
The same can be said for the tastefully-appointed interior, which has also been largely reworked by the guys at Carbon Signal with plentiful Alcantara and carbon accents. Engine vitals are monitored by custom Speedhut gauges. Chris is kept safe at speed with Takata harnesses and driver inputs are conveyed via a Nardi steering wheel and a beautiful wooden shift knob laser-engraved with Chris’s logo by Nostalgic Grains. Nary a hint of loud patterns or bright colors here, just seamless continuity of stylish functionality from outside to inside.
The car’s aesthetic is finished superbly with forged wheels from long-time program partner SSR, while road contact duty is assigned to the highly-praised Hankook RS3 tires. The chassis is tied together and dialed in with a spread of Techno Toy Tuning suspension pieces to keep the car predictable while sideways. Visual impact aside, the most stunning features of this car reside beneath the hood, which might be better described as a miniaturized gallery of turbocharged artwork. This is big league stuff.
The question is: where to look first? The mental carbon fiber and billet intake manifold by Custom Plenum Creations? The full billet valve, coil and timing covers by OCD Works? Maybe the hand-welded RBX manifold by DOC Race? Never mind the Xonarotor turbo with OCD T51R mod feeding the Mishimoto intercooler with custom charge piping by Rad Industries and a Tial QRJ blow-off valve. The entire boosted orchestra is conducted by the tried and true A’PEXi Power FC. That was more than a mouthful, but how was it all received by thousands of SEMA attendees?
The results speak for themselves: Chris’s Z won both the Gran Turismo Best Import Award and the Super Street Best in Show Award for 2016, certainly no small feat in a field of hundreds of heavily customized cars. Can all those people be wrong? The more important question is, how could they possibly be wrong? Car guys…car girls…truck guys…truck girls. Multiple countries and languages. Nothing in common except a deep-rooted passion for personalizing their rides, and that, dear readers, is the greatest praise Chris could ever hope for.
Hopefully we painted an adequate picture for you with our words, but here is a great walk-around video to stoke your imaginations a bit.