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Wider, Faster, and Meaner: A Datsun 240Z Worth Its Weight in Gold

Apr 14, 2023Apr 14, 2023

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The shimmering gold paintwork and wild aero treatment is more than enough to clue most into who owns this 1972 Nissan 240Z. Like the signature colors of heralded Japanese icons like Top Secret and Jun Auto, the Inca Gold applied over the heavily modified lines of this Z scream Riko. If the quick glance doesn't convince you, then a closer inspection at the onslaught of custom fabrication and obsessive detail is a dead giveaway.

The flamboyant vibes that Richard Gutierrez (Riko) displays on his current resume of highly visible builds are like automotive extensions of his personality, complete with the snappy suit and hat combos he's well known for. They don't really follow any specific set of guidelines and unabashedly merge street, race, and show elements into something wholly distinctive.

We've featured his lexan-topped RWB 911 and his widebody '84 Corolla, and, like this 240Z, each is based around a stripped down, driver-centric cabin surrounded by intricate fabrication and detail work, and all three are fully capable track cars built to show winning standards. That, in a nutshell, is "Riko's Way."

All three of the cars mentioned have displayed at SEMA but this Z-car build was an important step for Riko personally. "I felt that was the year to show up. With the cancellation of SEMA 2020 due to Covid, I felt everyone missed out," he says. "From the builders to the fans… I felt the worst for the fans. 2021 was all about showing up with the challenges of building during heavy parts and materials shortages and staff all over the world."

Before a single wrench was turned, Riko did some digging to get to the essence of why this chassis is so beloved by the masses. That led to getting an understanding of how it, along with the Hakosuka, provide so much pride to Japanese enthusiasts. "I'm also a huge fan of Kaido culture and the manga series Shakotan Boogie," adds Riko. "With all of the positive influence, I decided to put my spin on it. Its Japanese culture combined with American Riko - the Riko style 240z."

The bolt on flares and fender mirrors that many restomod S30s get is certified classic, but Riko wanted to lean on his personal recipe that includes a healthy serving of race car touches. In an interesting twist, instead of reaching out to Japanese tuning shops, he looked toward Arizona in search of late '70s IMSA inspiration through Z-car body panel specialist Z Trix, and a complete kit was ordered.

The rear quarter panels were cut and overlayed with Z Trix's massive panels that greatly increase the width of the car's rear and allow huge 335/30 Toyo Proxes R888R wrapped around 18x12.5 Work Meister M1 to fit comfortably. The front half sees 315/30s with 18x11.5 M1 under Z Trix's complete fender replacements. Those front arches waterfall into the defined edges of the front bumper with its integrated air dam.

As extreme as the newfound hips and shoulders appear, the most notable change is the filled upper portion of the bumper that eliminates the headlights entirely, and it'll catch you off guard at first. The bodywork and Inca Gold paint, performed by 24/7 Autobody, included fitting the kit as well as properly mounting and massaging the fiberglass doors. Crouch and look down the side of the car and once your eyes hurdle the bulbous fender treatment, you'll notice there isn't a single unwanted crease or blemish to be found.

Along with the fenders and doors, the hood and hatch are also lightweight fiberglass replacements, and the remaining three windows were replaced with custom cut lexan courtesy of Marcus Fry Racing. The finished exterior is not what you'd expect to find and that's exactly what he was after. Even the badging is one-off, produced by Hanson Linek, at Riko's discretion.

Like his 911 and Corolla, Riko's 240Z cabin is all business. Completely bare, Marcus Fry designed the custom roll cage and stitch welded the entire chassis. This all done before the paint was laid and with no door cards, carpeting, or passenger seat, it's a gold covered spectacle. A single Bride bucket is in place, and a Longacre drilled steering wheel sits at the end of an extended and braced column. A boxed dash serves just the driver's side and displays analog gauges with a center stack panel housing a bevy of switches to power the car and its essentials, and a Tilton reservoir tank and fire extinguisher at arm's length. Short, circular Joe's Racing side mirrors are mounted to the cage's A-pillar bars and hang just inside the door frame, rather than cluttering the car's body.

The RB or SR swap that accompany many an S30 build weren't taken into consideration for this project. Riko wanted something with additional grunt, but this wasn't intended to be a big horsepower build. He also wanted the sort of auditory response that IMSA cars of yesteryear were well known for belting out. A 2.8L inline-6 block from a 280ZX Turbo model served as the foundation and was stroked to a 3.1L by Top End Performance.

Ported and polished by Slover Porting Service, the head was given a custom cam and valvetrain then fastened in place before 50mm Mikuni carbs, rebuilt by Kyusha House, were bolted on. Just underneath, you'll find a holy grail performance piece in the headers that were produced by Nismo for BRE. This particular set was brand new and never installed prior to making their way to this build. Carefully routed AN lines creep through the bay and most everything else unrelated to a running engine has been taken out of the equation, making for a sanitary layout. The crowning touch is a custom valve cover produced by New Zealand's BSpeed.

To bring the ancient suspension up to snuff, Riko went back to the Southwest, this time to Arizona Z Car for a huge assortment of upgrades. From camber plates to control arms, tie rods to differential bracing, a catalog of parts were brought in. This, in support of the custom Tein dampers that Riko says took a year to build to spec, with the lower shock bodies shipped to Japan for completion.

It's been a busy few years for Riko as his trio of gold slathered show stoppers have gone in and out of surgery, been whisked away to SEMA to display in Toyo Tires' Treadpass, and served as the subject of dozens of media articles worldwide. Rather than the typical complaints about time, money, and stress, his attitude remains remarkably positive. He adds, "This car was a pleasure to build, and I had great support from Z Trix and Arizona Z Car. Both are older than me and jazzed up that I wanted to make a statement using their products. It was like having two new uncles." As for what's next for the Z, Riko plans to pull back and have this car lay low for a bit. He states, "my next goal is to have the car displayed at the 2024 Tokyo Auto Salon, so this car will go dark now until the show next year."

1972 Datsun 240Z

Owner Richard "Riko" Gutierrez

Instagram @rikos_way

Engine L28 bored to 3.1L; JE pistons; Slover Porting headwork; custom cams, valvetrain; Mikuni 50mm trimple carbs built by Kyusha House; Nismo headers built for BRE; dual exhaust with megaphones; Holley fuel pump; Edelbrock fuel "rail" and regulator; custom fuel cell; 123 Ignition USA distributor, ignitor

Power 280hp

Drivetrain 280ZX Turbo 5-speed transmission; OS Giken clutch, flywheel, LSD; custom short shifter

Suspension Tein coilovers custom spec; Cusco anti-roll bars; Arizona Z Car camber plates, rear mustache bar, front differential mount and brace kit, rear lower control arms, front lower control arms, front hubs, 5-lug conversion, outer tie rods; Futo Fab 108mm rear axles, CV kit

Braking Wilwood 4-piston front/rear; Arizona Z Car 12.2 drilled rotors; Tilton pedal assembly, reservoirs

Wheels & Tires Work Meister M1 18x12.5 rear -85, 18x11.5 -47 front; Toyo Proxes R888R 335/30 rear, 315/30 front

Exterior Inca Gold by 24/7 Autobody/Juan Ayala; Z Trix IMSA Racing kit: fenders, doors, hood, quarter panels, cowl, hatch, rear wing; Joes Racing side mirrors, custom badges by Hanson Linek; Marcus Fry lexan windows

Interior Marcus Fry custom roll cage; Bride Zieg IV; Takata harnesses; Longacre steering wheel; Tilton pedals; custom driver's side dash, switch panel

Thank You Marcus Fry Racing, 24/7 Autobody, Stan Chen of Toyo Tires, JC Pepino of Work Wheels Japan, Bun-San of Lot-USA, my wife and family for giving me a foundation to grow

1972 Datsun 240Z Owner Instagram Engine Power Drivetrain Suspension Braking Wheels & Tires Exterior Interior Thank You