Member Profiles

Kirk Towner's Profile
Owner of: 
   1980 Fairlady   1984 Fairlady  

My Z History

My first exposure to a Datsun Z was in 1972, when my cousin Kathy purchased a blue Datsun S30 240Z with white interior. I acquired this car from my cousin and parted it out as the frame rails and floorboards had rotted away from sitting in the Upstate New York elements for years. My high school Art Teacher had a 1983 Datsun 280ZX Coupe, which I fell in love with. I saw my first Nissan S130 Fairlady 280Z during my first duty station with the U.S. Navy at Clark Air Force Base in Angeles City, Philippines from 1985-1986. Following the Philippines, I spent two years at Misawa Air Force Base in Misawa, Japan from 1987-1989, I purchased a 1980 Nissan Fairlady Z. I was not aware of the differences between Fairlady Zs and Fairlady 280Zs. I bought the car thinking it had an L28 engine, turns out the engine was an L20. For the 1979-1983 line of cars, if a Fairlady Z has an L28 engine, it is a Fairlady 280Z. If a Fairlady Z has an L20 engine, it is a Fairlady Z. The descriptive "ZX" not used for the homeland version Z. The other major difference between the North American version and the Japanese version are the fender-mounted mirrors up to 1983 and the location of the steering wheel. Japanese regulations required fender-mounted mirrors on cars in different tax classes based on their physical size. By fitting the mirrors to the fender, you can make a car with a wider passenger space fit inside the same maximum width of a given tax class. I shipped the car from Misawa, Japan to London, England in 1989 and it was lost in transit and ended up in Iceland. England was my first exposure to a group of Zed enthusiasts, now known as the Z Club of Great Britain. I shipped the car from London, England to Cape Canaveral, FL in 1991. I spent 6 months stationed in the Fort Meade, MD area in 1991, which missed the establishment of the Maryland Z' Club by 2 years. Following Maryland, I moved to San Diego, CA. I was associated with a number of Z Car Enthusiasts in San Diego 1992-1994, but we mostly cruised the beach, as there were no Z Car Clubs in the Southern California area then. Following San Diego, I moved to Pensacola, FL and took a stab at starting the Emerald Coast Z Car Club in 1997, but moved to Naples, Italy in 1998 prior to anything coming to fruition. I gave all my documentation to a fellow Z Enthusiast as he also intended to start a Z Car Club. I would like to think that our efforts played a role in the establishment of the Panhandle Z Car Club. Following Italy, in 2000 I moved to Victoria, British Columbia, which is on Vancouver Island. During my tour there, I got involved with two Datsun and Z Car groups. First, being the Vancouver Island Datsun Enthusiasts (VIDE) and the second was the parent club British Columbia Z Registry (BCZR). I came across a 1984 Nissan Z31 Fairlady 200ZG for sale in Seattle (Redmond), Washington. Greg Macaulay VIDE Founder and myself drove down to Seattle to pick up the car. The range for the Japanese market continued to list a 2-liter engine to make the most of local taxation laws. The Fairlady ranges of vehicles for the Z31 body style were 200Z, 200ZS, 200ZG, 200ZR, 300ZX, and 300ZR. The 1984 Fairlady 200ZG has the VG20ET engine, rated at 170bph, only 60bhp less than the 3-liter equivalent. The Z31 series was the last of the 2-liter versions, as Japanese taxation laws changed in 1989. Differences between the North American version and the Japanese version are pressure sensitive device on hood to activate wipers, different mirrors, side turn signal lights between front wheel and door, no turn side turn signal lights on rear fenders, and rare hardtop with turbo engine. The 2-liter version differences are no injector fan, no battery gauge in dash, 4 vice 5 lug bolts, and smaller window washer reservoir. Following Canada, in 2003 I moved to Lake Shore, MD and joined the Maryland Z Club. it was a sad day in 2016 as my 1980 Nissan Fairlady Z that I owned for thirty years burned up in a shop fire. A car that had a head-on with a deer decided to catch on fire after two weeks while at Jim’s Body Shop in Pasadena, MD. Jim’s Body Shop failed to disconnect the battery on the source of the fire that took out my Nissan Fairlady Z and four other cars. The police thought they heard gunshots as they drove up to the shop. Turns out the loud bangs were the car tires popping from the heat! The Nissan Fairlady Z was a total loss. I bought the car back for $70.00 and parted out what was salvageable. My 1970 Nissan S30 Fairlady Z was for sale on In February 2017, I contacted the second owner Eric Jolly and arranged a trip to Utica, Pennsylvania to look over the car. I was the only person to take the time to make the trip. Similar to Eric, I loved this car and he could tell. We shared dinner and a few brews the night before I saw the car. Eric brought all the original paperwork from 1970 and a limited edition framed Z Car poster signed by Mr. K. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. K at ZCON 2003 held in Nashua, NH. Eric and I hit it off and made a handshake deal as he handed me the keys with no deposit. I borrowed a car hauler from my good friend Dan Banks and picked the car up a couple of months later. I engage regularly with the original owner Don Davis who resides in Alexandria, Virginia. Don provided me with some pictures of the car over the years and two Japanese License Plates (export and transport). The Japanese License Plates were hanging in Don’s garage for thirty-three years. Don Davis had a friend Michael Luken put up the funds to purchase the car new from Aomori Nissan near Misawa, Japan. Don owned the car for thirty years. Second owner Eric Jolly worked for Don at Misawa Air Force Base. Eric eventually purchased the car and owned it for seventeen years. Eric and his brother Jason restored the car and tucked it away in a rural Pennsylvania barn. Eric lost interest due to the unexpected death of his brother in a four-wheeler accident. History of the 1970 Nissan Fairlady Z: Misawa, Japan 1970-1975, Seoul, South Korea 1975-1978, Misawa, Japan 1978-1980, Omaha, Nebraska 1980-1983, San Francisco, California 1983-1984, Alexandria, Virginia 1984-2001, Utica, Pennsylvania 2001-2017, Lake Shore, MD 2017-present. The car raced at the following speedways: Sears Raceway Sonoma, California, Bonneville Speedway Wendover, Utah, and Summit Point Raceway, West Virginia. Throughout its life in Japan, South Korea, and fours states as the car had two previous owners. In 1997, the White Rose Z Car Club in York, PA hosted the ZCCA International Z-Car Convention. Mr. K was present and signed the rearview mirror, another inconspicuous place in case of theft and on the owner’s manual. Mr. K also wrote “69 model year” on the original purchase documents. I was able to get some rare parts from a contact in Japan via Yahoo Auctions. Examples: Nissan 2000 OHC valve cover and mesh grille. I smile when I walk into my garage and think to myself, I own a 1970 Nissan Fairlady Z. 

"Love Cars, Love People, Love Life" Mr. K

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