SoCal’s Datsun Nippon Car Show and Swap Meet
Everyone loves a bargain, and a popular place to find bargains is a swap meet. If you’re a Datsun or Nissan enthusiast looking to buy or sell any hard-to-find classic automotive parts, memorabilia or even a vehicle, then the Datsun Nippon Car Show and Swap Meet is the perfect place to make your dreams come true.
Held three times per year at the Eagle Rock Recreation Center parking lot located in Eagle Rock, California, this event begins bright and early at 7 a.m., dragging local enthusiasts out of bed well before dawn to begin their pilgrimage. Prior to opening the entrance gate, we caught all the vendors scrambling to quickly unload hundreds of parts both old and new as onlooking attendees salivated for the chance to grab those early-bird deals. From wheels to gauges, vehicle fenders, engine parts to suspension components and so much more, you’ll find every conceivable item to piece together your project car combined with the fun of bargain hunting and the give and take of haggling for the best price.
Regarded by diehard Datsun and Nissan enthusiasts as the largest and most well-known swap meet in Southern California, the Datsun Nippon Car Show and Swap Meet held their tenth annual event, with an impressive turnout of 80 show cars and 46 vendors in attendance.
“We began the swap meet back in 2006, since there was such a strong demand for Datsun enthusiasts to sell and/or buy parts,” said founder and events director Jose Santos. “I’ve always been into the Datsun scene and decided to put together this event to help keep the Datsun community alive.”
Upon entering the front gates, I was overwhelmed with so much to see. Parts of various types, in all conditions were strewn across the parking lot floors.
“This is madness. Mason (our son) is going to need a tetanus shot after touching all these parts,” mumbled my wife.
I quickly laughed it off and said, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”
We managed to walk no more than 500 feet from the entrance before we stumbled upon a show-worthy ’71 Datsun 240Z owned by Rick Garcia. The body has been massaged and slathered in a Hawaiian Tropic green hue, an OE pigment found on the 2011 Toyota Sienna. Tucked under the over fenders is a set of Simmons V5 wheels in 18 x 9.5/18 x 11.5-inch (R) fitment, with an impressive five inches of lip on the outside.
Ground Control coilovers and camber plates help to deliver an eye catching stance. The engine bay is now home to a RB25DET engine, GReddy intake manifold, and Q45 throttle body, all highly polished to a shiny luster. A custom R230 limited-slip differential rear end has been sourced from an Infinity Q45 and transplanted into the Z. Interior modifications include a set of Porsche 914 seats and an Autopower roll bar for safety. Garcia has been working on this project as a ground-up restoration over the last nine years, and all the hard work has paid off as the Z was rewarded second place at the 2015 Japanese Classic Car Show.
Among the sea of Datsun 510 and 521 trucks on display, we found this D21 Nissan Hardbody owned by Victor Chavez, which captured everyone’s attention all throughout the day. The attention to detail on the truck is impressive, especially considering this truck is Chavez’s daily driver.
The SR20DET-powered Nissan has been outfitted with a Garrett GT30 turbocharger, custom roll cage, fully reupholstered Bride interior, Volk TE37 wheels, and a custom fuel cell. As if that’s not enough, a hit of nitrous is along for the ride. His goal for the year is to bolt on some additional parts designed to give his truck a boost in power, along with internal engine mods to pump it up from its current 300 rwhp status.
While taking pictures of Victor’s ride, I caught a glimpse of a familiar face. Sport Compact drag racing icon Erick Aguilar brought out both his resto-mod 240Z along with a wildly-modified ’70 Datsun 521 truck. For those familiar with Erick, the legend made a name for himself in the Honda world as the driver of the first all-motor Honda to break the nine-second barrier in the quarter mile.
“I grew up owning a lot of Datsuns, so when it came time to modify my 521 truck, it was a no-brainer to install an F22C motor from a ’04 Honda S2000,” says Aguilar.
“We got plenty of negative comments from purists when they see the swap, but we don’t care. We were the first to develop this swap for the 521 and it fits so perfectly into this engine bay, like it was meant to be. The truck is currently rated at 350 rwhp through the exhaust and 400 rwhp using the cutout.”
Additional engine components include a Comp Turbo T3 turbocharger, AEM Electronics water injection kit, and Hondata K Pro ECU. The original suspension was discarded in favor of Nissan Hardbody components while an S2000 gauge cluster gives indication that this 40-plus year old vehicle is not your typical commuter truck.
“My shop, Erick’s Racing, has done a lot of R&D over the years with the F20 and F22C engines. Shortly, we will be campaigning our Datsun 1200 drag car, “El Baron”, which makes over 900 whp using this platform,” says Aguilar.
With less than an hour before the end of the event, I quickly rummaged through multiple parts bins stacked with JDM goodies inside the Garage Boso booth. If you follow the drifting scene, you’ll recognize the company’s name from their association with Formula Drift competitor Ross Petty, who has become a regular at this swap meet.
Frequently, Petty travels between Japan and his hometown of Las Vegas. He mentioned that every time he returns back to the States, he brings back a container or two of parts consisting of ultra-rare wheels or engine parts, which happened to be on sale at this booth. It took all of my willpower to refrain from buying the HKS supercharger!
As vehicles began to make their way towards the exit, we were greeted by the sweet aroma of race fuel and the staccato rumble exiting out a custom Burns Stainless-sourced 3.5-inch exhaust from Robert Austin’s ’71 Datsun 240Z. A quick look was all it took to realize this is not your average street car, as Mickey Thompson ET Street Radials were screwed to Weld Racing wheels towards the rear, while a set of skinnies sat out front under a fiberglass front end.
I peered into the engine bay to notice a Holley 750 cfm four-barrel carburetor designed specifically for boosted applications mated to a custom draw-through Garrett T04E turbo setup. Additional goodies include a 150-horse direct-port nitrous system, MSD Digital 6AL ignition box, AEM water injection, and a Moroso fuel cooler tank to make it quite clear that this machine is built for the quarter-mile.
“The L28 engine was punched out to 3.0L with Ross 10.0:1 compression 89 mm pistons, and has a custom street port done by me. With this current setup, the Z is making 401 rear-wheel horsepower at 20 PSI of boost pressure without nitrous. Future plans call for swapping out to a fuel injection setup and installing a stroker crank, then we’ll run on E85 for additional power,” says Austin. For additional video footage on the car and some dyno runs, click here.
Come to buy, come to sell or come to look. If you missed out on the event, be sure to come out this July when the swap meet hits Eagle Rock once again. Bring the whole family for a great day. You won’t be disappointed!