A few months ago i would have thought Tiger King was going to the craziest that 2020 would get. How wrong i was. Between Tk’s retrospective on Zimtorque’s evolution and glaring lack of motorsport due to the ongoing pandemic; now seemed a good time to look back at everything that’s happened since my last update.

It’s kinda crazy to think the last update on my 300ZX, Jezebel, was 6 years ago. Whats even crazier is that i thought that was the last of the engine out games. How naive i was. To be fair though, things were good for a while. Until some cheap bad decisions came back to haunt me.

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Midway into 2014 and some number of drag runs that cheap headgasket decided to split; literally. This was beginning of the lesson: do it right, do it once. I’ll be the first to admit i should have known better. Choosing not to use an OEM headgasket was a rookie mistake, and the few months of driving and racing was definitely not worth it.

The most boring build

The initial plan was just to slap on a new set of gaskets and get back to enjoying the car. The reality was watching chocolate sauce dripping out of the motor & finding scoring on the cylinder walls. There weren’t a lot of scratches but they were deep enough to warrant some serious attention.

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At this point, i went a little crazy. In the best way. If there’s one thing better than receiving new parts; its enjoying the driving. I decided that if the engine was going to come out, it’d be the last time. Four (or high three) figure horsepower figures are great for the ‘gram but there was no way i would be using anything like that. That said if i ever lost my mind i wanted this engine to be able to handle anything i could throw at it.

The guiding principal for this ‘boring’ build was reliability. Old parts were replaced. If it was unnecessarily over engineered; it got simplified. A set of oversized Wiseco pistons got set into the bored out cylinders. All new bearings completed the refreshed bottom end.

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A Specialty Z Eprom remap increased the redline by a couple 100rpm and moved the power figure closer to 400hp. The transmission also got some attention with a 13 row ATF cooler to help the transmission withstand all the abuse i planned to give it. HEL Stainless steel brake lines replaced 25 year old rubber lines to improve the brake feel.

During the downtime waiting for parts or machine-work to be done, the valve and timing belt covers got a coat of paint. The plenum got about twenty million hours of hand polishing work in. I’m quite happy with how it turned out but just thinking about doing it again gets my fingers cramping up.

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The end of the beginning

Watching it all come together was like the most prolonged Christmas Eve ever; but it was all worth it. Can’t thank my engine builder Paul enough for taking the time to take photos of the entire process so i could make this little montage.

The entire build took about 16 months. Seems like a crazy amount of time for not much visual effort to show for it but all the experiences i’ve had since have been worth it. Almost 100 passes at Donnybrooke, and a few trophies for the shelves.

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Getting to entertain hundreds of people being a hoon along Jason Moyo during the Carnival is certainly something i’ll never forget. Doing burnout outs in the city center with police smiling at all the smoke is weird feeling.

Probably only matched by burning out for The Hoonigans themselves.

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Or having fun with friends at the track on event free days.

The takeaway

Making tons of horsepower or having the best looking/ loudest ride is a worthy goal. However the lesson i’ve taken from these past few years is that the best thing about being a car enthusiast is the memories you make with your car & your friends.

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Zimbabwe is probably one of the most difficult places to be a car enthusiast, which makes building a cars a tall order. Watching other’s on Youtube building cars in weeks can be inspiring and depressing knowing we can’t match their pace. The reality lies somewhere in the middle. Builds take time and as long as you keep moving forward, no matter how slowly then you will get there in the end.

If i could do it all over again, i would probably do it a little differently. I definitely could have saved myself some money and heartache but it’s been a good journey overall. I hope to share a lot more such builds happening locally. Flying under the radar and forging on ahead; bringing to reality the owners dreams. Whats your dream project?

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