07 November 2014

How did I come into possession of a 1974 Datsun 160J SSS KP710 Violet Turbo?

In the minds of readers of this blog, I bet some have asked the question along the line, "How did he get one?".

Before I answer that one, I have related how three units of the Datsun 160J SSS Violet Turbo were brought in from Japan in 1974 and raced at the Selangor Batu Tiga Shah Alam circuit of Malaysia with car no.123 taking victory. I may have been wrong. The number of units of car may have just been two. My unit being car no. 120.

In all my online web searching, I have only ever heard of car no.123 making the headline news back in 1974 and at that, only scraps of historical record of what had happened then.

On another historical matter, I read that Datsun was on an experimental spree with turbocharging back in 1974. The FIA rules of this 3rd generation of Group 5 racing cars had the flexibility to allow manufacturers to push the boundaries of car performance then and everyone was pushing, no doubt.

So one suspicion of mine, as to why we have not seen any Datsun 160J KP710 SSS Violet Turbo in any museum, is that this era of racing car development technology was top secret. Nichimo, the scale model manufacturer, was given special privileges to make 1/24 scale moulds of the body. On the other hand I have not seen the LZ18 turbo engine in that 1974 form anywhere.

My hypothesis, until I am proven wrong, was that like many earlier top secret racing operations, the Datsun LZ18 turbo engine was disassembled/destroyed after important new data was collected.

So why was car no.120 left behind? It was perhaps a slight oversight by the Japanese or that Tan Chong & Sons Motors requested it be left behind as a memorial car. All of my suggestions are but just theories. One thing I did find out about car no.120 was that it had suffered a blown head gasket either during testing or whilst in the race driven by another driver?

Back to the first question, "How did I buy this car?". Tan Chong & Sons Motors did keep the car fairly intact for a good 18 years in their storage before it was somewhat forgotten of its former glory and auctioned off as a rally car in September 1991!

Figure 1

One would not be surprised that it was labelled a rally car instead of what it truly was, a road racing Group 5 car! Datsun then became Nissan and had many successful campaigns in the world rally championship in the 80s. A general manager in marketing control would have heard all the good news of rallying successes all around the world.

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