“It takes a village to raise a child”
This was the mantra behind the Fugu Z build. Groups of people from all over the world gathered their knowledge, expertise, and skills to create a one-off build that’s now reflective of everyone involved. It was born from social media, with input from everyone with an interest. Sung Kang himself calls it the International Social Media Car.
Initially, the plan was to turn it into a track car for three friends to share and make stories with, but it quickly became much more than that once it gained traction on Sung’s social sites. It became the car of the people, and before long changed the scope of Japanese tuners forever.
Sung, along with friends and fellow car enthusiasts, Greg Hwang and Michael Jen, bought a 1973 240Z after finding it on Craigslist. They picked it up from Lancaster and drove the car home, which before this had been stored in a garage for 13 years.
The build started as soon as they got the car back to the garage.
Where does the Fugu Z name come from?
“Fugu fish is a blowfish that if you do not properly prepare it, it can kill you… and just like a race car, if it’s not properly prepared once you’re on the race track, you’re gonna get in a lot of trouble.” – Sung Kang
The car was destined to be a track car from the beginning, so the majority of the interior was stripped to reduce weight and to ready it for seam welding.
Under the paint, the 240Z was sound with no rust thanks to its Californian heritage, but the car would soon be prepped and painted a new color.
Use dry ice to make it really easy to remove sound deadening and insulation from the interior of a car.
Once the insulation is cold, you can use a hammer and chissel to easily remove it and save weight!
After posting on social media about a bodykit for the Fugu Z, GReddy, an aftermarket performance company, got in touch and soon started to spearhead the direction of the project.
kenji Speaks Out on the project
“…having somebody like Sung involved, showing how fun it is with people that have the passion for this, and everybody coming together, it’s definitely unique and something that’s gonna be within that 240Z history.” – Kenji Sumino, president of GReddy Performance Products
GReddy gets in touch with Japanese body kit builder Rocket Bunny. This company is able to bring Sung’s design to life after he found a rendering of the body kit he wanted online.
Eventually, the team decided on swapping the stock 2.4-liter inline-6 engine that originally produced around 150hp, for a 2.6-liter RB26 from a Nissan Skyline GT-R.
This one came from a 1994 GT-R, and was mated to an RB25 gearbox. To retain the fun nature of the car, though, they removed the twin turbo system, replacing it with individual throttle bodies.
Kenji Is A Believer
“Once we started hearing them rev it up past 8000 RPMs, that’s when everybody just got goosebumps. The sound out of that engine is just more than what I expected. I had chills.” – Kenji Sumino, president of GReddy Performance Products
With the SEMA date looming, Sung and the team were stretched to get it ready for its first big reveal.
Just the stitch welding of the chassis took GReddy’s Ben Schwartz a minimum of 60 hours to complete so it’s no surprise that time turned out to be the biggest challenge of the whole build.
Most projects take years upon years to complete, and that’s if they’re even finished. The Fugu Z build took only three months.
|MAKE + MODEL||DATUN 240Z|
|ENGINE||NATURALLY ASPIRATED RB26|
|SIZE||2,568 CC 2.6-LITER|
The Fugu Z was never built for SEMA, but in the capable hands of GReddy and friends, it stole the show.
The car won ‘Best Asian Import’ and ‘best In Show’, where it guaranteed its placement on Gran Turismo for anyone to drive.
No one was prouder than Sung
“Having a destination like SEMA, to me, it puts a spotlight on all the sacrifice and the hours that these guys put into this car. This 240Z represents a new experience with old friends and experiences with new friends. So it’s very cool that through this little Datsun I can meet so many people.” – Sung Kang
This old Datsun had humble beginnings, but with the help and input from hundreds of people and so many countries, it stole the heart of its fans, the fans that helped write its story from the very beginning.
Now, hopefully, it will incline others to do something similar: buy a car, hang out, work on the car, make some stories.
After its SEMA debut, the Fugu Z was scooped up by the team at Jay Leno’s Garage who wanted to feature it on one of their popular Youtube videos.
Jay Leno got to drive it on the road, and it’s safe to say, he loved the car.
Datsun 240Zs shoot up in value…
2015 saw prices for 240Zs jump by around 30% according to Haggerty to over $50,000 for pristine condition examples.
In this gorgeously cinematic video with Sung Kang and Magnus Walker, the two petrolheads swap cars so they can learn, experience, and share their builds. Magnus compares the Fugo Z to a Jaguar E-Type crossed with a Zakspeed Ford Capri.
After two years of the car being garaged with GReddy, hiding from its sudden fame, the Japanese sports car was pulled from the shadows into a world that wasn’t looking as spotless as the naturally-aspirated RB26 underneath its bonnet.
The global pandemic had thrown people into a state of disarray.
Sung, being a guy who always wants to help, learn, and make a difference, knew that this would be the perfect time to reawaken the legend that made its name at the 2015 SEMA show.
Sung Explains The Next Steps
“Endgame is going back to what the car was designed for. I want the car to be safe, and I want it to be reliable and fun. And I want it to be able to go on the track, the canyons, and then to the grocery stores.
“I want to be able to teach people what this car means to me, I want to be able to explain to people the evolution from the L24, to the NA, to the twin-turbo RB26.” – Sung Kang
Sung hasn’t talked about power figures yet for the twin-turbo build. What this is, is a mission of learning. What happens when you add twin-turbos to a car? What are the problems and how do we solve them? This car is a reflection of the community that guided Sung and helped build it, not a selection of numbers in an article.
And we’re so excited to show you what happens!