It’s a strange time, one that most of us thought we’d never see in our lifetimes. With everything so uncertain, it’s therapeutic to focus on something positive and inspiring.
For car enthusiast Sung Kang and master car builder Mike Spagnola Jr., that meant getting their hands dirty, resurrecting a piece of Japanese history in the depths of Sung’s garage.
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Sung’s search for a project car actually goes back several months. 2020 brought with it a green light on a horror/comedy feature film called SHAKY SHIVERS, Sung’s directorial debut.
Originally shooting in mid-April, the project is now slated to start filming in June. The production team needed to find several cars for the shoot, of course, Sung was happy to put that on his plate. One of the characters, Bob, was supposed to drive an old El Camino or truck, Sung wanted to find something with character.
Before you read too much, why don’t you listen to the Sung himself explain the thought process behind the purchase and build of Oppa:
One of Sung’s hobbies is looking for old Datsun 240z’s on Craigslist, and one Sunday morning his search for “Datsun” leads him to a 1963 Datsun 320 pickup in nearby Monterey Park. Mike Spagnola woke up to a text from Sung that said:
“call me I have a surprise for you.”
Mike and Sung headed east to Monterey Park. Two hours later, the 1963 Datsun truck was parked in Sung’s garage, ready for a new chapter in its already long life. Sung gave it the name “Oppa” which translates to “older brother” in Korean. If you haven’t figured it out yet, this 1963 Datsun truck is the older brother of the 1973 Datsun Fugu Z.
Mike Jr. has been in the automobile industry his whole life and has always had an affinity for the style of Japanese cars and trucks. His father, Mike Sr., raised him in the garage, not on the football field, which he’s very grateful for “My dad taught me everything I know, and growing up there was always a Datsun of some sort in our garage.”
Mike Sr. was instrumental in bringing Sung’s Maverick project to life, and that’s where Sung met Mike Jr. A friendship followed, combined with the desire to someday rebuild a car together. That day has come.
Oppa’s in great shape for being 57 years old. It’s complete, all the numbers match, and there’s very little rust. Mike was able to start it by using a manual crankshaft.
The plan now is to get Oppa running under stock power, make it safe, fix the hydraulics issues it has with the clutch and brakes…and above all, stay sane in this strange time we’re all experiencing right now.
“It’s a horrible time in the world, this whole Coronavirus is keeping everyone isolated, massive depression that’s happening. I think if I didn’t have a project like this I’d go crazy, it really is like an older brother coming in here saying ‘I’ll help you out.’ Everybody needs Oppa right now…we can make something positive out of this horrible time…”
What’s the plan for Oppa? Will Sung and Mike keep him stock? Will they swap out the 60 horsepower E1 engine? Stay tuned for more updates…and more importantly, stay safe out there!