Video: Lightweight, Nervous, SR20DET-Powered Datsun 1200 Hillclimber

Mix a 1,500-pound Datsun 1200 with a 310-horsepower SR20DET and you’re bound to get fireworks. You’re also bound to impress those who are adamant about keeping it in the family. The powerplant most commonly found in Silvias is ubiquitous down under, and this little M-80 on wheels is frequently found at hillclimbs and road courses—New Zealand’s Leadfoot Festival in this instance.

Rick Bone competed with this ’72 1200 for ages before upgrading to the S15 Silvia motor. While the original 1500cc Datsun engine was in the bay, he was able to refine the footwork first. Bilstein front shocks, adjustable rear shocks, adjustable front & rear swaybars, an adjustable four-link rear with a panhard bar, and solid bushings throughout make up the suspension package. Wilwood 2-pot rear brakes, Wilwood 4-pots in front help deceleration, as do the 245-section Dunlop slicks at all four corners. With a strong foundation, the car could make good use of the S15 Sivlia’s motor.

Incredibly, Bone’s SR20DET runs a mere eight pounds of boost. Photo credit: Leadfoot Festival

Clearly the lively rearend and turbocharged torque make it quite frightening in a straight line, and its tendency to spin its wheels over crests must make Bone’s hair stand up on the back of his neck. Yet, the most striking performance aspect has to be that wonderful agility. Few current cars turn in with such response, but few competitive cars weigh so little these days.

To help put the Datsun’s wild performance in perspective, it also races among Porsche Cup Cars and Camaros in GTRNZ—more specifically, the GT2 class. Not too shabby for an old Datsun with an off-the-shelf SR.

About the author

Tommy Parry

Tommy Parry has been racing and writing about racing cars for the past seven years. As an automotive enthusiast from a young age, he worked jobs revolving around cars throughout high school, and tried his hand on the race track on his 20th birthday. After winning his first outdoor kart race, Tommy began working as an apprentice mechanic to amateur racers in the Bay Area to sharpen his mechanical understanding. He has worked as a track day instructor and automotive writer since 2012, and continues to race karts, formula cars, sedans, and rally cars in the San Francisco region.
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