Five years in the making, this ’72 Datsun 240Z follows Kyle Kuhnhausen’s own transformation from a fresh-faced college kid with big dreams to a seasoned professional looking to blow away the SEMA Show competition. An auto body technician by day, Kuhnhausen takes on big-budget builds on the side, and this Datsun is one which has brought Kuhnhausen and its owner, Dennis, to levels of obscene dedication. “We’re both fully committed to making this just the absolute best drive-to-the-track Datsun that we could,” states Kuhnhausen.
In building this street-able track toy, he also aimed to use it as a vehicle to showcase his metalworking abilities and retain the minimal amount of amenities to make it an appealing show car. Stylish and speedy, this car, nicknamed “InZanity,” should sway most of the judges at this year’s Battle of the Builders, part of the upcoming SEMA Ignited event.
Kuhnhausen is responsible for finding the best parts for his customers. “That’s why I go to SEMA; so I can find the latest, greatest technology; the trends; what’s cool; what’s going on; and present that to my customers,” he adds. Contending with some stiff competition this year, he knew he had to put together a unique car that would turn heads and snap necks if he was going to stand out.
As a track car, improving the weight distribution was paramount, but as a show car, a motor swap would do some good. Meeting both of these aims is a fairly stock Chevrolet LS1 from a 2004 GTO, which fortunately fits neatly in the back of the bay — a spacious bay designed for a longer inline-6 motor. Interestingly, only minimal tunnel tweaking was needed to fit the Tremec T-56 gearbox.
The engine is mostly stock, but a few modifications squeeze out a couple additional ponies. LS3 coils, Holley valve covers, an LS6 cam and intake, custom headers, and Magnaflow mufflers are the only power adders. While the recipe is simple, the visuals are enhanced by custom bracing and gusseting. Plus, as the car weighs just 2,700 pounds, the 347 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque at the wheels are more than enough.
Inside, the car showcases plenty of Kuhnhausen’s style. A custom dash made from 13 pieces of aluminum, fitted with Dakota Digital gauges, plenty of Top Gun-inspired switch gear, and no shortage of carbon are the first things you notice. Sparco seats, surrounded by a gusseted cage (lacking secondary door bars for ease of ingress and egress) scream serious track toy, while a few modern amenities including a rear view camera, custom cup holders, a navigation system, quilted door panels, and a stereo remind you this street/track hybrid has to be comfortable to make the drive from Eugene to Portland International Raceway.
Top-tier footwork helps give this Datsun the handling characteristics of a C5 Z06 with even greater rigidity. Included in the package are CCW wheels and Kumho tires (315-sections in the rear and 255-sections in the front), which house six-piston Wilwood brakes in front. Soaring brake temperatures are dealt with through ingenious ducts that run through the body and use the calipers’ centrifugal force to draw cool air directly onto them. For some aerodynamic grip without compromising the classic lines, Kuhnhausen fitted a massive diffuser, a full belly pan, and that distinctive front splitter.
Without a doubt, Kuhnhausen assembled one of the most complete street/track hybrids in existence. By shoehorning all manner of track-related upgrades underneath a clean, stylish exterior, he succeeded in building something that would both snap necks at the track and turn heads in the parking lot; he’s done everything in his power to stand out.
“I want to bring a Tomahawk missile to a knife fight—I don’t want to bring a fist,” Kuhnhausen concludes.