AARON Fitzpatrick’s latest Datsun 1600 was supposed to be a quick fixer-upper while his giant-slaying Street Machine Summernats Grand Champion-winning orange 1600 was with Trevor Davis for six months getting painted. But that’s not quite how things turned out.
When Aaron picked up this two-owner GL, the original intention was to give it a quick makeover. “It had been stripped, panel-beated, painted in HOK Passion Purple and rolling on FR17s,” he says. “Most of the interior was there; all it needed was an engine and gearbox and it would have been done. Except the orange car came back from Trev’s and I’d spent all my money – so it was pushed into the corner.”
Over the next nine years there was only modest progress on the car as marriage, children, an HK Kingswood ute and a turbo VP ClubSport took precedence. Then a minidisaster struck when Aaron’s brother Daniel dropped his motorbike onto one of the quarters. But in true Fitzpatrick style, instead of just fixing the small dent, Aaron decided to completely redo the entire car. After all, having already built one Datsun 1600 into a super-elite show-stopper, a raceinspired streeter should be a walk in the park.
A change of colour was a given, as Aaron didn’t see the point in having two brightly coloured Dattos. Troy and Clayton Hillier were keen to paint the car, so Aaron dragged it 12 hours up to the Hilliers’ Tenterfield shop. “Troy and Clayton are legends,” he says. “Steve Polglase and the Hilliers fine-tuned the body and did a great job on the paint.”
The colour is Aaron’s own HOK custom mix, which his dad Peter has dubbed Clover Plum.
What made things really snowball with this build was the decision to tub the rear end. They didn’t muck about, stretching the arches wide enough to swallow 275mm of sticky Mickey Ts. “It’s tubbed very similar to the orange car,” Aaron says. “I smile every time I park the two tubbed Dattos together.”
Big rubber needs big power. The original L1600, and then an SR20 implant, were both scrapped in favour of an insane Nissan FJ20 four-cylinder out an R31 Skyline. “I’d been talking to Paul at ProFlo Performance about this engine for about five years,” Aaron says.
In Paul’s words: “It’s similar to [Paul Hunter’s] MR TRX engine, which made something like 650rwhp at Horsepower Heroes. This one is a little different, as you always use the things you learn in your last build. Its BorgWarner S366 turbo is larger, and it’s dry-sumped. It should be good for 750 to 800hp at the crank.”
For its size, the FJ is quite heavy; in fact it’s heavier than an LS1. But its iron block is near-bulletproof. Squeezing the FJ20 into the 1600’s engine bay called for a custom CPC billet intake and 90mm throttlebody. While smoothing out
the bay, Aaron pushed the firewall back, modified the strut towers and grafted in a new tunnel for gearbox and sump clearance.
“The engine bay is actually better than the orange car,” Aaron says. “There’s months of work in there. We were also never going to paint the underside. But we did.”
Managing all that grunt and enabling the little Datto to run stout numbers is a Jatco three-speed auto by Keas Automatics – along with one of the company’s seveninch billet-base converters. The ’box is the same as a VL, minus the overdrive. Further rearward is a dramatically shortened 31-spline BorgWarner diff spinning 3.9:1 gears, Truetrac centre and 31-spline axles.
With credentials like this, the chrome-moly ’cage (with bolt-in intrusion bars) and ’chute are not just for good looks. At the track, the number plate folds down and the ’chute slots straight in.
Everything in the race-inspired interior is custom – nothing from the original build survived. The billet mount for the Microtech dash is one of the many trick pieces Aaron whittled up himself. He also fashioned the steel dash, rear seat, flat floors and centre console. Aaron and Shaun at Trims By Shaun thought a hexagonal stitch pattern for the trim would be a neat idea, so a Perspex template was cut for marking chalk lines on the cloth, which Shaun followed with the sewing machine – free
hand! It was a nightmare, apparently; Shaun hopes never to have to do it again.
By late-2015, Aaron was getting over pushing the car around on dollies. It was time to finish the thing. “Dad, Dan and I got together and set our sights on MotorEx 2016. There’s nothing like a deadline to fire the belly and smash it out. We did a ton of work to make MotorEx, including loads of fab work and countless CNC bits. Dad spent weeks making all the Motorsport Connections dash lines, while Mark Sant from Ontrak did the wiring. We worked on it most nights and weekends and were still finishing it the night before heading to Melbourne.”
The whole Fitzpatrick clan looked very relieved Saturday morning at MotorEx when the Lycraclad ladies slid back the silk cover on the car to rousing applause.
The goal for the project was to build a tough street car capable of running very respectable times. With a couple of dozen kilometres on the odometer, that’s one box ticked, and Aaron is looking to cross off the other in the next few months – watch this space! s
1968 DATSUN 1600 GL Paint: HOK Clover Plum
Type: Nissan FJ20 2.0L
Heads: Heavily ported, 1mm oversized valves Turbo: BorgWarner S366 Cam: 296 degrees, 12mm lift Valve springs: Nismo Pistons: Arias forged Crank: Stock balanced Conrods: Tomei Intake: CPC billet Throttlebody: CPC billet 90mm Injectors: DeatschWerks ECU: Microtech Ignition: Microtech CDI with ICE leads Oiling: Aviaid three-stage dry-sump Sump: Fitzpatrick Speedworks billet Exhaust: Owner-built stainless steampipe, 3.5mm dump Radiator/intercooler: PWR custom Pref fuel: E85 (street), methanol (track) Power: 750-800hp on methanol
Trans: Jatco three-speed Converter: 7200rpm stall Diff: BorgWarner 31-spline, 3.9:1 Truetrac Tailshaft: 4in Altra9 chrome-moly
Front: Lovells coils on custom 180B struts Rear: Parallel four-link, Lovells coil-overs Brakes: VL Commodore Turbo discs (f & r) Master cylinder: Wilwood under-dash pedal box