Name: Suhail Sahib
Occupation: Engineering student at AUT/ sales assistant
Make/model: 1981 Datsun Sunny B310 SGX
Engine: Datsun A-series 1400cc, rebuilt carb with Ramflo intake, Kelford cam, Coby extractors and exhaust
Drivetrain: Five-speed manual
Interior: Fully restored original tan interior, Grip Royal steering wheel, NRG quick release, boss kit, Skunk2 gear knob, JVC sound system
Exterior: Custom metallic gunmetal paint job, custom roof spoiler and boot lip, custom chin spoiler
Suspension: Dobi lowering springs, shortened Monroe shock absorbers
Wheels/tyres: (F) 15×8-inch (0) Rota Grid-V with custom centre finish, 195/45R15 Falken Ziex ZE912 tyres, (R) 15×9-inch (-25) Rota Grid V with custom centre finish 195/45R15 Falken Ziex ZE912
NZ Performance Car: Hey Suhail, nice to see a clean Datsun build. Tell us, why did you choose to purchase your Datsun?
Suhail Sahib: I would like to dedicate this project to my late father, who has always been an inspiration and motivation in my life, and not forgetting my mother, who has encouraged me to strive towards my goals. I chose to purchase this Datsun as I wanted to be different from everyone else. I had owned a Datsun sedan a couple of years back, and absolutely enjoyed every bit of the car, so when this came up for sale I didn’t waste any time in snapping it up. I have always loved a bit of a challenge, and modifying and restoring cars.
What state was the Datsun in when you purchased it, and what are some cars, or genres, that influenced your build?
The Datsun was in a condition that you would expect a car to be that is close to 35 years old. The paint work was faded, there were rust and dings and dents all around the body, and the motor and interior needed some major TLC. The body work was done by the awesome team at Glen Burn Panelbeaters and Spray Painters along with my uncle Sheikh Sahib, and the wheels, tyres and suspension were done by Platinum Wheels. NZ Fijian Cars, Ifraz Beggz and the team have been really supportive, and helped out with my build along this awesome journey. Cars such as the old-school Datsun Fairladys influenced my build, as I intended to go for that aggressive and tough look.
Did you have a clear plan for the build at the beginning, or did you take it week by week?
I knew exactly what I wanted out of this build, which was a one-of-a-kind custom-built show car that was road legal and also practical. I have always admired the Datsuns with their very sleek look and comfortable feel. Since there are not a lot of them left on New Zealand roads I am absolutely stoked and proud to own one. I took my time and built it right the first time, to make sure my pride and joy was one of the most unique and cleanest Datsuns on NZ tarmac, while keeping the car fairly original.
How much work went into the body restoration, and is the colour custom?
The project started by stripping the car to its bare shell, and the team at Glen Burn Panelbeaters and Spray Painters — with the help of my uncle ‘Sheikh’ — and countless hours of hard work, cutting out all the rust, welding, and restoring and fabricating custom parts resulted in the show-standard Datsun you see today. The build took me around four months or so, and is still ongoing as I contemplate new ideas to improve and perfect my build. The colour I chose was a custom metallic gunmetal grey, which complemented the light tan interior really well.
What’s it like having the project at a stage where you can drive and enjoy it?
I absolutely love it. I can take it out on weekends and enjoy cruising around, and have people admiring it and see turning heads, which puts a smile on my face. It also has quite a bit of grunt, as the A14 is not a common motor, and with the shell being light it’s quite a little machine. It has also won two prestigious awards so far, and has been nominated for a third. The first award it won was at Automania 2015, where it took out the top classic award, and the second one was first prize at a Datsun Queen’s Birthday meet.
Do you have any plans to transplant an engine in the future?
Future plans are to keep the car as looking original as possible on the exterior and interior, with a few custom enhancements here and there. The next thing on the list would be to add some serious power under the hood, and to build a custom one-of-a-kind motor for a transplant in the near future, so watch this space.
Thanks for your time Suhail, good luck with your future plans for the build.
This article was originally published in NZ Performance Car Issue No. 226. You can pick up a print copy or a digital copy of the magazine below: