I know this car on a very intimate level and to be honest I am kind of proud of that fact. One of my best friends was blessed to have one of these most beautiful underrated sports cars handed down to him. Because he wasn't mechanically inclined and I pretty much had my very own well-equipped shop at 16, I was elected to help him maintain and work on it. I have spent hours behind the wheel of this beast on the street but almost just as much on the track. Many hours I have spent working on it, but best of all, many hours teaching a friend how to work on and preserve this unknown piece of automotive history.
Most tuners like Roush, Hennessey, and even Shelby mostly takes a stock production car (not always) and stuff a ton of horsepower under the hood and change very little else. It makes a fast car but let's be honest, they aren't built for handling.
By today's standard, the stock 240-Z was a great car in its own right. It was a speedy and nimble car with an inline 6 cylinder and to be honest it was a blast to drive. But Brian Marrow of Scarab made the 240-Z perform as the car looked like it should have always performed. Marrow didn't just take a big engine and stuff it in a little car, if he did I wouldn't bother writing this article. He did so much more than that. Every 240-Z was stripped to the bare body and revamped from the ground up. The results? One mean ass, scary fast car that was lethal on the street as well as the track.
The beautiful sculpted rear-end showcasing the louvered slats on the back window
As you may or may not know, Scarab is known for their high-end speed boats. But in 1976 Scarab's owner and founder Brian Marrow saw something more in the 240-Z than the Japanese did. Brian saw what it could be by America's standards of what we think sports cars are and it was out of their facility in Campbell, California they built the most iconic Datsun's ever known to this day, even by the most hardcore Datsun enthusiast.
The iconic Scarab badge located on the B-pillars of the car.
Scarab charged the customer about $7,500.00 for the conversion, let's not forget this is 1970's money when they had a serious recession on. But what the customer got for their money was something remarkable.
Let's start with the body. As I said earlier every 240-Z was stripped down to the bare body. One thing Marrow's speed boat credentials gave him was a lot of experience stuffing a big power plant in a confined space but making sure it had adequate ventilation and cooling performance. This knowledge was most definitely passed onto the 240-Z conversion. The body was stiffened to take the torque of the much bigger power plant, transmission hump was tunneled, firewall relieved so the engine had more room and could sit back almost to front mid-engine specs, the fenders flared to accept wider tires, the hood was louvered for ventilation and the back glass was fitted with louvered slats. This was all professional bodywork and not a bunch of Bondo "sculpted' for the look.
The power plant, almost sits back far enough to be a front mid-engine.
Then there was the power plant, most sites you research about this car they will tell you it was a 350CI, and it was, but it was much more than that. It was a Chevy 350CI with a balanced 400 crank, roller rockers, a bigger lobed cam, Edelbrock performance torque intake manifold, topped off with a Carter high performance 4 barrel carburetor. Mallorey custom built the high-performance ignition to Scarab's specifications giving it the adequate fire it needed. The 3 core radiators were all hand built from aluminum, it was fitted with custom headers attached to a high-performance exhaust that had a note that of a true tuned sports car, not a muscle car. When we add those together it will equal a 370+ HP 383 stroker engine made to rock out with it's c**k out, please excuse the expression. I am not going to explain in the article why this created so much power but do yourself a favor and take the time to look up the 383 stroker engine.
The power plant was mated to a Borge-Warner T-10 4 Speed transmission with a short throw shift and a heavy-duty performance clutch. This ran the specially shimmed R-200 independent limited slip rear end.
A look underneath showcasing the meaty rubber, tuned exhaust, and independent rear suspension.
A great shot of the 3 piece Gotti racing wheels.
The suspension was properly outfitted for track performance with Koni adjustable shocks and Mulholland anti roll bars fitted to the front and rear. The 3 piece Gotti racing wheels were booted with Pirelli CN-36 tires, 265/50 on the rear and 225/50 on the front. The aerodynamics weren't overlooked either having a track air splitter fitted to the front and a performance wing on the back and I can tell you it gave this car plenty of proper downforce in the corners.
The beautiful Recaro racing seats and just all around well done interior design.
The Momo steering wheel and gauge cluster.
If you think Mr. Marrow forgot about the interior then you would be sadly mistaken, my friend. The Scarab Stage II conversion was fitted with Recaro Racing seats and a beautiful MOMO racing steering wheel.
The result? You got a well-handling sports car with 50/50 weight distribution that was clocked with a top speed of over 150 MPH and my friends in the 1970's that isn't too damn shabby. I can attest from experience this car handles a road course track with a superb sense of handling that I have rarely felt in a car on the street much less the track. Of course, if you want to, you can roast the back tires off of the car. But it isn't like a Dodge Demon where you can easily spin the wheels simply trying to accelerate, it's something you had to purposely want to do, otherwise, it sticks beautifully during hard acceleration.
Under-steer was non-existent in this car. I have sailed into very sharp corners at very respectable speeds and never once have I pushed through a corner. It did have a little bit of over-steer if you weren't careful and the power could send your ass round to tea kettle, but once you mastered the power output, it was simply a joy to drive on the track.
The Scarab Stage II Datsun 240-Z wasn't only modified for speed, it was quite literally re-engineered. It's very rare that an aftermarket conversion company hit's it out of the park. Not only with performance but with the look. Be honest, the Scarub Stage II is sex on wheels and I think any true gear head would love to own one.