I am a fan of sports car racing. While, drag racing, stock car racing, F1, CART and Indy car racing are fun and interesting, I have always leaned toward sports cars. For some reason I have always been drawn to the history of sports cars and I particularly love the cars of the 50s and 60s era of sports car racing: Ferrari, Lotus, Porsche, Maserati, etc. Cars I will never own unless I hit the lotto. The only Italian sports cars my wallet can cover are the used-up Fiats and Alphas I’ve been lucky enough to scrounge up. I’ve owned a handful of spiders over the years. They are fun cars to drive and have the Italian aesthetics that I prefer, but never had the performance that I craved. While finishing a rebuild/restoration of a damaged Fiat Spider a few years ago, I ran across an advertisement for the Velo Rossa in Kit Car magazine.
What is a Velo Rossa? In the simplest terms, a Velo Rossa is a fiberglass re-body kit for your first generation (S30) Datsun Z car. This includes the 1970 240Z through 1978 280Z. The kit is loosely based on Ferrari’s famed 250GTO from the early 60’s.While, Enzo Ferrari never built a spider version of the 250GTO, the Velo Rossa is a true Spider (no top, not even a convertible top. It has beautiful Italian lines and the excellent handling capabilities of the Datsun Z car. The best part (for me) is that Z cars are fairly abundant and affordable, and have tons of options for performance upgrades. John Washington of Tempe, Arizona developed the Velo Rossa kit and sells the Kit via his Reaction Research website.
During a family trip to Phoenix a few years ago, I had an opportunity to visit John’s shop and see his work first hand. To make a long story short, I finished my last Fiat Spider, sold it and went shopping for a suitable 240Z to eventually marry with one of John’s fantastic fiberglass creations.
The Velo Rossa kit is a high-quality fiberglass re-body kit that is specifically designed for the first generation Z. It is not a simple bolt-on affair. It includes cutting the top off of a perfectly good Datsun Z car (my apologies to the Z car enthusiasts/purists), welding in chassis reinforcements and bonding fiberglass to the modified chassis.It can be as simple as installing the body only or as complicated as converting the entire power train to something more powerful than the Z’s L6 motor and changing out the suspension to full-on racecar specs. It can be done by non-automotive professionals (I’m a computer nerd by trade), but you’ll want to have some mechanical ability, good friends with skills or lots of extra cash to pay mechanics if you want the conversion done right.
The three keys for me when deciding to build a Velo Rossa were the relative affordability of the Z car, the myriad of possible performance upgrades and the beautiful 60s Ferrari inspired lines of the Velo Rossa body. This has been and will continue to be a long project. Money, family commitments and life in general conspire to keep me from completing the project, but I’m having fun working on it when I can and sharing information with other Velo Rossa owners, builders and aspiring builders.
If you’re interested, read on through the project pages.I am trying to document the project as I go with as many pictures and narrative as I have time for. If you have questions, shoot me an email here and I’ll be glad to help if I can.You can also visit the project photo gallery directly to see some of the project’s progression.