Seeing Things Through
Seeing Things Through
What defines a "car build?" For a lot of people over the past few years, a build is simply a set of wheels combined with suspension adjustment that results in something with visual appeal. Traditionally, however, a build is tearing a car down to really dig in and create something one-off and unique that embodies time, sweat, and imagination. It's what separates good looking cars from "builds" that inspire and stir emotion within us. These are the "builds" that dare you to go into your garage and see what you can produce on your own. Vince DeLuca's Z32 represents that inspiration and I've been given the privilege to tell you about it.
Vince is an architect with a knack for creating with the smallest details in mind. Like most of us, he prefers a challenge in his personal projects and he received that (and then some) with this 300zx. This is not just "any" 300zx as it's been in his family since it rolled off the showroom floor in 1990. Vince has owned it for the past 8 years and has been building it ever since. He has a design philosophy of "accentuating the simplicity of something while still pushing any and all of the boundaries of what can be done to a car." Frankly, I could sum up this article with that statement alone as it shows throughout the entire car, but we are just getting started.
So where to begin? Well, having a background of creating things from scratch has it's advantages when building a car. Practically every piece on this platform has been replaced, with a 3 page modification list to prove it. The kicker is that Vince designed and fabricated a lot of the modifications himself. When I say he has been building the car for 8 years, it's not because he is lazy or unmotivated. Each aspect of the car has been given a thorough examination of how it could be made better in same way, right down to the door sills. If you didn't know any better you might ask, "but why does it look so stock?" Vince explains:
"I love when people respond to pieces i have designed, whether the interior, exterior, or suspension by saying 'wow i had no idea it didnt originally come like that.' To me, this makes for a well thought out build, where aftermarket can blend with one off parts and all in conjunction with the original and not look slapped on. But this all lies within the details. The details are what separates a real "build" from just another project."
"Alright Ben, I get it.. details. Let's see them!" Fair enough. Let's start with the engine bay. I could write an entire feature on just the bay alone, but will do my best to give you a worthy synopsis. Coming from a "euro background," Vince wanted to do his to pull influence from the shaved bays of Europe. Well, here is the best way to appreciate the work that was done: click here---> Original Z32 Engine Bay, then proceed to compare to the above picture. What you will find, essentially, is half the bay missing. How was this even done?
Glad you asked. Vince decided, like everything else on the car, that the engine should be "updated." So he pulled the original 60k mile 24-valve VG30-DE to gut it, cutting out anything he didn't feel was necessary. Forged internals would replace the inner workings, with about every bolt-on part from the Stillen catalog put in play. While the engine was out, Vince started cutting and throwing away systems like a kid going through his toy chest. The EGR, A/C, Cruise Control, and carbon canisters were completely deleted, with the PCV, Power Steering, and Fuel systems completely redone and rerouted with hardlines and AN fittings throughout. The bay has over 60 holes welded shut, new wheel wells completely reshaped by hand with a English-wheel, AC inlets welded shut, and body soldering to smooth it all out. How is that for a 12-month project? I haven't even broke the surface of what else has been done in the bay, but there is so much more to cover so on we go!
Vince's design philosophy carries through to the interior as well. Cabin upgrades, for those willing to do them, are typically made of loud racing seats or accessories that stand out and are often out of place. The mantra of "loud and obvious" serves no place within Vince's vision. For example, the picture above displays a one-off custom dash with integrated functioning 52mm gauges for wideband air fuel, oil pressure, and vacuum. The entire interior was re-wrapped in Italian leather with deviated red stitching, including all the trim pieces. As I mentioned above, Vince even fabricated one-off aluminum door sills with etched 300zx logos. Not one aspect of the interior was left-untouched except (and this is the coolest part) the original floor mats from 1990, which had never been used to date. The required attire for any passenger must utilize a combination of Egyptian cotton and Indian silk, but you didn't hear that from me.
That covers the detailed subtleties of the 300's inner makeup, so it would seem prudent to move onto the loudest part of the car: the wheels.
Suspension and wheel fitment has always been a guiding force for Vince, as he wants a simply designed car that screams low and aggressive, almost menacing stance. He has gone through 4 sets of coilovers and numerous wheel sets which brought the project lower and more aggressive each time. Fitting a set of 12.5" rear wheels on a body and taking into account the original paint is quite a task, but in the end after hundreds upon hundreds of hours, it looks like it was made for the car.
Vince wanted to set the car off with a unique set of wheels that hadn't been done before. He contacted Stance|Works sponsor VIP Modular to design something that they hadn't produced yet. What he ended up with was a svelte-lined mesh wheel, now known as the VX110. It would be the first set that VIP Modular would make. Pearlescent White centers and billet caps set off the mesh face beautifully against the mirror polished 4-inch front and 5.5-inch rear step lips. That would be enough for most, but Vince is a glutton for tasteful details. Thus, he also had the inner barrels mirror polished, the valve stems hidden, and ARP fasteners to hold the multi-piece wheels together. "Smitten" comes to mind, when thinking of the final product tucked gingerly against the pulled fenders.
Vince builds BBS wheels as a side hobby, which draws me to conclude he never sleeps. With that said, if you are gonna have a side hobby why not show it off? The spare is a 16 x 4.5'' BBS RS with the same Pearlescent white used for the VX110 centers. Gold bolts and polished lips round off the "wow" factor.
Such wide and beautifully carved wheels would be poorly complimented with the original stock brakes from 1990. Vince selected StopTech Sport ST-40 calipers with 355x35 2-piece AeroRotors for the front. Unfortunately, StopTech did not have a big-braking system for the rear of the Z32 so, much like everything else on this car, something had to be fabricated to give the wheel wells the necessary jewelry they deserved. Vince had a custom set of StopTech Sport ST-45 calipers made for the rear, utilizing the same 2-piece rotors. I won't go into the details of what it took to make this happen, but I will say it took some strong determination from Vince in seeing it through.
There is so much I missed in describing the work Vince has put into his Z32, but by now you get the point. We don't normally write "modification-list" type articles, but there is a message hidden within: Don't be afraid to dive into creating a well-rounded built car. I intentionally left out that Vince has done all the work himself, yet had zero experience doing any of it before this project. That's right folks: this is a garage-built car. If that doesn't get your adrenaline flowing after reading the above, I'm not sure what does. It's taken him 8 years, with many mistakes along the way, but he stayed true to his vision and never-accepted defeat as a option.
What does it really take to build a car? A clear vision, desire to go places others won't, and a commitment to seeing your vision through. Our fathers of the hotrod and muscle-car generations did it. We can do it too.
I want to personally thank Vince for allowing me to do this piece on him and the Z32. If you are interested in how he went about fabricating some of the amazing pieces on his car, head over to www.spinfab.net. There you will find a freshly launched site dedicated to creating parts that follows Vince's design philosophy. Remember his name, because I'm sure you will be hearing a whole lot more of it.