Tom’s 1970 Datsun 240Z has a quite a history as a race car and an early production car first released in the US, but the little Z-car had a tiny recognition that in Tom’s mind was the car’s greatest accolade.
Like many car folks, Tom first got into cars through Hot Wheels. “I loved not only collecting them but also racing them” Tom explained.
As Tom grew up that love of cars transitioned from toy cars into collecting and racing the real thing. Tom found his Datsun in 1991, stored outside on an open trailer, where it was being used as a parts car for another race car being built. Upon looking at the car he recognized the vehicle identification number ended in 00008. This is significant because the first three cars shipped to the US ended in 6, 7, and then 8. These were the first three cars that toured the country in the new car auto shows such as Detroit, New York, and Chicago. The car Tom found was one of those three original media cars introducing the 240Z to the US! This particular car was even featured on the cover of January Road and Track in 1970.
After touring the country the car was stored by Datsun US and then later sold to an individual who converted it into a race car in late 1970. It competed in the SCCA C-production class from 1971-1974, with a well-documented winning record. It came out of retirement in 1990 to run the 1990 24 hours at Daytona endurance race where it not only finished but won its class.
Tom rebuilt the race car and returned it to racing in 1994, returning the car consistently to the podium with many class wins. But to Tom the greatest trophy the car would garner came in 2013. Tom wanted to do something special for his sponsors so he contacted Hot Wheels to see if he could get 100 cars made for him to share with his sponsors, friends, and family. Hot Wheels advised they really don’t do that sort of thing, but encouraged him to send some photos of his car along. Tom thought they were just being nice. However, Jun Imani who was the lead designer at Hot Wheels at the time and the photos reached his desk. Jun is a big Datsun fan and loved the car! He immediately reached out to Tom and they began to collaborate on getting his Datsun race car into production as a Hot Wheels in 2010.
“It was such an amazing experience,” Tom explained “They gave me full creative say on the design so the car truly represented my 240Z. The hard part was I couldn’t tell anybody about my Hot Wheels until the car was released in 2013.”
For Tom it just does not get any better than to have his hobby come full circle from playing with Hot Wheels as a boy to later in life has his car made into a miniature. Who knows maybe there is a youngster playing with Tom’s Hot Wheels version of his Datsun 240Z car right now who will be later inspired to grow up and win Indy or Daytona!