- Paulo Tabora’s long-term 240Z build was expedited by the passing of his father and made its triumphant debut at SEMA 2022 in the Toyo Tires infamous tread pass.
- The car wears a period-correct Porsche 912 hue called Olive Green (414) which accents every curve of the signature Datsun shape.
- A built L28 engine, Triple Solex Nismo 44phh carburetors, Work Equip 03 wheels, reupholstered Recaro LX seats, and a generous helping of Techno Toy Tuning mods highlight the build.
- Tabora and his team dedicate the car to his dad who, among Paulo’s impressive garage mates, called the Z his absolute favorite.
There may always be tomorrow, but you never get any days back. Paulo Tabora’s 240Z timeline began almost a decade ago, but the real story started 40 years prior — on the day he was born.
As you may have been able to guess from the title of this feature, the true driving force behind this car wasn’t Internet notoriety. No, this build was always destined to be something more: a cherished bonding experience between father and son that would be painstakingly and lovingly constructed over time. Until time fell short.
A TRUE PROJECT
Similar to how every project car begins, Tabora’s 240Z arrived in a much sadder state than what you see here. A timing chain failure for the previous owner led this blue Z on a pathway of neglect. The aforementioned failure meant that the car was a non-runner when Paulo bought it and, despite being a California car, there were rust spots that needed obvious repair.
Tabora’s ownership didn’t outright change the 240Z’s course, however. Even though it was a dream car for Paulo, his family and his career as a full-time nurse always took precedence. And so it sat as many of our own project cars do, a tattered ornament affectionately named “The Blue Car” whose true potential was confined to garage hang stories and starry-eyed dreams. Whenever his dad would stop by and look in his garage, he’d ask Paulo, “When is this going to run?”
To quench his thirst, Paulo took what little free time he had to focus on more tangible builds. A Land Cruiser here, an Audi All-Road there, and a couple of Porsches for good measure. His 997.2 C2S “Cup” has me affectionately reminiscing about my own “CS” creation as I put this article together. Some may wonder why he’d build all these other cars when he could’ve just focused on the Z, but I get it. Old cars are just like us in a lot of ways — we can’t just slap mods on and expect the best outcome; they require unearthing years of trauma underneath the surface before any real change can begin.
I mention trauma for a reason. We rang 2020 in with a generous helping of that and more. Tabora’s nursing career added another layer of concern there; he was on the frontlines trying to curb COVID while ensuring that his own family didn’t get sick. But as we all know, COVID was highly contagious. After a month of fighting, in the same hospital where Paulo worked no less, Tabora’s father succumbed to the disease. It was a grim reminder that everything can change in an instant. Paulo admittedly spent one-and-a-half days in the garage with the 240Z, knowing that it was his father’s favorite.
Paulo’s Instagram proudly lists “Family First, Health is Wealth” at the top of his profile, but he knew that perhaps for the first time, his 240Z — his father’s favorite — would have to share the limelight.
For years and years, I’ve always put you aside. Maybe because I know you’re my forever car. Losing my amazing father…made me realize a lot of things. One is, it made me realize that it’s really your time to shine…because he wanted you to shine.
As luck would have it, Paulo wouldn’t have to go it alone. His wife, kids, and mom were all on board. His good friend, Jhen, runs a restoration and customization shop called JBZ Classics and has been bringing classic cars back to life for years. And from all the industry connections Tabora had made from previous builds, all of the pieces would come together — and quickly at that.
There was a clear target in mind when the build began: debut a fully-running car in the Toyo Tires Treadpass during SEMA 2022. But that was easier said than done. All of the paint and bodywork at 5 Stars Automotive was completed exactly a month before SEMA’s doors opened, leaving only a handful of sleepless nights to put the entire car back together. Nevertheless, the entire team was determined to make it happen knowing what was at stake. Rob Austin provided a fully-built 5-speed transmission and Stage 1 L28 motor which was quickly mated to a new wiring harness and a highly coveted set of Triple Solex Nismo 44phh carburetors from Taka Sato. The valve cover was affectionately powder-coated red since Tabora considered it the “heart of the car”.
Meanwhile, all the suspension and brake components from Techno Toy Tuning and Wilwood were installed along with a perfect set of Work Wheels Equip 03. A slew of interior upgrades went in, too; the Alcantara inserts on the period Recaro LX seats paired perfectly with the re-skinned dash. Modern SpeedHut gauges add a pop of color and illumination to the cabin. His father’s signature adorns key touch points on the car — the key, the shift knob, and the pedals — which Paulo confesses makes it feel like he’s able to touch his dad every time he gets behind the wheel.
THE DAY OF THE SHOW
The tell-all moment came only four days before SEMA. In the stillness of midnight, under only the humming garage lights in his brother’s shop, Paulo’s 240Z roared to life. The buzz was palpable and heart-wrenchingly emotional; everyone knew that Paulo’s father was there to celebrate the occasion with them.
His father’s presence was steadfast. Fresh off the trailer during SEMA roll-in, Paulo fired the 240Z up once again, his late father riding shotgun, and drove her onto the show floor for us all to admire. Tabora admits the occasion was extremely emotional, “This car is beyond a car to me. It’s a priceless part of the family because all the people and partners who were involved all did it out of LOVE.”
A LOVE STORY, FULFILLED
Seeing the car in front of my eyes was a haunting experience, not in a literal way of course, but because Paulo and his team’s effort encapsulates a level of passion, dedication, and love that very few achieve. He is lucky to have them as much as he was lucky to call his late father his dad. It would’ve been sweeter to build this car alongside him, no doubt, but that takes nothing away from the story’s impact — it is, as it has always been intended to be, for him.
Paulo Tabora | 1972 Datsun 240Z
|Exterior:||Full nut and bolt restomod, rust repair and full body repaint, Porsche 912 Olive green color code 414, Speedforme Japan fender flares, Kameari Type 1 front air dam, Skillard Automotive front splitter, BRE rear spoiler|
|Interior:||Recaro LX seats reupholstered Alcantara and fine leather by Rogelio’s Upholstery, Skillard Automotive door cards, Skillard Automotive heel plates, Skillard Automotive center console, Skillard Automotive delete plate with custom toggle switches for headlight and fuel pump functions, Skillard Automotive threshold plates, Skillard Automotive spare tire cover, Skillard Automotive tailgate plate, Skillard Automotive license plate lights, Speedhut gauges, custom Alcantara wrapped dash by Rogelio’s upholstery, custom Alcantara shift boot by Rogelio’s upholstery, custom Shift knob by Rodak Garage (Dad’s signature engraved), custom pedals (Dad’s signature engraved)|
|Engine/Drivetrain:||Rob Austin RPM stage 1 engine package, L28 block, E88 head, L28 crankshaft, stainless steel valves, Isky springs and retainers, RPM stage one 37mm port, L28 rods with ARP bolts, Koyo radiator, Kameari engine works racing damper kit, Kameari ignition, Kameari Engine Works Japan water pump & alternator pulley, MSD Blaster 2, custom-length MSD ignition plug wires, NISMO fuel pump, Magna Fuel distribution block, custom fuel lines, FUELAB fuel regulator, Z story stainless steel headers and exhaust|
|Brakes/Suspension:||Front and rear Techno Toy Tuning Willwood Micro big brake kit, Wilwood 4-piston calipers, zinc-plated hard lines, zinc brake booster, 280ZX master cylinder, Techno Toy Tuning Evolved coilovers with Hyperco springs, Techno Toy Tuning helper springs, Techno Toy Tuning wheel hub w/ Extended racing lugs, Techno Toy Tuning adjustable lower control arms, Techno Toy Tuning sway bars, Techno Toy Tuning front and rear tribars, Techno Toy Tuning mustache bar, Techno Toy Tuning power braces, Techno Toy Tuning drop mounts, Techno Toy Tuning differential mount, Techno Toy Tuning front/rear CV axles
|Wheels/Tires:||Work Wheels Equip 03 (front 15x9 -28, rear 15x10 -31), Toyo Tires R888R (205/50/15, 225/50/15)|
|Special Thanks:||First off, I would like to thank God as without Him none of this would’ve been possible. To my industry-leading partners, thank you for your support and believing in my vision. To my brothers, friends, and family who helped wrench on this build and was present during the build: Jhen, Jeremy, Taka, Jirro, Pat, Jeevy, PJ, Sean, Argie, Jolie, Arman, Marv, Derek, Godfrey, Jordan, Jose, Daniel. I love you all. To my wife and kids, Mom, thank you for the unconditional support. I love you. Last but definitely not least, my dad. This build is for you. We love and miss you everyday.|