Rallying icon returns for Targa High Country One of the most potent and recognised rally cars of the 1980s will make its return to competition in next month's Targa High Country tarmac rally, based in north east Victoria. The Datsun 120Y...
Rallying icon returns for Targa High Country
One of the most potent and recognised rally cars of the 1980s will make its return to competition in next month's Targa High Country tarmac rally, based in north east Victoria.
The Datsun 120Y driven by two-time Australian Rally Champion, George Fury, has been faithfully rebuilt by Queenslander Jason Lea, and will be a star attraction at the inaugural event, round one of the Octagon-owned Australian Targa Championship.
The Datsun will be one of 225 cars that will contest the three-day, 17-stage, 850 kilometre event that will start with a spectator stage around the streets of Mansfield on Friday, November 5, and will finish on Mt Buller on Sunday, November 7.
Lea and co-driver, David Balfour, are excited to be bringing one of Australia's much-loved rally cars back for competition. The car's rebuild has brought it back to its original specification, as driven by Fury in the 1986 Alpine Rally.
After the disbanding of Nissan's factory rally team in the early 1980s, former Nissan mechanic, Jamie Drummond, built the 120Y using leftover parts from the team's rally program.
While the Datsun 120Y was never the prettiest, or the most successful car built by the Japanese manufacturer, this particular example was transformed by Drummond into a rally winner.
It is fitted with a potent Nissan FJ24 engine, mated to an Option 1 close ratio gearbox, with a 'works' Stanza purpose-built 5-link rear end.
"The engine was out to well over the standard 240RS Nissan's power output of 270 horsepower," Lea says. "Its torque of 250 foot pounds was what gave the car an incredible ability to perform so well at the Alpine rallies from '83 to '86."
Originally built by famed engine builder Bill Blydenstein in the UK, the engine was straight out of a Group B Nissan 240RS that was competing on the European rally circuit. It was later rebuilt in Australia by Dave Bailey.
Lea first saw the car when he spectated at the Alpine Rally in 1982, and held a long desire to purchase the car and see it back in competition.
"Having been able to buy it a few years ago, I was not prepared to separate it into bits and pieces and lose a rare and original piece of Australian rallying history.
"The rebuild included a freshen up of the rare Nissan FJ24 engine, and it is ready to tackle the demanding, tight and twisty roads of Targa High Country.
"This car would have to be one of the most original, and unique, rally cars in the country. The dust from the Alpine Rally and the Stanley plantation (also in the north east) is still under the carpets!" Lea added.
"I'm very much looking forward to giving the car its head at Targa High Country."
Lea has many years experience in historic circuit racing, having campaigned a Datsun 2000 Sports (Fairlady) and a Datsun 280Z in the past, but he says, for him, his participation in motorsport is more about the machinery.
"It's all about the cars - they are the history," he adds. "I am just a custodian of the cars for a short while, but I very much enjoy them as I put these fantastic Datsuns through the rigours of competition."
Targa High Country consists of eight competitive stages each day, heading north to Wangaratta via Whitfield on the Saturday, and to Eildon via Jamieson on Sunday. Each day will end with a 20 kilometre stage to the summit of Mt Buller. A five kilometre stage around the streets of Mansfield will kick off the event.