How to Increase the Horsepower on a Datsun Z Car

by William Zane

Since its introduction in 1970, the Datsun Z probably has been the most popular sports car in the history of Japanese sports cars. The first example was the 240Z, which was powered by a 2.4-liter straight-6 engine. Over the years, it evolved into ever faster and more powerful versions. In June of 2010, the 370Z uses a 3.7-liter V-6. However, there are many ways to get more power out of the classic Datsun Z cars.


Install a free-flow exhaust. Z-cars old and new can benefit from a performance exhaust system with a larger diameter. Stock exhausts restrict power. A performance exhaust allows spent exhaust gasses to exit the motor more efficiently and the engine to make more power. Buy an off-the-shelf exhaust or have an exhaust shop install a performance exhaust for you. This usually takes special welding and cutting tools and can be difficult for the amateur mechanic.


Replace the stock manifold with tubular headers. This is the next logical step after the installation of a free-flow exhaust system. Headers are more free-flowing than the stock cast manifolds, which have rough surfaces and small passages that interrupt the flow of exhaust gasses from the motor. To install these, disconnect the stock manifold or manifolds from the engine and the exhaust system. Bolt in the new headers according to the directions.


Upgrade the fuel system. Many older Z-cars use carburetors, including Zenith and SU carbs. Converting the carburetors to a triple Weber or Mikuni setup will get a lot more fuel to the engine.This will require the use of a special intake manifold as well as new throttle linkage. Carburetor conversion works best with other changes that allow the motor to get more spark and air.


Install a lighter flywheel. The flywheel is part of the clutch and spins with the engine. This will free up hidden horsepower and is best installed when a new clutch is being installed. The old flywheel is simply unbolted from the car and the new flywheel bolted into place.


Install a turbocharger or supercharger. These force air into the motor for a massive power boost. These are difficult to install correctly and should be left to a shop that specializes in these types of conversions.

Items you will need

About the Author

William Zane has been a freelance writer and photographer for over six years and specializes primarily in automotive-related subject matter among many other topics. He has attended the Academy of Art College in San Francisco, where he studied automotive design, and the University of New Mexico, where he studied journalism.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Images