Have you ever had the one car you always picked in a video game and wished you could have it in real life? This amazing car in your driveway where you can look out your window every morning with the biggest smile? This car was the Nissan S30 for me. I remember back when I got a PS2 for Christmas as a kid in 2005 & it was bundled with Gran Turismo 4, this is where my love for the S30 would develop & kept growing. Polyphony Digital, you gave me a sickness & I’m grateful for it.
This fifteen hour journey started out when I introduced my buddy Mike to Roadkill on Youtube. I kept telling him we needed a project car of our own. Just mumbling the words project car I started surfing Craigslist like every car enthusiast does in their spare time. We came across a few cars (One being a 928 Porsche or a CJ5 chassis with a Buick motor made for Jeep) while surfing craigslist but a lot were not in our budget or just complete junk. We looked at a few 60’s & 70’s Mazda, Ford & Datsun mini trucks too. While watching one of the Rotsun episodes it ran through my mind maybe we can find a cheap S30 chassis past state lines (Usually Georgia has cheaper cars). I started my search in Georgia & ended up finding a 1977 280Z (Guy had it listed as a 76 for some reason when it’s obviously a 77) project car for $700.00 in northern Georgia… My heart almost stopped, this is my chance… Mike was looking at a 1969 Datsun 1600 truck at the time up in the Florida panhandle but I was dead set on the 280Z. I texted Mike asking if he wanted half in on the S30 if not I was still going to buy it myself & we can find another car to work on together. The gentleman with the Datsun 1600 didn’t respond, that’s when Mike broke and decided the 280Z was worth it. Here we come Georgia!
With Saturday marked on my calendar for 280Z retrieval I was like a kid in a candy shop, I had a few days to get everything in order for the 15 hour trip. The first problem, we need a trailer for transport. I have access to a trailer but it has zero tie down points for cars, thanks to UHAUL for saving the day. So I get on the phone & it takes me 3 different places to get a person that can find me an auto transport booked for 7 AM.
After what seemed to be an eternity Saturday finally came. I had my alarm set for 4:30 AM to be 100% ready for this long ass trip (Yes, I’m driving the whole stint). Mike messaged me at 4:45 AM with just “It’s early”, a very Mike message. I got the truck packed and started to make my way to Mike’s house at 5:30. After I picked up Mike, we took too Wawa for some drinks and snacks for our journey. We arrived a little early to the UHAUL pickup location but I guess it’s better being early than being late. After we got the trailer all set up we left for I-75 to Auburn Georgia.
Let me start this off by saying I’ll never complain about I-75 after dealing with driving around the outskirts of Atlanta. We got our first gas stop in Tifton Georgia and grabbed some Steak-’N-Shake as well since we didn’t eat much since the morning. Our towing rig was a 2016 F-150 with a 3.5L V6, averaging 18 mpg towing the trailer at 70 mph up through Georgia. Good news since it means that our next gas stop won’t be after we pick up the car in Auburn.
WE’RE HERE FOLKS! We have landed in Auburn! It’s so nice being off the 675, 285, and 85 outside Atlanta, some of you people drive like maniacs. The bullshit doesn’t stop though… The guy said it had a clean title, but when we arrived he said he didn’t have a physical title. He just meant that the car wasn’t stolen…I was fuming… I feel like I should be mad at myself for not asking but the excitement was the only thing I was feeling. I just drove 7 hours and this guy just drop kicked me in the balls. He says he “didn’t think anything of it.” because Georgia doesn’t need titles for cars this old (Well Florida does, and I told him we’re coming from Florida days before.) I wasn’t just about to drive 7 hours back home without my damn S30 so I made him drop his price even though he said he was firm when we first showed up. This isn’t a giant problem because we can get a title but it’s going to cost us. I make him drop the price about a hundred dollars to $600 so we can use that to pay for getting a title. We then get the S30 loaded and we make our way back towards Florida.
We stop in the town of Auburn to get some gas at Ingles Gas Express, this is our second to last stop for gas. Now on the road the truck did surprisingly well with a loaded trailer. We cruised most of the interstate at 65-70 mph depending on the traffic. Along the way we checked the load 2 times to make sure the load was secure, the last thing we want is a Datsun 280Z ghost riding behind us. Almost to Florida, we stop in Valdosta and get our last fill up and make our final push to the Florida border (It just doesn’t come fast enough when it’s this late, only a few more hours!). At this point I’m almost sleep deprived after driving for 13:30 hours, thank god for the coffee we got before, the caffeine kick was definitely needed for the last leg of the trip.
I see the I-75 Belleview exit, I’m happier than a pig in shit but a tractor trailer is going 45 mph on I-75 in the lane for the exit. The kicker is the guy doesn’t even take the exit! Dude must have been like us, tired of the damn drive. We arrived at the garage to drop off the 280Z and then proceed to take the UHAUL back to Ocala for the drop off. Afterwards I wearily make it home, stumble to bed, rest my back (previously had a motorcycle accident that messed it up), and pass the hell out.
Well… this is the end of the article, I appreciate you for reading it & hope you stay tuned for more articles on the 280Z. I cannot wait to start wrenching on the Z, and cannot wait to share it with y’all!