1973 Datsun 240Z Samuri
Lot 428
The ex-Spike Anderson,1973 Datsun 240Z 2.8-Litre 'Super Samuri' Coupé Chassis no. HS-30 100992 Engine no. L28 357616
Sold for £56,500 (US$ 73,601) inc. premium

James Mann

Lot Details
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The ex-Spike Anderson
1973 Datsun 240Z 2.8-Litre 'Super Samuri' Coupé
Registration no. FFA 196L
Chassis no. HS-30 100992
Engine no. L28 357616


  • Among UK Datsun enthusiasts, particularly those with a fondness for the six-cylinder 'Z' series, there is no bigger name than that of Spike Anderson, legendary proprietor of Samuri Conversions and the man responsible for a succession of Z-based racers in the 1970s, most notably Win Percy's famous 'Big Sam'.
    Very few cars are so famous that they are commonly referred to by their registration number but 'FFA 196L' is one such and rightly so, as it is the first Datsun 240Z to benefit from Spike's attention, going on to become a motorsport legend. Spike Anderson had learned his trade at legendary BMC tuning firm Broadspeed in the 1960s, working mainly on Minis and the Big Healeys that were a personal favourite. When Spike left to set up his own company, Race Head Services, one of the first cars to benefit from his experience was a humble Datsun 1200, from the engine of which he coaxed 105 horsepower. This was the first car to carry the 'Samuri' name, a deliberate miss-pelling as the 'Samurai' trade name was owned by another company.
    In 1973, Spike purchased a Datsun 240Z registered 'FFA l96L' for his personal transport, though the car did not remain standard for very long. What would turn out to be a lengthy and ongoing programme of tuning commenced with gas-flowing the 2.4-litre overhead-camshaft six's cylinder head and raising the compression ratio, which was followed by ditching the standard carburettors in favour of triple Weber 4ODCOEs. Mangolesti (and later Janspeed) supplied special inlet and exhaust manifolds and in this specification maximum power increased from 150 to 190bhp.
    Suspension improvements consisted of lowering the car by 40mm and replacing the standard shock absorbers with Koni items, while harder brake pads were fitted to cope with the extra speed. Fitted with a deep front 'chin' spoiler and refinished in distinctive red/bronze livery, Spike's 'Super Samuri' soon gained the attention of the motoring press. Various magazines tested 'FFA 196L' and gave it rave reviews, typically achieving performance figures of 0-60mph in 6.4 seconds and a top speed of 140mph, impressive figures back then and still highly respectable today. Only the brakes came in for criticism, being considered inadequate for the greatly increased performance. Even though these enhancements added £645 to the 240Z's original purchase price of £2,690 (getting on for 25%), Spike soon had orders for 15 Super Samuri conversions and his business was off to a flying start. The weak braking was addressed by using vented discs and Lockheed four-pot calipers from a Range Rover, which necessitated fitting 14" Wolfrace alloy wheels to obtain sufficient clearance for the bigger discs.
    'FFA 196L' was pressed into service as the company demonstrator and also used in competitions, contesting the 1973 British Hillclimb Championship. Despite competing against purpose-built lightweights, the Super Samuri finished 2nd in class at the season's end, hinting at the 240Z's potential. Keen to exploit it to the full, Spike acquired an ex-works 240Z rally car, which he converted to full race specification. Christened 'Big Sam' and driven by Win Percy, this legendary car went on to achieve considerable success.
    Scheduled to race in the 1974 Modsports Championship, 'Big Sam' encountered problems on its Silverstone debut, forcing the team to fall back on 'FFA 196L'. Amazingly, Percy finished 1st in class against stiff opposition and then Spike drove the car home! Having proved itself in the most emphatic manner, 'FFA 196L' continued to serve as backup for 'Big Sam' throughout the '74 racing season, competing on no fewer than 12 occasions. Always driven to and from the meetings, it also doubled as customer and press demonstrator, development hack and Spike's own transport, covering 35,000 miles by the end of the year.
    Despite building several more Super Samuris over the course of the next few years, by 1976 Spike's company was in financial difficulty and, reluctantly, 'FFA 196L' was sold. Its new owner was John Bradburn, who continued to enter the 240Z in hillclimbs and Modsports races, finishing 38 out of 39 events, an outstanding reliability record. In 1977 Spike Anderson persuaded John Bradburn to sell the car back to him. Spike had ambitious plans for future developments, including a 2.6-litre cylinder block, with a target of 230bhp. The suspension was upgraded to near-race specification and 8"x14" Minilite wheels fitted. In this improved form 'FFA 196L' once again attracted much favourable press comment, helping to regenerate Spike's business, which by this time had relocated to Silverstone.
    Always driven to and from the circuit, 'FFA 196L' competed in 14 Modsports races in 1978, finishing 2nd in class at the season's end, a feat repeated in 1979, '80 and '81. Spike appears to have had had an off year in 1982 as the 240Z could only manage 3rd. By now 'FFA 196L' had been driven more than 175,000 miles, competed in over 60 races and 20 hillclimbs, and featured in 15 magazine articles making it arguably the best-known Japanese car in the UK. Unfortunately, Spike's business experienced another decline in the early 1980s and 'FFA 196L' was sold for a second time.
    By 1987 the Datsun 240Z had become eligible for historic racing. Interest in the model picked up again and together with new business partner, Kevin Irons, Spike built two new 240Zs to race in the HSCC championship. Spike repurchased 'FFA 196L' in 1988 and after using the car for promotional and club events he retired to Spain, taking it with him. In 1996 the car returned to England and was bought the following year by a long-term 'Z' enthusiast, who had it restored to in-period, as-raced specification by Dave Jarman of marque specialists DJ Road & Race. Serviced by a recognised specialist in preparation for sale, this historic 'Super Samuri' is offered with Swansea V5.
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  1. Sholto Gilbertson
    Specialist - Motor Cars
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