NZ Performance Car: Hi, Craig. How did you come to own this beaut of a 1200?
Craig: Hi, NZ Performance Car. It originally popped up on Trade Me, so I chucked a bid on it but missed out in the end. Not long after that, I saw it cruising down the road and followed it back to Tony Marsh’s shop — Marsh Jr had beaten me to it. He eventually decided to sell it, and I had already made it very clear that I wanted it beforehand. I ended up paying what I had bid the first time around.

Nearly the one that got away. What kind of condition was it in, and where did you get inspiration for its current look?
She was in a state, and I ended up doing a whole heap of tidying up to get her like this. I’ve always loved the Shell Sport era of racing, so, when my wedding came up, I knew what I wanted to do. The decals are subtle on purpose, but I did it mostly because, with the guards on, it needed the stripes to complete the look.

Definitely suits the period of the Datto. What’s it like driving a left-hook car on our roads?
Left-hook is all good, but it can make it a bitch to pass cars on the open road because you can’t see what’s coming — it also means you have to really trust whoever is riding shotgun to call the pass, especially with how long it takes with all [of the] 73hp (54kW) the A12 makes.
I haven’t been able to work out where she came from, though. At first, I thought she and another one in Invercargill were imported from Portugal in ’74, but a guy on one of the Datsun forums showed me an engine-bay paste that the Portuguese ones should have, and mine doesn’t, so maybe she’s American? I’m not really sure.

Makes for a good talking point, though! Is this her final form, or is there more to come?
More to come; just a much stronger and prettier version of the same. It’ll need a big rebuild, with a few brake and driveline upgrades. I mounted a blow-through supercharger on the A12, but never wanted to completely hook it up until I lowered compression in the bottom end to ensure it was strong enough, but, now that I’ve got my hands on an A15 cross member, I’ll track one down and move up to the ‘big block’ 1500 at the same time. I’ll be buried in this car one way or another.

We look forward to seeing that combo go in. Thanks for sharing her with us, Craig!

Name: Craig Holland Location: Auckland
Age: 40 Occupation: Mechanic

Engine: A12, 1171cc, four-cylinder
Drivetrain: Five-speed dog-leg
Interior: Factory
Exterior: B Project flares, chin lip
Wheels/tyres: (F) 14x8-inch Enkei, (R) 14x9-inch Enkei
Suspension: (F) Adjustable top hats, shortened shocks, (R) flipped leaf springs

Jaden Martin

Growing up inhaling paint fumes and bog dust at his old man's panel shop, Jaden is a qualified word bender that has obtained a 'brofessional' diploma in car building from years of trial and error. He's currently trying to finish his creation of Australian-based debauchery crammed with Japanese- and Euro-inspired goodness. You'll find him writing for NZ Performance Car and producing content online.

Instagram — @jaden_nzpcmagazine