We don't just feature completed cars, sometimes the coolest stuff can be found in the under construction section. Meet the tubbed, dumped, and LS-crammed 1200 coupe

Nowadays, most people can only wish that their first car was something as rad as a Datsun 1200 coupe, but, for Rikky Dawson, that was the reality back in 2002. He did the typical 15-to-17-year-old thing and threw some 17-inch wheels on it with a touch of lowering from Pedders Suspension. “It looked like a f*cking roller skate,” Rikky said. He was working at an engineering company at the time and tells us that it wasn’t going to be long before the car was cut up. It came off the road in ’05, and Rikky quickly got to work fitting a 12A peripheral-port (PP) and S3 RX-7 five-speed box.

“I had huge dreams of this super-low, big-wheeled Datto rolling around with a rotor in it … then it turned into ‘one of those’ projects,” he said. Other aspects of life took priority, and the coupe sat dormant for some time. Fast forward several years, and Rikky said it was going to be now or never, as he had had enough of pissing money against the wall. His dreams for the car had remained much the same, but Rikky had grown fonder of something run by a motor of the piston variety, something that houses eight, in fact. 

He needed a helping hand to get the ball rolling, and, late last year, approached Chopper from Choppers Auto Body Shop to come up with a plan. “That escalated at a rapid rate,” Rikky said. The car is now home to an LS1 from a VZ Commodore, mated to a six-speed Tremec T56. Down back, you’ll find a Ford nine-inch diff extensively shortened to fit, with a custom four-link rear and QA1 coilovers. The front end was chopped off and fitted with a custom tube-frame equivalent, and, not to stop while the fire was still hot, the team decided to create a full chassis using McDonalds Bros mandrel-bent rear rails that feed into Chopper’s own custom chassis, which ties into the OG front rails.

It’s a damn serious build, with 18x11.5-inch Simmons filling the rear tubs, and new front hubs and wheels next on the list. It’ll then be caged and will head back to Choppers for the fun to continue. Ricky said, “I hope to be able to test drive the car next year before it gets pulled back down for panel and paint.”


This build originally featured in NZ Performance Car issue No. 251 — to get your hands on a print copy for this and other rad content, click the cover below

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