Nissan Stanza Racer: A Tribute to the Glory Days of SA Motorsport (Video)

The Jacobs brothers live and breathe everything Datsun and Nissan. We recently featured their collection of cars, but when we suggested doing a video on one of these machines, it was this 1982 Nissan Stanza racing car that Riaan selected for us to feature. 

“We built this Stanza as tribute to the 1982 Castrol 1000 and the car raced by Dick Sorensen and Barry Powers. It came out tops in Class C. It has been a life-long passion to build this car. We searched far and wide to get the right donor to start this project.”

To call it a mere “replica” doesn’t completely do it justice, as Riaan did find a host of period correct parts during the course of building this car. 

Datsun Stanza

“Most of the parts are from a period-specific Stanza. I searched, for about six years, before I finally found a car in Windhoek, Namibia. We bought it at a pawnshop and towed it back to South Africa. 

“These cars were built very rough back in the day and they were built to go fast. Overall, it took me around three years to build it. A lot of work to the body was needed, such as the fitment of the wide wheelarches, the unique front fenders and bumper. We had to respray the entire car and fit the engine. Thankfully the gearbox was already there. When we got the car, it was basically a rolling shell and we had to start from scratch. 

Datsun Stanza

“The wheels had to be refurbished and I did that myself. In fact, I did about 90% of all the work on the car. The L18 engine had to be rebuilt and the wiring also had to be replaced. We tried to make this engine as period correct as possible. Uncle Dick Sorensen is a very good friend of mine and he gave me all the info from his original textbooks and even the dyno graph. This information was immensely valuable. We used that info to keep the engine as close to period specification as possible. We had the car on the dyno when it was finished and it makes 4kW and 11Nm less than the original motor. We think that might be due to our lower 10.5:1 compression ratio. We also use 95 octane fuel. The reason for the latter is to make the car easier to run and maintain.

“The front suspension is completely rose jointed, for maintenance as well as for handling and feedback on track. The three-link rear suspension comes with a limited-slip differential. We also did a disc-brake conversion on the rear axle, and the entire rear-suspension has also been rose jointed. 

Datsun Stanza

“There is a 25-litre fuel tank with two pumps, and the roll-cage is an FIA-specification unit. The racing seat is not some modern unit, but is Martin Richards’s original seat which he used in his first racing car during oval track racing in Goodwood, Cape Town. I’m very sentimental about this car, in that regard. 

“The livery that we chose was one of the most beautiful liveries in the Eighties. I think the car only competed in three races with this livery. Some of the challenges involved finding the correct grille and rear lights. We couldn’t find badges, so we decided to have them made by a specialist.  Instead of having stickers printed, we at The Datsun Shop prefer to have all the correct livery painted. It is quite something to see a specialist painting for a day or two, getting all the sponsor logos right. 

Datsun Stanza

“We will be building a new engine for the car in the future, as we got our hands on a period specific engine that is untouched. We have raced the car once since it was finished, at the Passion for Speed in 2021. She is quite a handful and it was the first car I’ve owned with semi-slicks, but with every outing you learn more about the car, its setup and sensitivities to tyre temperatures and pressures. In the future we would like to do three- and five-hour endurance races if there are any close to us. 

“We are very family-oriented and on weekends my kids join me at the workshop and play and help me around the cars. We grew up with oval track racing as well as with Nissans and Datsuns. Through all of this and a 140Z I found and had to rebuilt, I landed myself in this total Z craze. These 140Zs are my favourite Datsuns, partly owing to their rarity, but also their race pedigree. 

“My brother says that sometimes it is more fun building a car than driving a car.” 

It seems more builds are sure to pass through these two brothers’ hands. 


Car: 1982 Nissan Stanza

Engine: 1 839cc, four-cylinder, petrol

Power: 96kW @ 6 500rpm

Torque: 162N.m @ 5 100rpm

Top speed: 205kph

Gearbox: 5-speed manual

Wheelbase: 2 400mm 

Width: 1 335mm (f), 1 330mm (r)

Weight: 950 kg

Wheels: Compomotive, three-piece split: 16 x 8J (f), 16 x 9J (r)


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