Before I begin, I would like to apologize for the lack of updates. I lost direction with where I wanted to go with this blog, and so I stopped posting because I would rather write a quality blog over having a specific schedule. I realized that I should also discuss topics that interest me, and perhaps they may also interest my audience.
With that out of the way...
Everyone who knows me personally knows that I am a gearhead. Ever since I was young I have always loved cars, and that love partly translated into my fascination with engineering. Over the years, my knowledge of automotive topics has grown and grown, learning about the many intricacies of cars and the gearhead subculture.
If you're very familiar with the subject of Japanese car culture, then you may have heard of the tuning company mentioned in the title. This company, Speed Shop Sinohara, or SSS, is well-known in the hardcore Nissan Fairlady Z enthusiast circles for creating one of the most famous modified Zs' ever: a real life version of the Devil Z. This post details what I know about it, and hopefully it is accurate. As far as I know, this is the truth so I could entirely be wrong and not realize it. I am fairly certain, however that I am right because this is obscure knowledge and few people are forthcoming to offer a detailed history.
In the early 1980s, the Mid Night Club was formed. This car club is notorious for racing on the Wangan through the late '80s and early 1990s, but nearly every credible source on it is wrong. The story is all the same as follows:
In 1987, the Mid Night Club formed to do high speed street racing on Tokyo's Bayshore route. The club was extremely secretive, and they hid meeting advertisements in plain sight, cleverly using classified ads to spread the word of the time and location. The cars were extremely fast, able to sit at 200 mph (320 km/h) for long periods of time without fail, night after night. Most of these cars were modified for top speed and one member reportedly said, "Drifting and autocross is for the weak. We only do maximum velocity." The club gained notoriety for is very strict moral code- only the best drivers were allowed and anyone who was faking membership had the offending car destroyed. Anyone who crashed their car was kicked from the team, and they raced with a sense of responsibility to avoid causing unneeded harm to traffic. the club disbanded in 1999 following a major car accident on the highway.
Nearly all of that is myth. And sadly it seems to have spread to the mainstream.
Now for a more accurate version- this blog post written by someone else is more accurate. I think it is true simply because it is a different story of the same subject, and one that is more technical and detailed than what you'll find floating around on YouTube:
This real life story inspired a manga series called Wangan Midnight, or more specifically inspired by the specific rivalry between two drivers in the club: A red Nissan Fairlady Z (S130) and a burgundy Porsche 911 (930 generation). In the manga, the red S130 becomes the earlier generation S30 nicknamed the Devil Z, because it drives as if it's possessed by a demon (i.e. it is very hard to control). What makes the Devil Z so special is the engine has been modified to produce a little over 600 horsepower, which for the time was astronomical. This figure is made by the Nissan L6 engine, which, for reasons out of the scope of this article, was not exactly the easiest engine to get a lot of power out of. Combine this with the fact that such an old car has no electronics or aides to help the driver, and it's not surprising that the car is impossible to control.
If you're curious about reading the manga, then there is an ongoing English translation of it on MangaDex.
Read manga right to left, top to bottom.
Wangan Midnight is often overshadowed by the more popular racing manga Initial D, but it was popular enough for several loose movie adaptions of the first basic story arc. The most well-known of these is a 2009 movie, however there were others made in the early 1990s.
The 1991 Wangan Midnight movie is uploaded on YouTube, though good luck finding the sequels. If you have a good copy, please upload them. I and many others would greatly appreciate it!
The Z-car used in the movie was tuned by a company called Speed Shop Sinohara (SSS), one of the many companies enjoying the street scene of the 1980s and 1990s. They built two versions of the Devil Z, the most notable being he car with a twin turbo setup while the other was a single turbo. With little to go by aside from my own spare time and extreme determination, I was curious as to how someone could have modified such a car.
I did find a list of parts, but bolting on new parts to an engine does not really correlate to an increase in power, and there was also a lot of misinformation to get out of the way as well...
From what I found, the story is quite short: SSS was one of the many companies that sprouted up during the late 1980s and early 1990s Japanese street scene. Their only notable work as far as I found was the replica Devil Z, which seems to have conflicting information. The accepted specs of the Devil Z car as tuned by SSS are listed in the description of this video, a promotion of the car in question:
Seeing as how this video could be taken down, here is the relevant information copied and pasted directly for reference. I did not make or write any of this:
「悪魔のZ」実写版 湾岸ミッドナイト 初代 S30Z（L28改3.1ℓ ツインダーボ）(Translation: "Devil's Z" live-action version Wangan Midnight first generation S30Z (L28 modified 3.1ℓ Twin Turbo)) Engine- P90A head, F54 block, both sourced from an '83 Turbo 280ZX Triple Mikuni side-draft carburetors, 47mm bore [?] Twin Garrett T3/T04 hybrid turbochargers HKS Super Sequential Blow Off Valve Custom fabricated intake plenum, 47mm velocity stacks Custom grind camshaft, 290* duration [?], .510 lift [?] Forged internals, ceramic coated forged dished pistons [7.4:1 CR] Claimed 620BHP@6000, TQ unknown Trans- Nissan/Borg Warner T5 5-speed, non-"World Class" Twin-plate Ogura [?] clutch Diff- R200 VLSD sourced from '87 300ZX Turbo Special Edition Suspension/Body- SSS [Speed Shop Shinohara] coilovers, custom valving Custom sway bars [SSS?] SSS custom 8-point cage Takata 5-point harnesses Bride racing buckets Brakes- R32 4-piston front calipers, cross-drilled/slotted 11.5" rotors [F], cross-drilled/slotted 11.5" rotors, calipers unknown
Another version of the Z had a single turbo and fuel injection setup, more modern and better able to create the monstrous 600 horsepower at the time. The cars were used as hero cars for the old Wangan Midnight movies of the 1990s; the one from 2009 is completely different. I don't know the specs of the Z used in the 2009 film, but I am certain that is not affiliated with the SSS Z.
The movies never became mainstream; this was before the internet was as pervasive as it is today. Furthermore, the car community as a whole, especially for a car as old as the Z, is very small compared to other communities, so it is to be expected.
As for the shop and its cars... One was sold to a private party, who later wrecked the car. The other car was held onto by the shop, and as the street racing scene faded out, so did the shop, and the remaining Devil Z's whereabouts are currently unknown... at least to the general public. There are certainly people who probably know where it is. For reasons of their own they won't disclose it. Such practice is common in the older tuning community- not everyone has access to the best parts and the secret knowledge, so take my information with a grain of salt.
I wish I could say I know much more, but unfortunately I don't. Compared to other histories, street racing is secretive and its most prominent members remain relatively hidden from the general public. Storied cars like the SSS Z are usually mixed with urban legend and it's hard to verify something that its creators want to keep hidden. That being said, it is also entertaining to think that these legends exist because without them, the car community would be quite boring.
Unfortunately, thus ends the story about one of my favorite cars, the SSS Fairlady Z. That being said, anyone dedicated enough to separate the truth from the legend is bound to dig deeper and deeper under the layers until they either leave, satisfied, or find what they are looking for. My own research into this subject is hardly conclusive; there are definitely other people who know more than I do.
Most of what I found was located on very old HybridZ posts, usually discussions posted by newer members seeking the same knowledge about the cars that I do, as well as poking around in the other Z-car forums and some comments sections. Unfortunately, one great source of information, a Facebook and Twitter page by the name of "automodejapan" deleted their content, though I did manage to get screenshots of some of their content before it was gone. None of the screenshots I got were related to the specific SSS car, though. It's extremely hard to find information related to this subject, as it's old, uninteresting to the general public, and many people who have lived it are reluctant to reveal too much.
That being said, I am interested to find more on the topic of the Mid Night Club, SSS, and high horsepower Nissan L6 engines, but my search for information has only led me this far. if you know where I should be looking or want to share information, then I'm interested to hear it. Comment below if you do, and please provide proof- articles, translations, pictures, videos, etc.
If you've made it this far, thanks for reading! Enjoy this edit of the SSS promo video, which has some fitting music. The song is "Yokohama Akuma" ("Yokohama Devil" in English) by Akina Nakamori.