Many of us who own a classic vehicle, particularly if there’s an intent to restore it, often end up on a journey of intrigue that hardly ever takes the path we initially plotted, best laid plans and all that. Rahail Tariq began just such a journey with the purchase of a Datsun 240Z in 2001, and at the end of that journey he didn’t just appear from the rabbit hole with a sorted car, but with a whole new business as well, a business that I couldn’t wait to go and see for myself.
MZR Roadsports is a company that has been born out of a desire to create and a passion for taking an already-adored vehicle and produce something that’s simply, better: a car that retains its classic identity, yet is refined and reformed and can cope with the vigor of modern motoring. A quick look on their website will give you a taste of what they can produce, but as the door was raised on the workshop to give me an in-person peek inside, I got my first real impression of just what magnificent vehicles these re-imagined 240s really are.
As we toured the clean and spacious workshop, Rahail recounted the history of his love affair with the Datsun sports car, from his initial purchase, to the problems encountered while restoring and modifying it to achieve his vision. He explained that off-the-peg spares and upgrades just didn’t exist, and while the car was an absolute dream to gaze upon in stock form, there was certainly room for improvement in the driving experience, not to mention the fact that age and corrosion had taken a heavy toll on the spindly body shell.
As he went about the restoration of his own machine, he met 240Z specialist Martin Ryland, which kicked off a forum for the pair to trade ideas that might be good enough to unlock the potential of these venerated Datsuns. As pen and paper were swapped for metal and lathe, modifications and upgrades started to become a reality, and as word spread and orders increased it became clear that their own workshop and a dedicated team would be required to do it the right way from the get-go.
Rahail is enthusiastic as we talk, a glint in his eyes does nothing to hide the passion and excitement for what he and his crew do here. As much as I am captivated by all that he’s telling me though, I often find my gaze and concentration being drawn by the details of the cars in front off me, next to me, above me—although each new discovery prompts another question from me and another excited explanation from my host. We talked for quite a while like this, but here’s the gist of what’s going on.
The process begins with an original California car that MZR have sourced (this really is a turnkey product), that then receives a total strip-down to the bare metal before the shell and chassis are repaired and prepped for paint and corrosion protection. The process is so in depth that parts of the body shell and chassis are removed to ensure that the corrosion treatment reaches every single nook of the car before everything is replaced and fabrication can be completed.
From there the car is built to the customer’s exact specification chosen from a list of options that is already extensive, and growing. What began as purely mechanical components now stretches to almost every part of the car. Engine, brakes, fuel injection, LSD, seats, bodywork, exhaust systems, suspension, interior and media tech, modern electronics, and of course, paint—if you can imagine it then it’s probably available, and if it isn’t, then chances are it’s being developed. Even the modern Minilite-style wheels are MZR’s own design, and everything is tailored toward providing the customer with exactly the what they want, from how it looks to the way that it handles and drives.
Want a rev-happy weekend car to remind you of how driving is supposed to be feel after the misery of a week’s commuting? No problem. Prefer something a little more torque and comfort-orientated for a jaunt across countries? That can be sorted, no problem. Want a G-Nose with big flares? Easy. Narrow body with a premium interior? You get the idea. I’ve been exposed to some wild modified cars in my day but my mind was being continually blown at MZR as Rahail and the rest talked me through every single aspect of the cars in the workshop; his excitement and enthusiasm is infectious, and there’s plenty to learn.
What is clear throughout my experience at MZR though is that the workmanship, on whichever element of the car, is of an incredible standard. Everything fits as it should and almost always better than it did originally. Most of the work is carried out in house too, but the team does seek expert help in some matters, such as using motorsports electronics specialists Simtek to aid in developing their custom wiring looms and electronic options. The most impressive trick though, is that the cars don’t appear to have lost any of their original DNA, they still have all of the essence and charm of the 240Z, while feeling like the bespoke and premium machines that they have become at MRZ. They’re definitely not stock, but they haven’t morphed into something unrecognizable. That for me is the greatest success of these cars, regardless of all of the engineering excellence contained within them.
To deliver a service like this, that inspires and caters to customers, producing the exact vehicle that they require, that’s no easy undertaking. But to do that with a machine like the 240Z where almost everything needs to be made rather than bought, and where no two cars are the same, is a triumph. Most importantly though is that these cars are delivered with so much enthusiasm that you’d think the flow of cash was reversed. The guys here simply love what they do. It’s fair to say I’m a little bit in love too. Stay tuned for my test drive and an in-depth look at what goes into an MZR 240Z.