Andy Wiskes is a sound engineer with his own studio. He does production and post-production mixing for feature films, commercials and documentaries. He also volunteers with the Maritime Radio Historical Society In Point Reyes. Photograph By Stephen Finerty.
Photos of Andy Wiskes and his 1972 Datsun 240Z Coupe. Photographed on April 2, 2015 at the Nicasio Town Center, Nicasio, CA. for SFGATE.com
I had always wanted to buy a Datsun 240Z, originally called a Fairlady Z in Japan. From the moment it was released, there was a waiting list. In 1970, it was nothing short of revolutionary: a two-door, six-cylinder sports car weighing 2300 lbs. Not only that, there was generous legroom and cabin space, a necessity for those of us who are proportionally challenged. It also had beautiful lines and handled like a dream.
As a youth in Wisconsin, my first car was a 1963 TR4. It was the only one in southeastern Wisconsin. It was pure technological mysticism in the land of Harley Davidson and big block Chevys. It was a great car and my introduction to Lucas electrics-enough said.
The Triumph sale funded a Chevy van that moved me to San Francisco. I was 20 years old and had just gotten my first job working in a recording studio. In those days, the pay wasn’t great but the projects were. I got to mix Charlie Brown specials and work with great Bay Area producers and musicians, including my favorite, Vince Guaraldi.
Driving a van in San Francisco got very tiresome, and with more hope than salary I started looking for another sports car. I still dreamed of the 240Z, but it was unobtainable. You could get on a waiting list and then watch them sell for way over MSRP.
I was never patient enough to wait for one. My brother waited and got one. My neighbor waited and got one. Even my boss managed to get one. I was young and impatient and tired of my Chevy van, so I found a well-maintained 1969 Alfa Romeo Spider. Even with its Auto Delta engine it couldn’t keep up with my boss’s 240Z, but it was a convertible! It met an untimely demise in the hands of a fool (not me), but I always had the idea in the back of my mind: The 240Z.
Fast forward 38 years. I was looking at photos from the good old days and I decided that the time was right. My son and I started looking for one. It took a while to find an original that hadn’t been modified or rusted out. We found one that had recently been restored to a very high level. It was located 2 ½ hours away in Morgan Hill. The day we went down it was raining and the owner didn’t want us sliding around on wet roads, but it was the car for us.
Over the next month we kept trying to get together for a test drive, but it kept on raining. Finally, we got to do our test drive and the rest is history. Since acquiring the car I’ve put on five-slot mags, a new adjustable suspension, new brakes and a lot of wax. It has been shown at the Marin Sonoma Concours, the Hillsborough Concours and it won the Best Stock Z award from the Z Owners of Northern California. I still drive it and show it, but the best time I had with it was when I took my 82-year-old mom for a few hot laps at the Sonoma Raceway. With a camera rolling all she said was, “I’m not going to scream!” And she didn’t.