The Scary Prairie

I absolutely love M10 Nissan Prairies. There, I’ve said it and I’m not ashamed. Why? Because not only are they super practical it was a humble Prairie which became one of the most fun cars I have ever owned. But it was not just any ordinary Prairie.

The purchase of my old M10 Prairie back in 2002 was the result of me trying to be a little sensible. Practical even. It seemed to be the ideal daily transport as it would provide me with a great measure of utility with its capacious load carrying ability, yet be as comfortable and economical as a car. Makes sense when you think about it, and it proved to be just as practical and economical as I had expected. That was until I started to meddle with it. Its downward spiral into a mix of stupid, with a dash of awesome, began when I had to replace the gearbox, after the original one began to emit unpleasant noises. So there I was in the workshop, with the engine and box out on the floor, and I began to think “Hey, why not replace the engine too now it’s out? I wonder if that Nissan Silvia engine I’ve got over there will fit?”

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DIY Fuel Surge Tank

Anyone converting a car from a carburettorĀ to fuel injection (EFI) might well find the need for an surge tank to prevent fuel starvation when running at a low fuel level or under hard cornering. Stock fuel tanks in older cars don’t have any kind of in built design to prevent this situation other than simple baffles, but how does it occur and what’s so different with fuel injection? The fuel pump in a car equipped with a carburettor pumps the fuel low pressure and at a low volume from the tank to the carb. Should the fuel ever slosh away from the pickup pipe inside the tank, uncovering it and allowing air to be drawn in by the pump, the engine will happily continue running regardless, as a carburettor has its own built-in reservoir of fuel in the float chamber. By contrast, an EFI pump runs at very high pressure and the fuel is circulated to the fuel rail and back very rapidly, so should the pickup become uncovered momentarily, the pump could literally draw in so much air that it would purge all of the fuel from the entire system in seconds. Suddenly the injectors would be getting no fuel at all and the engine could even cut out. This situation is particularly risky with a turbo engine, where a sudden lean mixture condition at speed could result in serious engine damage. So having established that an surge tank is a good idea, how does the system work and how do we go about making andĀ installing one? Read on….

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Sunny Truck Suspension

Stock ride height of my Sunny Truck is pretty high… much more so that any B110 saloon or coupe I have owned. Having been built in South Africa and intended for abuse on some of that country’s rough terrain and unmade roads, this came as no surprise, but for my purposes it was no good. It’s for street use, so I want it low. So far, the only thing I’ve done is to get the rear leaf springs de-cambered (flattened). This dropped the rear by around 50mm, but didn’t really make it low enough, so I plan to drop it further using some 50mm lowering blocks. Up front the stock suspension is like regular B110s, only sporting drum brakes in place of the more common discs. I needed a brake upgrade but nothing wild, so I figured I’d just swap in B310 Sunny front struts, which have larger discs than B110 saloons and coupes. To get it as low as I wanted but whilst retaining some ride quality, I decided to build some extra short struts….

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RWD A14 into FWD F10

Here in the UK our F10s are cursed with having a mere 988cc to pull them along (unless you own the “big block” 1171cc coupe). Why Datsun decided that Europe only needed an A10 when the US got A14s I cannot begin to imagine. Maybe smog gear on US spec cars require the extra capacity to make up for the power loss?

My daily work horse is an F10 wagon (because nobody will steal it), which I decided was just way too slow, especially when loaded up with engines (no, I’m not joking), so I decided to fit an A12 for a bit more go. But what I really wanted was an A14. The only source for a proper front wheel drive A14 was an N10 Cherry coupe (sold as a 310 in the US), which aren’t exactly common, so I figured I’d try a RWD engine from a B310 Sunny (that’s a 210 in the US).

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