Street Machine Summernats is a hotbed of wild engine conversions, and adding to that crop this year was Ivan Turkovic’s 1978 Datsun 1200 ute and its twin-turbo V10 Dodge Viper engine swap.
Summernats 35 was the first public outing for the little Datto ute, a car Ivan built himself over the last five years. “People have done LS’s and all that in these cars before, and I was a bit over it,” says Ivan. “I wanted to do something different, and then when this engine popped up I knew exactly what I wanted to build.”
Naturally, fitting a V10 into a little Datto that had an asthmatic four-pot in it originally wasn’t a simple feat, and the pictures tell much of the story. Ivan shifted the whole firewall back, while also fabricating a new trans tunnel to suit the Reid case ‘glide. “The car is a three-quarter tube chassis now, I’m a pretty big guy so it was the easiest way to make everything – including myself – fit in the small body shell.”
As if the shove of a V10 wasn’t enough, Ivan also replaced the headlights of the 1200 with a pair of GTX42 turbos to keep the big V10 honest. “I’d always planned from the beginning to go turbo with the V10, it just makes it that much more unique,” he says. Using a Fueltech ECU and methanol fuel the combo made a lazy 600rwhp on 5psi during run in tuning before the ‘Nats, but Ivan is shooting for a lot more. “We’ll also do an E85 tune as well, but the goal is to get 1000rwhp out of it pretty soon.”
The engine itself is still completely standard, but Ivan reckons that’ll be fine for now. “It only had 2000km on when I got it, and being a 2002 engine it has all the forged internals so they’re already bloody strong from factory,” he says.
Completing the driveline is a full floater nine-inch diff, which sits under Ivan’s custom-made bed floor. The tubs make room for the 15×10 Street Pro wheels, which wear 28×12.5 ET Street R radials. You’ll note the nitrous bottle sitting proudly in the centre as well, which right now provides a 100 shot to help get twin turbos up on boost nice and early.
Impressively everything other than the wiring, tuning and roll cage was done by Ivan, the first two taken care of by Warhorse Motorsports. He says he started building cars when he was younger before getting into the construction industry, and wanted to get back to doing what he loves with this car; this being the end result. “My wife has been a great support and actually encouraged me to do it, and building it was a really enjoyable experience,” he says.
At Summernats Ivan only took the Datsun for a few cruise laps, mainly because he spent most of the time talking to punters about his mad machine. “By Friday I’d almost lost my voice because people kept coming up and talking to me about it, they really loved it,” he says.
Ivan says he’ll break in the 1200 with some roll racing earlier this year to make sure the chassis is right, and then begin the hunt for a seven-second time slip. “I’ve seen other Datsun’s like this do sevens before, so that’s the end goal right now and I’ve built the whole car to be able to go that fast for the outset,” he says.
We’ll be keeping a close eye on Ivan’s progress with the 1200, and he did also confirm with us he does plan to get the car repainted in white for those unhappy about the black sections currently on the tub.