“Thirteen years this thing sat in our garage. But I just couldn’t let it go.”
This is Larry’s Z. It’s a Bimini Blue 1977 Datsun 280Z, delivered in September of 1976. It’s original, it’s immaculate, it’s beautiful – but babied? Coddled? Kept indoors and polished? No.
“I don’t believe in putting them on a pedestal,” Larry says with a chuckle, “You put this kind of dough into something, you better use it.”
Larry Lazzari is my neighbour, and the story of his Z is exactly the sort of thing that’d have Yutaka Katayama smiling and nodding his head in understanding. The late Mr. K. – widely considered to be the father of the 240Z – spoke often and earnestly of the importance of the connection between man and machine, and his message wasn’t only intended for gearheads. His vision was to celebrate motoring, not just the aspects of racing and competition, but the way a sports car can make you feel. “Love cars. Love people. Love life,” Katayama is famously quoted as saying. He made Datsun a success in North America, and is hugely missed.
The bright blue Z first entered Larry’s world as a company car. Employed in the finance sector, he drove the car for two years until it had been depreciated down to about half the original cost. He was given the choice of giving up the Z and stepping into something shiny and new, or pulling out his chequebook.
Over the years, I’ve chatted with plenty of owners of classics, and most of them can boast long and varied car histories and oceans of knowledge built up over the years. Real gearheads, you know? But once in a while I come along something a little more unusual – not a guy who loves all cars, but a guy who loves a car. The one. The perfect machine. The right fit.
When the ultimatum came, Larry reached for his chequebook and bought the Z. Then he went back to work. In fact, after our little mountaintop photoshoot, he’ll be commuting off downtown in his 280Z again, just as he does 365 days a year, spring, summer, winter, and fall. You’ll note the car doesn’t have collector’s plates: even though it could roll right into any classic Japanese car show and pick up more than a few blue ribbons, Larry has no interest in that sort of stuff.