Got Stance: Mizuno Works 1977 Nissan Laurel

Words & Photography: Luke Ray

The fist of the unplanned shoots! Not only did we have limited expectations from the Mizuno Works visit, we definitely didn’t know that Sato-san’s 1977 Laurel would be there. So when we arrived and it happened to be there (ok, ok, I guess they knew a magazine was coming..) it was a pleasant surprise. At the end of a (very) hot and intense photo shoot of Mizuno Works and the two Nissans, Taka asked us if there was anything else we would like to shoot whilst there.

My arm instantly extended out towards the Laurel, pointy finger included, and the word “that” was all I said. The owner, Sato-san, obliged so we set off. After a fantastic ramen lunch at a local roadside cafe, we started off with some car-to-car shots. What with lots of Japanese conversation going on, I wasn’t really sure what the plan was, but soon we parked up at the side of a busy dual carriageway and Taka popped the boot of his Cadillac sedan and pointed inside. “There..” he said, “get in.” Er, well, going with the flow the next thing I know I’m hanging out the back of the Caddy, tracking the Laurel as we do a couple of spats up and down the road. That part of the trip is a bit of a blur, but somehow we got a cover shot out of it, so that was that.

We retired back to Mizuno’s workshop area and the guys asked where I wanted to shoot the car. On the way in that morning I had spotted a driveway in the village which was lined with indigenous trees and had a traditional wooden gateway placed at one end. Perfect. With crop fields and work sheds either side, we spent about an hour there finalising the shoot. I’ll let Sato-san give a brief rundown on the car:

What is this model and when did you first acquire it?

It’s a 1977 Nissan Laurel. I got to know about Laurels about twenty years ago.

Did you have an idea/vision of what you wanted before the project started?

The only real vision that I had was to make the car in a style that does not destroy the stock body lines.

Where did your inspiration come from for this build? In what style is it made?

I got the ideas when I saw Mizuno Works’ jobs on others cars in magazines.

What modifications have you and Mizuno-san done to it during your ownership?

All titanium exhaust pipe, roll bar, vintage auto look bucket seats, original purple paint, front and rear blister fenders, 14 inch shadow wheels: front 10J, rear 11J.

What is the engine, and what modifications have been done to it?

Overhauled L28 engine and bore up to L30. It has a Solex 44.

Why did you choose Mizuno Works for this project?

I decided to do the custom at Mizuno Works because of Mizuno-san's personality and his works that he has done to other cars.

How long did the whole project take?

It took about two years to complete this project.

What was it like working with Mizuno-san? Tell us about his work processes and procedures.

This car is the No.1 in Japan because Mizuno-San built it. His work is just perfect, and I feel his  strong passion for vintage cars. You can tell how good his work is if you see my car, right? Nobody can copy his skill which he has done to these fenders. They look like stock fenders, but actually they stick out 35mm over each wheel.

This article first appeared in Fuel Magazine issue 18.

Luke RayJapan, Nissan