Historic Primadonna Z
December 21, 2009
I read this awesome story of 3 cars… created by a man’s vision and passion, which now still lives on and is remembered by the 240Z community. It all began in 1972, way before I was born…
Long before I was a Primadonna Z, I was just a 240Z. My name was ZBAIT. A name the dreamer gave me because nobody could catch me on the rolling hills above Redwood City, California where I lived.
I was adopted in September of 1972 and it didn’t take long for him to start messing with me. At first, he said I needed just a little tweaking. However, in the early 70’s he used to take me to LagunaSeca and Sears Point Raceways to show me what I could be. He started me off with little bubble flares, an air dam and a rear spoiler. Strictly, off the shelf stuff. At first, I liked it but then at the next year’s races I saw these new flares on the Walt Maas Far Performance 240Z. We realized I would be hotter with this setup so the bubbles were popped off and I had a new look.
We were happy for a couple more years when I noticed a change in him. He started showing a lot of interest in this thing called the 935. He told me how he fell in love with a German Boxer.
I felt so inadequate. Then one day he stripped me down and said it could take a couple of years to rebuild me but when he was done, it would take 20 years for me to be fully appreciated.
He was only 25 working on me outside of his apartment. He didn’t have a shop or a garage, just an aluminum box he built that he slipped me in. I fit like a glove and my box fit perfectly in his parking stall. He didn’t have fancy tools, not even a workbench, just worked off the curb. It was here where I was truly born. My designer and a young neighbor friend would sit for hours talking about how to make me the ultimate Z.
Then one day he rolled me out of the metal box and fit me with the most exotic tires and wheels imaginable. I had an extended windshield, a huge whaletail and wing just like those 935’s.
It was at this time he met his real love Yolanda and together they took me everywhere. I created quite a stir whenever I’d stop. Other makes were always trying to get a closer look on the road and their owners would wave, smile and try to make me go faster. I was a gunslinger.
We were well known in the Z Owners of Northern California and were very active leading many other Z’s on tours from Oregon to Death Valley, California. Then things started to change.
It was 1983 now. That’s when I saw my little sister for the first time. She had different hips, they were square. I was white and she was yellow. She was named Primadonna Z and her metal plates said Prima Z. Up until now, it was fun for everybody then we learned our owner was to sell clones of us to anyone that wanted to be ahead of his time.
Little did we know another dreamer was looking for us. Never seeing a picture only hearing about the “Great White Z”. Then one day someone told this dreamer where he had seen the myth. He ran home, fired up his own creation and together they found us. Michael was his name and his car was a flat rusty red. Rusty must have been very upset because there was a deep roar coming from under his hood. Something called a V8 was lurking under there with a lot of other stuff I had never seen before. We became friends. Rusty would eventually look just like me, white, only with a lot more attitude. Jettlag was on his nameplate. By now, our bodies were very precise. Within a year, my yellow sister got a face-lift and became a real black beauty.
In about 1985 the last change I received appeared. A new precise set of clothes, a stretched windshield, a whaletale without the wing and a flashy Mars Red paint job made me the sexiest Primadonna yet! That’s when my owner, designer and builder had to part with me and pass me on to another.
A decision he would be saddened by. A year later, my black sister was adopted by Alan, a wonderful owner. So good, he still loves the black Prima Z after nearly 20 years. She’s in great hands!
Michael kept Jettlag for another 14 years but in 2000, after 20 years, realized he could no longer give Jettlag the attention needed, he reluctantly parted with him. He also has felt the loss. Someone named Hoover took Jettlag never really loving or understanding what he had. With the help of the internet, Jettlag was sent off to a place called Tennessee to another Mike. Only this Mike cared less than Hoover. Jettlag had an uncertain future falling in disrepair with not much hope facing a slow death parked in the grass.
Then a small miracle happened. Roger appeared. Not really knowing why, other than he had to rescue Jettlag. Jettlag was brought to Florida and is now being nurtured back to life. He’s in great hands with an owner who commands attention to detail and understands what he has.
You say just a car! With Roger almost accidentally finding Jettlag, it led to him just as accidentally meeting the original dreamer and telling his story of how he found Jettlag. All of which brought two old friends back together again after many years. Jack and Michael after all have a lot in common and a lot of pictures and memories to share. Both realizing what they had and what they had lost.
The Primadonna Z was never intended to be a business, just a personal custom car and only from the evolution of creating it and using it, was the inevitable thought of duplication. With today’s acceptance of radical concepts there’s almost limitless possibilities. The Primadonna Z fits in with today’s concepts but 25 years ago, no one knew what Bling was!
The last generation molds and jigs from the original design were sold to a friend in the early 90’s. Space being at a premium at home and our lives going in another direction, I thought they were in good hands. MilesGarcia saw the early stages of development to the last paint job. He wanted to keep the Primadonna alive.
Unfortunately, he didn’t have “THE RIGHT STUFF” and after trying to re-sell the molds to the new owners, he inexplicably,
without fully comprehending the consequences cut up, destroyed and dumped every piece.
After nearly 9 years of designing, building and perfecting, the final ½ “ thick molds that were built to last and to perhaps make many parts, were history. Fortunately, not all art is treated this way. The only way the Primadonna can endure is if the current owners are smart enough to pull new molds or drive very carefully. Quite expensive but it’s the only insurance.
I have just recently talked to Alan and he has done many
Modifications to the black Prima Z car. Most to the engine and chassis. The body is pretty much unchanged.
Roger has completely stripped his down for a complete rebuild with a lot of attention to detail including new paint. Again, the body is intact.
The red car (formerly known as ZBAIT) has disappeared. I’ll only say that Vince cannot be located. The vin numbered was last registered in 1997 and the plates ZBAIT not in use and no record of it being salvaged. It may be just sitting under a cover in someone’s garage or yard and they don’t know what it is or what to do with it.
Not everyone has the passion of Roger Berry or Alan Pong. It’s my dream again to be reunited and own ZBAIT once more.
The story of how Michael Ouellette’s car (Jettlag) left Hoover Chan (2nd owner) then eventually ending up clear across the country must be told by RogerBerry. Roger and Alan will be the key to the Primadonna survival, and I only hope who ever owns them in the future will keep them intact and their history alive and well.
Original Designer and Builder
Jack Atkinson – email@example.com
1st Owner 2nd Owner 3rd Owner 4th Owner
Red (ZBAIT) Jack Atkinson, Vince ?
Black (Prima Z) Jack Atkinson, Alan Pong
White (Jettlag) Michael Ouellette, Hoover Chan, Mike Hill, Roger Berry
California, California, Tennessee, Florida
Pretty amazing. I can’t imagine how many more great stories were lost before the internet…
Original thread here, lets hope this one is never lost.