Til death do us Datsun: Wrenching keeps this marriage finely tuned

Courtney Cutchen only signed up for high school auto shop class because a friend, who didn’t want to be the only girl in the class, begged her to. For the first few months of the course, Courtney spent more time drawing pictures of cars than she did actually working on them.

Eventually, however, Courtney’s 1992 Cadillac DeVille—a hand-me-down from her grandmother—needed a brake job. She was struggling, with little success, to pull a brake drum off the old Cadillac when she spotted classmate Dustin Frisk walking past.

“Hey, you!” Courtney recalls shouting across the shop at Dustin, whose name she didn’t yet know. “Come help me with this!”

Datsuns driving
Datsun 510 and Datsun 240Z

Together they managed to find the leak in the brake system and get the Cadillac back on the road—the first in what would become a lifetime of shared automotive adventures. In 2017, Courtney Cutchen became Courtney Frisk when she and Dustin were married. Their wedding car? Courtney’s orange 1973 Datsun 240Z.

Not surprisingly for a couple who met in auto shop class, the Frisks’ life still revolves around cars.

“I imagine a typical family would be sitting around a dinner table and talking about the PTA meeting or soccer practice,” Courtney says, “but when we’re eating together one of us is more likely to say, ‘Oh, man, I really need to order those sway bars.’”

“Most guys have a wife that they have to hide car parts from,” Dustin says, beaming. “I have the opposite problem. I have a bad influence who tells me to buy things.”

Datsun 240Z
Datsun 510
pair of Datsun
Courtesy of Courtney Frisk

Those “things” include Dustin’s 1972 Datsun 510. Unlike Courtney’s 240Z—with its stock L24—the 510 is a creature fully of Dustin’s creation. Under the hood is a KA24 engine and transmission from a Nissan 240SX; he sourced the differential from a 2006 Subaru STI; the exhaust is essentially just a straight pipe jutting from the side of the car. Where Courtney’s 240Z is a period-correct driving experience, Dustin’s 510 is closer to a street-legal race car. Together, with all their differences, they make the perfect pair.

On any weekend morning, don’t be surprised to see this Datsun duo flying through the fog along Skyline Drive, high in the hills above California’s Silicon Valley. For the Frisks, driving their Datsuns together is a way of communicating without ever having to say a word.

Perhaps they’ll stop for a quick lunch at Alice’s Restaurant before dropping down the western slopes of those hills toward Half Moon Bay, or maybe they’ll call it a day and head home early to work on one of their many projects, whether it is a car or motorcycle, or in Courtney’s case, photography.

These cars, and the experiences they offer, bring Dustin and Courtney closer together with every turn of the ignition.

The Frisks
Courtesy of Courtney Frisk

***

To share the Frisks’ adventures on Instagram, follow 510frisk or misscourtneymae.