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My new 240Z - what have I gotten myself in to?


Programmer

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Yesterday, I bought a 1971 240Z. This is my second one, I absolutely loved the first car. It was sadly crashed and totalled due to some poor driving on my part a few years ago :( I bought the old car in good running condition and never did any work on it, so this new one is my first real project car.

After getting the new car home (not that fun with lots of steering free-play, a cabin filled with exhaust fumes, brakes that are sponge-o-rific and no headlights (last 10 minutes of my drive was after sunset), I've realized that I've got a big task ahead of me to get this car nicely road-worthy. As a relative newcomer to restoring an old car, I'd love some assurance that this project is worth pursuing!

The previous owner (Hello if you're reading this :) ran out of money and patience with the car, but did put a lot of work in to it. The car has had $6000 in bodywork and paint, looks beautiful, and has only very minor rust remaining. It's a beautiful deep red that makes my heart race.

The drivetrain is all original, and actually runs pretty well. There's a loud click-click-click from the engine under acceleration (but not deceleration), and it runs a bit unevenly, but it hasn't been restored in any way or even worked on recently, so I think that's understandable. Oil pressure and temperature looked good, and the engine looks dirty but there are no signs of leaks anywhere. Supposely the car has a bit over 100,000 kms on it, and it seems plausible.

The shifter seems to have no bushings or springs whatsoever and flops around like a rag doll, but it has no problems getting (and staying) in any gear. The tranny whines a bit (especially 3rd).

Most of the bushings underneath look pretty worn and cracked, so the steering is very loose and the rear end clunks with every shift. Suspension actually feels quite decent.

Brakes were redone very recently and tires are brand new, but the brakes feel very spongy. Hopefully just bleeding required.

Now the big problem - the interior (except dash, which is in very nice shape) and exterior were stripped for the body work, and that's how I got the car.

All of the soft rubber seals (doors, rear hatch, who knows where else) are missing, locks are missing, inner shift boot is shot (welcome exhaust fumes!), outer boot is missing, handbrake boot is missing, and everything back of the dash is in boxes. Grill/bumpers/side lights are off. The seats are junk (and not original) and there are no seatbelts installed. I'm sure I'm missing some parts, especially all the screws/nuts/fasteners/mounts/gaskets that I need to reinstall everything. I have no idea where to start!

The previous owner has another 240Z parts car, and he said I could have anything I wanted from it, or any other parts he may have lying around, but his garage was pretty unorganized and I have no idea what else he has. I was in a rush to get home (had to catch a ferry) and really didn't spend much time making sure I had everything I needed. But the car is so sexy, I just didn't care!

As a bonus, the car came with (all new in packaging) a complete polyurethane master bushing kit, Tokico 5-way adjustables, Hypercoil springs, along with an old R200 diff. And did I mention that it looks fantastic :)

I'm a bit overwhelmed by the amount of work to be done. I don't have a lot of tools or space to work on the car, and I know it will be very slow going if I work on the car. I just want to make it road-worthy for now, and am really tempted to take it to my Datsun mechanic (he's a Z/510 fanatic) and let him go at it.

But I'm limited to spending $2500 over the next few months. Is this going to be enough to get my baby back on the road?

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Buy used, shop eBay, and when you simply cannot find something, talk to Chloe at MidwestZ. Befriend your multimeter and buy a Factory Service Manual. $2500 sounds entirely possible, you just have to buy right. I would be on the lookout for a rusted to hell parts car for the interior parts. Shifter bushings are the problem with the ragdoll shifter...they're pretty cheap and can be bought new. Both Motorsport and Victoria British sell full weatherstripping kits for something around $200, and full carpeting kits for similar pricing (if you decide to not make it yourself or buy a parts car). Seats you can either purchase from a parts car or a member here, but I suggest searching for the post about Miata seats. Seems like a LOT of options are available to us Z owners concerning seats. Above all else, have fun and don't overstress yourself...you're the proud owner of a beautiful car, and working for it is half the fun!!!! =D

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Thanks for the encouragement Gema. It is a beautiful car and feels "alive" in a way that modern cars just can't match. Just having it sitting in my garage makes me happy :)

The original clock still works too (that ticking sound is reassuring, like the car is letting me know it's still alive).

But I'm anxious to get it on the road for some fabulous summer driving! I guess I just need to be a bit patient, retrieve as many parts as I can from the previous owner, and have my mechanic give the car a good looking over.

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You are in for the ride of your life! I doubt you will ever regret anything you spend on the car in terms of time or money! I am getting ready to do a "ground up" on a '72. If your bodywork is done you are very much ahead of the game, and should be able to have a very complete, reliable, comfortable and special car within your budget, like gema said, know what parts go for before you buy, become friends with Chloe at MWZ, and don't stress out. The members here are a great and helpful bunch!

Enjoy the ride!

Will

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Oh boy! I just love red Z's! :love: (that's why I own one!)

First things to do. Get the brakes fixed! No fun in driving a car you can't stop. I'm presumming that there is air in the lines. Check/rebuild the rear brake cylinders. This is one of the first places that air gets into the lines. The seals usually blow out when they sit for too long. Rebuild kits are pretty cheap, but if you have to buy new cylinders, make sure you get the correct ones. They are are left/right specific.

I'd get the suspension up to speed next. You have a new bushings set, new shocks, new springs, you now will have a new suspension, all thanks to the previous owner. Money-wise, the price is right! Those pieces you have will make this car handle like a true race car! You won't be disappointed.

I wouldn't use the R200 diff. unless you plan to put some serious horsepower in front of it. The extra weight really isn't worth it. The R180's will handle the power from a stock L28 turbo just fine.

Next, I'd focus on sealing the body up. Buy a weatherstrip kit from MSA or Victoria British. Price should be less than $200 and both companies sell the same kit. You might get catch one of them with a sale, but it's hit-n-miss. The only items that won't be in the kit will be the tail light gaskets. You'll need to but those separately. Make sure you get them. Also get a new shift boot (inner). Replacing all the seals will pretty much stop the exhaust fumes from getting into the car. The only other place left that will introduce a gas-like smell, will be the vapor lines running through the body to the gas tank. You can either replace these or do away with them entirely. There are threads discussing both options here. Just do a search.

At this point, you should have not spent more than $1000 (even assuming you have to completely overhaul the entire brake system {new M/C, new cylinders, new calipers, new brake booster, etc.}). So now you should have a great stopping, great handling, non-smelling car that's a blast to drive!

On to minor engine problems. The ticking could just be the valves needing to be adjusted. Or the oiling spray bar for the cam could be clogged up. Pull the valve cover off, adjust the valves to spec (that's where the factory service manual comes in handy) and pull the spray bar off and clean it out real good. Your cam will thank you. I tune up on the engine is also a good idea. Plugs, wires, points, cap and rotor, shouldn't be more than $100 tops.

As for the rest of the car, you can drive the car without much of the interior in place. That you'll have to slowly piece together unless you buy a parts car with a complete interior. But at least you'll be able to drive a car that will be safe and reliable.

Good luck and congrats on your beautiful red Z car! Now you just need to show us some pictures...

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The clunk in the rear end may be from something I experienced just this week. The differential mount is a rubber/steel vulcanized assembly much like a motor mount. Mine de-vulcanized and allowed the differential's nose to pull up every time I shifted making a clunking noise just behind and between the seats. Had me nervous until I got underneath and found the problem pretty quickly. Pretty easy fix with the mount available from several catalogues or the Nissan dealer for about 50 bucks.

Have a good time.....you're alot further along than when I started a year ago and did a full bare metal, suspension off, glass out, interior out resto with our 16 year old son. Now I don't want to let him drive it like we had planned all of the way along. For now, he's driving the full size conversion van. Lots safer and cheaper for a 16 year old new driver. What was I thinking???????

Driftin Jon

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That last post reminded me about the rear clunk. It's either the diff. mount as Jon said or it's going to be u-joints. And it could be any of the 6 u-joints in the car. There are 2 on the drive shaft, and 2 on each half-shaft going to the rear wheels.

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Great replies!

kmack, prioritizing the items like that makes it seem a lot less daunting. I'll have to add, though, that along with the brakes, I really need to get some decent seats and seat belts installed. The current seats are non adjustable and lean waaay back.

Is it difficult to get 3-point belts in? I'm not keen on the lap-belt only.

Red Z's are my favorite, and this one is a nice glossy rich red. I'll snap some pictures this weekend.

Last night, I walked around the car and admired it from every angle for about 15 minutes, and it looks so much like a vintage 60's road-race car, a bit of Ferrari here, a bit of Jaguar there, maybe a few hints of Aston Martin, all wrapped up in to such a perfectly proportioned little package.

Anyone that watches Victory by Design on Speed Channel... I get goose bumps sometimes watching (and listening!) to those old sports cars roaring down beautiful roads, and I got that same feeling driving the car yesterday, wrestling with the big skinny wooden steering wheel to guide myself home. Speaking of which, I can't wait to finish work and get home to my new baby!

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I added 3 point retractables for the same reason as you.....a lap belt just doesn't feel right and the previous owner had removed the manual shoulder belts. Probably wouldn't have liked them much anyway.

I got a set of 3 point retractables from a '76 Z and had to make some minor mods. The main belt almost fits into the pocket designed into the Z floor. I had to grind about 1/8" from a contact point on the retractor, then they fit in the pocket. The bolt hole thru the floor pan does not line up though. It is about 3/4" further inboard of the existing bolt hole. I had to gring a small piece of reinforcing from the undercarriage to make a clean spot for the bolt to run through. Make sure you put a new reinforcing piece on the area so you aren't just bolting through body sheetmetal for something as critical as a seatbelt mounting point. I used grade 8 bolts as well for the extra strength.

The shoulder harness retractors bolt up to the original mounting points, but they aren't very attractive. I'm going to have to see if I can find something to put more of a finished look on this area.

Driftin Jon

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I added 3 point retractables for the same reason as you.....a lap belt just doesn't feel right and the previous owner had removed the manual shoulder belts. Probably wouldn't have liked them much anyway.

I got a set of 3 point retractables from a '76 Z and had to make some minor mods. The main belt almost fits into the pocket designed into the Z floor. I had to grind about 1/8" from a contact point on the retractor, then they fit in the pocket. The bolt hole thru the floor pan does not line up though. It is about 3/4" further inboard of the existing bolt hole. I had to gring a small piece of reinforcing from the undercarriage to make a clean spot for the bolt to run through. Make sure you put a new reinforcing piece on the area so you aren't just bolting through body sheetmetal for something as critical as a seatbelt mounting point. I used grade 8 bolts as well for the extra strength.

The shoulder harness retractors bolt up to the original mounting points, but they aren't very attractive. I'm going to have to see if I can find something to put more of a finished look on this area.

Driftin Jon

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Originally posted by Programmer

Great replies!

kmack, prioritizing the items like that makes it seem a lot less daunting. I'll have to add, though, that along with the brakes, I really need to get some decent seats and seat belts installed. The current seats are non adjustable and lean waaay back.

Last night, I walked around the car and admired it from every angle for about 15 minutes, and it looks so much like a vintage 60's road-race car, ....

The early style seats did have a little bit of adjustment, but not much. There should be a turn knob on the side of the seat the reclines the seatback a bit. It doesn't move much. Short of that, there are plastic spacer "nuts" that were used to shim up the seat on the body brackets. There may be none installed on the back portion of the seat. Pull the seats out and see (if any) where those adjusters are. These can be used to either tilt the seat forward some or tilt it back some.

I have to admit, I love to just sit and look at the early Z's!!! :love:

When I was restoring mine and it was nothing more than a shell in the garage, I would stand next to the body and run my fingers down the body lines and dream.... Then when I finally got the bodywork done and the engine back in the car, I put one of the seats in just so I could sit in the car and pretend I was driving it. I would actually drive the car around the neighborhood with no doors, fenders, glass, hood, hatch, and open headers, just so I could drive it. Thy are beautiful cars!

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Originally posted by kmack

That last post reminded me about the rear clunk. It's either the diff. mount as Jon said or it's going to be u-joints. And it could be any of the 6 u-joints in the car. There are 2 on the drive shaft, and 2 on each half-shaft going to the rear wheels.

Thank you for pointing that out, this was my problem and it's easy to fix. About $70 in parts for 2 of the high quality race u-joints and another $50 I paid someone to do the work (while I watched and learned, never to pay for this again now) and "the clunk in my trunk" was gone!

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