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'Picked up my 280Z Today :D


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Ahh... the check went through, I got the cashier's check made... and... well now there's a 280Z parked in front of my house. :laugh:

It's really weird though... it's a 1976 model, but it's still got a 5-speed tranny, I was under the impression that 5-speeds didn't make it into Z's until 77? I mean it's quite possible that mine is just a late, late production 76, but still, weird eh? (VIN: 286119)

Anyway, my shifting has greatly improved. Once I got a fair sense of where the gears all were, I was home-free. When I test drove it, I never had to go beyond 3rd gear, but today I had to take it on the freeway to get it home, so I had a chance to cycle her all the way through. The steering vibrates a little up near 60, but I suppose that's not a huge deal, right?

It was funny though, one of the first remarks my mom made about it (after "wow, that guy really took good care of it") was, "hey, this car doesn't have any airbags does it?!" ... and what could I do? I just sort of shrugged and glumly said no... I had to, of course, explain to her that this car was made back when cars were still solid hunks of metal, and it is therefore, more rigid, and less liable to get crushed and fall apart in an accident than her Civic (which she, ironically, also just picked up today).

It took me a while to figure out that I have power mirrors too. The only thing I have left to figure out is how to open up the hatch in the back, and I'm pretty much set. Is there some kind of trick to getting the key to turn? I stick mine in but it doesn't want to turn.

Heh, I also had a bit of a close-encounter with the parking brake too, I put it up all the way, and the bugger didn't want to come back down (button was stuck). I tore off the cruddy boot and did eventually get it down... but, whew... I was worried I'd have to have a pro look at it with less than 30 minutes of ownership under my belt. Now I just put it up enough where the car doesn't want to roll freely, and I put a wooden block under the rear tire... Hey, maybe it doesn't look great, but it sure beats having a stuck parking brake.

Only thing I noticed is that the shift action is sorta sloppy, that's part of the reason why I was having a hard time shifting into the right gears (accidentally putting her into first when I meant to put her into third, that sorta thing). I'm just glad it's tough to find and get into reverse... all hell would have broken loose if I'd been aiming for fourth and'd hit reverse instead... sayonara tranny.

Anyway, I'll have some pictures for you all soon! :bunny:

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On the shifting, $7 two grometts and 15 minutes and that slop is gone!

With the Emergency Brake, you have found something that scares almost eveyone once!

The key cyl for the hatch is probably worn-try lubricating it first, and if that doesn't work, take it out and to a lock smith with your key, and it can be fixed for less than $10!


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Ah thanks!

I'm definitely going to look into fixing that shifting action... that and probably get a different shift knob... The one I've got is wood (and no, it's not stock), and it's, as my sister would say, "fugly."

The best part is though, a Haynes Repair Manual came as part of the deal.

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Get a Factory Service Manual if you really fall in love with the car-it really shows the proper care and feeding of your car, and not eleven years worth of similar cars-there are differences between Zs- and the words "others similar" just don't do it for me...


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The Emergency Brake gets adjusted by pulling up and releasing several times until such a time as only 7 clicks or so are enough to hold the car on a slight incline.

The Hatch Lock many times will actually get a bit worn and require a gentle touch so as not to push the lock cylinder down into the holder sleeve. Insert your key and making sure you are NOT pressing down and moving the cylinder down, rotate it 90°. Generally, straight up and down is locked, (Relative to the top (front) of the hatch) and side to side is open.



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Like Escalon said, put the key in the hatch lock and, without pushing down, turn the key clockwise 90°, then push the button all the way down until you feel/hear the lock release. Then simply pull up on the hatch to open it.

The electric mirrors and 5 speed tranny aren't original. Don't worry about shifting into reverse while driving. The Datsun 5 speeds have a lockout to prevent that from happening.

I'd like to see some pics as well so I can compare your '76 and my '75. :)

One thing you'll appreciate about having a fuel injected Z car is that when they are dialed in properly, they tend to stay that way and are very reliable. The down side is the added weight of the 280 series. But that can be cured with a 280ZX turbo motor!

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For an explanation of the slop in a shifter and what to do about it, look here:


Here are current Ebay auctions for the bushings that are the most common cause of the slop-some in upgraded materials. There is a third bushing that goes on the end of the shifter, it occasionally creates an issue, but I could not find one on ebay.

I would buy the delrin or the brass versions-they will be longer lived than the oem.

Clean the area and replace the boot that seals the tranny too!

One word about ebay-not everything there is cheeper than at the dealer-verify the part is not still availble and make sure it is not cheeper at the dealer-sometimes you will get a suprise! The last time I bought these bushings at the dealer, they were less than $2 a pair-that wasn't that long ago....If you don't already have a copy of the club CD, and a t-shirt,now is the time. The CD will give you part numbers and assembly drawings(A FSM is illustrated much better, but they are on the CD), The T-shirt will give you the sence that we(all of the members) are all behind you and ready to help when you can't get that little "E" sahped thingy off the clevis pin that holds the shifter on, and keep the bushings from coming out!



In Delrin


In Brass



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The T-shirt will give you the sence that we(all of the members) are all behind you and ready to help when you can't get that little "E" sahped thingy off the clevis pin that holds the shifter on, and keep the bushings from coming out!

Many thanks!

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Heh, I need to get one of those CD's and t-shirts. :P

Well I drove it around again today, but I'm still not very adept with a stick. It's just too bad that nobody else in my family has a manny tranny, because then I could at least work my way up to my car.

Not being too skilled with the stick is a major disadvantage at this stage, because after I get done driving, I feel all nervous and jittery, pretty much because the car still feels alien to me. I'm going to set aside some time to just drive on the residential streets near my house (stop signs, almost no traffic) just to get the whole thing down.

Ugh, and sometimes I still accidentally shift into first when I'm aiming for third (on the highway, when I'm accelerating no less)... ugh... and that usually scares the hell out of me, when I do it (say, going 35/40 mph) the engine goes into high rpms and the tires squeal... and a wave of smelly exhaust hits me up front. It'd be cool if I was doing it on purpose... but yeah... It sucks to be a novice.

I just hope my car is patient.

In other news, my neighbor across the street, almost immediately after I brought the car home today came over and complimented me, and gave me a card for this shop about 15 miles away that does brakes and exhaust. The guy there quoted me a cool $120 to replace it (cat-back), so that makes me happy. It'll look like an old car, smell like an old car, but not sound like one (and that's good).

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If you can get your hands on a motorcycle or dirt bike, that was actually how I learned to drive a manual (for me, being able to do most of it with my hands gave me a good feel for the timing, wheich translates to cars really well; and most bikes are more forgiving of a novice -- just make sure someone doesn't put you on something with too much horsepower!). once i got the general feel and idea of clutching and shifting, it was a lot easier to learn to do it in a car.

And don't be too hard on yourself =) The Z is not exactly a novice stick/clutch to learn on, but when you get it, it feels great!


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Going into 1st @ 30-40??? ouch :eek: She will forgive you, but take your time so you don't damage the clutch or tranny. Years ago I had a neighbor that tought me. I actually shocked him how well I picked up on it. Never killed it once :D For some people it just takes longer. Wait till you hit some hills LOL Before you know it, you will be like the rest of us. I can be on the steepest hill and not roll back. Just takes practice man.

Check the fluid level and condition in your tranny. It may be low which could cause hard shifting. NOTE: "No dip stick for manual" You will need to go under your Z and remove the fill plug to check it. Probably wouldn't be a bad idea to just change the gear oil in the tranny. Use Redline MT-90. I noticed quiet a diff. when I put it in my Z. Helps with smoother shifting. Click here --> http://www.redlineoil.com/products_gearlubricants.asp?subcatID=18

Hell, I wouldn't mind changing the tranny fluid for you but I don't know how far you are from cottage grove? maybe your neighbor could help you too? I bought my Redline at Summit Racing online. I think Jegs sells it too. You won't be disappointed with it.

About your vibrating at 55-60 MPH. It's probably just unbalanced tires or bad tires. I noticed the same problem with mine and not only were they unbalanced, but the tread was starting to separate. Scary :nervous: So check your tires over good.

Have fun man. I bet your very happy to finally have your Z at home :)

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mimregi is right. I have been riding dirtbikes and stuff for a long time now and i will admit, the second i stepped into manual car i could shift perfectly. It takes some practice but you will eventually get it, and Z's arent the easiest of cars to learn on. Good luck, and remember one thing... have fun!

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Thanks guys!

I actually ended up spending between 30 to 45 minutes driving around my neighborhood getting a good feel for it. On top of that, I took my mom to the grocery store, and she was very surprised at how comfortable the seats are! She's as converted as I could have ever have hoped for a middle-aged mother to get, being quoted as saying, "Your car's awesome."

Anyway, between that and driving out to my friend's house, and hanging out and cruising, I have not killed it once since my last message. My clutching has definitely improved. Some of my shifts are still sort of rocky, but at least I'm not throwing her into first when I'm really aiming for third.

Both my mom and my buddy's mom were sort of amazed when I told them I could cruise along at 20 mph in third gear, and 30 mph in fourth gear... of course, neither of them have a car that generates the kind of power mine does, so... :laugh: *bragging rights*

I love driving my car now! :knockedou

Hey, Z's rule, I'm going to be setting up an appointment for my car to get into that exhaust shop I mentioned. That's over in East Saint Paul, Zip Code 55101, is that any closer than my home zip code, 55421? Maybe we could arrange a meetup or something? It would be great to have someone close by that knows these cars well to help me out, and perhaps even willing to help me 'get my feet wet' with engine work? I think I've said it before, but my car needs a tune-up pretty badly.

Anyway, I snapped a bunch of pics today too, so, behold!






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Picture Descriptions (forgot to add these):

1 - I think you know what this one is... ROFL

2 - This is a closeup of where a Datsun emblem used to be.

3 - This is some paint bubbling and peeling on the hood on the driver's (left?) side.

4 - This is the only visible major rust damage on the body directly in front of the driver's side door.

5 - Some minor rust near the door handle and lock on the driver's side.


Picture Descriptions (of below)

6 - The fugly aftermarker shift knob.

7 - The worn-out aftermarket steering wheel.

8 - Generic shot of the engine compartment

9 - Battery tray, with little visible rust.

10 - From the driver's side, look down the engine bay to the ground.






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This is kinda hard to describe...for a newbie shifting the 5 speed (or any manual) this is what I'd recommend:

1st to 2nd is self explanatory...no explanation I think is necessary.

2nd to 3rd...

for a while, hold the clutch in, push the shifter to neutral postion....let go of the shifter...it rests in the very center of the shifting action (this is the neutral position) then just push straight forward....this is 3rd...if you do this action at first slowly, like take 2 seconds to do it, you can get it down to very quick. The Zed tranny 'guides' itself...its very smooth all by itself. But I've noticed the 5 speed, much more so than the 4 speed, will easily shift by just letting it shift itself...let it center itself before shifting from 2nd to 3rd...apply this to all of the diagonal shifts.

I don't know if this will help......but maybe.

Also, on the parking brake, remember, you have to pull up before you press the button.

Apologies if these are very simple explanations....sounds like you're a young Z buyer, congrats.

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Picture Descriptions:

11 - Shot of the rear, note the missing 280Z badging on the hatch

12 - The odometer, reading 83k miles.

13 - My CD Player... still loaded with a Van Halen CD from the trip over. :D

14 - Generic side profile.

EDIT: Thanks dogma, I'm actually getting it down a lot more now. Third, for whatever reason doesn't feel directly centered... it seems just a wee-bit off the right on my car for some reason, ah well, at least now I know where it is.

Yeah, my parking brake woes are pretty much over too, I'm just pumping it a few times now, and that seems to be keeping the car in place pretty good on a good incline, but like I said, I've still got that wooden block under the tire... juuuust in case.

Thanks again for all your support guys!





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Yeah, that shift knob needs to go :) Courtesy Nissan carries the stock ones with the pattern which will help you a lot while your learning.

I also couldn't help at noticing that your Z is missing the fusible link covers :( might want to pick 2 of those up and take some electric cleaner and clean up the electrical contacts. Courtesy has those too along with the factory NGK plugs and the wires, distributor cap, rotor :)

Yeah, I don't know. I'll have to look at Map Quest or something to find out the distance. I'm horrible with zip codes LOL. If you did need help with tuning it up, or changing your tranny fluid, then I wouldn't mind helping you. whatever is closer and easier for you. I'd get some covers for the fusible links though as soon as you can. Helps protect them and keeps them clean. You'll be amazed at what a good tune up will do.

Take it easy.

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Thanks Jared(?),

I'm glad someone agrees that the shift knob needs to go... though, I have to say, I'm not very smitten with the stock one either. I'd like to avoid wood, it's already causing my hand to callous a bit. I'm probably going to go with this one from Too Intense Restorations. It matches the interior better and looks a bit snazzier IMO. http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1,1&item=4534583478&sspagename=STRK%3AMEWA%3AIT

Thanks for pointing out the missing fusible link covers. I don't have the little idiosynchrosies of this engine design down yet, and I'm very grateful that someone does, and can point missing stuff out to me. Oh, on that note, a question, there's no danger in my driving in the rain is there (should it happen)? I would hope that the engine compartment is waterproofed enough where I can't really short those buggers out, eh?

Also, can you give me the website/phone number for Courtesy Nissan? ... or is it possible I could order the stuff I need through a Nissan dealership?

... and yeah, it looks like that exhaust/brake shop is like a half-way point between my house and yours. I might just have to have the car professionally tuned for now, until I find someone a bit closer, I hope you're not offended, I just don't feel like spending an hour driving to get help with my car from, essentially, a total stranger (even if it will be a learning experience). Sorry. :cry:

...In other news with the car, today I discovered that the rear speakers don't work. The rear right does... sort of... ya know, putting out a fuzzy, low volume version of what's going on up front, but the rear left puts out nothing but fuzz. I'm planning to use some 14 gauge speaker wire to just bypass the wiring, since I'm assuming that's what's wrong. The speakers in the back are less than 5 years old, and the PO just probably wasn't enough of an audiophile to notice they weren't working (heck, it took me 48 hours to notice, and only because I was messing with the stereo with the car parked in the driveway).

Yes... that's right, it's in the driveway now (shadier, which is good, since hatchbacks are essentially unrated solar ovens). I also tossed in like three of those pine-tree shaped air-fresheners in the new-car smell. After only sitting for about 3 hours, it was already smelling a whole lot better inside... I'm not partial to 'old car' as a scent. I would get out of the car smelling like it, which I didn't like.

Heh, and I finally noticed someone looking at the car today too. He was a stereotypical guy on a motorcycle (full beard with shades), and his head just followed my car as I turned past him at a four-way intersection. I gave him the customary hand wave out the window (thanks for looking! nice bike!). Anyway, that's a good feeling.

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My philosophy on this (and if you have seen the interior shots of my car in my gallery, you know why I have given this so much thought):

1) I don't need a picture telling me where the gears are located (it's under my hand anyway!)

2) There are clearly not enough Z logos on my car

Thusly I have this on order:




(I too am not a hge fan of the wood -- I need a new steering wheel and as much as I want to be stock original, I prefer the black to the wood)

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Before you just drive the Z into any shop , ask for a estimate on cost. If you change the plugs your self they are around $10.00 for the set. The rotor and dist cap is a remove and replace thing as well. These things dont need to be from the dealer . Your local parts store can provide them . Do use NGK plugs, they work the best in these cars . The standard plugs are great , no need for any ''special '' type . Save your money . If the valves are not ratteling you might just wait and take care of the brakes , with the money you save on doing your own tune up. One thing nubeys do is tighten down the spark plugs to much . The head is aluminum and you can damage the threads if you tighten them too much . The rust shown in the photo on the low part of the fender is coming from the inside on the fender and coming through. This is caused form the cowl drain dumping into this area and the drain at the bottom of the fender being blocked or the cavity filled with dirt and leaves and stuff. This stuff holds moisture and rusts out the fender . Also this is the place where the rocker , frame rail , starts and if water is gitting in the rail it will rust it out also . Escanlon has posted a fix for the cowl drain , do a search for this . Congrats on the ''new '' Z enjoy the ride. Gary

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A good, thorough cleaning of the interior might help reduce the "old car smell." If you are really adventurous and have the time, then take out the seats and front carpets and really clean the floor pan. Remove the rear hatch carpet & padding and clean the rear hatch area, too. Finally, remove all of the interior plastic trim parts and clean out the body cavity areas.

To do this you will have to push the center stems of the trim rivets into the cavities. I recall seeing a post here by Escanlon that demonstrated using a small vacuum attachment with a bit of pantyhose over the vacuum nozzle. The pantyhose would allow you to vacuum up the stems without having them get sucked up into the vacuum. The suction holds them in place, at least until you turn the vacuum off...

If your car hasn't spent too much time sitting in one spot then you shouldn't find anything too nasty during the cleanup. Years ago I bought an old Chevy Impala that had been sitting for a while. When I dismantled the interior I found mouse nests under the dash, under the seat, and up between the headliner and roof. Oh, and I also found four mummified mouse carcasses. Gross. But, at least that car doesn't smell anymore! Fortunately, my Z was only filled with a few dead flies, dirt, dust, and the usual garbage under the seats...candy & cigarette wrappers, sunflower seed shells, bits of old food. Cleaning all this junk out of your car will go a long way towards making it smell better!

Kenny P.

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nah Not offended at all. I'm pretty far away :D If you can, try to do the tune up yourself if you can. The more you can do on your own, the cheaper it will cost you :) Feel free to e-mail me as well if you have a question My address is in my signature.

Yes, you can order online from Courtesy. http://www.courtesyparts.com/secondtier_s30.html

I've always have had really good luck with them. They are the ones that sell the F.S.M. on CD Rom as well. You'll see it when you go to there site. About the shift knobs. What can I say? There are many many different ones to choose from and we all have our own tast :)

Yep, I'd get the fusible link covers A.S.A.P. Nissan put them there for a reason:) It's not exactly water proof ;) Water can get in from driving around in the rain and we all know that water/moisture doesn't mix too good with electrical contacts LOL

Best of luck.

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