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mlaw7

Back in the saddle!!

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Hey everyone,

I hope all's well with you and your families!

My name is Michael from Houston, TX. I've been a member for almost a year now (hard to believe!) and so it's well past time to introduce myself.

I first fell in love with the Z car back in 1978 when a drummer I was working with in the U.K. used to take me for rides in his 240z. When he let me get behind the (right-hand) wheel, that was it.

A few years later in 1982 I purchased a burgundy 1978 280z 2+2 with a 4-speed transmission. I was partial to the coupe model but liked having the back seat and extra room for my guitars, etc. That was followed by a blue 1978 280z 4-speed coupe which I loved.

I later switched to a van (!) in order to transport my band's gear as we were on the road pretty often. However, the thought of getting another Z never left my mind.

Over the years, I fondly remembered from time to time how much I loved that 280z. Sometimes I would look at ads on ebay and found myself trying to remember what it was like to sit behind the wheel of a Z.

It was like a sweet dream that brings a smile to your face every time you think of it ... sound familiar?

Flash forward to early November 2007.

One of the secretaries in my office told me one day that she and her boyfriend were working on a 280z. I of course told her that I had owned a couple of 280z's years ago. The subject came up a few more times after that and then ... something clicked. The fever was back.

On a lark, I started checking out listings on ebay and cragislist to see what was out there and recall being surprised at how relatively few Z's I found around Texas. As the fever grew, I then began crunching some numbers to see if I could swing something crazy like this.

And then I knew - somehow, some way - I was going to get another Z.

By late November I found three 280z's for sale on Craigslist. Two in the Dallas area and one around Austin. At that point, the only thing I clearly remembered about Z cars was that you had to remove the fender liner to change the headlights!

So I asked the sellers a lot of questions and had them send as many photos as possible. I decided against the Z in Austin and decided to make the trip to Dallas in hopes of returning with one of the 280z's.

My first choice was a bronze 1978 5-speed coupe. Second was a green 1977 coupe. I knew that the '78 needed some brake and other work and would need to be towed if I bought it. For some reason I didn't have a real good feeling about the '77.

Very early on December 1, 2007, I took a Greyhound bus up to Collin County (north of Dallas) and rented a U-Haul truck with a car trailer. (My Volvo was not heavy enough to pull a trailer with a car on it). I had made arrangements to see the '78 later that morning and drove over with great excitement to see it.

When I got there, I found that it was in somewhat rougher condition than I had expected. The body was in pretty good shape except for a few dings and dents. No visible rust. Paint was fair. The interior was dirty and a bit rough. Overall the car just looked neglected. And it had an ugly half dash cap!

The engine sounded pretty good but as the owner had told me the brakes were not working well, I didn't try driving it.

After checking the car out as well as I knew how, we agreed on a price. Using the parking brake, we loaded the car onto the trailer and I drove away as the proud owner (once again after all those years) of a 280z.

When I got home, my brother helped me unload her from the trailer. I then discovered that the brakes worked better than I had thought. It felt so wonderful just to sit in the driver's seat of MY 280z! As the registration was expired, I was a bit reluctant to drive her but later that evening took her for a spin around the neighborhood.

I recall my intial surprise at the steering as I had completely forgotten that the S30's don't have power steering! The fever was coming back with a vengeance.

Over the next couple of weeks, I took every opportunity I could find to reacquaint myself with Z's in general and learn about my car in particular. This included a few more neighborhood drives. At that point it became clear that I needed to find a good Z mechanic to bring her back to health.

I ended up taking her to Kin Chan's shop in Cypress, TX. Kin is the Technical Co-Chairman of the Z Club of Houston and a Z car enthusiast.

My intial intention was to have her checked out and restored to proper running condition as a daily driver. As most of you know, however, these projects often take on a life of their own! And so it was with mine.

Kin and I often discussed the possibility of a full restoration. As Kin's shop was restoring her to mechanical health, I decided to redo the whole interior and see about having her repainted.

We ended up pulling the engine, transmission, wiring harness, etc. and sending her to Master Auto Body & Upholstery in Houston, TX. She is now repainted in the original 301 bronze color. Except for a few hard to find parts, the engine, transmission, etc. are back in the car.

While the engine and tranny were out, we had the valves and cylinder head redone, block repainted and a bunch of parts like the intake manifold, valve cover, heat shields, splash guard and various brackets powder coated.

Also had the underbody, wheel wells and floors undercoated, the bumpers rechromed, seats recovered and mag wheel covers refinished.

There were only a few minor rust spots throughout the car - some small ones in the floorboards, a little under the battery tray and in the windshield channel, and a few small spots by the tailights. There was also a bit of rust forming on the drivers side frame rail that was only visible after the engine had been removed. These were all sand blasted and repaired.

The real fun was cleaning and protecting all the connections on the wiring harness and retaping all the places where the old tape was pulling away. New weatherstripping too.

Before she went to the body shop, I also replaced the struts, ball joints, tie rods and steering rack. At the same time, we replaced all the bushings with a poly master bushing kit from Energy Suspension. Also replaced the front sway bar bushings, which are not part of the master kit.

Later pulled the dash out and took off the half dash cap that was on it. I removed all the gauges, cleaned them, installed brighter bulbs from MSA and put a full dash cover on with a new dash emblem. Also replaced the short insulated duct that goes from the drivers side dash vent to the vent under the dash.

Now in the process of locating a few miscellaneous parts such as a new receiver/drier and expansion valve.

I got some new replacement stickers/decals for the underside of the hood, air filter housing and radiator. MSA doesn't have the 301 paint code sticker yet, so that will have to come later.

Soundproofing, new carpet, re-upholstered seats, new console, door panels, etc. will be going in soon. Once the paint and trim are buffed out and polished, new emblems and side molding will go on and then a set of new tires. Last thing will be a muffler that's closer to the stock design.

Last July, I decided that it probably wouldn't be a good idea to use this car as a daily driver. When a friend started asking me to sell him my Volvo 240, I started thinking that it would be fun to have another 280z to use as a daily driver instead of the Volvo. A few weeks later I purchased a burgundy '78 5-speed coupe from a guy near Fort Worth.

But that's another story for another time ... for now here are some photos of the bronze '78 coupe at various stages of this project.

Back in the saddle indeed!!!!

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Welcome to the board, very nice looking 280Z you have there, I like that color!

Be careful with owning 2 Z's, I think they tend to get jealous of one another if one gets more attention/driving than the other one. When I had two and drove my Lime Z most of the time, my Yellow Z ran like crap when I would take it out for a drive. When I sold the Lime Z and started driving the Yellow Z more regularly, it now runs great! So, just be sure to drive them both! ;)

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Welcome to the board, very nice looking 280Z you have there, I like that color!

Be careful with owning 2 Z's, I think they tend to get jealous of one another if one gets more attention/driving than the other one. When I had two and drove my Lime Z most of the time, my Yellow Z ran like crap when I would take it out for a drive. When I sold the Lime Z and started driving the Yellow Z more regularly, it now runs great! So, just be sure to drive them both! ;)

Absolutely! They are not happy unless we're driving them and respond very nicely to loving care and affection. :)

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Welcome to the board, very nice looking 280Z you have there, I like that color!

Be careful with owning 2 Z's, I think they tend to get jealous of one another if one gets more attention/driving than the other one. When I had two and drove my Lime Z most of the time, my Yellow Z ran like crap when I would take it out for a drive. When I sold the Lime Z and started driving the Yellow Z more regularly, it now runs great! So, just be sure to drive them both! ;)

Your yellow '73 is beautiful!

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Hey everyone,

A few weeks later I purchased a burgundy '78 5-speed coupe from a guy near Fort Worth.

But that's another story for another time ... for now here are some photos of the bronze '78 coupe at various stages of this project.

Back in the saddle indeed!!!!

Welcome! And thanks for telling your story. It sounds very familiar to mine. I first had a '73 240Z from 1980-87 and restored it from ground up. An unfortunate gas leak from the Weber carbs completely toasted it. I went 11 years without a Z. Then Z Fever struck hard and heavy. You can never get rid of Z Fever! I am now a proud owner of 2 240Z's! One for show and one for go (track duty)! It's nice to have one to pamper and one to drive like they were meant to be driven.

Looks like you are doing the bronze one right. Keep up the good work.

Marty

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Welcome! And thanks for telling your story. It sounds very familiar to mine. I first had a '73 240Z from 1980-87 and restored it from ground up. An unfortunate gas leak from the Weber carbs completely toasted it. I went 11 years without a Z. Then Z Fever struck hard and heavy. You can never get rid of Z Fever! I am now a proud owner of 2 240Z's! One for show and one for go (track duty)! It's nice to have one to pamper and one to drive like they were meant to be driven.

Looks like you are doing the bronze one right. Keep up the good work.

Marty

Hey Marty,

Sorry to hear about your '73. That really hurts just thinking about it! Your blue 240z is sweet! How long did it take you to restore her?

Here's a few more pics of the work in progress.

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Hey Marty,

Sorry to hear about your '73. That really hurts just thinking about it! Your blue 240z is sweet! How long did it take you to restore her?

Here's a few more pics of the work in progress.

I bought the Blue '70 in 1998 and it has been a work in process ever since. The exterior paint was already done when I bought it. Since then I completely restored the suspension, interior, engine compartment, all the cad plating and lots and lots of detail work.

My yellow '71 has had substantial performance upgrades and sees about 6-7 track days a year. It is a blast to drive full out.

Marty

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