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1977 280z - What do I need to look for?


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Hi all,

I'm new here (yes I've seen the posts saying that I'm not supposed to admit that), and am going next week to look at a 1977 280z for sale in the area. I'm new to late 70's Z-cars, but am coming from the early 1990's Toyota MR2 crowd, so am not totally unfamiliar with the general challenges of 20+ year old cars.

I've lurked in the forums for a while, but can anyone tell me (or point me to a thread) for a general checklist of typical problem areas to look for in this car when I go see it? It currently belongs to the father of a friend, so I dont know much about it other than the fact that it is for sale and has been in his garage for 15+ years.

Thanks in advance for any possible advice. I'll keep you guys (and gals) posted on what I find.

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Rust is for sure the most important thing to look out for. Some of the most common spots are the Battery Tray/Firewall, floor pans, frame rails, Spare tire well to name a few.

Best of luck with your search :) Sadly I'm selling my very nice low mileage 1977 280Z :(

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Thanks for the input. I'm definitely going to be looking for rust, as I understand that is a major issue with these cars. Was very helpful to have an idea of which places were most prone though, so thanks especially for that.

Once I take a look at it, I'll get some pictures and post up here for more opinions. This is sort of a "private sale showing", so neither he nor I are in a rush to do a deal. I've got time to do my research on it.

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Listen to these guys, they know what they are talking about. I myself am new and am going to look at a 240Z tomorrow, and for a week this forum has been giving me great information. Hope everything goes well for you :D and your Z is as rust free as it can be.

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Well, here's the story...

Went to see the car today. As advertised, it is a 1977 280Z with just over 63k original miles. All original interior (including some hideous orange shag carpet). It is a coupe, not 2+2, and 4 speed manual tranny with factory A/C. I looked as best I could (since car wasnt on lifts or anything) for rust, and found the following:

-Surface rust/peeling paint about the size of a pancake on drivers door under the mirror

-one spot in each of the front wheel wells was rusted through. again, a hole about the size of a pancake.

-the bottom 3-4 inches of the front quarter panels are rusted just in front of the doors

-frame rails *felt* like mostly surface rust (couldnt see fully underneath)

Other things of note:

-outside trim pieces are off the car, but have been kept and are inside the vehicle in a bag

-this is a one owner car - the guy that has it now bought it new in 1977.

-car has not run/been cranked in approx. 6 years, and has not been registered to be on the road since 1999.

-car has never been in an accident, and is still original orange color (i dont know the paint code)

It seems that there is a lot of good here, given the originality of the car and the overall good conditions of the interior/body (with obvious exception being the handful of rust occurrences).

So...whats the right price for something like this? He wants $5000, negotiable.

How difficult is it to repair/combat the rusted panels in the front wheel well and bottom of the quarter panel?

Sorry no pictures, didnt want to push my luck with him on the first visit. Any advice/input of feasibility restoring this thing would be most appreciated.

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-one spot in each of the front wheel wells was rusted through. again, a hole about the size of a pancake.
This one scares me. What part of the wheel well? You say "the size of a pancake" - how big a pancake? 2"? 4"? More?
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Difficult to describe without a photo, but I'll try...

Left front wheel well has a hole about 4" in diameter, rusted through the centerline wall of the wheel well, near the bottom. Appears to be a void space behind it...possibly the top of the frame rails...?

Right front wheel well has a hole approx. 3" in diameter, rusted through the rear wall of the wheel well, approx. 6" inset from the quarter panel, about 1 foot above the bottom of the well. Can't tell what is behind it, but could not see light through it while the hood was open.

Thoughts as to how serious (structurally) these holes could be?

The additional piece of the story that I forgot to add earlier is that if I dont buy it, he has offered to let me fix it as efficiently as possible to secure a decent resale (fixing it on his dime, just my work), then splitting the sale with me. With this option in mind, are these rust spots severe enough to doom the car or can we salvage something worthwhile out of it with a tuneup and some "rust rehab"?

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Hard to really tell without pics but unfortunately when rust is a factor and it's bad enough where it's eaten holes through, your more than likely going to be sticking more money into fixing it than what the car is worth. Many will repair them anyways for the love of the car even though they know they will never be able to get a full return.

Plus you say the guy hasn't turned the key and ran it in 6 yrs. so be prepaired to stick some $$$ on the mechanical side as well. I guess it's up to you how much money you want to spend on it. If your good mechanically you can do most of it yourself which will save you a lot. especially if your a welder and can fix the body issues yourself. Otherwise it won't be cheap and my suggestion is to keep looking.

Whats the most your willing to spend if you don't mind me asking?

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