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Finally got one...now to make it mine: 1973 240z Refresh / Personalisation


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Hello All,

I got serious about buying a Z over the summer. I've been in love with them since I was about 8. I've been reading the forums for about six months and after test driving two found Layla three weeks ago. She's a two owner car, originally from VA but owned since 1976 from the guy I bought it from. He bought it from a Datsun dealership when it was three years old. He drove it around TX and TN in the 70s and 80s and into the 90s. 159,XXX original miles. He said the first owner installed a roll bar, chrome rims, and headers.

I have all of his registrations and most documentation of stuff he's done to it. It has pretty much sat in storage for the past 10-15 years with him spending $2,000 a couple years ago (have receipts) trying to get it back on the road. He said this car has outlived any relationship he's ever had, and backed out of selling it to someone else once before. I'm not going to say I stole it, but he gave me one heck of a deal in my opinion including a military discount.

Before I bought it I had it put on a lift and did a dry compression test on the engine. It is "virtually rust free," with the factory undercoating still on it. It was repainted 10 years ago in the factory silver color. There is a 3"x3" patch pop riveted onto the driver's side floor, and 2"x2" hole on the passengers side under the seat, likely from the A/C condensation. He told me he never looked under the car. Not necessarily believable, but I believe some people never do so. I also have the FSM and the Mechanic's manual, not sure what it's called, and the carb balance meter. There is also a 1.5" hole under the batter tray.

The interior looks great in my opinion; it has a dashcap with one crack, seat covers, stock floor mats, brand new carpet otherwise. Headliner is original and looks great.

The engine compression yielded 145-150 psi in all cylinders except one; 1st cylinder was 135. I would've liked higher numbers, but the engine has a good amount of miles so I'm happy at this point. When I test drove it, the car was a little sluggish, but the guy was just frustrated saying "it's not the car it used to be." He said his local mechanic refused to rebuilt the SUs.

Since I've had it, I've done the following things:

Things I've done thus far:

- Castrol high mileage 10w-30 oil change with "engine restore," Lucas oil treatment, and sea foam. Normally I wouldn't put this many additives in, but the car has basically been sitting for 10 years.

- Filled gas tank with 93 octane gasoline and fuel system cleaner to help burn off carbon deposits. (I think I'll go lower next tank)

- Adjusted intake and exhaust valves to factory specifications.

- Replaced rattling muffler with a Magnaflow Turbo XL model.

- Replaced 2 year old champion spark plugs with Bosch platinum version. I wanted NGK plugs to go with my wires but they weren't in stock. Plugs were gapped at the higher end of the factory recommendation to accommodate for the higher octane fuel to 0.035".

- Spent two hours cleaning the upper half of the carbs and balancing them to factory specs. I will rebuild them within two months.

- Cleaned/degreaser valve cover.

- Next steps are to put in new distributor points, condenser, and oil pressure sending unit. Flush transmission and rear end gear oil. Buy a timing light and dial in the timing. Replace/upgrade coil.

I have been meaning to start this thread since I bought the car; I am behind so I'll be updating the progress I've already completed on a gradual basis. The pictures are after the things I did listed above.






Thanks for reading.

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I'm in Augusta, GA.

Thought I'd take some time to show you guys where I'm at. I'm trying to not get too far ahead of myself buying parts, tearing it up, etc. Since I bought the car I've put about 300 miles on it. A complete joy to drive. It's funny how my Corvette costs 10 times more than the Z but the Z puts a bit wider smile on my face. :cool:

It ran A LOT better after adjusting the valves and doing the minor work on the carbs. I bought the 240Z Tune Up video from Z Therapy and that's helping a lot too.

The car has been on jack stands for a couple weeks now.

I installed a Sony MP3 CD Player with iPod input and amp pre-outs. Also a Boss Powered Subwoofer I originally purchased for a different vehicle. It's about the size of an encyclopedia. The car has 4x6" speakers in the rear body panel from the 80s. I have Planet Audio 4x6" plate speakers to install. The front had 4" round speakers in the front kick panels (80s too) but one wasn't there so the fronts aren't hooked up yet.

I replaced a blown blinker and map light bulb. Installed Sylvania "Cool Blue" headlights. Not sure how they look yet but are supposed to be a large improvement over standard headlights. I also have 55W fog lights to install, either below the bumper or the bumper bar.

I replaced to used oil jug caps on the brake booster with new Tokico caps (the first item with a price that scared me). I installed a new Nissan Oil Pressure sending unit. This also solved a leak I had on that side of the engine.

I soon realized that the engine bay was simply dirty. With some elbow grease the inner fenders, under the hood, etc., look as nice as the exterior paint. This led me to start to partially disassembling the engine for cleanup.

I have a Pertronix 3 ohm coil which from what I understand will cause me to lose the ballast resistor. Soon to be installed. The distributor cap and points were new (2 years old and hardly used) so I'm keeping them on but readjusted the points gap.

There was no smog equipment on the car. I took the carbs, linkage, intake, heat shield, header, and exhaust off. I've never worked with aluminum parts before, and it was amazing to see that a little bit of degreaser and a bench grinder with wire disk will do to old, dirty, oxidized aluminum.

I have spent a couple hours cleaning the intake and balance bar. It is motivating to see how good they look. All hoses will be replaced. Most broke or would not break free during removal. I took pictures of everything on the way, to serve me when I put it back together. Here are some shots of the teardown so far:











I'm going to get the header sand blasted and repaint it, then cure it on the car once the carbs are rebuilt. I purchased a NOS kit from Ebay, without directions unfortunately. I'm hoping with the FSM and mechanic's manual I'll be ok. I'm thinking about tracking down some SM needles.

My next steps are to finish the tear down on the passenger's side. I removed the remainder of the water/coolant hose going around the engine. I removed battery hold down, battery, battery tray. Next step is to drop the starter/solenoid to clean and repaint it.

The passenger's side is a lot messier thanks to the (factory?) A/C. For those of you who have been in my shoes, how did you deal with the original A/C on your car? I'm trying to be cheap nowaways due to the holidays and I've already amassed enough parts to keep me busy for a while. The PO told me the A/C works, it just needs to be recharged. I haven't tried it yet. It will be very difficult to degrease/repaint the block and leave all the A/C components (mostly the hoses are in the way) where they are. Advice? Tear it all out and leave it out? Tear it all out and put it back in? Leave it all in and work around it while cleaning that side?

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You are making good progress with the cleaning and repairs. Degreasing/repainting the block will be difficult unless you can remove everything on/around the engine. Painting the block will require a lot of masking which is time consuming even with the engine out of the car, unless the engine is disassembled (no head/timing cover/oil pan, etc...). But, take your time and you should get good results.

As far as A/C, you can have your existing system recharged. May require some work to get good cooling, such as sealing any air leaks between the blower housing and the evaporator. There have been a few threads about this, do a search for more details. Another option is to install a Nostalgia Air or Vintage Air system. Again, there are several threads about these systems, search for more details.

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Welcome to the club. You are making great progress. I agree on the Corvette comment, I had a 75. It ran like a scaled cat, but the rest was a piece of junk. Cost me a small fortune. I told everybody my Z was 10 times better than that 'squeaky Vette'. :)

I have a thing for 73's. What would be the VIN & build date be?

Bonzi Lon

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  • 2 weeks later...

Looks like I'm just going to pull the L24. With the entire driver's side of the engine disassembled, along with the starter, fuel rail, etc., I decided to go ahead and remove the three or four bolts to lift the motor right up and out. A full degreasing/painting of the engine will follow. I figure then it will be that much easier to remove dirt and grime from the engine bay.

I think I'm leaning towards leaving the A/C intact. It is a dealer installed (my impression) York unit. I just don't like how messy it seems to make that side of my engine bay look. Not to mention I imagine the system adds a solid 60-90 pounds.

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  • 7 months later...

Alright, I'm bringing this back from the dead, but I have a bunch of updates. I'm having an F54/E88 combo built by Dunnaway Race Engines in Washington, GA. The block is from a 1983 280ZX with 140,000 original miles. I also acquired the 5 speed for a total of $300. Not a bad deal I believe.

The shop is building the motor exactly how I want it. I'm hoping for 220 plus crank hp. The shop did extensive work on porting the head, 280z stainless steel valves, new hardened valve seals and guides, the whole nine yards. Everything is going to be new except crank and connecting rods. I purchased a stage III Schneider Cam Kit that includes new springs and rocker arms. It wasn't cheap--I hope it's worth it. I'm going to go with 0.5 mm overbore cast flat top pistons. The head was CCed and the shop owner said I should be at 9.5:1 compression ratio given my stroke and bore combo. Everything I've read says F54/E88 will be at 10.4:1 as a baseline. If I'm between those numbers I'll be happy. And if I have to buy a few gallons of 100 octane every tank to save myself from retarding the timing, I won't be bothered either.

I purchased a set of rebuilt JDM Triple SK Carbs with TWM intake to run on the engine. Not cheap and again, I hope it was worth the money. I also have the original set of SUs on rebuilt by me on the shelf if I change my mind.

The motor will be done in about a week and a half so I'm hurrying to prep the engine bay.

Yesterday was spent marking wires and removing the block. I decided to keep the 4 speed transmission in for now and save the trans swap for another project down the road. All in all it only took about 15 minutes to pull the engine. I intend to keep it forever if I want to go back to 100% original (maybe Rebello rebuilt) some day.








All in all it was a good day! Today I'm welding in a 2x2" patch panel for the battery tray. The frame is in impeccable condition. I can still read the sticker on the steering rack even! Making progress with Layla really brightens up my day and makes me appreciate life.



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Go man go.

I think you are getting carried away by you're new car, perhaps a bit of OCD developing where your Z is concerned. It usually takes a year or two for someone to get this far into their car after they drive it for a few thousand miles. Looks like you went passed kiddi pool and straite to the high dive.

Lookin' good!

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  • 4 months later...

I did this shortly after my last post waaay back in September:



I'll post a picture later of the finished product. Again, that was a whopping four months ago. What have I done since then? Let me think. Waited FOREVER for my engine to be finished. There were some hiccups along the way. Sourcing ARP rod bolts. Choosing a cast piston. Re-ordering a few different sized lash pads for the proper cam/lobe wipe.

I'm on my way out of the Army, so that means the funds won't be flowing quite so well but I still have a little nest egg to work with. Good news--more time for Layla!

I picked up this bad boy last Friday:


Here are some details:

F54/E88 with a very intensive port job

Oversize 280zx stainless steel valves

ARP main, head, rod bolts

L28 polished/balanced crank, connecting rods

cast flat top pistons .020 overbore

full timing chain kit

Schneider Stage III cam kit (including rockers, springs, etc.)

polished water pump/timing cover

(to be installed)

new NISMO high flow oil pump (any reviews for this--part number 15010-S800A)

new 280zx gear reduction starter

new 60 amp alternator w/ plug adapter

I will be painting an area of the passenger's side frame rail today and welding in the battery tray. Then bolting on the engine accessories!

Question: the local pull-a-parts have no Mazda RX7s for the fuel pump swap (I have triple SKs). What PSI does the factory mechanical pump put out? Will it at least let me run the engine for 15-20 minutes at 2000 RPM as my engine builder suggested? Has anyone over tried to run triples with only the mechanical pump? I figure it'll just die out at the upper RPM range?

Otherwise I think (for now) I'll put my rebuilt SUs back on for a simpler, quicker way to break in the engine ... and take it for a ride!


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My N42/N42 L28 is running about 10.3:1 according to my builder and I run 93 octane gas with 14 DEG BTDC @900 rpm and 32 DEG BTDC @ 3100 rpm. No pinging at all at this point. I am going to try 17 deg BTDC. You should be fine. There are many pumps you can use to run your SK's. Find out what kind of pressure they need though. You will most likely need a regulator, but some pumps are self regulated. I went through 3 pumps before I found a combination of pressure and noise I liked.

Did the engine builder put the eccentric ring on the front of your cam? If so then you can probably get away with starting your car on a mechanical pump. I would also suggest you get a WIDE band O2 sensor to help you in tuning those carbs. Or esle you will be just relying on plugs to give you a good reading, and that can be misleading depending on your technique.

good luck and keep up the great updates.

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My N42/N42 L28 is running about 10.3:1 according to my builder and I run 93 octane gas with 14 DEG BTDC @900 rpm and 32 DEG BTDC @ 3100 rpm. No pinging at all at this point. I am going to try 17 deg BTDC. You should be fine. There are many pumps you can use to run your SK's. Find out what kind of pressure they need though. You will most likely need a regulator, but some pumps are self regulated. I went through 3 pumps before I found a combination of pressure and noise I liked.

Did the engine builder put the eccentric ring on the front of your cam? If so then you can probably get away with starting your car on a mechanical pump. I would also suggest you get a WIDE band O2 sensor to help you in tuning those carbs. Or esle you will be just relying on plugs to give you a good reading, and that can be misleading depending on your technique.

good luck and keep up the great updates.

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Do you ever regret going to the L28? I don't think I will performance wise, but I'm tempted to keep my numbers matching block and ebay found 90,000 mile E31 head for the forseeable future.

Also, are you running triples? I already have a regulator, need to source a good pressure gauge as well. What pump did you end up choosing?

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I have investigated the plating process for nuts and bolts. So far I have been using a large wire brush mounted to a bench grinding machine. Laborious holding a bolt for a while at all angles; but it does make them shiny! The cheapest fake self plating kit I saw was about $54 for a three stage zinc/cadmium kit from Eastwood with less than stellar reviews on Amazon.

It's looking like many of my nuts and bolts will either be clear coated or painted Datsun engine blue to contrast the polished aluminum parts.

I recently purchased the double barrel rock tumbler from Harbor Freight Tools. Looking back, I could have gone with the single barrel. I bought some rust removal product from the same store, as well as a 40/70 glass mixture. I filled the barrel about 2/3 of the way with the rust removal product (small glass feeling pyramids with a funky smell), put water up to that level, then threw my bolts, nuts, and washers in. I wrote down which ones they were. They were pretty greasy, and the ones that weren't greasy had some rust in the threads and on their heads.


After 24 hours of it running in my garage, I checked out the bolts and they looked pretty clean and most of the rust-removal product had turned to a dirty sludge. I decided to stop the machine and rinse all the parts off and to restart them in the 40/70 grit mixture. It says it won't harm soft materials, and I'm hoping it'll polish them a little bit. I'll check on them in another 12 hours or so.




Overall I'm happy with the results so far and it lets me do other stuff while the machine is running. It's not too loud.

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Your finished nut and bolts look pretty good. Don't go cheep on the plating process. Use this one Here Copy Cad® & Zinc Plating Kits - Electroplating & Anodizing - Caswell Inc - get the 1 1/2 gal kit.

I would also get this rectifier - 5 Amp Constant Current Rectifier - Power Supplies / Rectifiers - Electroplating & Anodizing - Caswell Inc

This one is a little bigger and will plate larger pieces. I got the smaller on and it will only do 5 sq. inches at a time.

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