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Introducing "Ginger" -KHGC11000280

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As most of you know, I bought Kents '73 GT a while back. She was shipped up back in 2010 and sat sleeping in my garage for most of the time since. The progress that has been made has mostly been done in the last few months. That being said, I'm going to start at the beginning. So here we go;


Here you see the day we met in person. This is at the docks in Long Beach. When I went to pick her up we were escorted by security the entire time (new rules since 9/11). As you can see she was parked next to a race spec Evo 8. When the guard realized I was picking up the other car, he asks me "So, you payed to have that shipped from Australia?"

My response "Yep"

His reply "So.........................was this your first car or something?"

"She has potential" I said. And loaded her up on the trailer for the trip home to San Diego(I love my Armada).

Fast forward to January of this year. I started to pull her apart.


Here we have the drivetrain coming out. The front end was pulled apart as well. You can see my wing man (my 8 year old son Alex) helping move the car around. Just so you know, I'm doing all of this in a single car garage, so usage of space is the key to making progress.









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Here you see the empty engine bay, followed by what is to take the place of the original L24. Let me answer that question in your head, yes. That is a V8. And yes, that is a 350Z six speed.

Now, the GC110 has a large engine bay for it's era, but this drivetrain combo is not small by any means. This is a VH45 from a '94 Q45. My original plan was to go with an RB, as I did with my last '73. I just happened to be walking around the local junk yard and it occured to me that there might just be another option. After some measurements I figured it was worth a try.



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The VH45 width wise fits inbetween the strut towers with a good couple of inches to spare on each side. Length wise its about 4 inches shorter than the L24. What I did expect was a problem with the steering box. It is huge and for the most part would run right into the right side exhaust manifold. I saw no way for it to work with my motor choice.

Living in Southern California, I'm lucky to have junk yards with plenty of cars ranging 30 years to look at. And this is what I think some of you guys are going to find interesting.


Here is the stock crossmember and steering box coming out.


And here is the stock crossmember with its replacement. That would be a 280ZX crossmember with rack and pinion steering rack. Amazingly, it bolts right in.


The stocks bolts slide right in. The fore/aft placement for the suspension arms is identical. In fact, the GC110 and S130 front arms themselves are pretty much identical. Their lengths are the same, the sway bar mounting points are the same, and the TC rods are mounted to the arms in the same spot. The only real difference I have found is that the LCA bolt hole is about .5 inch wider per side than the GC110. Easily corrected.

The crossmember was easy enough for me to get. There are 10 ZXs in the junk yard at any time. The problem was obviously none of them are right hand drive. It took a little while, but eventually I sourced a non power steering rack in Japan. And as you can see, it fits like its factory.

From there I decided to test fit the motor. After getting so lucky with the crossmember swap, I was expecting the worst with the motor.


Well, I guess my luck was holding. The motor cleared everything. As you can see it even missed the clutch







Edited by akwikz
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awesome work!

great to see the car again, I have to apologize to everyone (and Brian) for the mismatch of colours on the car, unfortunately this car didn't have the luxury of being garaged (it was always covered though), so i had to atleast cover some of the poor paintwork with something so it wouldn't rust out (especially while at sea!).

Brian, any ideas how your going to link up the steering shaft? (i had ideas of converting to rack and pinion but mostly for the RB26 Z i was going to build). Sounds like i need to get a hold of one and make sure that the engine mounts havn't moved, otherwise it will throw out my gearbox mount..

If you have a custom solution in mind for the steering shaft.. i would be keen on getting in on it and having one made up with yours!

and remember, let me know if you ever need a hand getting RHD parts.. i can certainly help out from here!


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Something to consider with the rack and pinion is the need to support the lower end of the steering column. On 280ZX box to rack swaps, you have to swap the steering column. There is a lower bearing in the rack column that is not needed when the steering column is attached to a steering box.

Good to know the 280ZX is an almost straing bolt-in though. I was doing some measurements on mine and found many of the 280zx parts closer than sedan or coupe parts. I think the rear control arms are 280ZX compatable also, except for the shock mounts.

Sounds like I need to get out to a junk yard and pull me a front suspension. I swapped in an L28ET, but had to modify the pan and oil pick-up. With a 280ZX crossmember, I could go back to the factory pan and pick-up as well as rack and pinion steering. My C110 already has the 280zx coil over strut conversion and Gabe at Techno Toy Tunning has a rear bolt-in coil over for the C110.

Keep the build thead going. I am really interested in this swap.


Edited by ctcurnes
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My C110 already has the 280zx coil over strut conversion and Gabe at Techno Toy Tunning has a rear bolt-in coil over for the C110.


really? that is very cool! Do you happen to have any pictures of the rear coil over kit? and any ideas on pricing? I currently have a set of specially set koni struts, but this could be a much nicer solution!


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The rack and pinion conversion requires replacement of the stock steering column. I have no pictures to offer right now, but I have already planned it out. Chris is correct in that the stock c110 steering column is supported on one end by the steering box. Where it passes through the firewall there is merely a rubber gasket. My plan is to make use of an s130 column. I have an adapter plate designed but have not had it made yet. All it will to is have outer bolt holes that will bolt onto the firewall, then a large teardrop hole in the center with bolt holes to attach the s130 column to that. Then the s130 jumper u-joint will connect them. Essentially a complete steering conversion from the ZX.

There could be an issue though with those of you using stock motor mounts. I have not taken exact measurements but at a quick glance it looks like the zx crossmember moves the mounts rearward about an inch.

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really? that is very cool! Do you happen to have any pictures of the rear coil over kit? and any ideas on pricing? I currently have a set of specially set koni struts, but this could be a much nicer solution!

Sorry for the thread jack, but Gabe is getting pics. I will forward them or post in another thread would be better. QA-1 based system. He said about $800.

Thread jack over.

Interested in steering column pics when complete. Can you pleas clarify which bolt holes are 0.5" off?


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  • 4 weeks later...

I must apologize for the delay. I had the rather unpleasant misfortune of finding my Pathfinder (Terrano for you in Aus.) stolen a couple days after my last posting. Surprising that a 20 year old truck with 341k miles on it was worth the trouble. It left me in a bind as my job requires me to have a truck.

I filed a police report but knew it was very unlikely I would see my Pathfinder again. So, it gave me a good excuse to get this:


It is a Titan SE crew cab. I've wanted one since they came out. Until now I just could not justify it. This one has the utility bed, factory tow package, power rear window, sunroof, and satellite radio. It sucks that some scumbag decided to take my Pathfinder, but I do love this new truck.

Now, as to my Kenmeri. Because of buying the new truck, I have not been able to do much for a few weeks. But I can answer a couple of questions. The LCA I mentioned is the lower control ARM bolt hole. This is the hole that is .5 inches outboard of the stock c110 holes. I have a rough template of the firewall adapter plate that I need to have cut from steel. I'm going to try to get back at it next week. A few of you have expressed interest in doing the same thing. I'm happy to look into having others made if you guys want.


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Kent, I am already expecting to send one over to you. Are you having any luck in finding a steering rack? I tried getting one from Australia first and only found one that the guy wanted $300 for. You might find it easier to get one from Japan as I did. Believe it or not, the non power one only cost me $60. Something to kick around.


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I have a rough template of the firewall adapter plate that I need to have cut from steel. I'm going to try to get back at it next week. A few of you have expressed interest in doing the same thing. I'm happy to look into having others made if you guys want.


Brian, I would be interested in one of the firewall adapters as well. Also, any contact info for how to source a RHD rack would be helpful. The internet is letting me down on that one.


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  • 1 month later...

I thought I would post up a bit more of the progress. What we have here is my 350z six speed tranny.


Obviously the VH45 never came with a manual tranny. And the common one to use on these type swaps is the Z32 five speed with the Mazworx adapter. I wanted something different. After kicking around a bunch of ideas, I happened to mention my plan to a buddy that works for a high end Nissan tuner here in San Diego. As luck would have it, they were in the process of designing an adapter to bolt this tranny to a multitude of Nissan engines. He was kind enough to loan me a prototype to keep the ball rolling.


The tranny needs to be disassembled so that the bell housing of the front section can be machined off. Once that is done the adapter plate bolts on which then allows the automatic bell housing to bolt to the adapter. This then allows perfect alignment on the motor.


So, at this point the motor and tranny are mated up sitting in the car. Originally I was fairly content with the placement of the motor in the car. It looked like I had a nearly perfect distance of about 1 inch off the firewall. Well, after pulling the steering column out I discovered that the firewall has a few places where it bends out a bit, especially as it nears the tranny tunnel. I decided I needed to move it forward another 3/4 inch or so. Its actually going to help out in more ways than that. With the move forward, the stock oil pan might even clear the crossmember. And the relocated shifter assembly will be almost dead on with the stock location in the center console. I will get a few pics of this up shortly.



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So here are the pics I mentioned.


As you can see, the right side cylinder head is only 1/4 inch from the firewall where the column passes through. Its very tight. Now, while we are here, let me show you the plan with the rack and pinion conversion. Here is the stock C110 column as it connects to the firewall.


As we discussed before, the stock column is supported by the steering box with merely a rubber boot at the firewall. With the rack and pinion, the column must be supported at the firewall. Here is what we have to work with.


The plate you see is very thin. Before I actually had it pulled apart, I had considered simply redrilling this plate to accept the S130 steering column. After getting it out, I realized this was not an option. The plate is very thin. It will easily flex if you twist it. No way it could support the lateral forces a steering column would put on it. As I mentioned before, I'm working on an aluminum plate to replace it which will also have correct bolt holes for the Zx column. Here are a few pics of the C110 and S130 columns.


They are almost exactly the same length when measured from the top end to where they pass through the firewall. The mounting points where it connects under the dash are different, as well as where the accessory stalks mount. Surprisingly they have the same diameter and taper points. It looks like the C110 stalks will easily transfer over, with only one issue. The column lock. The ignition switch is in an entirely different spot and therefore the keyway for the steering lock is not even close to being aligned. I'm not entirely sure what it would take to machine a new keyway in, but honestly I'm not convinced its even worth it.


Anyhow, this is where I'm at right now. I hope to get another update to you guys soon.






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Also, Chris, I'm keeping an eye out on that steering rack for you. If you happen to find one before I do just let me know. It took me a few months to find mine, but the funny part is that when it did pop up, there were four others available at the same time. Two manual and two powered ones. It seems like a feast or famine situation.

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Seems like famine currently. I'll let you know if I get ahold of one. I was thinking about measuring yours and going with a flaming river custom. With the amount of money I spent already, what another grand or two?

Great progress, keep it up!


Edited by ctcurnes
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  • 1 month later...

Sweet, it's great to see another V8 powered K in the making and as you've put a Nissan V8 in you won't get a heap of abusive messages :) there is heaps of space in the engine bay for an 8, I had mine put as far back as possible and the front axle line ends up between the 1st and 2nd pair of pistons. With that being an alloy V8 it will end up with better weight distribution than the original 6, the L24 is a heavy motor. Good work, I'm stoked one of Kent's cars is getting an 8!

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  • 1 month later...

So this is the latest news. I went back to the machine shop a few weeks back to check on the progress as I hadn't heard from them in a long time. When I originally dropped off my mock up, I mentioned I was in no real rush. Well, apparently they took that a bit too far and never even started on my firewall plate. These guys have been good in the past but this time I was a bit pissed. Anyhow, I decided to make my own new one, and here it is.


So this was made from 3/16 steel plate using a chop saw and a drill press. While it may not be machine shop perfect, I'm proud of it. I went ahead and did a rough fitting of it.


These pictures are of the plate with the S130 ZX steering column. I trimmed off the original mounting ears just so it can be fitted in. I plan to remove the adjustable mount from the C110 column and transfer it over to this one. As you can see in the pics from the engine bay, I need to slightly alter the pass through hole so that the column can be moved down another 1/2 inch or so as its just barely contacting the right cylinder head. Other than that, I'm happy with how its coming together. I'll post up a few more pics after I have polished it up.







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  • 5 months later...

So it's been a while, but I have actually made progress. The car is officially on all four wheels again.


I took the s130 steering column and shaved the stock mounting ears off. Then cleaned it and measured the C110 mounting in comparison. The columns are nearly identical in length, and all I had to do was measure from the top end where the wheel mounts.






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As you are aware, and as pictured, the GC110 uses a very basic "adjustable" column. It rides in a slotted mount under the dash. The S130 uses a simple bolt in style with ears. The GC110 mount is fully removable, unfortunately the bracket on the column is impossible to remove without severe damage to the original column itself. Even though I'm heavily modifying my car, I want to do as little damage to original parts as I can. This is where another trip to the junk yard comes in. Most Nissans of the era use a mounting style like the ZX, but after a bit of walking around I found an 810 two door. It uses the same mount as the GC110. I cut out the section with the mount and headed home.


And here is the finished (nearly) product. I welded the small section with bracket onto my S130 column and viola, the column rides in nearly the exact same spot as the original. I tested it with the stock steering wheel and it feels factory. I need to drill a couple of small pilot holes to locate and mount the control stalks.

I originally thought the lower pivot points for the control arms were off by .5 inch per side, well, it looks like they are in fact dead on. I was able to bolt the stock GC110 arms into the S130 crossmember and as you can see from the earlier pics the front wheels are just fine. I plan to run camber plates anyhow, so any minor variance will be easy to correct.


So that's were I am at the moment. I pulled out the tranny and the motor will follow in the next few days. Once the motor is on the stand I can refine my motor mounts. And I hope to finally have the car taken to the body shop. I'm still in need of flares and a chin spoiler, but otherwise I have most of the parts stashed.

On a completely separate note, do any of you know if there is a trim item that runs along the top inside line of the front windshield? Basically where the headliner ends. My car seems to be missing this, whatever its called.





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