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Skewed front frame rails on my Z (in enginebay) =( Swap or straighten?


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Hi guys!

I bought my yellow '70 240z a few weeks ago and went straight onto changing all the bushings to urethane and fixing brakes and stuff to get it ready for registration here in norway.

A couple of days ago I was working on putting the front suspension back together when I noticed that everything was very hard to get into place on the left side, but on the right side it went straight on without a hassle.

I began to inspect the frame rails and from the top I can see that the left frame rail is bent like a banana inwards. On the left side it looks like it is bent a little outwards just where the subframe bolt are:ermm:

I took some cross measurements with a friend of mine, and from the holes on the rear of the floor rails to the opposite side subframe bolt holes there are around 1/2 inch difference :ermm:

The distance between sway bar mounting holes is supposed to be 700mm. On my car the distance is 693mm..

Some pictures

Here's the inside of the left frame rail just behind the subframe:


Not easy to see on pictures, but the right side is slightly bent outwards:


So this is where the measuring tool ends up measuring from right rear to left front. The length is set on the result we got measuring from left rear to right front. It was supposed to hit in the center of the rear subframe bolt. :disappoin


This picture shows that the left frame rail has torn from the firewall:


The right side does not look pretty either, but it looks alot better than the left:


I need advice on what to do with this. I thought I had bought myself a decent car, but this really destroyed my determination:ermm:

I am talking with the guy I bought it from here in norway. He imported the car from the US a few months ago and did not know about this either. I guess there is no point in trying to get a hold of the guy who sold it as a "good restored car" in the US, or what?

I really appreciate any advice you might have!:)



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I am very sorry to see this situation you are in. This damage must be dealt with before the car is driven. The solutions to this are not simple or in-expensive I'm afraid. Blue's links to the frame restoration accurately indicate what you are likely going to have to deal with.

This entire situation repeats itself daily it seems. I really wish there was some sort of way to guide potential Z buyers, any old car buyer really, in determining the TRUE rust and structure condition there cars are before they purchase them.

So, toward that end, and in no way being disrespectful to your situation, let us all learn from it at least, by pointing out some obvious things that should have been caught before the car left North America.

1. That damn thick tar undercoating that seems to be on so many of these, and years of collected dirt grease, leaves, rat sheet, and, ALL of the sound deadening tar mat sheets from the inside of the floor pans MUST be removed from all critical areas to properly inspect the rust and structural condition. What looks smooth and undisturbed when covered with this stuff CANNOT be evaluated for compentency without its total (95%) removal. Those famous words I've heard so often just GRATE on my brain when I hear them. "I picked up the carpets and didn't see any rust! Looked great!!!" Then you start chipping off the tar sheets in the foot well and your hammer goes straight thru to clean air underneath. AARRRGGGG...

2. The first picture that shows the brake line going under the frame rail. Look at that. Carefully. That's green FIBERGLASS patching over that frame rail. Do I have to mention that this just SCREAMS that a hole in a structural member was filled with that crap, and not even in a way that's smooth and hidden. There is no fibreglass repair on a structural member that is adequate.


1. There is no such thing as too many pictures. Get the car on a hoist and have the seller photograph EVERYTHING. If you are there, LOOK at everything with an mind set of "does that look right"?

2. Get schooled in what it SHOULD look like down there. You can't spot problems unless you know what its supposed to look like. Are the frame rails supposed to be straight? (yes). Do the two frame rails run parallel? (yes) Are there any places where they change size (yes, they neck down near the rad support). Are dents in the bottom of the frame rails under the floor normal? (yes and no.... depends on magnitude)

3. What specific areas MUST I look before all others for rust issues.

4. Remove undercoating and floor pan sound deadening tar mat from all areas noted in 3. Even if its hard to do, even if the seller protests. If you can't walk away.

5. Any rust showing on the outside hides 10 times more on the inside, miminum.

6. Doing Body work and rust repair is 100 times more expensive, time consuming and frustrating (via endless project delays and funding headaches) than the cumlative effort to hunt down a better chassis to start with.

I didn't fill in the answers to most of thoise questions, because, EVERYBODY, your assignment is to FILL this thread with pictures and stories of YOUR experiences with buying Z's that "looked practically rust free" but turned into nightmares once the cancer and resulting structural damage within was revealed. We need to build a single thread that we can point everyone to when they ask the never ending question "what should I look for when buying a Z?"

Come on, contribute!!

Edited by zKars
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Ok, me first.

This link,

Kelly W's Z Restoration

gives the most complete and clear pictures I've ever seen of what the Z uni-body structure looks like, both with rust problems, and after extensive restoration

Ideally, I'de like to have some of these pictures in this forum on this thread, not referenced via the link to Carl's server page, but it's likely stable for a while, right Carl?

Would you mind if I took select pictures from that set to post here?

So here is the reference. If you ever wondered what is supposed to look like in that corner, or that frame rail, here it is.

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Here is a great picture of the front floor areas and why you need to remove the tar mat for inspection.

Passenger side has the tar mat still in place, Looks lovely.

Drivers side with mat removed. shows all the nasty rust underneath. Any arguments now?


Thanks and credits to user 280z1975 from thread http://www.classiczcars.com/forums/help-me/20051-floor-pans-tar-removal-question-other-stuff.html

In thread he has an album on his website of more pictures of the total removal and what he found underneath.

Edited by zKars
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Thank you for all the constructive replies. I know I should have done a better check myself before I bought this car, but it is my first 240z, and I guess I was a bit too excited so I rushed into it all a bit to quickly.

I chose to trust the guy I bought it from, because he has imported MANY Z's to norway before, and he has a guy he trusts over in the US who checks the cars before he buys them. I have also seen lots of pictures of the underside of the car and the wheel wells before I bought it, but I guess I was fooled.

The guy I bought it from is just as surprised as I am and he is feeling bad about it, so he is willing to help me get this fixed. Hopefully we will agree on some kind of refund also. Both him and I have friends who specializes in this kind of bodywork.

I am worried that one thing leads to another, and I end up having to change every bit of metal of the underside of the car:disappoin Oh well. I'll keep you posted when I get things done:)

And of course any advices regarding bodywork with these cars is appreciated.



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I agree find a good frame shop and get their assessment on what it will take to fix. Jim has a good eye and I think that is a good call on the Fiberglass. There is either a hole there or a bad wrinkle in the frame rail and they filled it to doctor it up. I would not expect the repair to be cheap. It took a pretty good hit right at the front wheels so I would also look for other damaged components. Bent suspension arms, drop links, sway bar, steering rack. Also check the rear suspension over. That might have also taken a lick. Look for badly wrinkled metal in the engine bay. Looks like crumpled paper that has been flattened back out. Check up near the radiator support and behind the hood hinges. Areas that don't typically get replaced in this type of accident. Let us know what you find out.


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