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Any Idea What Might Have Caused This?


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Hi everyone,

 

I'm going to be looking it an '83 ZX on Saturday.  The owner and I have talked, and he says there is this one suspicious spot between the T-tops.  Obviously there are signs of repaint work, and the paint appears very thick.  Is this probably just cracked paint/filler, with surface rust underneath?  Or is there a chance it's worse than that?

 

Thanks!

Sarah

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Take a magnet to the body.  That looks like a thick body filler layer, that came loose for some reason.  Might be signs of damage on or under the headliner, inside, also.  If they put body filler there, it could be anywhere.  Also, if it's as thick as it looks, that gives a sign about the quality of the work overall.  Thick is not good.

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Thanks! I almost forgot to pack a refrigerator magnet!

 

Is this a typical area for penetrating rust (e.g. from condensation underneath the roof panel, or would it most likely just be bad body work?  (The paint looks pretty sloppy too.)

 

Related question:  How hard is it to strip a car in preparation for body work/painting?

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Like I said Sarah, these years were prone to rust everywhere including the windshield . My daughters car had actual holes under the SS trim.

Lower rear quarters and pull the spare wheel out, the floor rusts there and everywhere. Stripping a car is big work especially with the amount of trim on these cars.

Maybe you want a DIY car as far as paint, but I would raise my budget for the ZX models to get a rust free version. IMHO

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Well, supposedly (and we can trust everything people tell us, right?) this car is pretty rust free.  I just didn't know it had lousy body/paint work until I saw the photo.  The owner has always stated the car needs a paint job.  However, I would think it would need to be stripped down to the metal at this point.  The other car I'm considering looks pretty nice in the photos, and the owner claims it's rust free -- painted 6 years ago by Maaco.  (Yes, I already know about Maaco's work, but I suppose it's possible to have a relatively rust free car made shiny by Maaco, no fault of the poor car.)  II suppose we'll find out!

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Sarah, I have a crack in the paint that looks similar, but not as big. The car has been resprayed (thick coat) over the original paint. I left a screwdriver on the frame in front or the AFM and closed the bonnet:(

It could be caused by something like that from inside. Sure doesnt look nice. Looks like some sort of repair work underneath.

Sucess searching this weekend.

Chas

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Thanks, guys!  Dennis, I think that's my impression too.  The owner says he suspects rust underneath also.  I think the temporary fix might be to sand it out, down to the metal, re-fill, prime and spray as close to that shade of red as I can find, and re-seal the T-tops.  It might not look perfect, but at least I can stop the rust.  Then down the road, we might get an "OK" paint job -- a notch higher than the typical Maaco mask-and-spray job.  The thing is, I think all the old paint and bondo would have to come off, and I don't know how difficult or expensive that might be.  EDIT:  Just talked with a body shop I trust, and they suggest it would probably be from penetrating rust -- probably needs patched with some new material.  They also said the old paint doesn't necessarily need to come off, even if it's a repaint job.

 

BTW, Chas, I feel your pain!  I have a tool ding on the opposite side of my hood from yours -- an overlooked 14mm socket, as I recall.  Fortunately it's just a ding, and not a crack.

 

Oh, and Madkaw, I would ordinarily want the best, most rust-free car I can find if my intent were to restore it to its former glory.  However, I'm really just trying to find a car that's clean, functional, and fun to drive -- not a big project (too busy right now to take on another project).  The car will be a fair-weather driver and will live under roof, so I don't see any rust progressing much beyond where it is when I buy the car.  If I can eventually sell it for what I have in it, then I'll be happy.  One car I'm considering is a recent Maaco repaint with the original engine -- a weekend driver.  The other is one of those project cars where the owner runs out of time/energy -- engine rebuilt by the owner before him, driveable, needs paint, good interior.  And depending on what I see, I might walk away from both.

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Who cares if it's a Maaco paint job. Paint is all about prep or what is under the paint. I'd rather have a cheap paint job on a good body and repaint it, then trying to patch in a better paint job on a crappy body.  I'd also rather have an unmolested car then someone elses project, unless the money they invested was done right and brought value instead of headaches

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Madkaw, I just have to put eyes, refrigerator magnets, compression gauges, etc. on both cars.  ;)

 

The thing about Maaco is that their work depends on the shop.  Some of their work is fine, and some is abysmal, mostly owing to differences in prep.  I once hired Maaco to paint a car of mine -- never again!

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OK everyone, I'm headed out the door for my big ZX adventure.  I'll check back in this afternoon/evening.  I appreciate everyone's help more than you know!

 

Theme song for the trip:  "I Wish They All Could Be California Cars," modified from the Beach Boys' song.

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I took a huge truck!  I'd have no other way to get the ZX back home!

 

Well, the gold car was a bust.  I had asked over the phone whether there were any rust blisters.  Answer: "No."  Frame rails straight and rust free?  "Yes."  It turns out the frame rails were relatively rust free.  Underbody wasn't bad.  Rockers, doors, fenders, even the hatch area -- not bad.  (Actually, the inner right fender was badly rusted through.)  However, both frame rails were mashed in.  The vent cowling and the roof were both pocked with blisters.  Water damage was evident in the headliner between the T-tops.  The paint also had a number of blemishes (chipped and touched up areas), showing where there was quite a bit of filler and thick paint.  The rear bumper was a miserable mess.  The good:  The engine was in nice shape.  Wow, it was a beast!  Unfortunately the Borg Warner transmission had been swapped out (along with the clutch) for the lighter Nissan 5 speed.  Anyway, too much rust for me!  We'll see whether the next one holds more promise.

 

FAIW, I took my stethoscope to his engine, and I feel pretty confident I would be able to hear even very subtle issues in the next engine.  I now have somewhat of a baseline from which to judge the rebuild.  That, plus compression numbers, should tell the story.  I think my stethoscope might be the most useful cheap tool I've ever bought!  Anyone who doesn't have one should invest that $6 to get one!

 

I'm crossing my fingers for the red one.  One very positive point regarding the photo above is the reflection of the garage door overhead!  Maybe that car's rust issues are less serious.

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The rear bumpers were a multi layer construction which was a bad idea. The layers rusted on each other and caught road crap. The rear inner fender is where the spare tire well is at and they rusted also. I think you were seeing typical stuff. My daughters car frame rails were also all bashed in from improper jacking and bottoming out. 

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So since we're talking about rust....

 

Tell me about the vent cowling area (just forward of the windshield.  On the 240/260/280Z, that piece unbolts.  That's a good thing, because the one on my 280Z has a few little blisters, and it will be easy to replace it.  (I already have a pretty good replacement that needs painting but is straight and rust free.)  But on the 280ZX, the darned thing seems to be an integral part of the unibody.  I guess you have to cut off the old one and weld on a new one.  Can you get this piece new, to be welded in place?  Or do you have to use a donor cowl from a junkyard S130?

 

Also, I've now heard from a couple different sources that the S130 bodies rust very badly.  Are they worse than the S30 bodies?  Are the 1st gen 300ZX bodies better?  Did they use different fabrication methods that were more resistant to rust?  I might consider a 1st gen 300ZX N/A if it makes that much difference in rust.  On the other hand, the 280ZX seems like a cooler car (to me).

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The vented part of the cowl area should be a plastic section held in by screws.  The surrounding metal area is not removable unless you cut it out.

 

I don't think overall the S130's rusted any worse than the 1st gen cars, just in some different places. (spare tire well, front of the hood)

The T tops added another area where water can get past the seals and start rust.

 

Maybe because they are newer, there are more of them still running around on the road, not well maintained, which makes them seem like they are more prone to rust.

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Thanks!

 

Well, I'm 0 for 2, and I'll be driving home tomorrow without a ZX.  The red body had little issues all over.  The cowl was fine, but the roof had the same rust blisters.  (Am I supposed to send pictures of rust blisters and ask, "Does your car have any of these?"  Geesh!).  Frame rails were pulverized.  Floor pans were mashed in and rusted.  The "restored/rebuilt" engine ran like crap.  Part of the problem might have been that the turbo didn't work, but there was much more to it than that.  The paint truly could have been compounded to look decent, were it not for the underlying rust -- roof, fenders, quarter panels, hatch.  Most of the rust was in the roof, but there were little problems everywhere!

 

Well, I think that's the last time I drive any significant distance out of town on the basis of people's answers to my VERY thorough and detailed questions.  I'll probably just wait for something to show up locally.  I guess I'll hit CL every week to see what new listings pop up.

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Sorry it didn't work out well, but good that you were thorough and passed on them.

Now you have a good idea of what to look for.

 

Maybe some trusted members within a reasonable distance can check others out for you as you find them.

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Maybe...

 

It's so frustrating, though.  I wouldn't have misrepresented the condition of MY car to get someone else to embark on a 1000 mi journey to see it!  My faith in mankind has reached newer lows.  I was polite, but....  geeeeesh!

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It going to be tough to find a clean one. There was one here in Indiana that was on CL that was show condition for 8500$. Seems like a lot but it would be well worth the extra $ to not do bodywork.

Surely the CZCC brothers can help you find something .

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Maybe...

It's so frustrating, though. I wouldn't have misrepresented the condition of MY car to get someone else to embark on a 1000 mi journey to see it! My faith in mankind has reached newer lows. I was polite, but.... geeeeesh!

Everyone thinks their car is better than what it really is...LOL

I'd be glad to check out anything locally to me, Since I have had experience with what to look for. There is also companies that will go check out a car for you for like 99$ . They might not be experienced with Datsuns, but they should be able to give you a non partisan evaluation.

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