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Kevin McSweeney

California 1978 Datsun 280z Restomod

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For starters, apologies for creating a new thread about the same build, but I wanted to make this  into a more coherent build thread as my previous one started off a little messy with me unclear of my goals and how I would achieve them.

Anyway, this thread is to document the build of my 1978 Datsun 280z. It was/is pretty rough, so the goal here is not originality, but to restomod this into a fun, good looking, capable weekend car.

Some info on the car:
Original L28 motor. 5-speed manual transmission. It is a federal/non-California car (Originally from Nevada). Clean title. Only 2 owners from new before me.
Odometer shows 37,xxx miles. Has more than likely rolled over.


Photos below are from the day I picked it up in San Jose, CA in late October 2017. It was non-running but I, with the help of a friend, got it running pretty quickly and happily found out that it hood compression and sounds great. All that was needed to get her running after 3+ years sitting was fresh gas, new plugs, and a couple of incorrectly connected and bad relays (I can't take credit for figuring those out, electronics are not my strong suit).

Next thing I did was to give the fuel system an overhaul - Fuel tank sandblasted, relined and sealed, and undercoated. New fuel pump and filter.

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After that, once I was happy that the motor and trans were decent, it was time to start tearing down to address the rust and refresh all of the systems. Engine and transmission were removed.

For the moment, I don't have any plans to do a major overhaul. I'll give both a good clean and tune up, and will replace the clutch and lightened flywheel (suggestions welcome), and the timing system as I do not have a record of if/when it was last done.

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Next, the outer rockers and dog legs, both sides. The condition of these actually wasn't terrible other than the rusted out section in the first picture, but since I had the parts I decided to go all in.

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Finally, just last week the car went to media blasting.

As of right now, we're grinding out the areas that need patching or have heavy filler covering rot and rusted out areas - overall not as bad as I expected but as you can see the fenders are not in great shape. I may think about replacing them.

As you can see from the second picture below, the roof has lost all integrity since I removed the sunroof that was installed. I'm picking up a donor roof on Saturday in Sacramento and will let my body guy take the replacement job as it's just too much for me. Looking forward to getting that done as it's a big eye sore at the moment.

 

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Some more photographs of the car after media blasting. Overall pretty happy with the condition. Some areas of rot of course but nothing beyond saving.

Also picked up a roof from a '71 240z and delivered to my body guy who's going to get working on it next week.

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Just went for a look at the progress on the roof work. Of course when we stripped the donor roof we found a lot of bondo, and that the support/brace was pretty rusted out, so we decide to drill out the spot welds of the roof skin and similarly on my car, and will re weld the skin in place. Should be finished today and ready for epoxy primer tomorrow or Saturday.

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Roof skin replacement finished and car in epoxy primer. Progress will be much slower between now and the beginning of 2019 as I'm going to be out of the country for a couple of months, but before I go I'm planning to get the underside protected, and the interior and engine bay painted. I was planning on getting the BC Racing Coilovers installed but that may or may not happen before I go.

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Some more pictures of the car in primer, showing some areas of rust that need to be addressed later when we do final bodywork.

FYI we used SPI 2K Epoxy Primer, and will be using Transtar Quick Dry Rubberized Undercoating.

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Probably the final update of 2018 (or at least major update) will be coming tonight or tomorrow morning. The car has been painted on the interior and engine bay. I haven't seen it in person yet (will be picking it up Tuesday after LDW) but the photographs, which I will share later, look incredible. The paint is expensive but it looks better than I could have imagined. The vehicle is now fully undercoated also.

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So this got delayed a bit by a few days in Vegas for LDW, but I picked up the Z this morning. Looking forward to hearing thoughts and opinions. The color is probably not for everybody but it's even nicer than I imagined.

 

 

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On 9/5/2018 at 6:22 PM, grannyknot said:

Looks great, single stage or base / clear?

Base/clear - it’s a PPG Envirobase High Performance Waterborne paint. It looks amazing in the sun, and got a lot of compliments even in its current state!. It will be a few months until the exterior is anywhere near ready for paint, but definitely happy with progress!

Edited by Kevin McSweeney

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Custom blend water based. Similar to the original 240 colour code. But very close to yours!

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