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Considering a 1980zx


JHzcar

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Howdy y'all, i'm new to this forum so my apologies if this isn't the right place to ask this. I have a current daily driver (2008 Toyota tundra) and I'm finishing up my first project car (free 1998 ford expedition) so naturally being around hot rods all the time I'm looking for another project car. I've loved these Z cars for a long time and i love v8s. i found a 1980 280 ZX with a chevy 350 swapped in (i know these engines like the back of my hand) that I'm going to look at this Sunday. I know how to check engine trans ect. but is there some things that are Z specific to look out for? i know around the windshield, battery, rear hatch and spare tire are common rust spots, are there any places that are super concerning? I'll try to upload some pictures, cosmetically its not great and needs some wiring but i've started with worse before... Thanks!

 

-Jackson Householder

 

 

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On 1/11/2020 at 8:55 AM, Reptoid Overlords said:

My '80ZX has bent up frame rails from the PO using the wrong jacking procedure.

I have never seen one without!  Even the very good one i'm restoring has some damage.. one day i'll take those little bumps out..

Things to check/worry about..

I've got one concern for you.. a V8 in an already not so very strong chassis can be a problem.. even more when it's a T-bar chassis.  The longer length of a s130 makes it not strong enough for a V8.

Look for rust direct under the floor where the front safety belts are hanging..  between the point were the rear axel is attached and the side of the car. There is a piece of floor that is double layered steel.. and Always a problem.. (I'll put a pic in my thread.. restoring a 1979 slickroof 2+2 280zx this afternoon.. after that i (now!) go into the paintboot for some more painting parts! )

Edited by dutchzcarguy
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well i ended up buying it, texas car ended up being rust free on the underside, almost no rust on the car in general, few whisky dings but nothing too major, fuel cell was empty so i won’t have to clean that, the wiring seems basic and shouldn’t be too bad, once it’s running and driving it should be down to paint body and upgrades. no damage on frame rails and no rust in the place you were telling me about. will update y’all when i get it running, thanks for the help!

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  • 1 month later...

alright so i’ve had the car for a bit now and i’ll update everything i’ve done to it so i can keep track, redid most of the wiring for the engine portion, rebuilt carb, fixed detent cable, redid carb throttle cable to get full throttle pull, replaced alternator, replaces swaybar end links, eibach lowering springs, bled brakes with new fluid, added a 160 thermostat and flushed cooling system, replaced a broken pushrod, changed oil twice(water got in the engine and had to change it again) changed diff fluid (did a burnout and found out it’s an lsd) fresh plugs and wires, added extra lights to the bumper for nighttime, fixed some exhaust leaks and fixed a hole in the radiator. runs good but the transmission is not setup to match the engine, and high speed is a bit sketchy. i’ve burned through a set of brakes already so once that’s fixed i’m gonna work on tightening up the suspension bushing and tie rods and such and then it’s on to go fast parts. high speed is also a relative term cause i’ve only had it up to about 100mph. 

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so another update, car handles great except my power steering is mysteriously failing me when warm, heads are currently off as i’m swapping in a new cam (ruined a lobe on the current one) and working ok the heads a bit(minor porting and screw in rocker studs) i took it to cars and coffee and met a guy with an s30 that had a turbocharged 305 swap. i’ll upload some pictures, and if anyone has some cam suggestions feel free to let me know, bone stock 350 with intake and minor porting. 

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  • 1 month later...

ok so i replaced the cam(lunati barebones cam, (.480/.488 and 224/234@.050” 110lsa), ported the heads and did some minor other work and tuned the carb and such, added an o2gauge got new pushrods and did a bunch of work and now it runs great and drives well, has in the ball park of about 300-350 hp at the wheels, and it’s a blast to drive, spins the tires from a dead stop all the way to 60 if you’re not careful. next up is to replace all of the suspension bushings and tie rods and stuff to make the handling much tighter, really just waiting on the time to do it cause i enjoy driving it too much now to have the desire to make it better just yet... once i settle into online classes i’ll have time and i’ll get it done, and i’ll take pictures along the way. cam is still fresh so i haven’t gotten her up past about 110mph @ 5500rpm but with the setup i have it should carry all the way to about 7000rpm and 130mph without too much trouble once i get the cam really settled in. i also deleted the power steering as it would just leak constantly and would stop working anyways when it was warm, so it’s just manual steering, and having not driven a car like that before it’s an interesting experience, it’s a different connection to the road that i haven’t felt before. overall really excited for this car and i can’t wait to update y’all more! B25DCE29-73D3-4DB9-913C-BE61E3398454.jpeg5A678A3B-3296-45BB-9A6F-044692D145E7.jpeg137BFC91-2F66-4539-9452-938DF4F9F267.jpegD4D2C884-0EF2-46FD-B8F1-7FA65BF6630B.jpeg

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  • 4 weeks later...

so i redid all of the suspension bushings with prothane bushings, new tie rods ball joints and a new center link, since the zx center link is $340 i took a chance on a 810 center link and it works fine, but the steering wheel is not straight(if you use a 5/6 bolt aftermarket wheel you could move it one bolt and it be straight) even with the wheel off it drives a whole lot better, and the camber is a lot less now, a press makes quick work of bushings and then they pop right in without issues. the actual datsun part of the car has been quite well and working great, but i’ve had continued valve train issues with the small block. most of which are my fault but it’s nothing that’s unfixable, my biggest issues were a few of my stock stamped steel rockers exploding while i was cruising after several 6500+rpm pulls, and the increased heat causing enough expansion to create a bind issue. with that i’ve installed better studs and i’ll have a fresh set of aftermarket rockers this week, just in time for a show on friday. i also need a new radiator but mine isn’t leaking enough yet to warrant the cost of a new one. once i get the motor dialed in better i’ll drop the transmission out for a few upgrades, 3-4 clutch pack, shift kit and new governor, and around the same time a proper exhaust system instead of a side dump before the rear axle with only a glass pack to muffle it. overall just making a little bit of progress each and every day, eventually it’ll be painted and running great for an extended period of time, instead of working for a week then stuck in the shop for 3 weeks... 172f7dc2d764f9f245f9443a7fc434b0.jpgA150D5B1-FA13-4FE1-BF5B-90952B962238.jpg


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Don't forget that these old cars had terrible passenger protection, for crashes.  Even the ZX's.  No airbags, no crumple areas.  Poor steering in an old car at 130 mph with half the people around you on a cellphone...not good.

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Don't forget that these old cars had terrible passenger protection, for crashes.  Even the ZX's.  No airbags, no crumple areas.  Poor steering in an old car at 130 mph with half the people around you on a cellphone...not good.

you raise a really good point, i have made it somewhat better with 4pt seatbelts and better seats, but i do plan on installing a full cage when i have it apart for paint, as these cars are not great on safety


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  • 3 months later...

so it’s been a while since i updated what i’ve done to the car, i swapped to roller tip rockers, i’ve tuned the carb a lot, i added lights and i took the transmission out and installed a shift kit and did some other things to make it last longer, i put a new radiator and alternator and water pump in, i’m about to do new motor mounts and tires, i’m looking at a set of falken azenis rt660s in 205/40-17 and 255/40-17, i put in a new front u joint on the driveshaft, and i put a new caliper on the rear. it runs and drives great and handles pretty well, but could use some help with the camber of the wheels. next up after tires is a set of good cylinder heads and a roll cage. i bought a parts car today, a 1980 2+2 280zx that i’ll use for body pannels when i repaint my car. it came with a set of stock datsun 4lug wheels if anyone wants them lmk. overall i’m much happier with my car than i ever thought i’d be. it’s definitely still a work in progress, but the end is in sight!

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