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Advice on Recent 1978 280Z Purchase


Barneville

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I just bought this car on BaT and am new to this forum. It's on a train right now coming from Eastern Canada to BC.

https://bringatrailer.com/listing/1978-datsun-280z-80

Although I had a 280Z years ago and more recently a couple of 300ZX TTs, I’m not experienced with the S30s or the collector market. To all you classic Z gurus, I’m curious as to what you think of this car – originality (engine, paint, glass, interior, wheels, etc.), condition, issues, needs and what direction I should take with it. Given its largely original state, low miles and overall exceptional condition, I’m surprised that it didn’t bid higher. Obviously the Ziebart in the engine bay, wheel well lips and overspray is an issue, and the aftermarket stereo and speakers. I’m planning to resolve all those items, fix any other issues and do full maintenance. Then will likely keep it for a while. What else should I do – leave original paint or repaint same color, get rid of all the Ziebart or just the offensive stuff already mentioned. And the big question…leave the auto or swap to a period correct 5 speed? Any constructive feedback on all this?

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Edited by Barneville
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I'd keep it as original as possible with one exception. Well, maybe two. I'd swap the automatic for a five speed but bag and tag every part that's removed in the swap. I'd also put SUs on it but that's just my love of trouble free carbs and all things mechanical.

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I'm nowhere near as well versed as most people on here, but it sure looks like a gem. Correct me if I'm wrong here - that's the original paint? If so, I'd keep it that way. Still looks phenomenal after all these years, and if you resell it one day, that'll add a good amount of value. An old car with original paint in that good of condition is an indication that the rest of the car is also well maintained. Besides, it's way more badass to say you've got the original paint even if a new paint job in the same colour looks 'better'.

I'd swap it for a 5-speed, no doubt. That's just personal preference though - I couldn't do without a manual on a sports car (especially a classic sports car), but if it doesn't matter that much to you, then who cares if it stays automatic?

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41 minutes ago, Barneville said:

Although I had a 280Z years ago and more recently a couple of 300ZX TTs, I’m not experienced with the S30s or the collector market. To all you classic Z gurus, I’m curious as to what you think of this car – originality (engine, paint, glass, interior, wheels, etc.), condition, issues, needs and what direction I should take with it. Given its largely original state, low miles and overall exceptional condition, I’m surprised that it didn’t bid higher. 

Hey, you bought Slimeydime's car!

If you bought it for collecting/investing/future resale the best you could do would be to live on the BAT board and see what the collector's critique is on similar cars that come up for sale.  One thing that stands out in the pictures is the lack of detailing in the engine bay.  The paint on that car is so bright, and the interior so clean, that the brown valve cover and other parts really stands out.  Not in a good way.  The engine bay looks filthy. No offense to Slimeydime, he probably used it as a driver.

One thing that really stands out a good way on your car is the rubber (bumper ends) and vinyl, and the dash.  Those parts are typically destroyed by sun and age.  Take extra care of those parts, they make the difference, you can't find replacements.

Edited by Zed Head
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Yes @Zed Head I did! Slimeydime didn't really drive it or do anything to the car since he bought it. I'm going pull the engine and do a major clean-up of all that Ziebart in the engine bay and overspray. And clean-up the engine and all the accessories. I haven't seen the car with my own eyes yet, but it looks amazing for an original 42 year old Z. I was looking for a 5 speed, but couldn't pass this one up.

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I agree with the above about the paint. If that's original paint, I'd try hard to preserve it. I also agree about the tranny... Swap it for a manual, but keep all the old parts.

So I'm surprised it didn't go higher as well. I'm thinking the high prices for Z's hasn't gotten to the 280's yet. And lucky for you! Beautiful car and you stole it!     :victorious:

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Lovely car - was watching on BAT.

Forget originality - these cars will never have the value of the earlier S30s so indulge yourself improving it which will add value :

Front and rear bumper swap for the early versions

Swap the auto for a 5xspeed with lightened flywheel and plan to have the engine out and bay painted in the same red 

Swap the diff for a 3.9, whether an R200 or R180 with LSD from a Subaru.

Fit your choice of wheels, shiny suits the red best (better than black anyway)

 

Result L28, EFi, lively box and diff, clean and red all over = minimum $25k car you can thoroughly enjoy on any road at any speed.

 

Congrats.

 

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That really is an untouched car, I don't see any repairs to the bottom of the car,  you did well.  But by the time you do the exchange rate and shipping costs you will have paid your fair share.  You say you will keep it for a while, if you are thinking just a couple of years then I would keep it all original, if you are going to hang onto for longer then all of those modifications listed above will really wake it up.

Although the engine bay looks a mess at the moment I think you will find under all that ziebart and cosmoline pristine surfaces that will clean up very well.

I hope you will post more pics as you take it through the clean up process.

 

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It’s a beautiful looking car, I love the color but I’m biased because it’s the same color as mine. Your’s is in way better shape than mine. I agree with many of the above comments. Definitely change out that tranny. I’d hold off on pulling the engine, unless you plan on making it a winter project. I think it will clean up nicely. My approach was to never do anything that can’t be reversed. So make the changes that make you happy but think twice about a change that is permanent. Example is the bumpers, many like the 240 style bumpers and you can always be put the railroad tie bumpers back. I don’t necessarily agree that these cars won’t increase in value and become collectibles in the coming years. Many cars that I’d never expect to be collectibles are demanding high prices. I just watched a 1984 Blazer sell for $38,000. Really!!!


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Swapping out the front and rear bumpers is not just a weekend job and to be done correctly needs bodywork and paint. When done properly (ie looking stock) it's not a simple case of swapping back.

Agreed for the engine pull* - clean underneath thoroughly first BUT it will look 100% better red under there

*just thinking that the tranny swap would be easier out of the car !

I certainly didn't suggest that values won't rise but did say that you won't lose any value by swapping the tranny and bumpers and, imo the value of the car will raise because of this and even more with a red-under-hood !

As an aside to what I suggested for a more lively Z, swap the exhaust and headers too which obliges to delete the EGR and Cat, both of which will help the old girl breathe better. I'm not saying this from an interested point of view, I believe it to be a recognised fact now. I'm expecting a 10-15% power and torque increase and more importantly, up to 500 revs lower down which won't harm her acceleration.

In photos, my 280Z as she is now (I chose a Skillard, black, full grille because the stock one, once the fed bumper has been removed leaves a gaping, unsightly hole) !

Swapping out the lower, front valence is the easiest way of losing the look that 'something is missing' AND giving the car your personalised look whether that be stock or sportier ; the front valence invariably needs painting anyway from chips etc so why not start afresh ?

I fitted Euro rear lights and transparent side repeaters - the front will have Klearz 10% smoked lenses.

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Browse over this page on BAT and you can see, pretty much just by looking at the pictures and prices, that deleting the big bumpers doesn't add much.  Maybe even hurts.  If you're planning to put it back on BAT in the future, and make a profit, best do what the actual buyers will pay for.  You can even read through the comments on a typical BAT auction and see that most of the comments come from people who aren't buying.

Your car is very original and in great shape, by the pictures.  The cars that make the money are either the original cars or the heavily, professional level, modified cars.  There are many half-done cars that don't do well at all.  Make sure you know what you want the final product to look like and that you can actually get it done.  It would be a shame to ruin a nice car like yours.

https://bringatrailer.com/datsun/280z/

https://bringatrailer.com/listing/1977-datsun-280z-48/

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I concur with ZH, but in the end make the car what makes you happy not others. What I meant about changes is things like cutting the wheels wells to put fender flares on and such. That is better done on a car that needs lots of love and has rust there already. Not saying the bumpers are an afternoon job. Front is pretty easy, back requires removal of the drip edge by drilling out spot welds and then filling holes where bumper shocks came out, followed by paint I’ve seen many that leave the holes but it’s much better looking when they’re filled. In the end it could be reversed if a later owner liked the rail road ties. The big bumpers grow on you so as ZH said have the vision of what you want before stepping off.
My first order of business would be mechanical. Go through it, and make sure all your hoses are good, look for leaks, give it a tune up, change fluids and then drive it to find any bugs or quirks. Don’t throw away anything as you make the changes you want.
Congrats


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8 minutes ago, grannyknot said:

@Sean Dezart, nice looking exhaust, where did you get that? 😉

Fast-Road headers, line and Street muffler @Zstory.

Previous 280Z here with the Street-Sport headers and Classic muffler made 162HP DIN with the EGR and CAT deleted and no smog issues : beautiful car inside and out.

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Thanks everyone for the feedback!

I actually don't mind the big bumpers. 😘  I had a 78 many years ago, so I guess they grew on me then.

Given the original condition, I'll probably keep it totally stock and try to restore it to a very clean state. I'm unsure about the auto to 5 speed conversion. It makes it more appealing as a driver, but I feel like keeping the auto would retain its collectability factor. I'll probably talk to collectable appraiser about that.

Is anyone familiar with the California Datsun 5 speed conversion kit below?

https://www.californiadatsun.com/transmission-accessories/datsun-240z-260z-280z-zx-automatic-to-5-speed-transmission-conversion-kit.html

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Not the kit, but the guy that owns the store, he's been around for quite a while.  He used to be Datsun Parts LLC.  You can search that on the internet.  His new name comes up on the site occasionally, I added a search link below..

His screen name on the forum is URGELIS.  https://www.classiczcars.com/profile/13357-urgelis/

https://www.classiczcars.com/search/?&q="california datsun"&search_and_or=and&sortby=relevancy

Edited by Zed Head
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Just saw some stuff over on Hybridz about transmissions and found this site.  Derek is a member here, he builds good stuff.  He made his own cylinder head, among other things.

https://www.godzillaraceworks.com/drivetrain

If you decide that you'd rather buy a swap in kit form this would be much preferable over the other guy's.  Newer stronger transmission and most likely better overall product quality, and probably backed up if there are problems.  I don't know if Derek is involved in this one but he is with the adapters.  @Derek

https://www.godzillaraceworks.com/drivetrain/complete-240sx-5-speed-swap-kit-for-70-83-datsun-z-car

And here is Derek's business - http://datsunworks.com/

Edited by Zed Head
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