In some of my previous posts I’ve mentioned the large group of parts I purchased a while back. I recently mentioned to @siteunseen that I would make a post about the origins of the “hoard” and here is the story.
In the fall of 2018 the president of our area Z club received an email about some 240Z parts for sale. Knowing that I had a hobby business refurbishing parts, the contact was passed to me. I contacted the person and gained a little insight to the situation and made arrangements for an inspection trip. A buddy - @zed2 and I drove up to Denison TX on the TX/OK border and met a man who owns his own railroad station. Not just any old wood frame RR station but a magnificent two story brick edifice. After a quick tour of the historic building, we set off in caravan, headed a bit south for Bells TX.
Our guide explained that a very close friend was in the VA hospital in Dallas, dying of cancer. His friend had been a lifelong Datsun mechanic and during the years had parted out a number of Z cars. Some years previously, the mechanic had relocated from Colorado and moved his collection of parts with him. Our guide explained that by selling some of the parts he hoped to help his friend with expenses.
When we arrived in Bells, we entered a property of about 5 acres. There was a dilapidated mobile home, a scattering of about 10-12 240Z’s and a couple of 280ZX’s , but our attention was drawn to a 40 foot overseas shipping container. We looked over some of the Z’s, checked out a deteriorating pole shed with various parts inside, then made it to the doors of the container. Our guide unlocked it and swung the doors open to what can only be described as an “elephant’s graveyard” of parts.
Along both walls of the container, boxes were stacked about head-high with a narrow aisle down the middle. Our guide provided us with a couple of flashlights and we moved into the container. Most boxes were marked with a felt tip pen as to their contents. About half-way in, we found layers of heads carefully stacked and marked – mostly 6-cylinder, some 4-cylinder. Next to the heads were three complete engines, bagged parts of valve trains and a stack of shock absorber boxes filled with cams. Opposite the heads were several 4- and 6-cylinder blocks. We continued into the container, briefly inspecting boxes as we moved to the rear – a complete set of 4-screw SU’s, a set of triple Weber 40DCOE’s, and much more. We found that most parts were felt-tip marked with the model year and his private condition code of “I, II, or III”.
Earlier conversations with our guide about “some” parts availability had been vastly understated! We were in sensory overload trying to comprehend the extent of the container and property contents. Time was short that day and I had only brought a small amount of cash for what might be the availability of a few restorable parts. I picked out a few things and paid for them while making arrangements for a return visit.
We returned a week later only to learn the mechanic had died. His brother and heir (in Nebraska) had talked with our guide and another friend and gave permission for additional sales. In the course of several hours, Zed2 and I moved and inspected the contents of every box, hauling selected boxes and items outside for a final decision. When we could haul and inspect no more, it was time to wrap up. I made a final review, putting a few things back even as Zed2 was adding to my pile. I listed everything and wrote offer prices beside each item. The other friend of the mechanic was familiar with the Z parts and reviewed my list and offers, tweaking a few numbers. When it was finalized, I wrote a check to the estate and prepared to load up. I dropped the rear seats in my Xterra and began pushing in boxes, the cargo area filling from front to back and to the roof. Later at home I had time to better inspect and inventory the boxes, and learned that many had additional items not listed on the outside - small treasures and nice surprises.
I kept in touch with the mechanic’s brother and listened to his intense frustrations in dealing with the delays of a rural county probate court from his home in Nebraska. He knew that I had an interest in additional parts purchases and promised a call when he was next in town. As it turns out, the neighbor next door was very interested in buying the property. When I did not hear back from the brother, I know that a sale had taken place to include the cars and parts.
This was a great example of an opportunity briefly appearing and then gone. I’ve worked through some of the boxes, with refurbed items listed on this site such as fuel rails and heat shields, a ’70 AM radio restored and a ’76 AM/FM not yet touched. The “nest” of inspection lights is currently in play as is the box of turn signals, with so much more still in the garage attic. I hope you’ve enjoyed this tale of how the “hoard” came to be.