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Posts filed under ‘240Z Restoration’

Datsun 240Z Restoration:
…And the Engine Comes Out

August 20, 2014 by Matt

Datsun 240Z restoration engine motor l24 engine removal

Figured I would give you all an update, even though there are fairly significant changes to the project coming down the pike. But more on that in a future post.

After towing the Z over the Appalachians on a car carrier behind my new truck, I ensconced it in our new garage here in Tennessee. And eager to make a little progress on the project, a few months ago I removed all the peripheral bits, fired up the engine hoist and pulled the engine and transmission.

It was a very straightforward job. Nothing jumps out in my memory as a particularly difficult task. Even the exhaust manifold-to-downpipe bolts, encrusted with 40+ years of rust, once soaked overnight with a generous dose of PB Blaster, loosened easily after getting a good set with a 6-point socket.

Datsun 240Z restoration engine motor l24 engine removal

One challenge was finding a couple of locations to actually hoist the engine from. The engine was rebuilt sometime in the mid-’90s, and apparently, at some point, the engine hoist brackets were removed from their usual locations, so I had to improvise with a pair of long bolts threaded into suitable locations on the cylinder head. But it all went smoothly; the engine and transmission came apart just fine, but I did have to remove the flywheel in order to be able to mount the engine on a stand, where it sits now in our garage.

I’ve been referencing Wick Humble’s classic How to Restore Your Datsun Z-Car as a sort of loose guide for the project, and removing the engine was the first step in the disassembly process. The next series of steps involve removing more mechanical organs before unbolting fenders and other body panels, but it’s an open question at this point as to whether I’ll be doing that. More to come.

Editor’s note: This post is Part 21 of an ongoing series chronicling my efforts toward the restoration of my 1972 Datsun 240Z, originally my father’s. Read the other installments here:


Datsun 240Z Restoration:
Treasure Hunting

April 22, 2013 by Matt

Datsun 240Z Junkyard

Beautiful day for a junkyard visit.

A week or so ago, I tracked down a used coolant overflow bottle for our minivan at the local Pull-A-Part location. I’ve been to you-pull-it junkyards before, and I have absolutely no affiliation with the company, but this one was in a whole different league—clean, well-stocked, organized and efficient. It didn’t take me long to track down the part, and I took some time to scout the yard for desirable cars.

I forgot how much I love junkyards. Sure, it’s sad to see cars in such states of decay, but the variety on the lot presented a great opportunity to get a first-hand look at the mechanicals of some cars, such as an early Saab 900 or Alfa Spider, that I’d only seen in pictures on the Internet. It’s a car tech geek’s paradise.

So after my first visit for the coolant bottle, yesterday I returned for some Z parts. The orange-on-white ’72 240Z at top was my initial focus, but I scouted out some others as well, including a 2+2 280ZX:

Datsun 280ZX Junkyard

and a non-turbo Z31 300ZX:

Nissan 300ZX Z31 Junkyard

Neither had many salvageable interior bits, both both their engines were intact.

My two main scores were a 6-2-1 header off the 240Z:

Datsun Nissan 240Z L24 L26 L28 Exhaust Header

and an under-hood service light:

Datsun 240Z under hood light

I’m hoping the header will clean up. It seems to be intact. If not, no big deal. Removing it was a bear; since I didn’t have a hacksaw, I had to rip the whole exhaust off, and ended up having to pull the steering column and twist the crusty muffler off before fishing it out the hood. As for the service light, the aluminum body should clean up, and my intention is to simply buy a new plastic lens, if it’s available. I’m strangely optimistic about that; in my experience with car restoration, sometimes the little ticky-tack stuff can be had more readily than more desirable NLA parts like door weatherstripping and interior plastic components.

If nothing else, it was a fun couple of hours exploring the yard and tearing into a classic Z with wild abandon.

Editor’s note: This post is Part 20 of an ongoing series chronicling my efforts toward the restoration of my 1972 Datsun 240Z, originally my father’s. Read the other installments here:


Datsun 240Z Restoration: Beginnings

January 3, 2013 by Matt

1972 Datsun 240Z S30 901 Silver

Click the image to enlarge.

My dad dug these up recently, and during a visit home for the holidays, handed them to me.

Along with the photography information like F-stop and exposure, the date written on the back reads “Nov 1972;” in other words, they were taken one month after my dad purchased the car from Cardinal Imports in Jacksonville, NC. This is genesis, folks.

1972 Datsun 240Z S30 901 Silver

Click the image to enlarge.

The photos were taken somewhere in the Raleigh, NC, area (my dad was finishing his studies at NCSU at the time) and to my knowledge remained hidden, moved from house to house in a nondescript box, up until this past weekend. During the handover, another tidbit of family lore emerged: My dad actually proposed to my mom in the Z in mid-December 1973. Talk about a car with family history; the Z has it in spades.

Aside from a couple of details, the pictures represent exactly the state to which I want to restore the Z. The only deviations from the condition shown above will be the wheels (the hubcaps have been replaced with slotted mags and meatier tires), the bumper overriders (deleted) and the hatch lid (debadged). Otherwise, the 901 Silver color will return and everything else will be as you see it. Once it’s all done, I’ve a good mind to find the actual spot those pictures were taken and shoot another pair in the same pose. Before and after, 40+ years later.

Editor’s note: This post is Part 19 of an ongoing series chronicling my efforts toward the restoration of my 1972 Datsun 240Z, originally my father’s. Read the other installments here:


Datsun 240Z Restoration:
VIN Discoveries

July 2, 2012 by Matt

1972 72 Datsun 240Z S30 Registry Snapshot

I’ve never seen this before.

A helpful Spannerhead passerby commented on an older post in my 240Z restoration series, shedding some light on my engine block / VIN mismatch mystery.

To recap, although my dad, the Z’s original owner, swears up and down the engine in the car is original—and I believe him—it remains that the engine’s block number, and the number stamped on the car’s shock tower ID plate do not match. The number stamped on the engine block is 118555, and the ID plate’s number reads 110555. Up until this point, the going theories were, in decreasing order of likelihood:

  1. The original engine was somehow defective before my dad bought the car new, was replaced before he bought it, and the installer made a mistake when applying the number to the block.
  2. The engine was surreptitiously replaced when my dad had it rebuilt in the mid-’90s, and once again, the installer screwed up when scribing the block number.
  3. The Nissan factory made a mistake.

What made that last theory particularly improbable is simply the fact that the block number and ID plate have no other purpose but to match. I mean, that’s their only job, and it stands to reason that the dozens, if not hundreds of pair of eyes that saw the numbers between the time the car was being assembled and the time my dad drove off the showroom lot would have caught something.

However…it now appears the ID plate, not the block, is wrong. Check it out: My car’s VIN is 93069, and according to the registry information provided by the helpful commenter, 118555 would mesh perfectly with the block number range the VIN corresponds with. So, wonder of wonders, the ID plate, stamped from the Nissan factory in Japan, an item with no other purpose but to match with the block, is wrong. It’s like waking up one morning to find a misspelling on your driver’s license… Just bizarre. And surprising.

Editor’s note: This post is Part 18 of an ongoing series chronicling my efforts toward the restoration of my 1972 Datsun 240Z, originally my father’s. Read the other installments here:


Datsun 240Z Restoration: The Bad News

June 18, 2012 by Matt

This is where I get depressed. Or overwhelmed. Take your pick.

The video above represents a brief walkaround of the Z, and touches on many of the issues to be addressed in the restoration, including the visible rust and some interior problems.

It’s…daunting, to say the least. I posted the video on a reputable Z-car forum and while most of them agree it’s salvageable, the process will invariably entail a significant amount of time, effort and money. No less a mainstay of the Z community as Carl Beck chimed in with figures of 650 hours and $30,000, though admittedly, those were his numbers for this concours-quality restoration. I don’t want a show car, just something clean and completely rust free in which I can have fun on the weekends. The Z obviously won’t see a snowflake ever again, and if I can help it, nary a raindrop either. So that figure could potentially be revised downward, but…it’s still enough to cause sticker shock. I’ll have a better handle on the real figure in a couple of months when I start disassembling the car and all the hidden rust comes to light. Onward…

Editor’s note: This post is Part 17 of an ongoing series chronicling my efforts toward the restoration of my 1972 Datsun 240Z, originally my father’s. Read the other installments here:


Datsun 240Z Restoration: On The Road

June 10, 2012 by Matt

Alternate post title: I need a camera mount. Badly.

Alternate post title #2: Glimpses of future greatness at 4000 rpm.

Note: The “thoroughly depressed” line at the beginning references another series of clips I shot right before the drive, inventorying many of the car’s “trouble areas.” That video will be featured in a future post in this series.

So, after working like a crazy person getting the driveline reassembled on Monday, the needed brake bridge didn’t arrive until Wednesday, leaving me with hours to install it, bleed the hydraulic and work out what bugs I could via a few test drives that evening, in order to confirm the car was at least passably roadworthy for the following morning, when I drove my son to school in the Z for his last day of 1st grade.

And aside from mushy brakes (investigation still underway) and mysterious timing problems (solution TBD), the car performed like a champ, and he greatly enjoyed his ~2 mile drive to school.

So what’s the plan now, since I’ve gotten it running again? Enjoy it for a bit, while fixing the remaining running issues. In the meantime, I’ll tackle additional home projects, make time for family activities over the summer, and prepare the garage for the teardown. Even after completing the perimeter storage system, there’s still quite a bit to be done:

  • Cut back the castering work table to make room for the table saw and eventual purchase of a tool chest
  • Build a hanging shelf in the center of the garage for doors, fenders, hood, and other large car pieces
  • Score a parts cleaning tank and possibly a media blasting cabinet

Among other things. So there’s still a long way to go. But the memory of how it feels to row through the gears and haw at the thin wooden steering wheel is fresh, and motivating.

Editor’s note: This post is Part 16 of an ongoing series chronicling my efforts toward the restoration of my 1972 Datsun 240Z, originally my father’s. Read the other installments here:


Datsun 240Z Restoration:
Getting It Back On The Road

June 5, 2012 by Matt

Datsun 240Z Restoration Driveshaft Axle Shafts Halfshafts Diff Differential Subframe Rear Suspension Mustache Bar

Very sore today. I’ve been going full steam trying to get the Z back on the road before this Thursday, since it’s my son’s last day of 1st grade and I promised him I’d drive him to school in it.

The upshot is that after spending most of the last month “topside,” getting the engine running, these past few weeks have seen me mostly under the car, up to my elbows in dirty, cramped brake, clutch and driveline work.

In a nutshell, I’ve:

  • Replaced the clutch master cylinder, slave cylinder and rubber line
  • Replaced the brake master cylinder and rubber lines and rebuilt all four brakes
  • Replaced the transmission’s rear oil seal
  • Added new trans fluid (Red Line MT-90)
  • Replaced the differential cover gasket
  • Added new gear oil to the diff (Red Line 75W-90)

And now for some pictures:

Datsun 240Z Restoration Driveshaft Axle Shafts Halfshafts Diff Differential Subframe

These are all the parts that had to come off for me to be able replace the cover gasket on the diff. The axle shafts in particular were a bear to remove. More modern CV joints and circlips make life much easier.

Datsun 240Z Restoration Diff Differential R180 Crown Gear Carrier

The internals of the diff looked relatively unscathed after 40 years. However, to my recollection, there is a pronounced whine from the diff whilst driving, something that will be looked into further during the full restoration phase.

Datsun 240Z Restoration Diff Differential Gasket Breather Baffle Plate

Interesting find: There is a (apparently non-OEM) baffle for the diff breather sandwiched in between two cover gaskets. It was a bit annoying to have to order another gasket, but I’m glad it’s there.

Datsun 240Z Restoration Drum Brakes Rear Wheel Cylinder Piston Backing Plate

I despise drum brakes. Yes, I’ve heard all the arguments for how a disc conversion is expensive, and that my braking performance will likely actually decrease slightly, but to not have to deal with pulling off drums that are fused to the hub, or rebuild ornery wheel cylinders… I would pay quite a bit. And of course, there’s also the fact that discs just look better.

With any luck, I’ll have it on the road for a test drive tonight. Just need to bleed the clutch and brake systems and we’ll be good to go. Video (hopefully) forthcoming.

Update: (9:05 PM) The required brake bridge didn’t come in tonight, as promised. Frustrating. Won’t have a whole evening to tune it before Thursday, but…I’ll make the best of it. Disappointing.

Editor’s note: This post is Part 15 of an ongoing series chronicling my efforts toward the restoration of my 1972 Datsun 240Z, originally my father’s. Read the other installments here:

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