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Posts filed under ‘Datsun’

Jay Leno Pines for a New 240Z

October 3, 2012 by Matt

When it come to presenting a car show, he’s no Clarkson, Hammond or May, but Jay Leno still does a serviceable job paying tribute to the original Z-car, before visiting the Nissan factory and yukking it up with a creative exec and one of the designers. The clip features some nice footage of a Japan-only 240ZG, with the longer “G-nose,” fender extensions and mirrors. Personally, I think it looks chintzy in the worst Japanese way, but there are some who prefer the extra tacked-on bits. I’d much rather drive the white 240Z in the “top secret” design room.

Leno also speculates about what a future 240Z might look like. It’s an interesting question, given that the ’03-’09 350Z was supposed to be a “reboot” of sorts and return the car to its original formula. Its successor the 370Z has grown out of the low-cost / respectable performance niche somewhat, and is increasingly irrelevant, what with the pony car wars heating up and hogging the airtime, so to speak. So perhaps a viable direction for the Z is “down” into competition against the Toyota 86, which for its part has become the darling of the automotive press. The Z would become smaller, lighter, yet more raw and pure. Given the current Z’s identity crisis—not enough power to hang with the Mustang GT or Camaro SS, and too expensive and ponderous to make it as a cheap corner-carver—a more driver-oriented Z-car would be a welcome change of pace, and could revitalize Nissan’s icon.

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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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Datsun 240Z Restoration: It Lives!

May 18, 2012 by Matt

A small victory.

So nice to have this under my belt. After ordering all the parts on my spreadsheet:

Datsun Nissan 240Z L24 Parts

I set about getting the Z’s engine running, even if the car itself isn’t yet mobile. Here’s what was done:

  • Replaced all engine bay coolant hoses, replaced coolant
  • Drained, cleaned and re-sealed fuel tank
  • Flushed all fuel hardlines and replaced all rubber lines
  • Set valve clearances, replaced valve cover gasket:

Datsun Nissan 240Z L24 S30 Engine Motor Cam Camshaft Fuel Pump Sprocket Gear

  • Removed intake manifold coolant pipe and plugged passages
  • Had carbs rebuilt
  • New battery
  • Replaced thermostat, oil pressure sensor, fuel pump and filter…

…along with a few other odds and ends. Filled the tank with a few gallons of 93, added 5 fresh quarts of 15W-40 Rotella T heavy duty oil (love the stuff) and a new filter, and on Wednesday evening…cranked it. The results of the first attempt can be found here—while the engine started, it immediately began to cycle between racing and bogging in the exact manner it had before I parked it eight years ago. By juggling the choke and throttle, I managed to stabilize things long enough for the engine to warm up, at which point I was able to use the idle screw to keep it running. But the engine was still missing and sputtering, something obviously wrong.

I was bummed. I didn’t hear any knocking or tapping that would indicate internal damage from the no-oil-pressure incident, but I wondered if somehow the cycling idle might be caused by something I’d done, though I wasn’t sure how it could be connected to a loss of oil pressure without some accompanying metal-on-metal noise.

Still, as another Z owner pointed out, it started, it stayed running, and it didn’t overheat. So there was that. The critical bit of information came from yet another Z owner, Frank in Houston, who right away saw that the outlet pipe on the balance tube for the (removed) air pump was unplugged, creating a huge post-throttle vacuum leak. The behavior of the engine on first startup was so dramatic that I didn’t see how plugging the pipe would make a substantial difference, but…did it ever. The surging idle completely disappeared, replaced by a perfectly-running, docile and tractable still-untuned engine. Amazing. And extraordinarily encouraging.

The upshot is that the engine wasn’t ruined by the no-oil-pressure incident, so I’ll simply pull it and clean it up in lieu of totally rebuilding it, reducing the cost and time of the restoration exponentially.

Now I’ve just got to get it back on the road for a “last hurrah” before I park it for the resto, which means…brakes and clutch time. Onward!

Editor’s note: This post is Part 14 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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Datsun 240Z Restoration:
Fuel System, Part I

April 12, 2012 by Matt

Nissan Datsun 240Z Fuel Tank Gas HLS30 S30

Made a bit of progress last night. After draining 2-3 gallons of 8-year-old gasoline-turned-varnish (below), I removed the fuel tank (above) without too much drama. All three of the evaporative emissions system hoses that intersected the tank were completely shot, so they were snipped (along with a fuel line), but I’ll be replacing all the rubber anyway, so it wasn’t critical. Other than that, all the bolts and screws turned remarkably readily for the first time in 40 years, even exposed as they’d been at the rear of the car. A little shot of PB and everything was peachy.

Bad Gas Gasoline Old Evaporated Fuel Petrol

Needless to say, the garage reeks of old gas now. I’ll probably mix this in with 2-3 gallons of fresh gas and feed it to my lawnmower. The consensus seems to be that it’ll be fine.

Nissan Datsun 240Z Inside Rear Quarter Panel

The really great news was on the inside of the rear quarter panel, shown above. Yes folks, it’s all solid metal. There’s a bit of superficial rust here and there, but based on my cursory inspection, no actual rot. If the car’s structural rust is confined to the passenger side floor pan and rocker panel, I’ll be a happy (relatively-speaking) man.

Given the good condition of the inside of the tank, the question at this point becomes: Should I use the POR-15 Fuel Tank Repair Kit, or just clean and seal the outside of the tank and call it a day? I’ve used the POR-15 kit before (on my old Audi 4000’s tank) with good success, so that’s charted territory. But I’d rather not do more work than I really have to. Hmm.

Editor’s note: This post is Part 13 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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Datsun 240Z Restoration:
Meat on the Wheels

April 1, 2012 by Matt

Datsun Nissan 240Z 260Z 280Z Z-Car Tires Wheels Slotted Mag BF Goodrich Radial Comp T/A

Finally got the Z’s new shoes on. Vintage-looking BF Goodrich Radial T/As in size 225/60-14. My dream tire for the car.

The slotted mags cleaned up pretty well. The lug nuts still have a good deal of brake dust on them, but those are relatively cheap to replace outright. I also need to get a set of center caps for the wheels.

Datsun Nissan 240Z 260Z 280Z Z-Car Tires Wheels Slotted Mag BF Goodrich Radial Comp T/A

225-width tires are a lot of meat for a 2350-lb car. They’re about as much tire as can be stuffed on a 7-inch-wide wheel. From what I gather, the tires are made equally with looks and performance in mind (maybe a bit more in the looks department), so they should perform well, if not spectacularly. The picture above illustrates the need for an air dam as well. The front of the car simply looks too light with just the valence.

Datsun Nissan 240Z 260Z 280Z Z-Car Tires Wheels Slotted Mag BF Goodrich Radial Comp T/A

The car most likely needs a drop as well. In fairness, there are no fluids in the engine bay at the moment, nor are there carbs. So that lack of weight accounts for some of the front fender gap. The side rub strips are coming off, too; a gentleman in the local Z club is interested in them.

Datsun Nissan 240Z 260Z 280Z Z-Car Interior Inside Cockpit Console Dashboard Dash Red Auburn Burgundy

Snapping pictures this afternoon, I realized I hadn’t taken a good clear one of the interior recently. Some issues that need to be addressed include the missing horn pad, cracked dash, cracked center console, tarnished plastic bits, shredded shift boot and ripped driver’s seat bottom. I’ve got a replacement for the latter, but the rest of the stuff will have to be sourced.

Next up: Dropping the fuel tank! What joy is mine… Stay tuned.

Editor’s note: This post is Part 12 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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Datsun 240Z Restoration:
Inspiration (Sort Of)

March 21, 2012 by Matt

Triad Z Club Lineup Datsun Nissan 240Z 260Z 280Z Greensboro Winston Salem High Point

Well, I had good intentions.

Last night, I brought my good camera to my second monthly Triad Z Club meet, and even arrived a bit early, hoping to snap some nice pictures of Z-cars for inclusion here, but…on the way to the meet, the sky decided to fall down.

Absolutely torrential spring rains pelted my car on the highway, and cleared up abruptly a few miles before my exit, only to start again once I reached the meet location. Several brave souls had actually driven their Zs, but I had to rush inside when I arrvied, and it was dark and still drizzling when we left. So none of the pictures I did take are of display quality, to say the least.

Triad Z Club Lineup Datsun Nissan 240Z 260Z 280Z Greensboro Winston Salem High Point

In their place, then, I present a few photos of previous year Triad Z Club meets, generously forwarded to me by the club’s president. There are many more; I just picked out several of the better ones. Hopefully they convey a sense of how significant membership in a local group can be when it comes to maintaining motivation during a long restoration project. I attend the meetings as much for the camaraderie as for the chance to see “my car, done” in the flesh at least once a month.

Triad Z Club Lineup Datsun Nissan 240Z 260Z 280Z Greensboro Winston Salem High Point

The silver lining to the whole rainy evening (besides the conversation) was the fact that I’m tentatively slated to take over some, if not all, of the club website-related responsibilities, including putting together an e-mail list or online forum. I’m excited to be able to contribute to the group in such a way.

Editor’s note: This post is Part 11 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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