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Workin'g on 280z

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Okay, I didn't know there was a blog where I could express my thoughts on my car. Now I will do so.


So in about April of '09, I was looking through craigslist in my spare time. I found a blue 280z, little rust, no dents, and not running for $600. I was so amped up, I've been wanting an s30 since junior year of highschool, and all I needed, (the seller claimed) was a head gasket. So I picked it up.


My co-worker was a laid off mechanic working with me at the local smoothie shop. He offered to fix it for half the price I was quoted. I just need for his schedule to open up, and his friends (they were going to work on it in his friends garage). Unfortunately, the previous owner had posted false tags, so a city official called it in to get towed, took a $250 fine, and paying back fees(fees previous owners accumulated, that the buerocracy believes I'm liable for) at the DMV $200.


I found out I'd have to get it registered. Can't even get a PNO(planned non-operation) without a smog...can't get a smog without it running...can't park it in the street without it registered...so for the time being, I rented a parking spot in a storage facility for $100/month.


After paying 1 month, I found a different mechanic on craigslist who quoted me $600 after an inspection, I agreed. He told me my L28 was locked up, unless it gets rebuilt, for hundreds more, it's not an option and I'd need a new engine.


So I found an engine advertised as an L28...Looked like one, except for a big orange blower type thing on it. I bought it, took it to the mechanic, and it was an L26.


So I still needed another engine, found another on CL a 280zxturbo. I asked my mechanic if this would work, he said "Wonferfully!". So I ask my friend for a favor, we drive 80 miles, out to San Bernardino, got it, and dropped it off at the mechanics house.


He put the engine in, then started giving me the same excuses I used for turning my research papers in late at school. The old dead granny story. So he said he'd be too busy to work on it. I think he's just a dumbass who didn't know how to fix it in the first place and just decided to back out. He returned my money, except for $200 in parts, and brought a tow dolly to bring to its next destination.


So now the engine's in, not the headers or the intake. I took it to a place called Doctor J in Huntington Beach, who advertises themselves as the "Doctor of Z's". When I brought it to them, they had 2 other Z's in the garage, so this gave me some confidence that I could trust their work. They look at it and tell me the L28ET wouldn't work. Because my manifold compression is at different rates, and the engine didn't come with the turbo so it's gonna lack power. So I need another engine


I hop back onto CL, find an L28E for $500 with low miles. Ask another favor of another friend, I get it, and bring them it. They're amazed that I got it for only $500, they find them for $1000 at least. So it feels good I have the right engine finally, and I got a deal on it.


Now it's just a waiting game until they get it running. In the mean time I'm trying to sell the L28(locked up), L26, and L28ET, not looking good so far.


I get a call from Doctor J! I joyously pick up the phone, and they inform me the fuel lines we're poorly connected and there was gas spraying everywhere when they tried to start it. So they needed to order new lines, and install them.


A week later, I get a call from Doctor J. I cautiosly answer the phone expecting another problem. It turned out to be some good news and bad news. My cars running, but it has no catalytic converter, and they suspect a leaky brake line. Both are estimated to be $600. I agreed, they told me tomorrow is when they expect it to be ready.


Lets do some math here to figure out how much I'm spending


Doctor J total estimate


Last Mechanic


DMV fees

$450 + (future registration unknown)

2 engines I didn't need (hopefully I can sell them)


Car itself

$600 (this was a steal)


total = roughly $4,650...(potentially $4,050 If I sell both running engines for $300)

I might have been better off getting a running one for about 2k-3k, but I would feel bad knowing that most "projects" go underfunded, and ignored, leaving the entire car years and years to accumulate rust, parts to degrade, and eventually become unsaveable in itself, and it's only use ends up as a parts car. So it's not too bad that I'm spending a little more into saving this 280z.

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Love the story man. I'm in the middle of a resto myself and know how it is. Luckily mine runs and drives but has a lot of rust. Good post though man. Would love to see it in person someday.

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