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My $650 budget s130 build

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Currently, I am living in Bristol, Rhode Island until March to become a composites technician. So I will preface this whole build with a disclaimer that states: I will only be able to work on the car(s) every third week or so, for about a day. So progress will be slow. But, I'll be making carbon pieces and projects for the cars while I am here, and will update accordingly.

and yeah...... I know....The LAST thing I need is ANOTHER Z car, but I promise you this one solves a couple of problems I have been facing.

I'll explain...

A little back story to get you familiarized. I own a 240z a 260z and a 280zx. The 240 is the project car some of you have seen, my 260 is a running driving future gift for my brother, and my 280zx is unfortunately non moving, non operational.

But currently it just sits in my driveway, as most of its good turbo parts were robbed to aid my N/A --> turbo conversion build on my 240. The other problems with the 280zx are the facts that it is an automatic, has some pretty rotten floors, and needs rear end work,  despite what a respray may lead you to believe.

So what's a guy supposed to do?

On one of my last nights in New York, I was curious and just decided to pop on craigslist to see if anything interesting was in the area. Lo and behold, a 1983 Datsun 280zx turbo, 5 speed. runs. drives. body is rough (but I'm a body guy, plus you'll see it doesn't really matter)

Taking any reasonable offer. Title in hand. "I don't know much about the vehicle"


The car is pretty rusty. But luckily most of it is what I call "crispy on the edges" due to a stupid factory two tone decal that loves to trap moisture and subsequently rust. But lucky for me, I own a pretty much worthless 280zx that is not doing anything other than sitting in my driveway. So I have a donor car.

I got this rusty piece of shiz for 650 dollars. But OH MY LAWD, does it run and drive well...I wouldn't have ANY hesitation daily driving it...Which is actually my plan for spring :)











And here's my NOW donor car.


Let the surgery begin. The following was only 1 day of work. That's all I've been able to do. The timing with purchasing this car and going to Rhode Island couldn't have been worse..Talk about blue balls......


The ole Switch-a-roo.





So my plan is to take the best parts of both my 280zxs and make one surprisingly nice daily driver until I properly finish my 240z. As always, all work will be done in house, by me, and unless listed, all parts used are already owned, so no expense occurs. I'm trying to keep this car as low cost, and make it as ridiculously nice as possible. I know I can do it.

 This is the starting point. I have a lot of high hopes for this one.

And finally here's an exhaust clip (ignore the door ajar bell). There is a comically awful restriction (bend) in the pipe, and it still doesn't sound too bad in my opinion. I'm very excited to make a nice full welded 3 inch exhaust. That's one of the first micro projects. But until then.


Edited by OldAndyAndTheSea

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A lot of body work ahead of you , talking about rust  . I guess it's not as bad as the donor car . Good luck on your project . And I'll take center light panel if you don't need it . :-D .


Yeah, there's definitely a whole lot of metal work in my future, but at least the floors are there, and the surrounding gasket areas are all very solid, which were trash on the auto zx. "Most" of the rust is merely cosmetic. haha.


And that center panel was like icing on the cake. I'm definitely going to utilize it, at least in the meantime. Too cool to pass up. Thanks for the encouragement :)

Edited by OldAndyAndTheSea

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Okay. Got to work on the car for a day this weekend.

Made some progress. With projects like this, you have to take it one panel at a time. It's easy to become discouraged when one looks at the project as a whole.

So I started off deleting the OEM air cleaner, and added the intake that I used on my 240 when it was N/A. It'll work for now.

I swapped wheels and tires.

Then I started working on the tail light panel. Cut out the rust, and welded in some patches, thus beginning the adventure. I'll try to complete a section every time I return home.

Total Work Days: 2

Money spent on parts: $13 (silicone coupler for my intake)

Total cost of project thus far: $663

Here are some pictures.

OEM cold air intake












It's a start....More to come.

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Work continued this weekend.

Got a couple of things done.

Swapped out the door internals, and wiring so I once again have power windows, and mirrors.

- Video showing some nasty window up and downage:


- Roughly cleaned and swapped the door panels.






 - Swapped to my better seats. I think the blue and brown/tan look fantastic together; fortuitous circumstances.


- Test fit the optional rear panel.

Oh, and I did a little body work. Some of the easier stuff. I'll come back and tackle the time consuming areas when I have more than an hour or so to work. Gotta refill my 75/25 bottle too. There's a bunch of welding in my future. I don't mind. I love me some sparks. :)






It's looking better. Til next time, I'll be busy getting itchy playing with composites here in Rhode Island.



Total days worked so far: 3


Money spent this week: $0


Total money spent on project so far: $663

Edited by OldAndyAndTheSea

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Okay, made a little progress this last weekend.

Spark notes:

-Swapped rear hatches
-Pulled rear bumpers
-Began cutting out the cancer under rear bumper area
-Continued more of the simple body work

Barrage of pictures.












Total time worked on project to date: 4 days

Total money spent this week: $0

Total money spent on project to date: $663

I'm right in the thick of it. Gotta keep chugging along. :)

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Christmas break (10 days off) has given me some time to bang on the 280 a little bit.

More cutting.....welding.....grinding but I've made some aesthetic progress.

And I still haven't spent any money! Haha :cool:

Some before shots...



And let the patch fest begin. Apologies for the mediocre (even by my standards) picture quality, the light is difficult this time of year, especially at night.





And some primer. Still a ways to go before she's ready for Pebble Beach :lol: 




I can't wait until I'm doing mechanical things to the car again! Exhaust is in the future.

And oh yeah....

Days Worked on Car: 7

Total money spent on project to date: $663

Edited by OldAndyAndTheSea

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Hacked away a little last night. Still lots more to do....





And more progress this morning/today.


Some test fitment.





I'm not done for the day yet.....More tonight.





EDIT: More


Rinse and repeat. Driver's side. (note: exhaust tip delete: :))






Initial view from the back. I'm not patching anything else, as it is all hidden under the bumper anyway. Also gives me TONS of room for exhaust exits on the drivers side.


Once again, I'll finish it in the morning. Tomorrow the bumper can go back on, until paint. Exciting!

Days worked on the car: 9
Total money spent to date: $663

Edited by OldAndyAndTheSea

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More progress from Christmas break at home. I'm headed back to Rhode Island this afternoon.


Here's the initial, not straight at all first coat, driver's side.





Bumper back on, without gaping holes under it!









Roughed out in primer. Lots more tweaking left to do, but for the moment this will work.

This is where I left off.







I feel I've gotten a lot accomplished in the short amount of time I have been home. I am now beginning to feel the majority of the HARD work is behind me. Very satisfied.

Happy New Year all! 

Days worked on project: 11
Total money spent to date: $663


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I actually spent some money on the car, for the first time since buying a silicone coupler for my intake.


I bought some 3" exhaust making materials. But technically, the scrap price of the old catalytic converter will pay for most if not all of these. So once I do that I'll probably subtract that price from the total once again. The way I see it, this still won't cost me anything in the end. :


Muffler - $49.50 shipped rounded up to $50.00


and some mandrel bends. $80 shipped


The rest of the straight pipe, and the remaining parts are already owned, thanks to the 240 project.

So for now...

Total money spent on project to date: $793




Also,  I got back to working on the 280 today. Some progress ensued.

Passenger floor got my attention for most of the afternoon.



Stripped the floor of all the sound deadening. Luckily there is still some nice steel hidden beneath all the insulation.

Saving weight! I had to take at least 15-20 pounds of material out of car today.


Where I stopped for the evening. Merely tacked in place.


Tomorrow is another day.

Days worked on project: 14

Total money spent on project to date: $793

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Got back out to work for an hour or so tonight after work.

Here are some progress shots.

Somewhere in the welding process....



After I connected the tacks. I laid some chopped strand mat over the freshly cleaned and welded patches. That'll make sure no gaps remain. We're talkin' high quality here. :lmao:


Then I turned my attention to the rocker panel. I had to rebuild inside the car before being able to rebuild out here. So I got to making some more "off cut" patches.
Real rough, there's a lot going on, hopefully you get the gist.




I'll try to finish it up and make it pretty sometime tomorrow evening.

Days worked on project to date: 15

Total money spent on project to date: $793

Edited by OldAndyAndTheSea

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Tonight I made a little progress. Basically got myself prepped for tomorrow evening. Did a little welding, some cutting, and threw some filler on the rocker panel. Putty and paint, as they say, makes purdy what ain't.


But most importantly, I started exhaust stuff :)

I ripped all the old stuff out of there, I'll begin measuring and mock the new piping up as soon as I'm back out there.


Another "whoops wrong part, I have to order ANOTHER one" piece left from the 240.

2.5" ID - 3" ID



I'm excited to see what I can fab up. Time will tell

Days worked on project to date: 16

Total money spent on project to date: $793

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Thanks, and yeah, this car is total garbage. Haha. But for 650 bucks. I can't complain, it's fun to vent on this when things on the 240 are stalled.





Blizzard today, so I'm not going into work.

That means most of the day will be spent out in the garage hacking away at the 280zx.

I have just about finished the passenger floor board. A little more welding, grinding, yada yada yada, it will be ready for some paint.



Then I'll probably pull the drivers side stuff, and see if I can't start getting that side squared away.

There isn't much weld work after that. A couple more hurdles.

Then I make it smooth, and make it loud. And wait for the thaw.

More to come tonight.

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I have to admire the willingness to take on two projects. The 240 is turning out really nice, and this zx should be a nice companion :D.

Thanks, this car will definitely ease the pain of not having the 240 on the road. It'll allow me to properly finish that car, as it's definitely snowballed into something I consider pretty special.


Such a stark difference in quality between the two cars. It's nuts hopping back and forth between rust, and factory fresh. My quality of work has to adjust depending on what car I'm working on, that's what I find the be one of the hardest parts. Realizing this car will never be the 240, and just need to get it close. Anything I do is better than it was. Sometimes I forget that.






Passenger floor is pretty much done. Finally painted (brushed), with some Rustoleum gloss paint I had kicking around the garage. Thinned with acetone 50:50. I used about a 1/4 cup of paint to do the entire floor.








 ....And more passenger front wheel well adventures today. Lots of little holes. Lots of time. Lots stronger now.


Finished areas painted with same paint mixture.








I still have the tow hook area and a little bit of the headlight bucket area to contend with, then the entire passenger side will be done.


From then on, it's just the driver's floor and anything in the driver's wheel well.


I'm close! Oh and I spoke with my friend with the E30 he wants painted some sort of gunmetal color. He said he thinks it would actually be cool if we both had the same color car. So I guess Gunmetal it is!


The grey will definitely look great with the blue. Only a few more spots stand in my way. :)




Days worked on project to date: 18


Total Money spent on project to date: $793

Edited by OldAndyAndTheSea

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Thanks, yeah, this one is pretty rusty. Luckily I've got nothing better to do in my spare time during the winter. I'm excited to daily drive the car in the spring. It should scratch my itch to drive a Z, as it's been a couple years since I've had one going on the road now.


Thanks again for the encouragement. I appreciate it.





Today I went out to buy...

"Seam sealer"  :lol:

3.50 a tube. I bought two. Have used one. $7.00


Here's some pictures of today's patch o rama. Using up every last bit of scrap I can manage. It's kinda funny.




Then after a little seam sealer was applied and allowed to do it's thing. I got to put together the passenger interior, sans door jam trim pieces.

It's a nice change from the last couple days.




Tomorrow, I start the driver's side. That'll begin the final stretch! exciting!

Days worked on project to date: 19

Total money spent on project to date: $800 (+$7)

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