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New guy with a dream

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Hey guys, I hope I'm posting this in the right location and that I'm not gonna get a bunch of bashing being a semi-new guy to the Z scene. I've been a fan of the Z's since I was a kid and I got it from my mom, who owned a 82 Datsun 280zx turbo. She was a light red color, with t-tops, and black interior.

Well the thing is when I was a kid our family kind of went through a time of trouble with money. My mother loved her car, like you have no idea. We were doing so bad with money that she had decided to sell her. Every year around the time she sold her she puts up pics of her on FB, talking about how she missed driving that car, with the t-tops down and music blaring.

Now that I am out of the military, and actually have time to do my own thing more often than when I was in. I dreamed of going to school to become a automotive and diesel tech. Which I am currently in the school under Universal Technical Institute out of Phoenix, AZ. Far away from home. I didn't have the money to get down here to use my GI bill for my education. So my mom being the amazing mother she is, forked over almost $5,000 to get me down here, money that was used for food, apartment, plane flight, etc.

Anyways you got the picture up to this point. (Hope I didn't bore you guys)  :bonk:

Well I wanted to do something to thank my mother, to show her how much I love her. Thus the reason for this post and my dream to make something happen for her that I know she'll love. I thought for a long time on how, and what I should do for her. The same idea came to my head. Rebuild her a 280zx, but make it better than she ever remembered it. 

Thus is why I'm here posting this. Hoping I don't anger someone, with it not being related to the field I'm posting it in (If so forgive me, I haven't been on a forum in over 5-6 years)

I found a local man who rebuilds 280zx's. He was selling it for $2,000, but I was able to talk him down to $1,200.

The vehicle is in kinda of a rough shape, but she runs, and she's strong.

The current problems I'm focused on is she needs new shocks as the ones on her now are completely blown out. New tires (The dude is actually a really good man, but all his "fixes" are from part cars that he owns, nothing is new. Which is ok, but not what I'm needing) and she needs an alignment. 

First thing was first.. To see if she had any seal leaks, so to be an ass. I took her to the nicest car wash in town. The cars that were going through the wash were a brand new Shelby Mustang, and behind me was a New Ford Raptor. You should have seen the sneers I got as I rolled her onto the belt. (They watched their cars get cleaned through the glass) I leaned back looking at the T-tops, and the back hatch, thinking that was where the water was going to come gushing in. To my surprise nothing came through. Needless to say I was shocked. Pulled her out, and just like my 78 Datsun 280Z (with a SBC) as soon as I got her at WOT. She whipped out "drifting" down the road til I got to the light, and the water was off the tires.  :rockon:

Showed her off to a bunch of my friends and current classmates from school. All of which fell in love with her. 

I guess now would be the time to talk about the current plans for her.

First off I come from a small town, of only 30,000 people. So auto shops are kinda hard to come by, and no body knows how to work on this Hydraulic based fuel injection that is the 280zx engine, and I may not be around to work on her whenever she's down.

So a engine swap is in the works, depending on $$$ and time. She will either receive a 350 SBC, with a 700R4 trans (Sadly she is a standard, but luckily thats not a biggy when it comes to something this old) Or what I really want to do for fuel economy, and reliability. Is do a 5.3 LS (Silverado truck motor) and a 4l60E trans. I know the precautions of that kinda build skyrocketing in $$ :099:

but the only thing that truly makes the ls a harder, and more expensive swap compared to the SBC is the kit needed to be fabricated (As I can't find one online) as well as the wiring harnesses, and ECU's needed to run them both.  :banghead:

(and from what I hear, the steering shaft angle needs to be modified) The plan is to have the 5.3 bored to a 5.7 and use a LS1 engine rebuild kit, and the LS1 crank. (Still doing the research on all that so don't  :twak:  me)

Anyways, other than that I have the plans to upgrade the audio in the vehicle. One of which I'm doing a head unit that offers satellite radio as I currently have an account that is presently active through Sirius FM. 

The interior is maroon color, and needs new, re-upholstered door panels, door handle pockets?, a dash cover, seats, and carpet. All if not most of which will be done after the swap as there is no need to have to tear into the newly replaced carpet and anything else that may need to be modified for the swap.

The total plan for the audio is to take out the cabinets that are behind the seat and have a sub box enclosure built in their place, With a 6 channel amp, feeding two subs, and all four speakers. Hopefully dynomated components that need it as well.  :trippen:

As for the seats. I am hell bent on getting electric 350Z seats, and the wiring needed for them to work. (heated seats as well!) have the seats re-upholstered to match the current interior color. (Another worry is the mounting for the seats, if I have to, while the carpet is out for the engine and trans swap. Have someone weld in the brackets from the 350Z seats in place of the old seat brackets.) :icon15:

Possibly get the "build a dash" from intelletrix (however you spell them)

An aftermarket alarm system, that also allows autostart.

Fix, or figure out why the rear wiper doesn't work.

Aftermarket HID/ or similar headlight kit (I bought the brightest bulbs for my 280z and I still couldn't see crap at night.)

Hopefully a MSA Body Kit (I hope they are any good?) and a small, small wing.  :confused:

Repaint her a 370Z red. (factory based colors are the cheapest paint jobs to do) 

Going to hit up the junkyards this weekend for parts as ebay sellers want your left nut and then some for their parts. Some of which were spray painted another color to match interiors (Like for real??)  :weird:


Hopefully I've typed up all I have planned for her. I'm planning on having her down by next year Dec time frame. Might be a little longer, depending on jobs (Since I'm using my GI bill, all living expenses are covered, so any money earned would go toward the build) and allotted time to do the build.

I don't plan on falling off this course, nor am I going to try to. I want to get this build done for my mother. For all she's done for me. I can't think of any other better way of showing her how much I appreciate everything she's done for me.

Btw since I obviously forgot to mention.

My names Nathaniel

I'm 26, and originally from Oklahoma.

Did 8 and a half years in the service as a light infantrymen, and not that I care to mention, but someone always asks. I've done three tours. 2 in Iraq, and 1 in Afghanistan. Was stationed at Fort Riley, Fort Grafenwoehr, and Fort Bliss.

If anybody has ideas on how to help me on ideas, and/or knows someone who builds engine mounts and trans brackets. I would appreciate the help.

I hope this build goes over smoothly and that I have every ones support along the way. Thx for reading this far. I plan on putting the photos up of her and her progress as I go. (Also once I figure out how to even put pictures up)

btw if anyone actually knows me or hits me up on FB, or whatever. 

Plz don't mention anything about this on there. As I'm keeping this as big of a secret as I can from her. I told her I was buying a Mitsubishi Eclipse as daily trans, and I actually need to get some decoy pics to "prove it". lol :paranoid:

If I can figure out how to post videos up, I will also do so. 

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I have an account under Zdriver.com underneath the same name as well. I'm used to with the world of the Z's and my 620 that I had to have memberships to stores such as Pep boys, Autozone, OReilly's, and a local auto part warehouse just to find parts for my vehicles. So it just comes natural that I'm probably gonna need to do the same when it comes to forums, as well as purchasable parts!








Figured I'd post some pics as I said I plan on getting the build under way soon. I want the pics up of her as I progress through the build so that when I'm done with the build I can present the car to my mother, and then use this page so that she can see what she started as and what she ended up as.

Edited by DatsunZ78

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Alright the plains are changing a little bit, due to the fact that I'm only wanting to make about 350 hp to the wheels.  After some research and talking to fellow engine builders. I've decided to just stick with the borderline stock 5.3, with the exceptions of putting a ls6 intake manifold on it. The 4l60E trans will still be the choice for helping that power get to the ground. The main concerns with this swap is the LS conversion kit for a 280ZX do not exist, but from some research. I have found a possible alternative. There are kits out there made to convert the mounts for a SBC, into the LS mounts. It's just a simple metal plate that the stock SBC mounts bolt to. Which in turn bolts to the LS. Only three concerns I have at that point is that it will raise the engine a small amount. So unsure on the angle that the driveshaft will be sitting at. (It's not much of a lifted angle, just a concern that is still evident.) As well as all these SBC to LS swap kits mount the LS at different locations. Such as pushing the LS forward, or backward. (Measurements will be needed, and the knowledge of the actual spacings will be needed, as most kits don't seem to give that much of an estimate on how far forward or backward it mounts to the LS) 

The other concern is that people who have done the LS1 swaps, have also cut their oil pans to help fit the LS without modifications to the ZX body. I had an idea to get a 5 quart oil pan from "GM Performance". Which is made to clear their tighter spaced muscle cars of the older models. Going to do some measurements, and hope all will work out fine.

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Glad to have you on board! Sound like you have some clear direction for your Z. It's only a matter of time however before the misses discovers your mistress! LOL. Don't forget to load us with pics, this way we feel like we are there with you :D Setbacks, mods, final choices etc. Good luck with the build. Kiss that blessed woman for investing in your dream no matter how trivial it may seem to her. Finish this build, finish your education, I hope this build opens many doors for you that you may one day shower your mother with retribution.



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Thanks man! My mom had 3-4 jobs when I was a kid just to make sure we had everything we needed! She put a lot into making sure I had a good life growing up. Even thought we grew up pretty poor. I was still happy and had a smile on my face as I grew up. She is an amazing woman, and I couldn't ask for a better mother!

She has been there when my unit in Afghanistan had very limited supplies for food (Chow was on small rations due to sharing the base, and lack of actual food) I deployed originally at 165 lbs, and quickly lose my weight all the way down to 125 lbs. From all the rucking, and carrying my M240B up and down those mountains. My ex-wife (wife at the time) had refused to send me anything extra to eat. So I had to turn to my mother. Who is also thankfully the Blue Star Mother president of my county. She sent me waves of boxes of food. I quickly regained my weight.

About a year ago I purchased a 280Z myself (I prefer the older models) When I drove it home to show my mom. It was like she was my age again. Face lighted up, Full of smiles and instantly fell in love with the car. Sadly she couldn't drive it as she doesn't know how to (she says she does!) drive a manual.

Well that instantly formed the idea of building her another 280ZX one day, but just better than she ever had, or knew her to be! 

When she paid for my way to get to my school (Which is in a different state) I vowed to get her one while I'm here and build it for her, but I'm gonna surprise her with it. As in I'm also going to build a model 280zx, that is going to match the final form of this car when she's finished and have a stand, with glass/plastic surrounding the car. When she opens the wrapping for her. I'm going to have my friend, or gf pull the car around! It will be perfect!  :ph34r:  :D

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Sorry anyone who has looked into, or is on this now. Been busy since last weekend with school. (finals were coming up) and last Saturday. Spent all day changing the shocks/struts out, and got her new tags on her (naturally I went with historic vehicle tags lol)


(Video of her on the dyno for emission inspection, Dude loved her after he actually got her rolling! He tried to check the gas cap for the checks also. They didn't have a cap that was able to fit it! So she was just passed on that! lol) :P

(Hopefully the videos I post up work, not sure what else I need to do to get them to run)



Had forgotten to get the coils for the rear (and couldn't get the fronts anytime soon)



(Sun's up)

She's up, and having her struts removed with the grateful help of Jamal



Buddy Jamal showing me how to get the hubs off.



Had to step on them while pulling the "hats" off cause the shock wanted to spin with the tool.



Shocks were stuck inward. Poor girl has been neglected for a long time :(


(hope I posted that right for the video?)



Shocks were made in Venezuela lol



New shock is in. Just needs the boot, and the coil spring!



(Sun down!)

Doing the rear shocks! These were Hell of a lot faster! lol


(Video of the rear shocks. They were stuck extended)



I'm dirty and exhausted as a mf!

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Hey everyone! Sorry again about posting on here, currently waiting on car parts I've purchased! 

I have got black under dash kickers (converting the interior to be black with a twist)

Brand new black door panels, plus handles, armrests, and switch trim.

Dash tach trim (black)

Black glove box.

Black A/C location

Black steering column cover

I am going to be getting the headliner, and trunk black trim from Jamal (Borini63) 

as well as the manual air, and side dash vents.

Now for the twist!

Just purchased firethorn red 

kicker panels/passenger side fuse box trim, door trim, arm rest, t-top trim, hood latch release!

Just need the Black/Red Nismo 350Z seats, Carpet, center console, dash, and the lower part of the dash! 

Getting car audio installed today as well!








Edited by DatsunZ78

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