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Evandavis73

Historic Rally Car Restoration

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Evandavis73    0

Hi guys, new to the forum. I'm sure I will find myself on here a lot more often as I progress with my project. I have a 1973 240z that I bought for $1 (no typo). It's currently a roller, but will be getting a 302 out of a 94 Bronco.

 

A little background on the car, as far back as I can go, it started life as a road race car back in the 70's. I'm unsure if it was ever a street car. It is caged front to back including plated and reinforced strut towers that are tied into the cage. The cage is very well done for the time period. In 1980, the rolling chassis was sold for $1800 to a rally driver named Mike Gibeault. He built it as an open class rally car. Back then, awd cars hadn't made it into American rally yet, rallies were run from 11pm to sunrise on open public roads, a simple roll bar was the only required safety gear, and pretty much anything that was street legal was allowed in open class. In order to be a top competitor in it's class a Ford 289 was installed with a c4 transmission with a sequential shifter. The car was raced until 1987 and then parked on the side of the house for what became 26 years. Unfortunately, the car suffered overheating problems which were never resolved and changes in requirements for safety equipment put an end to the car's rally career.

 

Fast forward to 2013, I asked about a 510 that Mike had sitting in his yard. It was complete and just needed some TLC. He explained that while many people were interested in it, the wife wasn't ready to let that one go. He then chuckled and added, "but I have a 240z." I had to clarify and make sure he was referring to the one with weeds growing through it and he confirmed that wad the one. What the hell I thought to myself, I asked how much he wanted for it. Last time the car was for sale, he was asking for $1300. I told him that I would think about it. I knew that it was an undertaking that I wasn't terribly interested in taking on at the moment in conjunction with the Subaru rally car I was already in the process of building, particularly for $1300. I bought an ae86 Corolla instead for a daily driver instead.

 

Several months later, I could take it no longer, my soft spot for 240z's had been gnawing away at my reasonable decision making skills for months now. I called and told him I wanted to come look at the Z again so I could decide if I wanted it. I figured I could probably pick it up for around $500. Unsure of when I could make the 3.5 hour drive, I made plans to possibly head up there in a few weeks (this was on a Friday morning). After finding out Friday afternoon that Mike decided he wanted to sell the car to me for $1.00, I immediately informed him that I would see him in a few hours with a truck and trailer.

 

We inflated the tires which are horribly flat spotted and rolled it out onto the driveway where we proceeded to clean it up a bit before loading it into the trailer. Mike showed me a few things on the car before taking me into the living room. He brought out a Haynes service manual, a vintage replica 1:10 East African Safari Z car, and a notebook. There were also several trophies from his days with the car that he showed me. Back to the important part, the notebook. Mike was an engineer for the Air Force and like most engineers documented everything meticulously. The notebook documents many intricacies of the build like charts for flow and pulse lengths for the custom headers he built for the car and charts of the suspension geometry as well as the systematic diagnosis and correction for all of the issues that were encountered with the car. When you read through the notes, you can imagine that you were there.

 

Since I acquired the car in late 2013, it has been sitting in a storage unit waiting for funding. Upon the recent decision to offload my desert truck project, revival is hopefully to begin shortly. The car needs an engine, trans, and custom driveshaft to move. The plan is to use the 351w from the truck, sell the e40d with transfer case, pick up a c4 and get to work, using the money from selling the rest of the truck and parts to fund the Z build. I'm just now getting into the intricacies of figuring out what everything is. Update 3/9/16: Traded the 351 for a smaller, lighter 302 and I have decided to go with a manual transmission instead of an auto.

 

The car currently sits on authentic Datsun Comp Rally struts.. In addition to the ones on the car, I have two brand new front struts. I can say relatively reasonably that I believe these are probably the only two brand new struts left in existence unless Nissan has a secret stash somewhere. The struts lift the car approximately 2" from stock height. Through Mike's testing, the car runs stock safari rally springs in the rear and cut rear springs in the front. This apparently gave it the best ride height and handling. The control arms have all been extended 1/2" to correct the change in geometry from the lift. According to the log that came with the car The car has a "big case diff" with a clutch type lsd unit of some sort (have since found out it is an R200 from a 280zx turbo). It also says they modified some mount and changed out the companion flanges in 1984. The car also has a unique "oversteer pedal." The car was originally a manual but was swapped to an auto trans. The original clutch pedal is the brake pedal and the original brake pedal now operates only the rear brakes acting like a hydraulic handbrake. The car has fiberglass hood, fenders, and rear hatch. There are tons of other interesting features, but this novel isn't getting any shorter.

 

The goal is to revive the car back to a driveable state and race it in SCCA Rallycross. Here is a short term list of plans for the car once I get it into the shop.

 

1. Remove seats and clean the chassis (still debating if I want to repaint it)

2. Assess the brake system. (They still seem to work fine, going to flush them and see what come out)

3. Pressure test the radiator.

4. Get the engine and trans into the car and running.

5. Build custom coilovers most likely using Bilstein 46mm motorsport struts.

6. Get new wheels, the PanaSports that it's on are wasted and Mike says the offset made it handle poorly.

7. Probably going to run proper rally tires on it, but may go with all terrains instead. It used to run 26" mud terrains.

 

I think that pretty much covers it. Now for some pictures. Attached are a few pictures of the car as well as a picture of my shop which I live in. You can also see my other rally car.

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Edited by Evandavis73

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johnc    724

I would disassemble and try to rebuild the factory Nissan rally struts before cutting the tubes up for the Bilsteins. You can always sell them to pay for the Bilsteins later and just cut up a generic set of struts.

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Evandavis73    0

I would disassemble and try to rebuild the factory Nissan rally struts before cutting the tubes up for the Bilsteins. You can always sell them to pay for the Bilsteins later and just cut up a generic set of struts.

I would never cut those up, that would be a tragedy. If they were rebuildable I would use them, but as far as I can tell they are sealed monotube. Ideally I would sell them to someone building a Safari Rally replica that wants the real deal.

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HS30-H    15

I would never cut those up, that would be a tragedy. If they were rebuildable I would use them, but as far as I can tell they are sealed monotube. Ideally I would sell them to someone building a Safari Rally replica that wants the real deal.

 

"The real deal" might take some defining. Nissan entered teams of factory 'Works' 240Z rally cars in the 1971, 1972 & 1973 East African Safari Rallies, winning overall in 1971 and 1973. They used different designs/makes of strut in all three years.

 

If you're talking about the 1971 winning car, it used long-tube, fixed spring platform gas-filled struts manufactured by Tokico. This exact type were never made available to the general public as new parts (like many of the true Works parts...) and are quite distinctive, so pretty easy to identify. The rear strut tubes were actually bolted to the bottom of the rear hub casting, and both right and left fronts had integral Halda drive cable tubes installed through the spindle forging, and these were braced to the strut tubes. As I say, they are quite distinctive. Can illustrate with some photos if you are interested.

 

I think it's more likely that you have the E7220 Nissan 'Rally Option' long-tube gas-filled struts, which were sold to the general public through Nissan's 'Sports Option' lists and the likes of Datsun Competition in north America. These can be rebuilt, but it's a tricky process and involves installing a fill valve on the strut tube. I have a set and to be honest they are more of a conversation piece than anything else. Building a set of Bilstein monotube struts would be a good choice for serious off-road use today.

 

Your strut tubes should have part numbers on the tubes if you want to identify them more conclusively.   

 

Good luck with your project. Looks like an interesting car with some nice history.

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Evandavis73    0

"The real deal" might take some defining. Nissan entered teams of factory 'Works' 240Z rally cars in the 1971, 1972 & 1973 East African Safari Rallies, winning overall in 1971 and 1973. They used different designs/makes of strut in all three years.

 

If you're talking about the 1971 winning car, it used long-tube, fixed spring platform gas-filled struts manufactured by Tokico. This exact type were never made available to the general public as new parts (like many of the true Works parts...) and are quite distinctive, so pretty easy to identify. The rear strut tubes were actually bolted to the bottom of the rear hub casting, and both right and left fronts had integral Halda drive cable tubes installed through the spindle forging, and these were braced to the strut tubes. As I say, they are quite distinctive. Can illustrate with some photos if you are interested.

 

I think it's more likely that you have the E7220 Nissan 'Rally Option' long-tube gas-filled struts, which were sold to the general public through Nissan's 'Sports Option' lists and the likes of Datsun Competition in north America. These can be rebuilt, but it's a tricky process and involves installing a fill valve on the strut tube. I have a set and to be honest they are more of a conversation piece than anything else. Building a set of Bilstein monotube struts would be a good choice for serious off-road use today.

 

Your strut tubes should have part numbers on the tubes if you want to identify them more conclusively.

 

Good luck with your project. Looks like an interesting car with some nice history.

Thanks for the info! I'm sure you're right as to what they are. I'll take some pics of the car when I get it to my shop. 2 are brand new with cardboard still over the shafts, those have perfectly legible stickers on them, so it should be a piece of cake to identify them. I'm sure they're the American rally option though. The last owner got them from "Datsun Comp" according to the logbook. He's the one that called them Safari Rally struts, but I too couldn't imagine how those would be obtained. It's like you said, conversation starter or sell them to someone who sees them as collectible.

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HS30-H    15

Here's what the original struts on the '71 East African Safari Rally winning car look like.

 

Notice the fixed spring platforms, long strut tubes, the Halda drive cable tubes in the front tubes (they go right through the spindles) and the big nut which holds the complete strut tube and damper into the rear hub, which allowed the Works team to change complete damper, spring and top mount units without having to remove driveshafts, brake line & cable and complete rear hub. Quick change and serviceability quite an important factor in stage rallying.

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HS30-H    15

Well spotted John.

 

The Works sump guard brace killed two birds with one stone, in that it formed the middle mount for the sump guards (of which there were several different materials and several different shapes, depending on event and year...) but also spread load and beefed up the engine mount crossmember/inner TCA mounts.

 

It was a heavy piece of steel plate, bent and welded. Beefy!

 

Apologies for the poor photos, but it's rare to see these parts off a car...

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Edited by HS30-H

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HS30-H    15

Was it designed and built in Japan or the UK?

 

Yes, designed and fabricated in Japan. The Works 240Zs were all built in Japan. They arrived in their countries of use fully built and ready to go.

 

Only relatively minor fettling was carried out away from base before international events, but cars required servicing/preparation/refurbishment between events and this was carried out at local bases (like O.W.S.S. in the UK).

 

The more you look into the Works cars the more you realise just how thoroughly they were prepped and put together. The level of detail is amazing.  

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Evandavis73    0

It looked like an r200 to me as well, I'm just not familiar with these cars yet. It does have a Datsun Comp LSD. The ratio is 3.545 from an auto trans car. That part was documented in the logbook, but the diff was simply referred to as a "big case diff" so I was unsure if it was a later r180 or an r200. This diff was installed in 1984.

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Evandavis73    0

Here are some photos of:

- the way the cage ties in to the front strut towers and frame tie-ins.

- the motor mounts

- custom aluminum ducting for radiator, oil cooler, and trans cooler

- the roll cage

 

The car is in a trailer right now so it's hard to get good photos of anything, but it's something to look at.

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Evandavis73    0

I finally got the car moved out to my shop in Nevada. Here's a picture of it being unloaded from the trailer. I also got bored and decided to throw some Hella lights on it so it would look more like it used to.post-50618-0-83499700-1442041136_thumb.jpgpost-50618-0-73979900-1442041137_thumb.jpg

 

As I look at the car more, I am starting to face new dilemmas. I'm still on the fence about whether I find a way to use the 351w that I have (would need a different oil pan and pick up tube, and a different intake) or sell it and get a 302 instead. If anyone has any knowledge about the 351w and what can be done to put a lower profile pan on it, feel free to chime in. After finding a pan for the 351, I would have to see if it would clear the hood with a carburetor. I think the deck height may still be too high. 

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