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.
Edited by Evandavis73, 09 March 2016 - 11:01 PM.