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280z FP Build

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OK! First update in a long time. Sorry about that, but Instagram and facebook are way easier to update than these build threads. But I can’t abandon my loyal Ratsun brothers.


So. We left off in early December when the car was about to get caged. This meant doing TONS of prep work to the chassis. Cleaning all the seam sealer out, old paint, flaking undercoating, old rubber, the works. Gotta have the proper equipment when angle grinding!




Spent some quality time as well with the paint stripper, worked a treat to pull all the crap out of the front wheel wells. Thought process is that it will be easier to keep the front suspension clean and help ID leaks.




Wire wheels were the name of the game on cleaning the wheel wells out. Made a mess but they look great now.

Had to remove the windshield for caging so the guys can work in that area. Not the biggest pain, but hardened rubber wouldn’t let the glass go without a fight. Came clean though finally, had to go back and clean out the track. Had some rust in the corners but it was just surface rust so I hit it with the grinding wheel and then some rust reformer acid paint.




The day before the car was heading to the fab shop I got a package from John Washington at ZTrix.com. Fiberglass!!! This will help a TON with offsetting the added weight of the cage. Panels fit super well, and John was a treat to deal with. If anybody on the forums needs FG pieces for a Z, he is my first choice.




I ordered all skin parts for maximum lightness, and HOLY CRAP these are light! And super ridged as well. Very little finishing work needed.

The next day the car was all set to roll up to the shop!




Loaded up and strapped down, this is the last photo of the car as a “whole” Since I have to keep an eye on weight for my race class, I wanted to try and track weight as much as I could throughout the process. The shop I went to (SV Performance in Portland, OR) has scales so we were able to do a before and after.




Light, but then again, it’s just a rolling chassis, nothing else! I left Scott and Oscar with some drawings and rulebooks to go over and get a basic design.


Meanwhile, back at home base!


I still have all those motor pieces from a couple posts ago to install! And what better time to install them than when the motor is out of the car!




I thought the motor deserved a nice new paint job as well! Ford racing blue was pretty close to the original, or as close as I could get.

Figured I would leave the accessories on the motor since I had other plans for those!

Day 1 of the cage build and the guys got pretty far.




The deal I made with them was I do most of the sheet metal work and generally help out and they gave me a deal on labor. We tried as hard as possible to get the main hoops and bars super tight to the body.

Gratuitous welding shot on the rear main hoop




The cage design is a main hoop with a halo and A pillar bars. The whole thing is built to SCCA GCR spec meaning an 8pt cage. We used .095 wall DOM 1.5” tube for everything!


Dash bar installed, checking for level.




Door bars installed. The bend towards the main hoop is pretty tight to clear the seat, but then again, everything is really tight to clear me!




Ladder bars in the door, should be pretty good for a side impact!




Getting to that point on the cage was pretty much a week of work, and in the meantime I had motor parts to work on! Plus the shop closed for 2 weeks over Christmas. I cleaned up the timing front cover, new gaskets, new bolt kit and you can see the new motor mounts. Seriously though, why did Nissan use different bolts at EVERY opportunity on this thing???




Had to get a little Christmas cheer in! these motors get cluttered quickly! I ended up finding a new oil pump off of a KA24de equipped truck. A little research showed that it flows more oil and at higher pressures, which can only be a good thing. And they bolt right up!




Back at the shop after a week, it was time to wrap this cage up. That means gussets!! Back out with the angle grinder!




We put gussets on the A pillar bars, from the main hoop to the door jamb, the halo to the roof in the front and back, and from the down bars in back to the hatch frame, where these cars always crack. All said and done we added about 120lbs to the car. Each foot of tube weighs just about 1.45lbs and we used almost 100ft of it.




Lots of scaffolding in the back there! Once the car came home, it was time to figure out how to hang all these new panels! The door skins had no provisions for mounting, as its assumed that each race team has their own method.




Some quick angle iron bends and some more fiberglass to keep them attached and the door was good to go!




Once doors were hung, it was time to shoot a little paint. Engine bay was first to go. I used some semi paint in a gloss black to keep the bay nice and clean!




The cage went white to keep the cockpit nice a bright. You can see most of the gusseting here, there are a couple more that are less visible, but these are the big ones! All of them are dimple died for added strength.







Once all the paint was laid down, time to get back to fitting panels! Drilling holes and angle grinding expensive pieces of fiberglass is fairly nerve wracking, but I’m getting better at it!




Hatch was a big one, since it meant that the rear of the car was pretty much sorted out.


Back to the front, the motor went in one afternoon, and the rest of the parts on the shelf went into the car. Same old same old, but with new motor mounts from McKenny Motorsports, a new 240z steering rack and a new sub frame.

This car at one point was crashed, and the result tweaked the sub frame and motor mounts. Somehow the suspension isn’t really affected by this, but the motor mounts were all tweaked so new ones were required.




Windshield went in next, no real reason on the order here, but I was tired of tripping over it! There is never a good place to put a windshield. New supple gasket made the going much easier, but this is still a bitch of a job.



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Wiring was next, and having never wired up a car before, I was a little nervous! I bought a label maker from Epson to make the going a little easier, since I didn’t want to buy piles of different wires.


I also bought a JEGS switch panel which is fused and has lights that show if a switch is active or not.




The one thing these cars have going for them is that in stock form, they are brutally simple. The charging system is essentially 1 wire and with a little added simplification this was a pretty easy re-wire.


Dash situation has yet to be totally decided, but this is where we are at now. Needs something, but not decided on what just yet.




Here is a good 3fer, back hatch lexan installed, super clean wiring and a sneak preview of the fender flare-airdam union.




For the time being I’m not running ANY rear lights, or fuel senders, but the car is wired for them, just with hidden pigtails.

Another big exciting development was deciding to DIY Vinyl wrap the car! I’m still learning how to do this, but its going pretty well. If I have leftovers, I’ll re-wrap the hood, but for now its pretty good. You can get a good sense of how the flares will blend into the airdam now. Talk about chopping up expensive ass flares!


My brother gave me some extended studs for Christmas. These are the ARP mustang/camero studs, they fit perfectly. This job also sucks though, and required getting a slide hammer from autozone, and making a custom plate to hold the hubs in place while the nuts were loosened!


Got the doors Vinyl wrapped and that means its time for new numbers! I really liked the old school vibe of the gold meatball, so I did that again. #46 rides again!




I went over to the shop today and got the car weighed out finally to get a sense of where we landed! I was SUPER impressed. Anything under 2200 would have been awesome, but I wasn’t expecting this.




When the car was first weighed, before the gutted doors, and gutted metal hood, the car weighed in at 2357lbs. Last year in July we weighed it at National Tour and it weighed 2230. Having the car come in now at 2090 is phenomenal. That means that even with the addition of the cage, the car has lost 140lbs! The minimum weights for FP are 2064/2164lbs, so I can ballast up to the wide wheel weight, or shed some more pounds and get to the 10” wide wheel weight. Depends on how corner balancing goes, and if additional weight helps level the car. In reality too more fuel will be added and few more pounds of vinyl and fender flares, but from the original weight, this car has lost over 800lbs!!! Damn near half a ton. I’ll take that all day.

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I have a new car/builder crush going on big-time.  You've just about got me motivated to build another car.  I'm so sick of the compromises I've made on my car over the years, and you really showed how to do it "right!".  I'm planning to really pick your brain in the years to come.



We are all eagerly waiting on some updated photos from your long build.  Please post them up when you have time.  To be close to racing, you must have really been burning the midnight oil if I think back to the last photos I've seen when you were just getting the front bodywork started.  We are all cheering you on. 


Hope raceday goes well for you both.  2016 will be a bad car work year for me due to lots of family stuff with 2 daughters graduating from their respective schools.  If I can just get moved into the new shop and do a little car work I will be doing well.  Hoping to compete in just one landspeed event in 2016.  Lots of sticky race tires in storage getting slick and brittle as we speak.



Edited by RebekahsZ

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JMortensen; I was thinking about going, but I'm doing a track day later in September at ORP, co-driving a FF at SCCA Solo Nationals, and going to the last OR-SCCA event in Packwood, so I'm about out of fun money for the season. Maybe if I can score a co-drive, but the fuel bill to tow down is going to be too much. Maybe next year I'll be able to budget better haha. 


RebekahsZ; Thanks!!! Really glad you are into the car! I've definitely used your various posts around this site for inspiration so your post means a lot. Feel free to pick away. I will say I think the shortcuts will always pick away at you. Always something you wish you had done better or differently! 

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Thanks man! One of these days I'm going to have to drop in a built L28, but that is a long way off!


I've often thought about doing a run of those spoilers for people, might have to start up a group buy over the winter. The parts are somewhat expensive though, not sure I could charge enough and turn out a quality product.  

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Thanks man! One of these days I'm going to have to drop in a built L28, but that is a long way off!


I've often thought about doing a run of those spoilers for people, might have to start up a group buy over the winter. The parts are somewhat expensive though, not sure I could charge enough and turn out a quality product.  

Yeah, I ended up doing 3 instead of 4 mounts, but learned really quick with the ABS why 4 is a good idea! I have another sheet and some change for one more... But it's a hassle debating whether or not I want to drill into a clean hatch. heh. My last one was rotted pretty bad.



Ever thought of doing a turbo swap? No idea if FP allows it, but I managed to scoop everything but the block for a mere $400... Turbo is perfect, and the rest just needed to be cleaned... But a super solid/cheap way to give it more umph! I'm running an N42/N42 combo, and really only plan to keep it under 10psi, especially with tearing the car down as light as I can get it. Should be more enough around an autox course to hurt some ego's! 


Although, I could only imagine how well a healthy L28e runs at 2000lbs! That must be so much fun!

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Wow, just wow!!

Great build, you've really transformed your car into something special.  I was pretty astonished how much you got the weight down to, even with all of the rollcage you added.  Impressive, thanks for taking the time to post!

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ZSleep- Unfortunately, turbos are illegal for my car in FP, although not illegal for the class. It would be a great way to make the car WAY faster, particularly with modern electronics. Glad you are experimenting with the wing! Lots of people asked about it, only a few actually went for it. 


RyanT67- Thanks! I'm excited I was able to make it my vision, although there is still a little bit left I'd like to do exterior wise. I'm excited I was able to get it so light. I think a lot of it had to do with all the fiberglass I threw at the car, and a lot of time drilling out random brackets. My goal was to be at 2000lbs, and I'm excited to be super close! 

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Just saw your hitch for sale-didnt work out/designed something better?


Ended up buying a tow rig, I wasn't able to build the car out all the way I wanted to and keep it streetable! Tow hitch worked awesome just not for my particular scenario.

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Ok! Picking up where I left off 6 months ago:


The first major event of the season (2015) was NissanFest up at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe WA. This was the first time I’d had the car up at high speeds since putting the cage and everything in so it was a good test of all the systems. I had been having brake issues (not releasing pressure) and so it was going to be a test event for that as well. Turns out I just didn’t have any brakes! Once I got home I hit up Edan at Silvermine motorsports and got their smaller brake kit. Don’t have enough weight to really need the full size kit, and I can’t go fast enough to generate massive heat slowing down!



The backing plates put up a pretty good fight, but I won.



Rear brakes looked pretty, so here's a photo of that! 


I also used this as an opportunity to upgrade to a dual master setup. After a lot of calculations, I decided to go with 7/8” driving the fronts and 3/4” driving the rears. I used some of the info from here and a couple other posts to modify my pedal box for dual masters, as well as modifying the pedal for a wilwood balance bar


All installed, note the large chunk I took out of the side of the pedal box for balance bar clearance.



Larger hole cut out of the firewall.


I was thoroughly unhappy with the Wilwood remote reservoirs, they leaked EVERYWHERE!! Not even sure why they bother. The main failure point that I noticed was the joint/o-ring at the bottom, so I decided rather than fiddling with finicky o-rings, I would go with a Tilton 1 piece resevoir. Very happy with this new piece, significantly better build quality



Also had time to get the car dyno’ed! I won a baseline at PSI at the 2014 national tour, and figured it would be good to seen what the car was actually doing! Surprise surprise it was a minor disaster. Running super lean, and very down on power. I rolled into the shop making 115hp at the top end, and left making almost 150!


Edited by Ben280

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2015 race season was overall pretty successful, with a couple major disappointments! The National Tour stop in Packwood was more frustrating than fun. 2nd run in, and the car developed a major misfire and my co-driver and I realized that it was fuel related. We also smashed off a flare! Luckily an observant station worker grabbed the 2 pieces and brought them back to the pits for me.



Overcast day, time to bust out the tire bags.



What’s better than destroying nice parts from the motherland?



Swapping out injectors at 2am before a major event! That’s what.


The injector swap didn’t work as we managed to clog 2 more the next day, and only had one spare. Thanks to Rock Auto for speedy shipping! Arrived just in time to be installed and head back up for the ProSolo.



Like mana from heaven!


I also managed to get out to Lincoln NE for the SCCA Solo Nationals. As far as an event goes, it’s phenomenal. As far as driving goes, I was driving a new car with not nearly enough seat time! Mental note, Formula Ford’s are bastards to drive in the rain.



OS Giken bringing the H20 for human lubrication on hot Lincoln days.


I didn’t get to watch as much of the FP competition as I wanted to, and only saw one FP Z car. He was having some kind of EMS issue, so I didn’t want to distract him too much! Somewhere I have a photo of it. Saw a few XP Z cars, basically glorified converted GT2 cars from back in the day. I also got a chance to meet Tom Holt, one of the gods of FP competition. He was driving a Boxster that was missing its windshield, and wicked fast! Hopefully he brings his Z out this year. I also met Kirkster and his BSP Z car!




The last big event of the season was a track day out at Oregon Raceway Park. It’s an amazing track in a beautiful location. Can’t wait to get back there!



The “Halfpipe” on the far end of the track, HUGE banked turns.


The night before loading the car, that misfire came back, and I again found myself swapping injectors. This time with the car already on the trailer! Luckily I had the 4 good ones that were replaced earlier in the season, so I swapped the bad one out, and tossed the rest in the truck.




This is becoming an all too common experience.

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Time for some major upgrades (again). Seems like in each off season I try to pick one system and upgrade it. This year I knew that with all my fuel system issues, it was time for the stock tank setup to go. I also suspected that a big chunk of my issue was that I was pushing close to 50psi through the injectors and really overdoing their duty cycle, so an injector upgrade and new fuel pump would also be needed. I lucked out in a major way and found a Fuel Safe FIA cell on craigslist of all places, complete with mini surge tank and pump, all wired with an Amphenol connector.


The woman I got it from said it was in her husband’s car for a while, and he was just going to toss it.



Goodbye old buddy!


I knew right where I wanted to put it, and I started to make the hole!


No turning back now!


I also knew that I needed to make a full cage for it. I see a lot of light duty strapping holding these in place, but I wanted to safeguard in case of a rear end collision.


It’s gonna weigh more, but I can deal with adding weight back there, and for safety, additional weight is worth it.



Fuel cell mocked up in its final position.


Not pictured is the new SVT Focus fuel pump in the tank, and a really nice Aeromotive fuel filter. No more clogged injectors for me!


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I also knew this year that I wanted to get into more reliable power and be able to document everything that was happening with the car. The ECU was definitely the final stumbling point and really the only area that had been left untouched, and was holding back more power and engine upgrades. I explored several options for ECU’s and kept coming back to MegaSquirt for feature list and expandability.



Spoils of a rare DIYAutoTune black friday sale.


If I was going to go with a full stand alone system, the stock dizzy had to go as well. This will unlock infinite timing curves and I won’t have to worry about vacuum advance, or trying to lock the weights on the dizzy. I really liked the ease of the Hoke Performance crank trigger kit, and jumped on that to run a wasted COP setup for the car.



Bolts right to the back of a SFI Pro Products damper. The damper leaves something to be desired, I had to take it to a friends shop and re-bore the hole. After we did that though, it was a good fit.



Quality machined block off plate for where the dizzy used to live!


Once that was mounted up, I needed to fabricate a bracket to hold all the coil packs. I decided to use LS1 coils, since they are readily available. One of the goals was to use easy to source parts for faster repairs if something breaks.



Start of the bracket.



Installed on the motor. Still needs some refinement, but it’s doing the trick!


I also was tired of my huge stupid Optima red top battery, so I opted for one of those fancy lithium batteries. Been having great luck with it for the past few months, just have to be careful with the load at idle, and I got the special charger for it. Also needed to make a new bracket!



It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s……



Oh. Thats boring.


Fits like a glove thought! This assembly is getting bolted to the firewall right about where the original battery used to live. I realized after I did this that I’ve had 3 different batteries in 5 locations.

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After a few rounds of buying pizza and beers for friends, I finally got the wiring all sorted out. Still not 100% with where it’s all at, so no photo, but it finally is all together!



Engine side coil harness. Nice fat insulated NASCAR spark plug wires. Go Ebay!



Branch on the firewall, splits out coil harness and injector/sensor loom



Injector side wiring, I’m using 440cc ‘87 Mazda RX7 injectors. They are everywhere, and high impedance, so you don’t have to wire in dropping resistors.



Mmmmmmm wires.


To complete bringing the car into the 21st century, I added an Autosports Labs RaceCapture Pro/2 data logger box. This will let me track GPS data for runs, along with TPS, brake %, steering angle (once I get the sensor hooked up) along with all the functions monitored by the MS3 box via CANBUS! The setup on this has been a little of a chore, but their customer service is phenomenal, and I can’t say enough good things about it. AND an added advantage is that I can bluetooth into it from a tablet, and now I have a low budget digi dash!



This is custom configurable with all sorts of options! Even has a screen for predicted lap times, although if you are looking at it rather than the track, I’m sure you’re gonna have a slower lap!


Once I got the car to idle, I decided to get the whole thing tuned on a dyno. The purpose of doing a stand alone system is 100% defeated if I just road tuned it to the best of my poor abilities. I wanted to make sure I was making as much power as I could make safely!



Aaron at English Racing took amazing care of me, and got this thing running like a top. A keen eye will notice that I picked up about 10% on my HP and torque numbers all across the range compared to the PSI dyno this time last year. While that’s awesome, the major upgrade is that the AFR numbers are in a safe range, rather than the 18.x that we were reading at the first dyno. So, more power and room to grow!



Silly baby wheels on the car for dyno tuning! These are a 15x6 (240sx stock wheel)!! Now you may be wondering where the Gotti wheels went, and the short answer is that they are gone. I got tired of their finicky leaks and bead locks, so they have found a new home in SoCal with a collector who I believe will be putting them on an extremely cool project shortly.


I had to replace them with something, and was lucky enough to team up with a local company Bagged Proper, to source some new wheels! They sourced a VERY cool 4 spoke that harks back to the old Enkei Apache 1, or an SSR Mk2. Both fabulous wheels, but at this point, very rare and aging. Bagged Proper got in touch with a company in the Bay area, Art In Motion, where they had this design on ice, fully drafted, but never produced, just waiting for the perfect customer!


After a few months of waiting, they finally arrived just in time to bolt up and take to the first couple events of the season.



16x12-35 (x4) These are monsters, they are light and they are AWESOME!



Of course it’s on a trailer, but damn! So excited how it all worked out.



Meet the new boss, same as the old boss, but better!

We are officially in the height of race season now, so hopefully I’ll be able to post some more small progress updates, as well as some good photos!

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Those wheels are sick. Are they one off, or available for purchase? BTW if you want to shave some weight, I might suggest removing the rear subframe reinforcement on the rear deck, and the impact bumper support structure in the front and rear if you haven't done that yet. That should all be good for at least 20lbs, probably more.

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