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Newish Car. Need Help with identifying what I have.

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(Not sure where to post this) I cross posted this to members projects as well. 


Was browsing multiple forums and decided to try out Hybridz for advice. I bought a 1977 280z Frankenstein of a car with an '83 280zx turbo engine swap in 2014 for around five grand. I drove it around for a year or so and it died on me after removing the previous owners sound system. Life got in the way and the car had a parasitic draw and sat for around 15 months. I just brought it to a shop and had the fuel system flushed with new filters, however, got robbed on the price in my opinion. I did some general maintenance (oil, spark plugs, coolant) and have been driving it around for the past week. The car is far from stock and I was hoping some of you guys could help me by identifying what I have. Any help is much appreciated! Below is a numbered imgur album. Sorry it is alot of pictures. My knowledge is weak and I know I need to find a service manual, but I don't know where to start.  Its pretty fast when the turbo kicks in, I believe its running around 12 pounds of boost if the gauge is accurate. Definitely kicks your head back. 


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Alright, list incoming. I'm by no means experienced with turbo swaps, but I think I can get you on the right path to identifying everything you have and what it does.

First thing, I see a mostly stock 280zx turbo swap dropped into your 280z. This is pretty good, because it means you only really need to look for information about those two cars. Manuals can be found here, here, and here. (plus more, google '1977 280z service manual').

Now the list:

2, 25 - This is your antenna cable

3, 30 - Duct for one of the vents (I think that's the driver's floor vent, if I'm not mistaken)

9 - You're probably right about it being boost gauge. The plates aren't stock. The one towards the firewall is EGR delete, the other is likely related though I'm not familiar. You may or may not need to "fix" these, depending on local regulations. I can also see your valve cover breather is venting to atmosphere through a filter, which is creating a large vacuum leak. The breather should be connected to filtered air from a pipe downstream from your Air Flow Meter (AFM - see pic 20)

11 - Yes

14 - Lucky for you, whoever did the swap decided to connect the heater hoses, so that's nice. On these cars there is a vacuum-operated valve just inside the firewall that prevents coolant flow to the heater core if the AC is running. It also prevents flow if the valve loses vacuum for any other reason, which I suspect is your problem. These valves are expensive.

15 - The silver box is a mechanical voltage regulator. A common mod is to remove this and swap the alternator for an internally regulated model, such as the one that came stock on the 280zx. Since this is a 280zx swap, it is possible the alternator mod was done as well and the old regulator was simply disconnected and left in place.

17 - The "pill" looks to be a condenser (capacitor). Ordinarily it is located next to your coil to help reduce the voltage dips and spikes the coil causes as it charges and fires. I'm not sure what it's doing over there.

18 - Those connectors are for the vacuum tank solenoids from the stock AC system. The vacuum tank was a chamber to "store" vacuum (can you store the lack of something?), this was to help the smoothness of the vacuum operated vent system (all the blend doors are operated by springs and vacuum). Not expressly necessary for vent operation the solenoids are only useful for the stock AC system. Without the tank, your vents will just move back to their default position when the engine isn't running (and go back where they were when you start it).

19 - Those fuses aren't actually for the sound system! Originally, the car used 4 "fusible links" for the main fuses, which were just special wires that are supposed to melt at specified current ratings (this is exactly what fuses are). A common mod is to replace the fusible link system with something more durable, hence the maxi fuse block you see here.

20 - This is your AFM (air flow meter). It uses a flap and springs to measure the speed of passing air, then uses this to guess how much air has passed. Think of a fairly primitive mass air flow sensor.

21, 22 - These knobs control the fresh air vents in the footwells. There are openings in the body under the fenders by the occupants feet with flaps controlled by these knobs. Pull to open to get a flow of fresh air into the car, especially at higher speeds. Also useful in hot weather to let the car breathe while parked.

23 - I'm not sure what those wires do, but there's an ABSOLUTELY AMAZING wiring diagram for the 77 280z available. (as well as some others)

24 - Yes

26 - These are the plugs for the lights and switches that go in the center console, which you appear to be lacking in these pictures. The hazard switch mounts in the console in front of the shifter.

32 - That's a vacuum actuator for one of the vent doors. I think that one is the recirculate door, but I'm not 100% from just pictures.


An additional note on the heater system, there is a vacuum line that runs from the engine, through the firewall near the heater connections (almost behind glove box) to the vacuum valve under the dash. I would start my search there, since on my car that hose was simply cut off and that is why my vents did not move. You may also want to add a check valve to this connection so that your vents don't move whenever you have low engine vacuum (such as when you're on boost)


I ended up writing a lot more than I planned to, so I hope it's helpful. If you have any more questions I'll try and answer them as best as I can, and I'm sure some other members will be here to chime in as well.

Edited by ZHoob2004

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Wow, I really wasn't expecting such a thorough response! Thanks a million ZHoob2004I'm going to start tackling the quicker issues tomorrow. Hopefully I'll find out if I need to purchase anything by Sunday. I'll definitely be asking more questions across the forum. That breather hose did confuse me, I'll going to figure out a fix ASAP. 

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