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This is a build thread to document the progress on my 1977 Datsun 280z 2+2.

We've never done any car restoration work before so any pointers would be appreciated. The long term goal is to swap a LS v8 engine (probably a 5.3L or 4.8L), upgrade the suspension and brakes, and have a solid daily drivable Datsun. Currently, we are about 6 months and we have completed the following:

Stripped the interior and exterior,

removed the engine, tranny and engine bay wiring,

misc metal work (cutting out the usual Z rust and welding in patch panels),

coated all internal frame rails and cavities with east-woods internal frame rail coating or POR-15.


Here is what we started with.







Inspiration / Goals


possible paint color



Pulling the engine - relatively easy.



Cutting out the rust



Here's some of the welding / patch panels. We used weld through primer so the the welds won't rust through.


Battery Compartment


The front nose area - patched on both sides




driver's side floorpan (not nearly as bad as passenger side just one patch panel near the seat mount).


Passenger floorpan - we fabricated a floorpan that was mainly plug welded in place and also replaced a rusty spot in the trans tunnel.



a shot of some POR-15 rust convertor work


That brings us up to present time, lots of work to do still.
















Edited by Whitley_280z_2+2
remove blurry pictures

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Did some more work on the 280z today.

Finished welding the last piece for the battery area.





Here is what it looks like from the outside. To weld this metal, I am mostly using plug welds because I only have access to a flux core 90 amp welder and I am new to welding. So, I purposely left overlap on some areas so that I can fold it up, weld it in place, and then apply seam sealer. 




Now, we are going to work on the rear of the car... filling the holes in the bumper, repairing some rust areas in the rocker panels, and there is some rust behind the rear wheel wells. 

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Since we finished all the welding / metal work in the interior, we went ahead and primed it. For the worst spots with surface rust, I wire wheeled all the rust off and then coated it with POR-15. Now, these spots will be extra protected from rusting in the future. For the rest of the interior I wire wheeled all surfaces to remove any left over sound dampening residue and prepped the metal for primer. 


Here is the finished product:




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finished welding the battery area - final result after folding up the edges and welding:



I also removed the rear suspension:


Hopefully they will clean up nicely. 


The overall plan for the suspension and brakes:

+new coil overs all around (possibly the ground control brand because they are affordable, but haven't decided yet)

+new front disk brakes - the Silvermine Motors kits seem to be the most affordable

+convert rear to disk brakes

+new polyurethane bushings

+install a limited slip differential into the current diff housing or replace with an entirely new LSD. Not exactly sure what to do about the differential because it needs to handle about 300 HP for a 5.3L LS swap but the cheaper the better.

+keep the current A-frames, mustache bar, etc


Any recommendations about the suspension/diff/brakes would be appreciated!


Also here is the rust damage on the rear of the car:


driver side (you can also see the doors and front air dam in this pic)

We also worked on cleaning up the doors and removing the side trim.



passenger side



rear (going to fill all the holes and install a 240z rear bumper)




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Based on my research, it looks like the best option for the rear differential would be the LSD from a 1987-1989 300zx turbo (especially the Shiro special). If I can't find one of these off of Craigslist or from a junkyard the OBX LSD differential for a R200 from Ebay might be the next best bet, although it sounds a little risky and would require a rebuild. 


I also looked at the Subaru R180 diff but I can't find any of these that are below $600 and they would also require the R180 mustache bar and new splines. 

Other than that, I don't think it would be a great idea to daily drive a welded diff :) 

Edited by Whitley_280z_2+2

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I haven't made a whole lot of progress on the car. Here is what I have done.


Removed front suspension



I also removed the spindle pins...took a lot of hammering and of course I ruined them.



I also welded up the passenger rocker panel.




And a section on top



I also found that the area behind the rear wheel wells on both sides of the car has been repaired in the past. There was a lot of bondo in both spots. I need to decide if I should try to weld in new metal or just patch up the bondo. 



I didn't think that this was a common rust area for these cars so I wonder why it was bondoed in the past on both sides.


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