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Everything posted by Michael

  1. Having reached a point in my multi-decade build where finally I'm turning to suspension, brakes and tires, it would indeed be welcome to have a vetted, quantified listing of wheel/tire combinations that have been successfully tried. This isn't from laziness or lack of imagination (though I can't profess freedom from either), but in a situation where mistakes are costly and irreversible, it would be eminently useful to lean upon the experience of others. One way to do this is to buy somebody's used wheel/tire combination from the classifieds here, and actually that's my preferred approach. But in recent months/years, for some reason there have been fewer ads for S30-suitable wheels for sale here.
  2. Not to detract in the least from Boosted300's achievement, but would it have been easier, for drag-racing purposes, to fit 15x9 wheels with 275 drag radials? Or would these, being of lower diameter, actually exacerbate the interference-problem at the coil spring perch (depending on offset, of course)?
  3. That sounds like a promising swap! I've long been asserting that for a high-torque engine in a lightweight car, the last thing that we need is a transmission with a large number of gears. A 4-speed with large drop between each successive ratio would be ideal. Are the gear ratios 3.09, 1.67, 1.00 and .73 ? Is it a cast-iron case, or aluminum? Weight? Any guesses on torque-capacity? Currently I'm running a Doug Nash 5-speed, where 5th gear is actually 1:1. It's the exact antithesis of what I've been advocating about wide-ratio vs. close-ratio. But I wonder... could 4th gear be replaced with overdrive, retaining 5th gear as 1:1?
  4. This is a very fair point. It's difficult to justify indulging in a hobby, when comparative necessities go neglected. Nevertheless, there's much to be said for a cheap option that gets a dilapidated older car back on the road safely. It should be cheap even if plenty of funds are available, because the owner/driver is still experimenting and hasn't yet converged towards a cogent plan for what's reasonable to do with the car. For that purpose, the most logical route is stock-replacement. But what truly "stock" options do we have for 40-year-old cars? And how can one so contain one's enthusiasm - even on a stringent budget - to effect strict remediation and maintenance, with no eye towards modifications or improvement? Returning to technical matters, I also recommend cutting the stock springs (with a hacksaw). This procedure would also be excellent occasion to renew the various bushings.
  5. This question would have garnered more active response some 10 or 15 years ago. Today most persons with interest in the classical (first-generation) SBC would build their own, working with a local machine shop. Others would gravitate towards the LS-series. For evidence, consider what's happened to the post-count in the respective forums in recent years. For a person interested in a crate engine, two possibilities come to mind. The first is buying directly from GM. This won't be a "custom" engine, but the specifications are reliably known, and surprises should be few. The second possibility is to consult with local drag-racing participants, for their views on the local engine-building scene. They should have recommendations on reputable local builders. What ails the presently-installed 350? Is it too stock, too tired, or otherwise failing? There might be value in performing relative modest refurbishment, or replacement of a few readily-accessible components (intake manifold, cam and lifters, etc.), and thereby obtaining a comparatively large power increase with little cost outlay.
  6. There IS some interference in my case (280Z, big block Chevy engine, firewall set back 6"). To install/remove the engine, the starter and oil-filter have to be removed; otherwise there is no way to clear the strut-tower diagonals on top, and the engine mounts (welded to the frame-rails) on the bottom. Once the engine is in place, removing the rocker-covers requires some contortion, but with practice one gets the hang of it. All of this notwithstanding, the front strut-tower diagonals are in my opinion a huge benefit, especially if braced behind the firewall.
  7. A couple of points/questions, both somewhat off topic: 1. Have you considered passing the front strut-tower diagonals through the firewall, to meet at a common apex in the dash-area, connecting to a dash-bar (or even better, to a "spine" running parallel to the transmission tunnel)? 2. The wheels of the red car are an eminently popular model, but the name escapes me. What are they, and what are the specifications?
  8. While it's a bit premature to be celebrating the 15th anniversary (4 months left), I'd wager that my prediction from 2011 is now fulfilled: somewhere there must now be a HybridZ member who was not yet born when this site was created! On a more somber note, there's a downside to our policy of assiduous searching and not rehashing old topics. The Forum is starting to feel like a museum, like a great repository of knowledge that's both elegant and sterile. Consider in particular the Gen I/II V8 subforum, which arguably started it all, when we split off from the "purist" discussion groups (does the term "purist" exist anymore?). That place feels like a Medieval castle. Back in the day, OBD-II was a newfangled curiosity, GM's LS engine series was obtainable only from rare insurance-company write-offs of the latest machinery wrapped around a tree by idiot "enthusiasts", and the hot setup for truly high power was the Big Block V8. Turbos were the domain of esoteric tinkering, and so many Datsun enthusiasts were veterans of first-generation Mustangs and Camaros. Today, some of our finest craftsmen are IT admins and network programmers by day, thoroughly comfortable with engine-management software, and the most popular swap (judging by post-count) isn't the V8 at all, but some form of turbo-6. Language changes, and with changing terms the inherent meaning doesn't remain invariant either. Today the term "Hybrid" refers to a combination of electric motor and internal combustion engine. I wonder how many people stumble onto this forum in hopes of hopping-up their Prius! Hopefully the youngest teenager on this Forum will see this posting, and will be inspired to remark, with half-fawning half-mocking tone, "Grandfather, will you tell me again about how things were back in the 20th century?"
  9. Welcome back! My nursing home recently upgraded its internet connectivity, so I know exactly what it feels to return after protracted hiatus. Don't the 461 and 700R4 need to be extracted from the Suburban and put into a Z?
  10. Whenever I park my 1991 Miata next to my S30 Z, it's amazing how the Z is... large!
  11. I have decidedly mixed feelings. A V8 Z is a temperamental, fragile beast. It requires constant, incessant tuning. The chassis can be made firm (with copious welding), the suspension can be sorted out. But anything high-performance will require unrelenting attention. I'm lazy and careless. I don't want to be bothered to constantly be thinking about monitoring engine parameters, tuning, pulling out the screwdriver and tinkering with things. I want to mash the go-pedal and, well, just go. Oh yeah, and unlike 20 years ago, I want to be reasonably comfortable (not Buick cushy comfortable, but least 1980s midline sedan comfortable), not sitting in a stripped tin-can that's raucous, ferocious, rancid and loud. Short of dire emergency or mental collapse, I'll never sell my V8Z. But neither do I really enjoy it. It's a rolling lesson, a collection of experiences. I'll retain it as a sobering lesson. Was it worth it? Yes and no. It scratched an itch. It fulfilled a need. It answered a question. Would have I preferred to keep my Z stock? No, because stock was boring, and even the stock Z would by now have become tired and brittle and copiously needy of TLC. Where to go from here? I don't want a muscle car, or an exotic, or something too excessively optimized for doing just one thing. Honestly, I don't know what I'd get… maybe a C63 Mercedes, or a C6 Z06 Corvette. I definitely want something with a V8, but with fuel injection, air conditioning, a proper interior, double-digit gas mileage, something that I could drive while wearing a business-suit, without having a screwdriver sticking out my pocket. Maybe that's the price of getting older.
  12. We tend to jump into these elaborate vehicular upgrade-ventures when we're young, hankering for something fast but not too terribly expensive, anxious to prove our skills and to assert our individuality. But life remains inchoate and unestablished. Then comes college, or grad school; job search, maybe relocation, maybe hopping from job to job, building one's career. Then perhaps buying a house. Maybe romantic relationships, family. In brief, life happens. And as life happens, the car-hobby can fade to insignificance. What was so crucial and self-defining at age 19, becomes peripheral and vestigial at age 29 or 39. Eventually time becomes more expensive than money, and a new Z06 becomes cheaper than hopping-up one's Datsun. Things evolve, life evolves, but the car remains invariant, frozen at when we were 19. So then what? Then the fellow who's now middle-aged starts yearning nostalgically for when he was 19. And then the motivation returns. Don't worry about lack of progress over 7 years. Give it another 7, and another, and another. Then come back to the car once your kids are in college.
  13. I'm about 60 miles SW of you... not a mechanic by any conventional definition, and a bit too fatalistic to offer the sort of spunk and temerity needed to complete a successful swap quickly... but I'd be happy to offer advice, and to show an example of what's possible. Send me a PM if interested.
  14. Good point! Unless one happens to be very experienced, generally one doesn't know what one wants, until the car is more or less already built. So attempting to "do it right the first time" might just be a waste of labor. Example: suppose that you're building a custom house. You like castles, and want to build a castle-like house. You excavate a huge area to support high stone walls, erect said walls, build a moat and so forth. 20 years later, you realize that what your really wanted was a modernist house with floor to ceiling windows and a vaulted roof. Oops! So I'll revise the tired old adage. Everything ends up getting done multiple times anyway, so you might as well do a crappy job the first time, to minimize one's investment (financial and emotional) and to most rapidly move to assessing one's progress. Then, if it turns out to not have been what one wanted, the harm and waste are minimal.
  15. One year is hardly a "never ending project"! Many of us never-enders have been tinkering on the same Z since the 20th century, in many cases since the early 1990s or even earlier. After many travails and efforts, the car eventually runs - more or less - but doesn't run right, or isn't as fast as expected, or suffers from some other malady causing its relegation to secondary status. By then the fellow buys a more modern car, essentially stock - and that becomes his daily driver. My Z first officially ran in 2000, and promptly wiped its camshaft. Then it ran again circa 2006, before scattering aluminum shavings all over the oil-gallery. Then it ran again in 2011, and has been more or less "functional" ever since, logging perhaps 50 miles on the odometer, but never as well as its theoretical promise. The moral isn't to completely desist from swaps and improvements, but to keep plans modest and incremental. Change only one thing at a time. And never stray too far from daily-driver status!
  16. The first-generation SBC isn't to be gainsaid, but you will need to perform considerable overhaul and component-swapping to attain the 350 hp range, which seems to be a popular benchmark for the Gen 3-4 crowd. Also, $4000 really isn't a "cheap car". If the Camaro is in reasonable condition, it's worth buying and just driving as is, merely to become acquainted with the V8 world and its maintenance. If you intend to perform a swap without really using the donor car in stock form, then $4000 is far too much.
  17. I'll add to the consensus of E36 M3 and Miata, if you can extend your year-range to pre-2000. The M3 is a pleasant coupe/sedan to drive, balancing cabin comfort with driver connectedness. As others have said, these cars are aging and most of the ones available for sale haven't exactly been pampered. The Miata, meanwhile, is very much in the S30 spirit, especially if you get the hardtop, which improves head-room. My problem in terms of fitment in the Miata is shoulder room. There's nowhere to put my left shoulder in the NA Miata... I have to contort my torso, driving hunched or askance, or just stick my left arm out the window.
  18. Mike, since you have driven light cars and heavy cars, and some very powerful moderate-weight cars, how does the Mustang feel in terms of general nimbleness and tossability? I'm referring to Miata-type of low speed agility rather than roadholding or lateral g's.
  19. What to do, depends entirely on whether completion of the car is precluded merely by lack of time, or if it's also a lack of confidence/resources/skills. If after sweating for 6-7 years you worry about messing up some minor engine-detail and blowing up a $5K motor, then it's probably better to contract-out the final touches to a pro. But the great impediment is just lack of time, then it's probably best to leave the project unattended and not take recourse to an outside shop. The shop's work, even if competent and of good value, would detract from your achievement-value in building the car entirely yourself. And what if the shop performs some service at inferior quality? What happens if your labors are sullied by the inattentive or indifferent labors of others? The general advice seems to be: when in doubt, do nothing. Just wait and see. Nothing is truly irreversible; all actions, including non-action, have an opportunity-cost. But non-action seems to be more reversible than any other alternative.
  20. This should work, one hopes: http://lakewoodindustries.com/drivetrain/bellhousings/ls1-to-tko-t5-tr-3550.html Of course that also probably means a new flywheel, clutch and slave cylinder or hydraulic throwing bearing. If you get new parts, that can be $1000 of stuff inside the bellhousing.
  21. The new body style is evidently aimed at more youthful tastes - a surprise, because few young people can afford the price of entry. Personally I find myself gravitating more towards the C5 body lines, though undoubtedly I'd prefer the performance of the C6.
  22. It seems to me that the reason for building a tubular front clip (or complete chassis) is either support of really radical mods, or just as a hobby-exercise in personal development. It's not the solution for collision repair. Another "while I'm at it" consideration is whether to retain the stock suspension architecture or to undertake further mods such as unequal A-arm suspension. After all, if the tubes increase rigidity and leave more space for suspension and engine, why saddle oneself with the disadvantages of the stock suspension? In my case, the firewall was moved aft for better engine setback, the floor cut out and the front clip rewelded into the unibody using sheet metal patches, and then reinforced with diagonals from the dash bar to the front strut towers. That was much simpler than doing a full tubular front end, because it was not necessary to make precision bends/cuts to get the tubes to line up properly with suspension hard points. But as Johnc suggests, all of this was done on a frame jig, with the unibody welded to the jig.
  23. It's the old debate about maximum performance vs. good-enough performance with reliability. If I were serious about having fun at the track, or eventually bootstrapping myself to a level where my "being competitive" is not some idly narcissistic boast (I am horribly inept at the track!), then I'd make the attempt with my Miata or M3 (my current "daily drivers"). The Datsun is a hobby, not a tool for excelling in competition. It will never be competitive in a class where it's fully legal, and will never have the dogged persistence that really makes the difference between having one glory-lap and finishing at the top. So if the goal is worry-free fun at the track, or comparatively worry-free success at the track, then something newer and less temperamental would be the better choice. At this point, some of our Datsuns have been with us in hybrid-mode for 10 years, maybe 20 or more. We started working on them in our 20s, and are now pushing middle age. Selling these cars, or even abandoning them in place, would profane our own histories. But an engine is just a component. As one is traded for another, performance may or may not increase, but the essence of the car endures. It’s just another aspect of multi-decade hobby-car ownership.
  24. Is that $2500 sales price after you already paid them $1250 for their labor, or they cancel the $1250 charge and in addition pay $2500 for the shortblock? Regardless, as others have said, sell it and proceed with selling the top-end parts separately. Perhaps the same machine shop might be interested in those parts as well. But I thought that the complete Z, bumper to bumper, was for sale?
  25. I'm pleased to see that this thread hasn't been relegated to the "tool shed", as the original question is almost one of philosophy and not auto-mechanics, and such open questions receive short shrift here. That said, the most accurate answer would be the trite "it depends". Why? Because so much depends on the builder's skill and resources, the goals of the build, and in other words, on the amount of confluence between ambition and wherewithal. As others have said, an experienced swapper with a full complement of parts at the ready, could do the swap in one weekend. Multiply by 10 if you haven't done the swap before, and by another 10 if parts are "being sourced" in some litany of deals, searches, swaps, sleuths and sales. Multiply by another 10 if the real goal is "restification" of a tired rusty car to competitive racing condition, or show condition. And do please note: a V8 Z is not a daily driver. Some people do drive theirs daily, but more for personal satisfaction than financial imperatives, and they have at least one other backup car. Perhaps it would be wiser to purchase an already swapped car, and then if necessary to modify it to one's liking?
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