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Front frame rail fix on my '77 280Z

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Hi all, this is my first posting on this site and I've come here in search of some help with my 280z.

I bought my 1977 Datsun 280z a few months ago for $2k. I bought it not running, since I'm more of an engine guy I was able to get her started and running in about two weeks after digging through the wiring and figuring out it was a bad ECU. 

Through further inspection of the chassis of the car, I found some rust. I know rust is typical on Datsun's, but I have a lot of people telling me its a lost cause and the frame repair will be too costly and dangerous to attempt. I've been told to use my 280z as a parts car, and get a rust free chassis to rebuild using the engine and parts from my current car. 

Here's a few photos of what I'm dealing with






Take a look and see what you think. I don't know what I would need to fix severe rust like this. I found front frame rails online for $450, but I'm wary about them because there's no photos. Has anyone here ever used the front frame rail kit from "The Z Store"? If so, what did you have to do to put them in?


I'm still considering my options with this, I really don't want to sell the car and I really don't want to have to part it out. However I don't have access to a garage, I don't own a welder (besides a little 90 amp flux core MIG, which I know I can't use for this) and I've really never welded before but it's never too late to learn.


What's your opinion? 

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That doesn't just look like "some rust".  I hate to say it, but I would consider that a lost cause. That rust has destroyed your frame rails. And that level of rust at the frame rails would have me seriously concerned about the rest of the car.


What are the floors like behind/under the seats/carpet?  How are the rockers? Dog legs?


Anything can be fixed, but it will be costly to do it right, especially if you're paying someone else to do it.


Here's Pete Paraska's site where he replaced his frame rails and also found rust issues elsewhere on his car:  http://alteredz.com/structuralmods.htm


If you're going to take on this project or pay to have someone do it, do it like Pete did.  And be prepared to find more than you're expecting that needs repair.


Otherwise, look for another body in better condition and be very attentive to areas like frame rails, rockers, quarter panels, and floors.

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I just now discovered that the other side of that frame rail has a hole the size of my fist rotted through it. The floors are prefect, because the previous owner coated the entire interior in dynamat and POR15. However, the running rails under the floorboards are rusted at the front, and have major holes in them as well.


I'm seriously considering getting another rust-free body and building a car from the ground up. I just don't have the time, money, or resources to complete such a task right now. Simply cutting out the rust on the frame rails and patching or boxing a new one on simply isn't going to cut the mustard. 

If anything, I will spend the next few months stripping the car and salvaging what I can from it. The engine is completely rebuilt and has a bigger camshaft, it runs mint. As long as I can find another '77 280Z body in better condition I can build another car from the ground up, it's an intimidating task, but there's nothing stopping me from doing it (besides money, and lack of a garage of course) 


I just hate to have to cut the car up and part it out. The 77 280Z is essentially my dream car, I should have looked closer at the rails and frame before I bought the car. Lesson learned for sure. 

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My 78 280z has the exact same skeletons in her closet, the frame rails up the front are totally separated from the mounts...

I am hitting it hard this month though, I feel the same way you do about just quitting and jumping ship to a rust free body.


I cant even jack her up on the rails on the front, have to use my engine hoist with tow straps around the whole steering assembly up front to get her off the ground... Scary shite.


Good luck with your Z!

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