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The making of Zilla Z

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I've owned my 280z for over 24 years through high school, college, military deployments, marriage, kids and moving overseas. It's been through more iterations than I can remember and it's in the process of going through another. This time will hopefully be the last major change for the car. This time I'm replacing the 280zx turbo motor with a RB26 unit. Here's some pictures of what it used to look like before I started tearing it apart:






The L28et was smoking so I decided to modernize the powertrain. Out came the motor that had powered the car for years.




I started looking for a RB26 motor for literally months because I wanted to be able to see the compression check for myself. I eventually found a JDM shop 4 hours north of me that they had just received days before. My son and I took a road trip to Dallas to pick up the motor and that's when the fun really began.



The turbos were shot which was no big deal since I wanted to go a little bigger than stock. I found a set of rebuilt stockers with metal exhaust wheels. I also ordered a few goodies and had parts polished while my mechanic did the 100k service on the motor, installed the Tomei adjustable cam sprockets, and installed the magnets for my SDS hall sensor.




The intake is from Ks Racing. They're sold on ebay and by the looks of it I think they're a real bargain for the price. The welds look really nice and he was able to change the angle of the inlet so it doesn't hit the strut tower. I won't know how well he did with the angle until it's mounted and in the car. The good thing is if anyone wanted to buy one for their Z he would already have the correct angles for them.








I should get the motor back next week however as anyone whose tried to go the route of an RB26 it can drain your funds fast. My goal is to have the motor in the car and running by Christmas and by the looks of it I'm ahead of schedule. Is that even possible? We'll see.


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Thanks guys. Once I'm done you won't recognize it as I plan to paint it a different color, fender flares, different rims, etc. 


I did want to mention that depending on if you're using an aftermarket efi you won't need all the threaded holes on the back of the intake manifold. Since I'll be using my old SDS efi the only lines I'll need for vacuum on the intake is for the map sensor and the wastegates. If I had it to do over I would have told him to just drill two holes on top and tap the hole underneath the intake for the air temp temp sensor.


Also the stock throttle bodies and balance tube won't be used so I'll also need shorter threaded rods that attach the intake to the head. The lengths I came up with are (6) 42mm and (6) 35mm. 


I'll post pictures once I get the engine back from my mechanic this week.

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  • 3 weeks later...

"Ahead of schedule", I'm afraid I do not know what you mean. Next you're gonna tell me that you finished "under budget" as well.


Back to reality, your car is beautiful.

Well this is the third build on this car and I just finished my Z32 however under budget is in the same realm as rainbow unicorns.  :icon54:


My mechanic called me up and said they finished replacing the timing belt, seals, cam gears and mounting the hall sensor for the SDS. I'll be out of town for the next couple of days so hopefully I will have time to work on it this weekend. Meanwhile here's what she looks like now:











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  • 4 weeks later...

Not much progress with the project other than finally getting the bellhousing off my z32 transmission. The previous owner used a ton of RTV and kryptonite which required a lot of force to get off. 





I also got a few odds and ends done like modding the metal water lines that were corroded. I didn't want to wast time and money looking for a replacement so I came up with a quick solution.


DSC01150_zps5dce5c6d.jpg   DSC01152_zps35c3a1f3.jpg


I also got the engine mounts.


DSC01156_zps66956de8.jpg  DSC01154_zps86c582b1.jpg


I've been trying to figure this mystery out. The banjo bolt that connects the hard lines off the turbos to the block leaves a gap when fully screwed in. In this picture I didn't use the crush washers but even with them installed it still leaves a gap. What am I missing?




Also what fan set up have you guys run on your RBs? Make and model number please.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Alright finally making some progress since the weather starting cooperating. I was able to get the engine bay painted (rattle can) and a small issue with the Tomei downpipes. I got the engine  and transmission in the car but not on the motor mounts. Hopefully tomorrow I'll get everything lined up and then it's off to the fab shop to get the intercooler piping and exhaust done.







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I can't believe it's been 2 years since I've posted an update. Good thing I've still been working on her. I decided to change direction with the car and started with a few T3 and AZC suspension parts. I bought a set of BC coilovers and had a good friend weld them on for me. Since I have a Z32 and recently upgraded the brakes on it I decided to use the stock z32 calipers on the s30. The difficult part was finding the adapters to make the calipers work. I tracked down the guy on this site that used to sell the calipers but apparently he no longer makes them. It just so happened I was getting ready to go on a trip to Japan with a few Z friends. We ran into a guy over there that could source the adapters so now I'm waiting for them to arrive. As a side note we saw some very cool Zs and visited Rocky Auto and Tomei.





Out with the old.










More suspension goodness.



Decided to ditch the stockers before I got the car running and bought a pair of 2860r -5 turbos.



While on the Tomei tour I grabbed a pair of their manifolds. It's a shame they're going to be wrapped. Gotta love the strong dollar too. lol







I bought a Seibon carbon fiber hood and a Retro Spec air dam. I'm glad the cf weave are close enough to look like they were made by the same company. I also ordered the Retro Spec fenders, cowl and headlight buckets in carbon fiber. The rest of the car will have a cf wrap which will hopefully all look the same. At the end of it all the goal will be to look like the Rocky Auto carbon fiber Z.




Well that's all for now. Hopefully it won't be another a two years before another update. 

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