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I searched and searched and searched endlessly to build a spreadsheet of what to buy before ever taking on this journey from the car to what I wanted in the drivetrain for approximately 2.5 years. Searching craigslist/copart/ebay endlessly until I ran across a deal in my budget for a $2k running driving Z car. This led me to Virginia and I bought this daily driver 1976 280Z with 168k miles and in fairly good shape. My uncle and I drove it home 300+ miles with dry rotted 10 year old tires and 40 year old bushings with a slight hint of white smoke under hard acceleration on the interstate! Then the build began"¦ This was in March of 2012 just after grabbing my BS in Civil Engineering from UT Knoxville in Dec of 2011. I didn't start buying until December of 2012 and I haven't stopped since haha[/font][/size]

Original Craigslist Pics and Me on the way home with it

-First I had to figure out the dreaded fluid in the passenger floorboard...leaky heater control valve so I wound up using a Bronco heater valve 74628 (Advance Auto Parts), 2-90* hoses, spare pieces of 5/8" hose and some hose clamps to fix that right up. PITA to get to with stock heater core/ac junk in the way BTW. Future plans are JCI/Vintage Air!

V8 vs I6 and heater control valve replacement

-Engine spec'd out to be cheaper for an LS1 pullout if I could find the right deal but after considering the fuel mileage gains and ease of finding another engine for less if it went south I went 5.3 all the way. Plus boost always sounds better for the future! I have a spreadsheet list for that too!

-2002 5.3 from a Chevy Avalanche with 80k that ran good (or at least that's what the guy at the junkyard said!)

-Drive by cable was my goal from the start to get a better "feel" for the car so I bought a new throttle body and used ls1 intake, fuel rails, oil pan/pickup tube, etc... But I kept the truck spacing on the accessories (cheaper).

-Transmission, besides the car, this was the worst to find and ultimately I went with the TR6060 over the T56.
-2011 Camaro SS TR6060 with 2k miles ($1600 with free head stud kit valued around $225)
-TR6060 has more stock holding power than a T56, a trans cooling system, and supposedly shifts smoother
-But the downsides are that it is more rare (1st in a LS-Z), fixed yoke rear, taller gears, & uses a remote shifter

From then on out I used the "Documemtation" of how to swap an LS1 T56 combo into a Z car and along side other builds on HybridZ to get to where I'm at. From Cooling to the RT Diff Mount to the Fuel Cell Setup I've researched and stalked tons of pages to get where I'm at and asked a handful of questions. My hats off to the site and all who put their 2 cents in because it would've been harder without it for sure. If I can help anybody else that has questions just shoot me a message about the swap. HybridZ and LS1Tech are your best friends during this swap so use them! The 5.3 had no real issues as in tapping the alternator hole (I was scared to do this at first) or cutoff the protruding section from the side of the block but it cuts like butter with a saw. 11/32" Drill Bit & 10mm x 1.5 Tap. I did mine inside the car, so out or in it doesn't matter.
My goal is to daily drive it to work to keep miles off my truck and to replace my burning passion for buying a new Vette since I bought a new '12 Duramax instead. So power upgrades are essential to fulfill my daily need for speed.
Future dream plans are a turbo, beefed up rear, and A/C. But I'm not sure if they can all be satisfied together so we'll see or I may just go and build another with a 5.3/auto/turbo drag setup and leave the stick with a/c for autox/daily driving.


First Local Car Show

-5.3L 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche 80k Miles
-JCI Engine Mount Kit
-MSD Plugs 32829 (Truck Coil Setup)
-LS1 Stock Throttle Body
-LS1 Intake 12560688
-LS1 Oil Pan 12558899 (Oil Filter: PF46E AC Delco / M1-107 Mobil)
-LS1 3 Pin MAF Sensor
-LS1 Stock 26 lb/hr Injectors
-LS1 Alternator Bracket + ¾" spacers
-Tap 10mm-1.5 (Hanson 8340) and 11/32" Drill Bit for Alt Hole in Block
-Ribbed Pulley Advance Auto (P/N: 89015)
-EGR Block off Plug Dorman 1-3/8"
-Lokar LS1 Throttle Cable 36"
-Custom Intake Throttle Cable Bracket
-Custom Firewall Throttle Cable Bracket
-4" to 3.5" Elbow to 3.5" Cone Air Filter
-Dayco 5060548 Serpentine Belt for Alternator Only Setup
-Truck Crank Pulley, Water Pump, Alternator, & Belt Tensioner
-TunedbyFrost for 93 Octane (+25-28rwhp) & P1336 Code Removal
-LS1 Drivers Side Clamshell Motor Mount (5.3 one won't work)
-LS1 Dipstick 12551581 and Dipstick Tube 12551577

-TR6060 2011 Camaro SS 2k Miles
-Custom Transmission Rear Mount to Frame Rails
-Royal Purple Synchromax Manual Trans Fluid (4 Quarts) 01512
-Perma-Cool Hose Barb Fittings 11/32" to 6AN (P/N: 15265)
-2 "“ 6AN 90* Elbow Female to Male Swivel Fittings (Route Cooling Lines)
-Custom Remote Shifter Mount and Linkage Rod (DO NOT BOLT TO TRANS TUNNEL)
-Tremec Shifter TKO600 New Takeoff
-Pro 5.0 Shifter Lever + 6 Speed Shifter Ball
-GM 4l60e to 6AN Fittings (P/N: 12055) Choice Motorsports LLC (+ C Clips)
-Stock Camaro SS Trans Mount
-*Reverse Lockout is the same plug for LT1-T56/LS1-T56/LS3-TR6060


Trans Install TR6060

More Trans Install Shots/Comparisons

-Monster Stage 2 "“ 12" LS1 Clutch Package with clutch alignment tool etc"¦
-Chromoly Billet 18lb Flywheel
-Tilton 75-875U (7/8")
-48" SS Braided 4AN Clutch Line (TOOOO Long "“ go 36") Tilton to TR6060
-Tick Performance TR6060 Clutch Speed Bleeder (Just Do It)
-Welded on Male 4AN Steel Bung to Slave Cylinder Steel Line In Bellhousing
-GM AC Delco TR6060 Pilot Bearing 12557583 (NOT a T56 Bearing)


5.3 Engine/Monster Clutch Install

-GTOPL-2 Aluminum Fixed Yoke Driveshaft Adapter (1350 Size U-Joint)
-Slip Driveshaft (Oliver's Driveshaft in NC) 1350 to 1310 (23-9/16" Long)
-R200 Neapco Adapter 2-2-899-1 with a 1310 Size U-Joint (M8-1.25x35mm)
-RT Diff Mount from Techno Versions LLC and Modified Prothane Bushing
-R200 3.54 (Stock) Open Differential (1 Tire Fire!)
-Modern Motorsports 300ZX Turbo Half Shaft Adapters (New)
-1986 300ZX Turbo (84-89) CV Axles (New) Flipped Cages to Shorten
-75w90 Diff Fluid Lucas 2 Quarts (2.75 Pints = 1.375 Quarts to Full)
-Differential Overflow Tank


300ZXT Upgrade

Driveshaft layout shots

-JCI Headers Used (Non Ceramic Coated) #DAT-405 (Used)
-Dual 2.5" to the Rear of Trans/Driveshaft then Y into 3" out the back
-Borla Muffler 40359 Pro XS 3" In/Out (almost identical size to stock muffler)


Exhaust Day!  Dual 2.5" into 3" Single with Borla Muffler ProXS

-Full Removal of All Suspension Front/Rear and Sanded/Painted
-Full Poly Bushing Master Kit (Red) 7.18102R Hyper Flex
-Tokico 5 Way Adjustable Springs(Red)/Struts(White) Combo
-10w-30 Fluid Refilled in Stock Strut Cartridges
-Rear Spindle Pins/Bushings Replaced By Previous Owner Recently!!!
-KYB Dust Boots (Plastic) with Bump Stop (Not Strapped on the Bottom)

-XXR 531's in 16x8 with +0 Offset (Black/Polished Lip)
-Falken 225/50/16 with no rubbing on stock/tokico suspension
-Stock Brake Calipers Cleaned and Painted Hi-Temp Red
-Speed Bleeders on All Corners
-Hawk HP Plus HB169N.560 Front Pads
-Stainless Steel Braided Brake Lines (All 4)
-New Front Rotors
-Rear Drums Already Had New Pads


First purchase XXR 531's 16x8's on 225/50/16

-3 Row Aluminum Direct Fit Radiator with Drain Plug
-"˜93 Taurus/Sable (91-95) 2 Speed 3.8L Fan with Connector Plug
-Stock 5.3 Hose Modified to Fit Upper Hose
-22478 Gates Hose from Oreilly's for Lower Radiator Hose
-New Factory 186* Thermostat + Housing (Built Together)
-¾" and 5/8" Heater Hose Lines and a ¾ to 5/8 adapter
-JTR Hose Tee with 5/16" Steam Barb and Air Bleeder
-Radiator Overflow Tank

-ChevyThunder.com Stand Alone CPU/Harness for 5.3/LS1 w/ OBDII+CEL
-Speedhut 4" GPS Speedo 160MPH w/ Blinkers+High Beam GR4-GPS-05T
-Speedhut 4" 8k RPM Tach (See Group Buy on Speedhut"¦) GR4-TACH-02
-Glowshift 2-1/16" Oil/Water/Fuel Gauges 7 Color LED
-JEG's Fuel Pressure Gauge (on fuel rail at firewall)
-Oil Gauge Pressure Sending Unit behind intake on top of motor
-Water Gauge Sending Unit on rear of passenger head at the battery
-Autometer 2277 "“ 12m x 1.5 to 1/8" for Water Temp Sensor to LS Pass Head
-Autometer 2268 "“ 16m x 1.5 to 1/8" for Oil Press Sending Unit Plug Top Block
-Brass 1/8" NPT 45* Fitting for Oil Pressure Sending Unit Aftermarket
-8 Guage Red Wire From Alternator to Battery
-Stinger 4 Maxi Fuse Holder and Appropriate Fuses for Year Model


Electronics (maxi-fuse upgrade and plug-n-play harness)

Gauges and Dash Work


Fuel System:
-15 Gallon Universal Fuel Cell w/ Built-In Sending Unit (0-90 Ohm)
-Fuel Cell Hanging Mounts and Padding + Other Mounts
-Fuel Filler Neck Behind License Plate
-Flip Down License Plate Bracket
-Vented Gas Cap
-Dual 10AN on the rear of the Cell (10 to 8 reducer)
-8AN Pushlock Hose to the 100 Micron 8AN Fuel Filter
-Walbro GSL392 (255) Fuel Pump
-Corvette C5 FPR WIX 33737
-6AN WIX FPR Fittings 640860, 640850, 640940 (Russell Fittings)
-6AN Pushlock Hose From Pump to FPR
-6AN Pushlock Hose From FPR to Fuel Rails & FPR to Tank Return
-Fuel Line Holder Clips with Rubber to Run Fuel Lines
-LS1 Fuel Rail 3/8" Hardline to 6AN Push-On Fitting is RUS640850
-Stock LS1 Injectors 26 lb/hr
-*6AN Size Fuel Line is good for up to 450HP
-16' of 6AN and 3' of 8AN Push Lock Hose


Fuel system setup

Recommended Tools: (besides the usual ones"¦I had to buy/borrow these)
-Engine Hoist 1 Ton (Harbor Freight $105)
-Load Leveler (Harbor Freight $20)
-Torque Wrench (Mainly for Clutch Install)
-Slide Hammer (Harbor Freight $15 for Stub Axle Removal)
-Mig Welder (Lincoln Electric 140HD + Mig Gas $700 total)
-Brake Line Wrench (Craftsman 10mm/12mm $10)
-Spare Sets of Wrenches in Metric (Whole Car is 10/12/14mm"¦)


Random Tools/Custom Parts/MC/Windage Tray Mods

-Crankshaft Relearn Procedure P1336 "“ It cannot be completed unless a factory setup is in place and I did not have this so I went ahead and had Frost tune that code out. The engine will try to run properly but won't let itself until this is done even though the crankshaft is mechanical. Other than that the engine ran flawlessly from ChevyThunder's harness. This procedure is popping up only if the computer and engine did not match from the factory and I did not get the CPU with the engine. Next time I will.
-Do NOT cut anything off of the Datsun harness until the project is fully running and it all works, ask me how I know... I had to fight a couple of electrical gremlins that were working just fine before I took out the motor and they didn't once I was ready to drive"¦like brake lights and interior everything electrical, but the headlights, blinkers, stand alone engine and the gauges worked flawlessly.
-I'd go 2-5/8" on the triple gauges. Mine look too small personally but they're fine and it's too late now
-80 or 100 Micron Filter before the Walbro is mandatory but my 30 Micron did fine but supposedly too restrictive.
-Upgrade the suspension/bushings like I did and redo all supporting components while they're easy to get to.
-My clutch is actually for an LS1 T56 setup but works with what I have so there's my 2 cents"¦buy the trans first not the parts that go in it. They were having a new years sale and I just knew I'd be putting in a T56"¦

Push button momentary switch wired for the reverse lockout solenoid because my harness was made for a T56 and I am using a GPS speedo not the VSS. 3 amp fuse and a switch from RadioShack and it works good. Keeps me from going into reverse on a 6-5 downshift. It does literally take two hands to jam it in reverse without the solenoid activated and that will not mess it up because it's only a spring pushing back.

More TR6060 downsides I'm coming aware of now that it's driveable, theres a slight clanging inside the trans when you let out of the clutch while it's in neutral. Apparently all 5th Gen Camaros have this from what I read even brand new ones with no miles on them (not just GM TR6060's either). It's a factory sound and slight vibration in the shifter (get a loud exhaust or a good stereo!). Another issue with buying a TR6060 are the batch of factory defective transmissions, which are serial numbers 0-25000 which have a weak main shaft that's not heat treated like the new ones and an issue about not having an output shaft bearing installed. This has been well known to modified 2010's and some 2011 cars that are manual that have broken with superchargers installed and even bone stock 436hp levels. I was unlucky and my serial is 24302... So since I'm going to only have low 300's for horsepower right now I'll be fine but in the future a main shaft upgrade will be necessary. Main shaft (stock) is good for up to 475hp from what I've read.

Gearing is another aspect in transmissions that I was curious about as well...
LS1 T56 - 2.66 , 1.78 , 1.3 , 1.0 , 0.74 , 0.50 (not GTO ratios)
TR6060 - 3.01 , 2.07 , 1.43 , 1.0 , 0.84 , 0.57

Grand total costing me around $14k including the car. That includes a few screw ups, new GM 10.9 bolts everywhere, high end fluids/gaskets, and quality parts to make sure they will not fail during daily use. Most all the parts I bought were brand new unless it wasn't critical like the used headers. It took me approximately 1 year to do it all but could've been done in half the time if I dedicated more time to it.

If I can figure out the picture situation I'll load some on here but until then all my pics are on Flickr via my signature below.



front suspension removal

Front Suspension Refinished!

Rear removal

Rear Suspension Refreshed!

Bodywork Start to Finish (for now)

2014 Z Attack Nashville, TN Overview (most of the z only sections)

Edited by EastTnZ
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I went by blues tech tips lol he was wrong! Oh well let's race! I got my exhaust put on today and it's a sleeper alright. Haven't opened it up yet though.


Thanks for the kind words I'm glad it's mobile I just need to fix the wiring (heater, tail lights, blinkers, and wipers) that do not work...

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My stuffs in a million pieces right now, but lets do some heads up racing this spring! Lets start scouting for tracks. The tracks down here are pretty lax-don't know how the tracks near you are. Start breaking in that clutch. I'm psyched for you. BTW-I don't own a FSM.😜

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Yeah I've just got to get brakes before we road race but I should be good for drag racing...just 80-100hp short of you!! I need the wilwood fronts and I'll be fine. Gonna drive it to work and on the weekends to put that first 500 on the clutch and lightweight 18lb flywheel. Feels like it sticks a little throttle wise when you rev it up but maybe it's just that the lightweight flywheel is not dragging it down?


Either way I'm game for some racing so I'll be scouting all winter long as well. Believe it or not I've never raced at a drag strip...

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It's easy, just ask the road race guys. Sometimes it isn't hp that wins the night-it's the guy who doesn't break. (Not to be confused with brake-it's best if the car stops). If your brakes are marginal we can go to Lawrenceburg-the slow down area is up-hill, brakes sent really required there. There's a SBC z-car here we can take turns spankin'. I better watch it, he keeps threatening to spray it!

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Lol has it been chrome plated yet? Mines in and driving I just got the exhaust completed yesterday and tags today. He has a very nice setup though!


Haha I have found the electrical gremlin...he typed this message. I cutout too much of the wiring when I yanked out the straight six a year ago, and there's a factory splice where 2 red/white wires come together on the passenger side of the engine bay. Connected them together via solder and bam the whole car lit up! And I got my tags renewed today so it's ready to roll.

Edited by EastTnZ
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  • 4 weeks later...

Project update


I got her up and going and put about 40 miles on her a few weeks ago. Only issues are a camshaft position sensor (replaced), fuel gauge reading weird (adjust the sending unit?), no traction in first or second gear WOT (standard), new struts/springs/bushings make it ride like a log wagon all the way on setting 5 lol, and a Trans rear mainshaft seal leak or a broken skip shift connector and it's leaking from there.


Waiting on a rear seal (Tremec TUSJ2042) and replacing the broken skip shift connector (sloppy install-my bad) with a plug and I should be off to the races. And when it warms up a bit, 0* in Knoxville, TN when I got in my truck this morning...


Other than that this thing is awesome!!! The heat works, fans come on and haven't seen temps over 190*, however I do see a need for the wilwood front disc brake kit and new 1" mc in the future.

Edited by EastTnZ
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Thanks and I wouldn't be where I'm at without a chevythunder harness that was plug n play. I'm horrible with wiring. Never had the patience for it.


And yeah let me get a few commuter miles to break in the new clutch on this thing and we'll talk about coming down!

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If you get everything sorted out, put a roll bar in that thing so the drag strips won't tech you off the track.  I'm looking for someone to put my old Autopower 4-pt roll bar to use.  Its too heavy to ship, so it's yours for the cost of a case of premium beer, or two bottles of Bailey's.  But you gotta come and get it. Logging off to check out your flickr account.  Edit:  just went thru your flickr account.  So many positive things to say about this build.  Super clean car.  The wide 280z trans tunnel ROCKS compared to the skinny 240z tunnel.  Great looking exhaust build-super clean.  Awesome fuel tank and fuel pump, regulator tower.  Z31T axles and RT R200 mount.  You did a super fantastic job.  One of the best conversions I've seen in terms of overall quality.  I'm eager to see this car in person.

Edited by RebekahsZ
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You've got a deal on the roll bar! Thanks for the props on my flickr page, I always wanted to document a build and do it right when I had the chance and I got my wish. It hopefully by late summer it will be prepped primed and painted but we'll see. All depends on this rock I'm about to buy in the next week for my girlfriend.


Yeah I got lucky on the car it's pretty straight and was only missing the emblems when I bought it and drove it home. Trans tunnel has plenty of room for my setup. Yeah the exhaust wasn't as ideal as I wanted, I wanted multiple v bands installed but they didn't have any and didn't recommend standard flanges because I'd be replacing them often so it's one piece but I can drop it out pretty easily.


It's 10x easier to strip it all down and put it back together in the order that's easiest lol that's why I budgeted for all the "while I'm at it's" ahead of time. $14k well spent and it feels dang good to drive something you built with your bare hands. I picked up a decent '72 240z chrome original front bumper for $50 just outside of Chattanooga so that'll have to be fabbed up and mounted in my spare time too! :)


Last weekend in January I'm heading to Murfreesboro for a truck tractor pull indoors so I may see if I can drive down and meet up from there for the roll bar. I'll PM you

Edited by EastTnZ
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  • 2 weeks later...

Well forward progress should be here soon...


I got engaged yesterday and took her for her first ride in the z today! Scared the crap out of her! (Success!) and she agrees that the transmission rebuild is essential to remove the 2nd/3rd gears grinding when shifting.


Until a rebuild, no drag racing for me (sorry keith) :( I can't pull a 2 to 3 shift and it actually catch a gear unless I granny shift and that doesn't always work. And 1, 2, then 4th gear won't even be a race.

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