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This is my second post, my first was extremely vague and lazy on my part. I have always had a deep interest in cars and all things that move really. My experience with mechanics is limited to 2 semesters of high school auto class and minor experience with outboard boat engines. I also have rebuilt a 4 cylinder boat engine with the help of a friend who is a mechanic. I have basic tools,(screwdrivers, ratchet set, wire strippers etc.) and a home garage to work in with limited space and no large equipment such as welders or a lift, just the basic tools. I have only driven a manual car a handful of times but have some experience driving other manual vehicles. I really am set on getting a 240z. From my research I have found that it is a relatively easy car to work on, has excellent technology for its age and the L-series motors are extremely reliable and great sounding. The unique look and nostalgia of the car is really what sold me on making a z my first project. 


My project z would be garage kept and I would most likely sell my current car to buy a cheaper daily driver and use the leftover $ for the z. I have a decent budget for a college kid and plan on this project to take years, so my budget will eventually increase, but for now I am looking at approximately 25k. This must also cover the cost of buying the car.


What Im looking to do is get a 240z (70'-74') in running condition with minimal rust. What I've heard is that rust can be the most unpleasant and expensive problem to deal with, and considering i have no means to do body work myself, i would like to avoid having to pay for major body repairs. I would like to begin with projects that mainly increase the reliability and drivability of the car. I would also like to use this car as a learning experience for whatever mods I can do myself. Wiring, electrical, filters, bushings, tires, coil etc. would all be things i would like to upgrade or improve and repair. Maybe a few years down the road if the frame and body of the car are sufficiently stiffened and the motor dies i will look to do an engine swap. But for now just handling and reliability mods,followed by suspension and, eventually I would like to do upgraded headers and exhaust for the l24 just to let it breath a little better, but not looking for a rocket ship.


What I really want out of this project is a unique classic, not something that i will see 10 others just like it on a Sunday drive. A car that can be mostly for learning to build, fix and upgrade as well as help me become a better driver. Suggestions as to how much I should look to spend would really help. How much can I expect to pay for a running 240z with minimal rust. I would like to have some of the 25k leftover to do some of my own work with, because having a hand in the building of this car is very important to me. Also suggestions for what projects to start on or if i Should have the car looked over by a professional before starting any projects. 


I apologize for the long post and hope this better meets forum standards. Im am young an very passionate about getting into the z game.








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I never had a real budget in mind when making my 280z drivable and reliable. You just kinda spend on the car what needs to be done step by step year to year. Every year I do one big project in the winter. My first year was convert from auto to 5spd. Second year was turbo. Third year was new floor and rails. This year is rebuilding a my spare short block. Things add up quick. For example I paid 400 for zed floors and rails. I spent aout 20hrs cutting out the old floor and still paid 1500 for a shop to weld them in and repair some other rust issues. What makes me nervous is the tools that you mentioned. Screwdrivers, ratchets and wire strippers aren't going to cut it for a 40 year old car. There is so much more than having it running right. You are gonna need structural integrity throughout the unibody. If welding is an issue it's gonna cost much more. Buying a Z is challenging because you either get one that is pretty much all set and ready to roll or buy a shell that needs tons of work. There aren't much in between those two options. Whatever you decide you will have our support but from experience these projects can turn into a money bit.

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Thats a good point you made about how i will have to address the pressing issues as they come. But I would like to know if anything could be done to improve the car with my experience and resources. I am sure i will eventually acquire the necessary tools but over a long period of time. I guess what Im looking for is a good starting point for z project.


I am trying to find the balance between how ready to drive the car will be upon purchase and how much work i am willing to try myself.


For instance, will I be better off spending a majority of the 25k on a nearly ready to go car and drive it till things need fixing? Then i could slowly acquire knowledge of the car as I approach each issue one at a time 

Or would it be better to spend idk say 4-10k on a z and use the rest of the 25k to do minor things my self and have professionals do the rest.Considering what you said about the body work can i find a z with minimal rust that dose not require body work, with an engine that still has a few years of life left in it for under 25k.

That being said, I'm guessing there isn't a 240z in the world that is truly rust free, but how much rust is too much? Does light surface rust require immediate attention, and what would be some clear indicators for me to not buy a 240z when looking at one. Things besides rust in the usual spots and obvious mechanical issues.

Either way the end goal is a slightly modified 240z with modern technology incorporated in where ever possible(suspension, ignition, electrical.....) budget allowing. I am more concerned with the handling, reliability and responsiveness of this z than the power.  

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I understand there are many cars out there that meet the end goals of my project, but are they out of my budget range and can they be easily distinguished form cars that underwent poor modifications(builder took shortcuts or cheap fixes). What are some indicators of good build quality when looking at an already modified 240?

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Prepare for a long answer.


First off, passion is good, and your acknowledgement of your lack of effort and reading the forum guidelines on your first post is a very good start.


Second knowledge is the answer. If you don't know how to differentiate between a well sorted car and a poorly sorted one then you are going to have to find a buyer who can do that for you. These are good cars to learn on, but only if you take your time and understand the concepts behind it. Playing around with the carbs for instance is dangerous as the fuel system sits right over the exhaust. Playing around with the wiring can be hazardous as the wiring is old and one wrong connection and your harness can go up in smoke. If you are a bit concerned or scared then that is my intention.


Chances are unless it is a full restoration you are going to run into problems that the PO took short cuts on depending on your level of concern. If you cannot identify them then maybe you need to slow your roll and figure out how to see when something is done poorly and when it is not. I know people who don't mind a swapped junkyard engine as long as it runs, and I know others that get mad at a shop if they leave tool marks on one of their bolts. Without knowing your quality of "good" which you determine on your own it is hard to say what to look out for.


A bit of a rant, but I don't know why, but people really like using that word with cars. Unique is a specific word with a specific definition. You can search any forum and there is always someone wanting a unique mass produced car. That is an oxymoron you really cannot have a one of a kind mass production car. This unique qualifier is going to get you burned. Many would argue that the design is taken from other famous cars of the era like an E-type or a ferrari, therefor already not as unique as you hope. Unique means one of a kind so if you saw one other car on any day at any point that would mean you have already failed that criteria, there are hundreds of thousands of these cars, a lot have perished, but still there are a ton out there and people have done a lot of things to them. Really if you want unique go find unique animal, the last of its kind collect the feces and smear that all over your car. Your car will be the only datsun with that animal's crap all over it therefor unique. Practically on another forum I saw someone piss away 15k on a custom supercharger install because they wanted to be unique, not because they wanted the power curve or response that a super charger provides over a turbocharger, not because of something like they like the sound of the belt or the cosmetics of the supercharger, they did it just because they wanted to be unique. Don't do things for bad reasons. /rant


That leads to the most important part of your project. It is YOUR project. YOU have to decide what YOU want because it is YOURS. If you have a specific question as to an aspect of the car, for example what other air dams are available other then the stock and the J-spec (shows you did some searching and is specific enough that we can reply with a list), we can say, the BRE Spook, Xenon poly urethane, MSA II etc, but at the end you shouldn't have someone tell you what to do with YOUR car, take suggestions process and figure that aspect out yourself. It should be a decision that YOU make and can justify. Should you spend 2000 on authentic Work wheels? If that is what YOU really want, and you like the style, then sure. On the flip side should you spend 2000 on wheels and run around on 40 year old bushings? Probably not a good set of priorities. A decision that you make should be explainable it could be something silly like you really like the look of it, but when presented with a counter you should be able to account for your decision. Should you spend that 2k on wheels over bushings and brakes? Maybe not, but if it really gets you motivated to finish then maybe it is worth it. Granted if someone takes a look under your car and says your car NEEDS brakes then you should be able to walk away from the wheels.


Priorities will be what is important for you. Do you want a cruiser? Do you want a racer? You mentioned sunday drives, and you also mentioned stiffening up the body. Elaborate. Sunday drives around town or sunday drives through canyons and back roads? Stiffening up the body with simple bolt ons? Or stiffeining up the body by reinforcing key structural weak points? Certain things means you should probably start your project in certain ways, like if you plan on swapping a monster motor into the car, or running high spring rates to keep it planted on turns then you are probably going to want to start with a shell to weld reinforcements into the car and a roll cage to fit the racing body you will be racing with. If you just plan on putting around town then you probably want a fairly stock example that has had a lot of refurbishment. 


So depending on what YOU want out of YOUR car will determine, what you look for, how much you should spend, and what aspect you should start on first. Race car with a certain sanctioned body? Start looking for shells with cages for the appropriate body that you can slap some fiberglass panels on. Cruiser with an engine swap? Look for cars for sale and hunt down the build thread and see if it seems like they took their time on all the aspects you are concerned on.

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