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Pnemerishin

Luxury Daily restomod 280z Questions, Help?!

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Hey guys,

New to the Forum, but thought this would be the perfect place for my vision. I have a 75 280z automatic, its in great condition but i have a dream of doing a restomod. I want to create a Classy daily driver. something that feels like modern luxury driving, handling, and reliable.

 

My cars LOUD, rattles and pops. Im not trying to break the bank so i was hoping to find a donor car off auction that i can Salvage a majority of the parts from to keep the price down. But that means i need to find a car that fits and would be the least amount of Fab work to get my end product. Ive stayed up Countless Nights looking through this forum to find a similar build but it looks like every one is just trying to build the biggest and loudest. However i havent been here to long so maybe some one can help or direct me to the right Page or just share their knowledge and get me in the right path.

 

What ive been thinking of doing to it, is, ( Newer Engine Swap- Not quite sure what would work for me Id like something newer, modern, quieter, smaller that still has more power then stock that also more fuel economic, wanted to stay automatic) (Power steering) (air conditioning/heating) ( coilovers or Air bags?Not sure whats best for more of a modern comfy ride?) (brakes?) Could be more that Im forgetting. 

INTERIOR ( Lizardskin or Dinomat? for insulation and sound) (custom Upholstery) ( also wanted to put a 240 dash in instead of my 280 with custom touch screen console)

 

In short i want a fast modern car that looks as beautiful and classy as the datsun.  I have a bmw 03 e39 525i i thought of using that however i dont want to just do a shell swap like some of the youtube builds do like " B is for build"s channel

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Honestly man, it doesn't sound like you want a 280z at all,  you like the way it looks but you want to change absolutely everything else on the car. It can be done with enough time, money and expertise but I think your budget will start at $40,000 and go up.

18 hours ago, Pnemerishin said:

Newer Engine Swap- Not quite sure what would work for me Id like something newer, modern, quieter, smaller that still has more power then stock that also more fuel economic, wanted to stay automatic

I don't think this engine exists,  you can have 2-3 of those 7 wants but not all, you can also get the whole brake and suspension from TTT or Arizona Zcar and the car will handle great but it still won't feel modern, it certainly won't feel like your 5 series.

 

I don't mean to stamp on your enthusiasm but I think you will have to be a bit more realistic,  I have resto-moded two 240z and like you I wanted quieter, more comfortable, more power, handling ... the last Z was the more successful of the two.  I did all the work myself to keep the costs down and I stopped counting the dollars flying out of my wallet after $35k.  After all that work it still drives just like a Z, much better than a stock Z but still the same, which is okay by me.

It might be good idea to start with a list of all the mods you want to do and then price them out.

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I mean it seems like you want to do exactly what the B is for Build guy did. His swap would be considered a donor swap, swapping everything over from a donor. A shell swap or body on chassis swap, which is more of an older term as we are dealing with mostly unibodies, has to do more along the lines of dropping the body/panels on the floor/chassis of a donor. 

 

Might be good to look at terms to figure out what you really want.

 

There was a 240sx kit that grafter the front end of a 240z/280z onto it if aesthetics is more or less your goal. Otherwise it is a matter of finding an engine and interior that you like and figuring out how to make it all fit. There isn't really anything about this that is going to be easy or require a minimal amount of fabrication work. Some swaps have been done so they may be easier or kits may be available, but they usually revolve around loosing things such as power steering and a/c. I would look at the how much it cost video he did to have an idea of the cost you will be looking at, if I recall it was almost 50k all said and done. 

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Posted (edited)

You could maybe do it with a tremendous amount of time and money, basically what you want is a brand new car that looks old. You want your car to be something it's not. And you're clearly limited by budget, so the solution here is for you to find a newer car, and deal with the fact that it doesn't look like a Z. In order to achieve what you want, I think you're basically looking at cutting out the entire bottom of the chassis and swapping another car (or tube frame) in underneath it, and to be honest I find builds like that to be pointless. If you want something with suspension from X car, just buy that car and be done with it. Only makes sense if you really, really like building things - and know what you're doing.

Edited by rturbo 930

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I've driven a 240z that was close to what you wanted. Power steering, ice cold AC. Power windows. Could hold a conversation at a near whisper on the highway. Main difference is that he was still running a L engine and the interior was mostly original (or original looking).  Guy had 30k+ in the car and thousands of hours. Heavy as a pig for a 240z, and was probably a whopping 130 whp. But it sure was pretty and a nice "take the lady out" car.

 

I can think of a lot of cars I'd rather have if spending that kind of money though, ignoring time completely.

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Thank you guys for all the replies and i do understand that im asking for alot. That would be the dream car but i love my Z and im obviously willing to cut the wants on my list to just get get it better then where it is.

 

6 hours ago, grannyknot said:

I don't think this engine exists,  you can have 2-3 of those 7 wants but not all, you can also get the whole brake and suspension from TTT or Arizona Zcar and the car will handle great but it still won't feel modern, it certainly won't feel like your 5 series.

 

 

I obviously would love to get it handle like my bmw but i understand that its nearly impossible without a shell swap.

 

 

6 hours ago, seattlejester said:

There was a 240sx kit that grafter the front end of a 240z/280z onto it if aesthetics is more or less your goal. Otherwise it is a matter of finding an engine and interior that you like and figuring out how to make it all fit. There isn't really anything about this that is going to be easy or require a minimal amount of fabrication work. Some swaps have been done so they may be easier or kits may be available, but they usually revolve around loosing things such as power steering and a/c. I would look at the how much it cost video he did to have an idea of the cost you will be looking at, if I recall it was almost 50k all said and done. 

 

I would like to try and stay away from putting one car on top of the other i feel like building custom frames and mounts would be even more work then what i had in mind possibly more money then a kit too.

 

I guess what i realistically want is a quite, economic, stronger auto engine. which i feel isnt really that big of an ask after cutting some of the others? right? I dont know much about what kits are out there other then all the V8 builds. I mean to make it quieter Id just use a good amount of insulation, lizard skin, and new weather striping.

But just like you said its just a matter of finding an engine that fits and gives me room to still have AC/Heat. I can live without the power steering haha. but i feel like new coilovers or baggs will get the car atleast feeling more "Modern"

 

Some people in the datsun club i go to told me a to get a 300zx which is newer and u can swap most of the part for a quick cheaper way.

 

Im not trying to be unreasonable, and I know i asked for alot. but Id still like to get as close as i can to the original goal with Comfort, Handling, Economic, power  in that order.  I was hoping for some creative ideas on here haha. And on the topic of Budget yes money is always an issue but I do have alot of friends who are willing to help me for free they just dont know Z's theyre just along for the ride it up to me to find the game plan to execute.

 

 

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Well, here's an effort to guide/assist.

 

What you want isn't impossible, and the compromises will only be found as you make progress. You don't really made a decision on a compromise before you start, so the key is to just start.

 

You have a S30 you like. Does it have rust in the floor? Start there. Once you know floors are solid, adding an extra layer of underbody coating is easy as parts can all stay on. Removing interior to do inside with lizard skin and/or a mat can be done relatively easy in a weekend unless you want to remove the dash (not a bad idea, just not required for a first pass attempt imo). Tear down the doors to get those lined in something to deaden the sound (well placed dynamat works well here, just don't go crazy as 100% coverage usually just adds weight more than it reduces noise, you're just trying to kill resonance). This would also be a good time to add power windows if going that route. Also while you're looking at the doors, make sure you have door rubber in good condition, as this is a huge source of road noise. Also looking at seals, the hatch seal likely needs attention too. If you want to go a little crazy, the rear wheel well covers don't shield you much from the road noise. Adding some dynamat to the rear arches is good, but I'd also construct a secondary cover behind the rear panels that go between the wheels and tail lights, as that area picks up a lot of noise from under the car and transmits it into the cabin area. The interior panels alone do hardly anything to block that noise. While on the noise subject, don't forget that added padding/carpet thickness will also help greatly.

 

Once these first pass noise items are done (which are also semi-affordable in the grand scheme) I'd focus on the more mechanical things you can do that don't require major downtime/parts removal. 90% of people seem to LOWER their car, and increase spring rates not just to prevent bottoming out, but reduce body roll and provide a more sporty feel. Ironically, race cars do the opposite. They run as light of a spring as they need for a given track condition, then drop the height until the scrape. They use as much travel as they can get, leaving nothing unused. To give you a more luxurious ride, off the shelf coilovers will be the opposite direction in many ways, as the dampers will have much more aggressive bound resistance. You likely want softer bound damping, with close to factory rebound, with mildly softer springs. As long as you don't add 400lbs over factory, and you don't lower it, that should be fine, but also give you a lot smoother ride. I'd also run factory size roll bars, not larger, and run them with as minimal preload as possible semi-loose with rubber bushings, not poly. And on that note. replace all your bushings, and use OEM rubber.

 

Another item high on "feel" list imo is braking. Like steering, modern cars brake very differently. An oversized booster and master cylinder should go a long way to providing a softer pedal that acts more aggressively, not requiring as much take up travel as factory. Vented front disks wouldn't be a bad idea either, since you're already taking suspension apart.

 

Also, in case it wasn't obvious, run a quiet tire. This means it won't be the highest performance tire, but a quiet tire goes a long way in improving road noise as well as generally softening some driving dynamics.

 

For power steering, I'd go for the common electric assist setup. It's far simpler from an mechanical perspective as you don't need to find a powered rack and fabricate mounts for it, or find a pump and a way to put it on a given engine.

 

And as for engines, you're not asking for too much at all. But first step, on the interim period, is putting a better muffler on your current setup. Get something that'll quiet your engine down to a whisper, then other noises will be easier to track down and reduce. But the first engine that comes to mind is the new 2.3 mustang ecoboost with the ten speed auto. It'd be a little trick to install as you'd most definitely need the factory ECU and solve the security requirements, but it's not impossible. But it'd be far quieter, make significantly more power, and have a transmissions that FEELS like a luxury car by comparison. Oh, and it should easily get you 30-35 highway mpg.

 

Speaking of MPG... Better aero will actually help noise. Use headlight covers. Block off as much of the airflow AROUND the radiator as possible. Get a seal between the radiator and the support, add a seal on top of the radiator core support between the hood. Build a belly pan for the engine bay. Reducing this airflow into and through the engine bay will reduce wind noise that ends up getting heard through the firewall. At some point, you'll end up being able to hear wind noise around the mirrors. Get aerodynamic mirrors. Also, make a rear pan might be beneficial from an aero noise perspective as well. Sharp edges like the rear panel below the bumper will catch air and create noise. Same goes for the underside of the floorpan. While making a 5 piece belly pan might not have documented downforce figures, I'm quite sure you can end up reducing a fair bit of road noise, and it's not very expensive from a materials side, just a lot of time and energy. Also, once noise levels are low, I'd do testing with tape on items like the drip rails to see what else is making noise at high speed something as simple as the inlets on the cowl panel might be making a lot more noise than you realize, but don't hear in the car's current trim.

 

 

At the end of the day, all of this comes down to "start with the obvious" and work your way around the problem. Don't assume you need to cut the body apart and put it on top of a E36 in order to achieve your goals. A S30 CAN be quiet at speed. It can also drive REALLY nice when done right. Also remember that these cars didn't rattle, slam, and pop from the factory. A lot of your current noise is just "restoration" work that needs to be done.

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L type engines are tough power plants and can be built up to produce 600 hp plus with the right combination of compon. Part of that equation is the exhaust and you can tackle two of your issues starting there. Mind you the original Nissan interior insulation was completely inadequate even with stock exhaust so that is your second target. Both of these areas won't make it handle better but will make it more enjoyable to drive, which will give you a better idea of what you want next. 

The third item I would address is that transmission. Nissan automatic transmissions back then didn't make a Z better they made it so anyone could drive a Z car. That said get ahold of a 5 speed manual (if you can drive a clutch) and swap that; you'll feel instantly more power even with a stock engine. From what I've seen you can use up to a 1982 transmission from a ZX (I swapped my 240Z 4 speed with the 82' ZX 5 speed with a little sheet metal work, $200 for all and it felt like a completely different animal) however there were many Nissans with those 5 speeds; do some research. 

That's the short easy (and way less expensive) direction for your build.... one last thing, replace all of your seals, doors, windshield, side quarter windows, hatch, cowl, all of them and you won't have that exhaust odor also. 

 

Good of luck and have fun 

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So you want to build a VIP car... The word budget means something else in that scene. KyoeiUSA had a beautiful LS400 years ago. I think that car had an $8k custom interior in it. I recall Jin saying in an article something along the lines of "showing what you could accomplish on a budget." I personally like VIP builds, incredible effort and expense goes into making a unique build. If you want it to be all "ultimate driving machine feeling" put 10k or more in the interior. It is what you touch after all. Nice new dash, maybe defi gauges, custom carpet (not some cheap kit), door cards, seats, headliner, all of it. Leaning towards keeping it original looking, maybe a little flair here or there.

 

The stock interior in my Z was nice and comfortable, granted my '77 had the most trim panels inside compared to earlier models. Maybe you put a bunch of money into the inside, and do it well, it will only be nicer. I don't know what condition your car is in but if it is basically crap and needing everything. Well a broken ruler isn't much of a measuring stick.

 

I can kind of compare this because my unrestored, unmolested 85k mi time capsule 280Z was my only daily driver from 2008 to 2016. In 2014 I put coilovers and r-compound tires on it and drove it until I decided the car was showing its age at more frequent intervals. So I retired it from daily duties and bought a UCF20 LS400. That has been the daily since.  Having both of those to compare, you will never get the Z as quiet as something  like a luxury sedan. NVH testing today makes whatever they were doing in the 70s look nonexistent. (Honestly I don't think something like wind noise was something they really gave a crap about when designing the Z or most cars from the 70s.) There was plenty of other louder things to deal with. Wind noise around the cabin was probably the thing I heard the most. It is what it is. Also the Z is an open compartment hatch not something with a trunk like your 5 series. That plays a big roll in attenuating sounds from the back of the car. That and I think having a heavier chassis like a sedan helps in keeping road noise down. Less tin can, more lead sled.

 

My Z was in better condition than most cars I have seen, when I was driving it. Original weatherstripping in good shape, the whole of the car was like that. I didn't think the Z was an overly noisy or uncomfortable daily. Also no cabin fumes. I bought a Z because I wanted a Z and I love it for what it is. The Z is just an honest, driving, raw kind of experience. Maybe it's difficult to fully experience the Z when the car is an auto box.

 

Something else I just realized, my cousin had an E39 540i six speed. I rode in that car several times. It was fine, not sure it would be any gold standard to measure against. (However it is what you have to compare with) I will say my cousin has been in my LS and he mentioned how good it rides, and he has had far more cars than I.

 

Like others have said it sounds like you maybe want something else... also what if you go through this, are 50k deep and the Z just can't be what you think you wanted it to be. Or maybe you just don't actually know what you want due to lack of overall experience with cars/projects? (Honest/rhetorical question)

 

Maybe you sell both cars, get an LS500 and have KyoeiUSA do air runner and some Ordens. 500hp and 30mpg if I recall. $80-85k all in I'd say?... Game Over. (Half joking half serious)

 

Not sure if any of this helps. If you don't like your Z for some reason it might just be the fact of its present condition being in need of major repair?

 

Keith is here in town. He put a nice Z together after he sold his Amazon. Although I haven't bumped into the car in person since he finished it. I know the air ride kit is custom.

http://www.stanceworks.com/2016/09/round-2-keith-rosss-1977-datsun-280z/

 

Edited by JavelinZ

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There was an observation made on this forum some years ago, of how many members had "graduated" from the S30 Datsun to... a Porsche!  The rationale was that they wanted something quieter, more luxurious, more elegant, and yet... something quick, responsive, well-sorted, rust-free and suitable for an elegant night-on-the-town.  A late 1990s - early 2000s base-model 911 can be found for around $20K.  Automatics will be cheaper than manuals, and yes, they have power-steering.

 

The 240/260/280Z doesn't lend itself to luxury.  It's hard to simultaneously achieve good handling and a compliant ride.  It's hard to quiet-down the noise (wind, engine, tires).  It's expensive to equip the interior in luxurious finishes.  And it's quite a prodigious challenge to introduce the various modern electronics that are now associated with luxury.  By buying a car that's 25-30 years younger, you get all of that... plus substantially more engineering-development, and a dollop of prestige (if that matters).

 

The advantage of the Z is its rawness and simplicity.  To each his own, of course... but replacing that rawness and simplicity, with refinement and complexity, sounds... challenging.

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You have got a lot of excellent replies here,hope you don't get discouraged.Carefully read the ones from Michael and Gollum.Datsun z cars were built as a true sports car and i don't think quiet and smooth fits anywhere.Hard to compare a German car to a Datsun.These guys have all built their cars so are speaking from experience.I chose a Sbc carb engine for it's ease of installation and cost,bigger brakes and coil-overs.To quiet down the ride,there are all kinds of options here.I chose much horsepower,loud exhaust and ear plugs.

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Maybe I've just had a more humble upbringing, but after driving more and more modern/nice cars, I've realized that the only "luxury" I really care about in luxury cars is a Comfortable seats, a quiet cabin, decent audio (I'm a music teacher) that can play over bluetooth and make calls, and working AC. There's really not much to it for me. At a certain point I guess luxury just starts becoming about materials used and fancier options that, to be honest, I've barely used even in my new car.

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I found some features that I think I have been spoiled with. Of course blind spot indicators are nice, but things like TPMS and backup cameras are really handy. I've even bought those for the datsun. TPMS is nice since I don't drive the car much it gives a nice little reminder if one is low and backup cameras are just nice if you are in tight spaces. As long as the car isn't overtly noisy or at least if the noise is limited to either mechanical via engine whine, exhaust, etc I'm fine. I think it is the little squeaks and odd rattle that gets me more.

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15 hours ago, seattlejester said:

I found some features that I think I have been spoiled with. Of course blind spot indicators are nice, but things like TPMS and backup cameras are really handy. I've even bought those for the datsun. TPMS is nice since I don't drive the car much it gives a nice little reminder if one is low and backup cameras are just nice if you are in tight spaces. As long as the car isn't overtly noisy or at least if the noise is limited to either mechanical via engine whine, exhaust, etc I'm fine. I think it is the little squeaks and odd rattle that gets me more.

 

Even when it's not technical, you're always catching stuff I miss haha.... Yeah, the backup cameras are definitely a big plus, but with tech getting cheaper and cheaper there are going to be cheaper options in the future than even the ones available now. Honestly there's so much stuff you can do now with just aftermarket sensors/cameras/ecu and a tablet.

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Why not just buy a 300ZX? Seems to meet your criteria.

 

The S30 series (240Z, 260Z, 280Z) was designed as a sports car. It was  expected to be light weight, simple and Spartan.

 

There are some simple things you can do to make the car ride and perform better for not a lot of money:

 

1. Suspension:

  • Stiffer springs e. g. 180 lb/in front  280 lb/in rear.  Keep the stock ride height.
  • Replace all of the factory bushings with polyurethane bushings
  • Install better shocks e.g., Tokico blues

2. Interior:

  • Install sound/heat attenuation materials: Dynamat/Be Cool mat and reflective thermal fiber mat
  • Install the full carpet kit available from MSA  (further reduces heat and sound)
  • Upholster the door cards to reduce sound
  • Install better seats
  • Install a sound system

3. Brakes:  Leave stock, but rebuild as needed and use Carbotech AX6 brake pads and shoes.

 

4. Exterior: Tint the windows

 

5. Electrical: Install the headlight relay kit designed by a HybridZ member (Dave) and sold at MSA. Saves the headlight switch and allows higher wattage bulbs in an H4 housing

Edited by Miles

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