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Full Datsun 280z Replacement

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Posted (edited)

Hello All,


I am a very amateur "car" guy. I have never done anything major on the car. I've done my brakes before and change my own oil, but that is about it. Besides that my knowledge of all the terms is very limited. I am looking at getting a Datsun 280z and want to bring it into the modern age. Right now, I don't even know what all that entails. Could someone please point me in the right direction of where I can start reading or if someone can make a list for me that would be great.


here is what I've gotten so far. 


- Engine

- Transmission
- Electrical
- Suspension/brakes


I've been able to find all these things individually -- but what If I want to replace all of it. Can I replace them independently or do they all have to work together?

I don't want to get certain mounts for a certain engine but then that mount gets in the way of the transmission etc (i really don't even know if this is a stupid question).  I would get all this work done by a shop -- but the shops I've called want me to get all the parts for them.

Has anyone done a full 0-100 replacement and have a list of the work done? I am hoping for a 10k or so budget. Any advice or direction would be very appreciated. Thank you




Edited by datsun2413

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Welcome to the forums.


Please take a moment to look over the Announcement section for general forum rules and quirks. Please note you have posted in the FAQ section which does not allow for responses. Take a moment to make sure you are posting in an appropriate area.


For a full restoration a 10k budget is on the low end depending on how much you want to replace. If you are looking for a resto-mod depending on the route you go you could use that all on the engine and transmission easily.


Take a look around at other people's builds and see what you want, whether that has to do with aesthetics (wheels, ride height, bumpers, etc) or activity (road race, drift, autox, drag racing, car shows). Do lots of reading, build lists, someone could tell you what they think is right, but that may not be right for you. 


Best place to start would be the condition of the car you have. Pictures will be helpful. For example if the car is rusty, you may end up spending 5k on rust repair easily.


Generally a stage 1 "upgrade" would modernize the car a bit and would generally consist of:

Replacement aftermarket shocks and springs vogtland (Sp) or KYB and tokico springs

Rebuild of stock calipers and drums 

Replacement of brake lines, wheel cylinders, master cylinders

Headers for the engine

Fluid flush (coolant, engine, transmission, differential, brake, clutch)

Energy suspension bushings (except for the tension arm, DO NOT use poly bushings there in the stock configuration)

Alternator upgrade

Headlight relay upgrade

Interior and brake light relay/upgrade

Inspection and replacement of drivetrain bushings, upgrade to RT style mount for the differential

Inspection and replacement of U-joints in drive shafts


Make lists and figure things out for things in the future, say having the stock EFI system rebuilt will not be cost effective if you plan on swapping to an aftermarket ECU and bigger injectors and aftermarket fuel lines down the road. Headers would be wasteful if you plan on swapping to an L28ET down the road. Plan well and don't do things twice and you can make your budget go a little further.

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Your question is really so open-ended, it's pretty hard to give an answer that means anything.  What are you replacing the stock components with?  (The gist of your question implies engine/trans swaps, etc).  Also, sounds like you're planning to have a shop do all the work for you...that alone will triple or quadruple the total cost of the project.  As seattlejester suggested, you can start your research by reading as many of the "build threads" that other members have posted.....that may give you an idea of the magnitude of work that's required for a full & complete build/restoration.  You will also want to make some firm decisions about your goals for the car before you spend a single dollar on it.

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I'm replacing most everything on my Z, and even trying to go as cheap as possible on everything, and using lots of junk yard parts and doing 100% of the labor myself, I still can't find a way to spend less then 15k.


A much better way to do a "full" upgrade, would be to upgrade everything else that isn't engine related first (brakes, suspension, chassis strengthening, seats, paint, bodykit?, etc) before you touch the engine.


As soon as the engine comes out, you'll want to upgrade everything "while you're there". At this point, just add 3-5 years onto whatever time budget you gave yourself unless you're one of those crazy singular focus ultra driven workhorses that apparently has no other hobbies. Man I'm jealous of those people.


There's an Australian guy on youtube right who documented pretty much every aspect of his Z restoration. You might want to give his damn near 90 videos a watch and see if that's what you want to do.



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I'm a bit curious about why you're planning such extensive modifications to a car it doesn't sound like you've even driven...


If you want a 280z, get it and drive it, then decide if it's lacking. Some parts of these cars need modernization, like the electrical system, but most changes come with a lot of compromise.


It's easy to get into the thinking that "newer is better", but that's not necessarily true.


Buy the car.


Drive the car.


Change the car. (optional)

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Agreed with the above. I bought mine as a rusted out roller and 2 years and $25k+ later it still isn't to a point of running/ driving under its own power. And my build isn't even close to the craziest build on here. Probably middle of road really. 


If you have a running/ driving car, just enjoy it for now and upgrade as you go but plan ahead. i.e. you want to upgrade your brakes, but now you need bigger wheels to accommodate, and extended wheel studs, and may as well replace the stub axles, and maybe do a CV conversion, and flares to fit the wider wheels, and coilovers, etc etc. Its a VERY slippery slope. 

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