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HybridZ

Camaro owner, future Datsun owner?


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Hey there all,

 

I figured I'd make a minor introduction in an attempt to force myself to commit to the Dastun world again.

 

I'm a 30yr old Australian living in North Carolina, I spend my time doing a number of things but the most time consuming of them all is building my Camaro.

When I first moved to the states for my wife 5 years ago I wanted to dive straight back into a car after a couple of year hiatus and after some time I found a 68 Camaro shell, fast forward to now and I have almost completed a full protouring money pit of a machine that will soon resemble my dream car.

 

Having grown up in Australia I was exposed to a number of Japanese cars and have owned a civic, Mitsubishi Legnum(google it), S4 Rx7 to name a few, as well as a rusty Datsun 510 that was too far gone to save. I had always worked on my cars and enjoyed doing so but it wasn't until this Camaro did I truly get my hands dirty.

 

Enough typing, pictures..

 

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I went a little over the top with some big ideas which tagged extra time and extra money into the build but I'm loving where it's going. We could discuss it's modifications all day long but this isn't the forum for that so here's the link to my build thread on pro-touring.com. 

https://www.pro-touring.com/threads/116825-Streamline-1968-camaro-project?highlight=streamline

 

One hurdle I continued to face with the Camaro was my skill set vs the cars value, which led me to outsource the metal fabrication and soon to be the painting. Although I was willing to learn a lot of skills throughout the build, these two had consequences I couldn't justify and this is where my Z obsession has started.

 

For some time I have wanted another project that I could truly build from start to finish myself and have narrowed it down to a 65 mustang coupe, Ford Maverick, Or Datsun s30. With Datsun surpassing the other options due to it's Japanese heritage and dare I say, better construction.

 

I plan to continue the Hybrid z trend and love a lot of the styling cues associated with them, I also have an engine swap in mind that I am yet to see done, but from measurements taken, I believe to be possible.

 

I will continue to rake facebook marketplace, craigslist, forums, eBay etc until I find the perfect starting point, however should anyone know of a good base I am more than happy to take a look.

 

For now my target is a rust free(relatively speaking) body or roller, preferably with glass and dash that will be suitable for a full tear down, bodyworked, engine swapped, repainted Z with aftermarket suspension and unique singer inspired interior.

 

Located close to North Carolina.

 

I don't have a budget in mind however the deal with the wife is that If I'm stupid enough to get another project before completing the first one, then expenses must be to a minimum until I'm driving the Camaro, so I figure this allows me to do the body work and fit the engine until then.

 

Look forward to learning more,

James Stevens

 

 

 

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Welcome James, and beautiful job on the 68 Camaro! I'm also on the east coast and if I'm being perfectly honest, it's slim pickings out here for a rust-free S30. You'll want to keep a close watch on eBay, Bring a Trailer, and Z-specific Facebook communities. If you're dead set on it being rust-free, be prepared to fly out west and drive, trailer, or ship something back. When I started my project, rust-free was my one unwavering requirement (as I quite enjoy all other car / engineering related work). I spent almost a year looking before I found a suitable candidate. For sure read up here on all the spots to watch out for, as I looked at 5+ "rust free" advertised Zs that were anything but (if you knew where to look).

 

As far as events relatively near by, the Mitty at Road Atlanta is fantastic, and there's always a reasonably large "Z Corral" there:

https://www.roadatlanta.com/the-mitty

 

Also ZCon is in Nashville this year, and definitely worth checking out:

http://www.zcon.org/

 

ZDayz is probably pretty close to you:

https://zdayz.com/

 

Lastly if you ever find yourself passing through Atlanta or at any of these events, feel free to shoot me a PM! :-)

 

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Branden thanks for the detailed reply!

I'm quickly understanding what you're saying and seeing so many good Z's out west compared to what I'm seeing available here.
I don't NEED rust free, but we replaced EVERY panel on my Camaro due to rust and it probably cost 30-40% of my entire build in doing so and I'd like to avoid repeating that as much as possible.

In the meantime I have actually found a Z just up the road from my house that has been dying in a back yard for some years. It has some minor visible rust, small hole on both rocker panels as well as the rear quarter around the fuel fill, but it may end up being my best bet if there isn't too much more than this. I've been told the owner is willing to sell but haven't been able to make contact just yet.

 

I'll actually be in Atlanta next weekend meeting friends, If I get any downtime I'll shoot you a message,

James

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The other thing to keep in mind about the Z, especially the lighter weight 240, is that it's unibody construction. Any part of the chassis that's rusted out can greatly reduce structural rigidity, and in some places (looking at you, tension compression rods) can impact alignment and braking. Even with a clean chassis, if you're planning for 300+ hp/tq, you'll probably want to beef it up with bad dog frame rails at a minimum and/or a roll cage. Unless you're planning for a restoration / cruiser (which I doubt), I'd personally try to find one as clean as possible!

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  • 2 weeks later...

An aggressive build - including something like a modern V8 and a commensurate development of the suspension and chassis - means that the eventual product will differ little, whether it is a Camaro, an S30 Z, a Henry J, a Fiat Topolino, a Pontiac Tempest, a Toyota Corolla or a Plymouth Roadrunner.

 

Huh?

 

Lighter cars get heavier.  Heavier cars get lighter.  Big wheels and big brakes make a heavy car stop faster, but add unsprung mass to a lighter car.  Designs converge.

 

I've spent 20 years building (using the term sparingly) an S30 Datsun with an aggressive cage, firewall setback and Chevy big block (454) engine.  It is basically a... Camaro.  The Datsun purists of the 80s and 90s actually had a point.  And that point is: finish your Camaro, give it the acceleration and braking and handling that you like, and call it a day.  Why?  Because if/when you build a Datsun, to the same level of dedication, craftsmanship and hi-po parts, in the end you'll have another Camaro.  It will be a little bit lighter and a little bit more nimble, owing to a shorter wheelbase.  It might -subjectively - be prettier.  But conceptually it will be similar. 

 

So, what would I do differently today?  Something light, Japanese, simple to work on, with strong performance potential?  I'd do an early 1990s Mazda Miata.  Maybe a V6 swap or a turbo.  And mostly leave the chassis and suspension alone.

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Great analysis,  and very true, and something I'm hoping to avoid with my next project.

My reason for wanting a Datsun (or ford maverick) is because I want something totally different to the Camaro, something smaller, lighter, CHEAPER with simpler bolt on suspension, and preferably a modern 6 cylinder turbo which will never have it's head cracked. something with a simplified interior that remains street legal that I will never take a second glance at a paint chip.

But most importantly to further my basic fab skills in a way I couldn't bring myself to do with this Camaro.

 

Fortunately, this COVID downtime is giving me a great chance to wrap up the body work so hopefully my 68 is painted soon and onto final assembly!

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 3/17/2020 at 7:38 AM, slimjim said:

My reason for wanting a Datsun (or ford maverick) is because I want something totally different to the Camaro, something smaller, lighter, CHEAPER with simpler bolt on suspension, and preferably a modern 6 cylinder turbo which will never have it's head cracked. something with a simplified interior that remains street legal that I will never take a second glance at a paint chip.

But most importantly to further my basic fab skills in a way I couldn't bring myself to do with this Camaro.

 

There are copious and considerable reasons to build a Z - even today, with vastly higher prices and reduced availability.  Certainly I don't mean to dissuade you.  Rather, the point is that you may find that it's not altogether different from building your Camaro.  Costs would be driven by very similar issues.  Sourcing/dealing/waiting for parts, would be similar.  Rust repair is rust repair.  Likewise with body work, electricals, suspension, and so forth.

 

Out of curiosity, what do your Camaro weigh?  

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  • 2 weeks later...

In part I hope they share a lot of similarities so that my skills aren't wasted, yet with a vastly different outcome. I'm still keeping an eye out for a Z, but they're far and few between and right now, particularly through this lockdown, I am crushing the progress on the Camaro.

68 Camaros can range from 2700-3500lbs depending on a LOT of options. Pro-touring styled builds aim to be on the lower side so I'm hoping I'll be  somewhere around 3000lbs without driver since ALL body panels have been replaced with aftermarket AMD panels which are considerably lighter than the original GM sheet metal. an Aluminum LS3 drops the weight considerably over the original motor. The speed tech subframe is said to be 125lbs lighter than the original subframe plus a plastic dash from the 5th gen over the heavy steel dash to name a few significant changes.

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On 4/23/2020 at 3:11 PM, slimjim said:

68 Camaros can range from 2700-3500lbs depending on a LOT of options. Pro-touring styled builds aim to be on the lower side so I'm hoping I'll be  somewhere around 3000lbs without driver since ALL body panels have been replaced with aftermarket AMD panels which are considerably lighter than the original GM sheet metal. an Aluminum LS3 drops the weight considerably over the original motor. 

 

The 240Z was around 2300 pounds, and the 280Z around 2800 pounds.   More precise weights are available elsewhere on this site.

 

More weight is removed from the 280 than from the 240, as part of the sort of upgrades that one does, to make the vehicle of a more sporting nature.  But quite a bit of weight is gained to strengthen components, both structurally and in the powertrain.  On the other hand, the Nova/Camaro cars that are winning the elite "amateur" drag races are... well, you know better than me.  Some of them are down to Miata weight.

 

My guess is that an S30 Z, subjected to the same aggressive treatment as a serious Camaro (built LS3 possibly with turbo, T56 or equivalent, 9" rear on a 4-link, fuel cell, partial or full tube chassis, sheet-metal floor, lexan-everything, full roll cage, single aluminum seat bolted to the cage, aluminum "dash", no HVAC,..) would come in at around 300 pounds less than a Camaro.  The savings are from shorter wheelbase and shorter car; commensurately less metal to hold it together, thinner/lighter suspension bits, smaller brakes for the same braking-performance and so forth.  The difference is more of cost/effort, than weight.  The Camaro would not longer have a Chevy steering system; it would be an aftermarket rack.  All those suspension control arms and ball joints and bushing?  Gone, replaced with tubular/delrin stuff.  The Z could keep its stock steering rack and basic design of the stock suspension (probably coilovers and so forth... but same basic topology).  The Z can get maybe 70% of the way there, with very minimal changes to the brakes, while the Camaro is looking at getting the Wilwood catalog thrown at it.  And so forth.

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