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Fresher than Dice in the Mirror

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Hello everyone, 


I have been looking at Z cars for a few years out of pure admiration, but recently I've taken to the idea of building one from the ground up. 


I have general maintenance experience with cars, I've replaced the engine in an Oldsmobile Alero (that one ran), and I've taken apart and put back together a Kasea Skyhawk 150cc four wheeler (still isn't running yet). 


I am a planner. I won't be able to actually buy the base vehicle for six months to a year. I am attempting to budget it all out and posting on here will put some skin in the game on my conscious.  I like the looks of the early 1970s 260z. 


I would like to gear it toward SCCA autocross events, just as a hobby, but still drive it around town on occasion. No intent on becoming the next Ken Miles or Mario Andretti. 


That being said, I was hoping to get some advice on base vehicles to start looking at. I have read a few posts and it seems rust-free is not only cost-effective for a rebuild, but also safe. If there is rust on the quarter panels, but not the rockers or the actual frame, is that okay? Any other areas where rust is okay? Anything else that I should be looking out for? I'm pretty handy and willing to learn whatever I need to to make it work. This is going to be a long-term hobby for me. 


Right now, I don't plan on putting in a new engine (I'm sure that will change). I would like to focus on the suspension, steering, and chassis. Does anyone have suggestions on where to start with that? I have Zero experience with that aspect of vehicles. 


I hope I can learn a lot from everyone here, and maybe provide some advice to others as time goes on. 


I'm in East Tennessee. If anyone is willing to sit down and teach me a thing or two, I will buy your coffee. 




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Originally from California, but reside in Nashville area, for the last few years.  So if your ever in the area, say hello.  You might want to head to ZCON, this September, unless they push it back due to the COVID-19.  That way you can see Z's of types and get more ideas.


I too am setting up my vehicle, for SCCA and other small racing.  I am one who is stripping out and shedding parts that make it lighter, to be geared more towards the track then being comfortable on the street.  Gonna be paying more, the nicer a vehicle is, inside and out, but you understand that.  So if you are not looking to do much with the engine, depends if you want to deal with carbs or fuel injection.  280z if want fuel injection or go older if want carbs, but it also depends if the previous owner swapped out engines or other components to suit their needs.


As with rust and suspension/steering/chassis, I am not an expert when it comes to Datsuns, but I was a technician for Jaguar and Land Rover, so I have a good understanding with cars.  Rust repairs is about time and money, if you have it.  There are a fair amount of panels for these vehicles, from the post I've seen.  But it is on you, if you want to take on the repairs or farm it out, if you are not confidant welding.


If wanting specifics on some things as suspension, I've seen a few show their knowledge here.  Just depends on how stiff or soft you want to go.  The amount you are willing to pay.  Or if just replacing the stock struts.


If looking to replace worn items with decent parts, take a look at rockauto.com.  If wanting to upgrade somewhat over stock, take a look at zcarparts.com, which is the website for Motorsports Auto.  Or zcardepot.com or the 100's of others out there, that specialize in certain aspects of the z cars.  Zcarsource.com is more for stock/used parts.


So in the end, depends on the vehicle you buy and what exactly you want out of it.  Some here may be purest and return it to stock, others may restomod their Z, I on the other hand can care less about the looks and looking to have a fun SCCA/Track car.

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It's great to see some more people from East TN getting into the Z family. We have quite a few experienced Datsun guys in and around the Knoxville area.


Chassis wise there are a few considerations.

The 280Z chassis is touted as being stiffer than the earlier chassis'. An earlier chassis can be stiffened, but it involves more work/funds.

Personally I would choose the starting point/chassis that would be in the best shape your budget could afford. The least rusted car you can find/afford the better off you are in the long run (IMO).


I have my 260Z is setup for cruising/mountain driving/to be well rounded. I doubt it would be competitive in any of the local autocross events but it would certainly be fun.


If you'd like i would be happy to get some of the guys together and have a sit down with you. If anything, you would have a few Datsun contacts in the area then. :)


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I go to Nashville every few months for work; I'll let you know next time I'm in town. 


I would think avoiding carb would be the best idea. I just hate those bumpers on the 280z. I guess I could try to find a 260z with the L28 engine in it? 


I have no welding experience. That being said, there is a sort of "co-op" here in Knoxville that lets you learn how to weld and utilize their equipment to practice. It's only $50 a month + materials. I was kind of interesting in learning that and then applying it to the car build. But, I would definitely prefer to avoid doing major welding on the vehicle. 


Thanks for the heads up on the part shops. I've used Rock Auto for my Frontier, love it. 


Where and what is ZCON? If it's not too much of a drive, I would be down to attend. 




It sounds like a 280z may be better if it has a stiffer chasis to begin with and the fuel injectors. I haven't scoured the forums yet, but i assume there is a way to get rid of those huge bumpers and put on a more 260ish grill. 


Definitely need the mountain driving capabilities here in Knoxville. haha. 


I would be interested in getting together. Probably have to wait until this virus thing calms down, but I'll send a message later on. 

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Sounds good, Newguy.  I myself have a 1975 280z, but I'm just going to run with the bumpers off.  Many people buy brackets and install 240z bumpers, if they really want something on their 280z.  But they also have fill in pieces, to weld into the rear, where the bumper components went thru the body, from Skillard.


ZCON, is a national convention of Z cars, to be held here in Nashville this year, Sept. 14-19th.  You can get more info at zcon.org.  Basically car shows, auto cross and track days at NCM, driving tours to different locations, and tours of the Nissan plant.  It changes cities every year, but just happens to be here around the Nashville area.


I lucked out with my car compared to most here, having bought it in 2010 for only $1000, with no rust that I can tell of, being a California car.  Mine sat for a long time, with a broken right passenger window, but they had 1 for it.  And they sold the driver seat.  But as I am doing autocross, I didn't mind the disgusting carpet or oxidized paint.


So hope you eventually find 1 that suits your needs and level.  Prices seem to always be going up, but maybe you can find that 1 granny selling her car or some estate just wanting to get rid of one.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hey guys, 


What do you think? I know it's a 240, but I figure any upgrades to make it "raceable" are way down the road. 


I can't tell if the floor panels are bad or not, I'm going to request some more pics. 




thanks for any input!


hope y'all are staying safe.


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