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AME complete chassis '77 280Z

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10 hours ago, clarkspeed said:

First I have seen this thread. Very ambitious. Good luck and glad to see you finally got back to your dream car.

Thank you.   After 21 years of sitting on it, I finally decided to make a (major) move.   Now there is no looking back.   I am committed and need to have this on the road within a few years.

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11 hours ago, A to Z said:

Sounds good, but PICTURES are priceless.


I don't have a whole lot to show at this time until the wheels arrive (later June) and the chassis (hopefully September).    I finally removed the ugly rear bumper gap cover by drilling out the spot welds.  I managed to only completely perforate the body once in the process.    Steering rack simulator linkage below.  Tubes cut to length, I just need to prep and weld in the threaded tube ends.   This will be my first real welding project with my Miller 200DX which I bought 9 years ago (for the Datsun).   I am a novice welder, having TIG welded some tubing back in the 1994 timeframe, and only about 5 minutes of TIG welding since that time with my inverter TIG.   The outer links are 7/8" OD tubing, chosen to match the link tubes O.D. that are coming from AME, because one of the other things I need to check is that at full track travel, they don't interfere with the front sway bar links.    AME already drop shipped the Wilwood front brake kit (12.88" rotors, aluminum hubs, 6 piston calipers) at my request, so that I could get the hubs ready to mount on the spindles when I have the chassis in my driveway.   The chassis comes assembled in the crate.    I have to be able to mount the wheels to roll it into my garage.   No forklift at home!


Wilwood BP-10 pads included.   Anyone know if they are any good or not?



Rear bumper gap cover.jpg

Rack simulator.jpg

Rack mounting baseline AME.jpg

Wilwood front brake and hub kit.jpg

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

I’ll have a Fat Tire please.

My wheels and tires arrived this past week.   Here are the specs:


Front:  Forgeline GA3 18x9 with 5.5” backspacing.  5 x 4.75” bolt pattern.  Michellin PS4 255/35ZR18

Rear:  Forgeline GA3 18x10.5 with 7” backspacing.  5 x 4.75” bolt pattern.  Michellin PS4 295/30ZR18


I spent no less than 20 years thinking about tires and wheels for my car.  For a long time I was leaning toward 17” wheels and thought that this size looked the best aesthetically.  But once I started designing the custom chassis earlier this year, I had to finalize the decision.  So I looked for every photo I could find online of tire/wheel sizes for a Z car, and also examined tire sizes online to see what was commonly available and the price tag thinking about replacements in the future.  I considered square setups and staggered setups with different tire sizes front / rear.


I decided early on that I wanted to keep overall tire diameter in front and rear as close as possible to OE, for handling, balance, and overall packaging concerns.   OE tire dia. is about 24.6”.  A lot of tires being used on these cars, like the 275/40R17 look too large on the car for my liking.  That tire is a full 1” larger in diameter than OE.  So for a good while I thought I would go with 255/40R17 on all four corners, at 25” diameter.   As I thought more about this and came closer to the time I needed to lock down the decision, I moved in favor of the larger 18” setup, primarily to get more grab in the rear with the availability of a wider tire – the 295/30R18 – at the same diameter as the narrower 255/35 – 25” in diameter both.


As for the wheel width and backspacing, I worked from the outside in of the car.   That is, I measured the total width of my car body between the widest points of the fender lips.   I came up with about 63.5” both front and rear.   I wanted to keep my tires inboard as much as possible, because I think some of the set-ups I see look a bit too much like a VW beetle, with the tires well outside of the natural body lines of the car, with extra wide fender flares starting to approach beetle likeness.   This is more noticeable viewing these cars from the front and rear.  Not so much from the sides.


So I designed around a “bulge width”, of 64.5”, for both front and rear.   That is, from the outside bulge of the left tire to the outside bulge of the right tire.   This gives me approximately ½” of tire bulge outside of the OE fender lip at its widest point.  (So I will still need fender flares, but less aggressive than most setups with OE rear suspension and wide tires)  This setup gives me quite a bit more tire width on the inboard side compared to OE tires, without causing interference with steering, suspension, or frame.


Initially I was considering 65.5”bulge width in the rear and 64.5” in the front, but the president at AME voiced the opinion that my car was going to tend to plow, and I would have to power around curves, so I decided on my own to bring in the rear tires another ½” on each side to equal out the front, thinking that this would counter the tendency to plow.  (Hope it does)  Of course doing this at the sacrifice of reducing space behind the tires and rear suspension for exhaust and fuel tank mounting.


On the rim widths, I went with the measured rim width as listed on Tirerack for the tires I choose, thinking that this would give me the best overall performance.  I am happy with the aesthetics, although the front tires do look slightly more stretched on the 9” wide rims than the rear tires on the 10.5” rims.  The difference is subtle though.


Deciding on Forgeline wheels came relatively late.   I hadn’t even heard of Forgeline until earlier this year.  I was looking at Boze Forged wheels after seeing these on one of the higher profile Z cars visible in photo shoots on the internet, and I called Boze several times and spoke with the owner and his son.   They were nice people, but ultimately I didn’t like that they only perform final assembly/ machining, and couldn’t give me very detailed information up front about their product.  They buy their center sections and rims forged by another company in the US.   Their web site shows absolutely no infrastructure / machining operations, so I felt that I would be better off looking at some other wheel companies.


I looked at Billet Specialties and called them.   The guy I spoke with came across a little arrogant when responding to my questions, and not very interested in my project.  So I ditched them immediately.


I came across a video on Youtube in which the owner spoke highly of Forgeline wheels, so I decided to check them out.    Their website and videos impressed me that this is a serious wheel company, so I looked for a dealer and came across Hawk’s Motorsports just 45 minutes away from me.   The Forgeline website is probably one of the best I have seen of any wheel company, giving specs, pricing, and photos of their wheels used on customer cars.   They list retail pricing, but a sizeable discount is available when buying through a dealer.  The wheels are made in Dayton, Ohio.


I am happy with the service from both Forgeline and Hawk’s Motorsports where I bought the wheels/tires.  Nice people at both places, and I can recommend both.  I had a nice exchange back and forth with the owner and president of Hawk’s.  He has been very concerned to make sure I was satisfied.


Now I have to find a closet to hide these until the chassis arrives.








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