Jump to content

jmortensen's "while I'm at it" roadrace/autox project

Recommended Posts

A little background. I bought my second Z, the currrent project, the year I got married. It was 1997, I was 22, and my wife wanted "a car with some character". The plan was to build a nice handling street car that I could autocross for fun and that she could drive daily. That's what we built the first time around.

Here is a list of what the car had after the original build:


GC coilovers and camber plates

200/250 in/lb springs


Gmachine bushings in back and TC kit in front

poly front LCA bushings

L28 with dished pistons and E31 head


a very small cam upgrade

280ZX EI



2.5" exhaust

full carpet kit

80 280ZX 5 speed

3.70 Z31T LSD diff

Toy 4 piston calipers

79-81 ZX rear disk

240SX ebrake cable

79-81 ZX master cylinder

Autopower roll bar

Recaro seats

Autometer gauges

MSA anti-roll bars

H4 headlights on relays

and a really bad but still expensive paint job


This combination was fun to drive and did OK at the local autox, usually placing in the top 15 or so. As time went on my wife was driving the Z less and less. Neither one of us can really figure out why that happened. She loved the car, but she just seemed to lean towards our 93 Toyota P/U, and when we bought a new Subaru it was all over. She would drive the Z maybe one day a month or so. That's when it became my car, and that's when I started to modify it to be more serious about racing.


4 point harness

rod end TC rods

rod end front LCAs

slotted the front crossmember for bumpsteer adjustment

larger cam

44 Mikunis

electric fan

strut tower bars front and rear

L28 bottom end with flat top pistons and Euro damper

15x8 circle track steel wheels

Yokohama slicks, front take offs from Toy Atlantic cars


I raced it pretty religiously at the local autox until they lost the space. Then I started trying track days at Buttonwillow, but they were very expensive so I couldn't go as often as I wanted. Later I found out about NASA's autox in Marina, CA, and began to do the 2 hour drive to go to that event every month. After a couple years the NASA site was shut down, so I was relegated to only doing track days at Buttonwillow and also at the Streets of Willow. The car was pretty competitive. I was racing a lot of the same guys I had been autocrossing against, and was coming in the top 5 overall. Rust started creeping out of every seam in the body and bubbling up under the paint on every panel. The car was flexy, really flexy, and everything was just tired. Here's an autox video from about this time period: http://videos.streetfire.net/search/autox/0/3B512F0F-8AD1-4DAB-BD8E-0AE1768FB642.htm. The sig pic is from about the same time as well.


Next step was the current build. My wife wanted to move from idyllic, beautiful San Luis Obispo to trafficky, rainy, crappy Seattle to finish her Masters degree, so off we went. This was supposed to take 2 years and I figured that while we were here I could devote some time to the car and get some things taken care of. On my list were a brake upgrade, fuel cell installation, 4.11 diff swap, new roll bar, and maybe a CV swap, but the biggee was to FIX RUST! I was going to try and do the whole project for $2000. 4 years later my wife is supposed to finish her thesis in 6 months, and the project has gone surprisingly not so far over budget, maybe double at this point. The "while I'm at its" have gotten me big time, and here's what I've been up to in that time.


Sectioned the struts, but didn't consult here or take pics, so no link for that one.


Also installed new rear wheel bearings and 280Z stub axles with MM CV adapters, no link here either. Used longer ARP studs. Also installed long studs in the new 280Z front hubs that work with the JSK Wilwoods.


Made a Simon De Groot style front diff mount: http://forums.hybridz.org/showthread.php?t=92546


Made a rotisserie: http://forums.hybridz.org/showthread.php?t=105319


Fixed rusty doglegs:http://forums.hybridz.org/showthread.php?t=102470


Fixed cowl rust: http://forums.hybridz.org/showthread.php?t=106849


Stitch welded chassis: http://forums.hybridz.org/showthread.php?t=95739


Cut off the drip rails (not finished with this one): http://forums.hybridz.org/showthread.php?t=107679&highlight=drip+rails


Swapped LSD into 4.11 diff and shimmed the clutch stack: http://forums.hybridz.org/showthread.php?t=92629


New roll bar (which is going to turn into a roll cage project pretty quick):



Somewhere in here I had the talk with my wife about the car and it's future. It was decided that it will be a race car, and the build will proceed on that basis, so basically no more concern about comfort, no passenger seat even, no roll up windows, etc.


Ultra-Shield seat: http://forums.hybridz.org/showthread.php?t=103817


Decided to fix the TC rods I had. The old ones were binding horribly, and I had never noticed. I also wanted to adjust the anti-dive characteristic of the front suspension. This project also led to installing bad dog subframe connectors and some mods to my seat bracket: http://forums.hybridz.org/showthread.php?t=106974









Made a toe adjuster with blueovalz and jeromio (already needs a repaint): http://forums.hybridz.org/showthread.php?t=89111




Bought new rear ST swaybar, and in the process of installing it and trying to make it adjustable, went to a pretty crazy full rod end solution:








Bumpsteer adjustable tie rod ends were in here somewhere. This was done so that I could raise the inner pivot of the front LCA higher and still adjust bumpsteer at the tie rod. This also lead into moving the steering rack to add Ackerman: http://forums.hybridz.org/showthread.php?t=111435






Modified rear frame rail for suspension clearance at seriously low ride heights: http://forums.hybridz.org/showthread.php?t=110536




Realized in testing the clearance for the frame rail, that the poly bushings were causing a lot of friction, so modded the rear control arms again for monoballs/rod ends:





I have most of the parts assembled for a JSK brake upgrade, have 280Z stub axles and Z31T CV shafts with http://www.modernmotorsports.com adapters, and a new Ultra Flo muffler to install.


To do list:


Dual master cylinder upgrade (have the parts, this should be starting next week).

Fuel cell install

rebuild zx 5 speed

Finish roll cage

make some sort of aluminum dash to hold gauges

reseal front of engine


new tail light panel - thinking of cutting it all out and installing round trailer lights in a sheetmetal panel, my rear panel is rusted pretty badly.

flares of some sort

roll on some rustoleum paint

rewire car with circuit breakers instead of fuses

new airdam or fix current airdam


I know I'm forgetting other little things here and there. I guess I'll have to add them as I remember them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 8 years later...

I guess I forgot to update this for 9 years. I'll fill in the blanks later (or not), but for right now this is the big news:





Link to comment
Share on other sites

Congratulations, Great to see things coming together. As RebbekahsZ said I also thought you were older and at least older than me at 50. I have had my car since I was 18 or 19 and only 5 yr. ago did it finally come together. As it should, building cars seems to take a back seat to wife's, education, and family.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Awesome car!!! No words for your car's attitude.

What size are the wheels and slicks? 

Take more pics of the whole car.

Wheels are 15x14, slicks are 13" Hoosiers off of a Formula Atlantic. I've done most of the following projects here, so pics of almost all of this are available:


finished fuel cell install with new hard lines

dual master mod

brake plumbing

JSK brakes install

bought Austin Hoke's Corvette brake setup and used Superlites with it

Hoke Performance caliper bracket

whole lotta roll cage

IMSA rear flares

custom AL dash

rewire car - Dave Irwin did this

3 lb battery

tail light panel

5.3L/T56 motor/trans mounts
flexplate and dual 7.25 clutch


rear control arm

droop limiters

remove front fenderwells

Beta Motorsports hatch and hood

coneeng.com mufflers and merge collectors

Schoenfeld IMCA headers morphed into DIY side pipes

laid radiator down and ducted to front

tube frame detachable front end

Woodward ps rack

right and left side window nets

modded sway bars

braced front strut housing to spindle

Ron Tyler diff mount

39 spline chromoly stub axles and companion flanges

modded Harbor Freight tire mounting tool for the slicks

made lexan door windows with slider for driver's side



What I still need to do:

DIY defroster from NASCAR brake fan

Finish wiring (windshield wiper is the big thing)

glue in windshield

make lexan 1/4 windows

install doors and seat(s)

mod another front swaybar - kinda messed up the one I have on the car right now.

Finish gigantic front splitter

Finish front end/fenders

Edited by JMortensen
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...
  • 6 months later...

Well, I drove it a little bit. It's definitely not a street car, that's for sure, but it does seem like it will keep me busy learning it for a while. Very fast, very twitchy. Intended to autox today, but believe it or not, it's about 1.5" too wide to fit on the trailer with the 14" wheels. When I had measured before I measured between the fenders, but when the bed tilts down there is a little frame rail that sticks out, and I can't get the tires past them. Will need another set of wheels and tires just to get it on and off. Thinking about doing 15x10s and putting rains on them. I can get 15x14 rains too, but I think the 10s might are probably a better choice anyway, even if it looks a little stupid on the car, plus I wouldn't need a 3rd set of wheels/tires.


Also found that it high centers coming in and out of my shop and I had a (used) Hyperco spring fail on the first drive. Just went soft. I guess next step is get some 15x10s and raise it up enough so that I can drive it in and out of the shop.



Edited by JMortensen
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...