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280ZX 2+2 Turbo Resto-Mod Project

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Every time I talk about my car in another thread, I feel lame for not having done a project thread yet. I'm a little late to be doing a progress report on the whole thing, since I'm (hopefully) nearing the day when I can start this car again, and have everything work.




I really like the 280ZX. Really really. I know that's not as popular a choice as the S30, but, god help me, I love it. I also really like the look of the 2+2. I have 3 of them, and now I've even got my dad in on the '83 turbo we picked up. I realize (more than ever, looking at coil spring options) that this setup screws me on a lot of really neat parts options, but I've resigned myself to just trying to build the ultimate GT. I hope you guys will understand. :D


The Story


Every car buy comes with a story, and this one is especially good. My Z experience started in 2007, when my CRX Si took a crap, and I needed something to drive to work and back. I had always wanted a Z car, but at the time, my foreknowledge was basically changing oil and having read the S30 and 280ZX wikipedia entries a dozen times each. I found one on craigslist, went out to look at it, and then... Long story short, I actually looked at the car, popped the hood, looked at the engine, and then asked the lady, "Is it a Turbo?". No, no it was not.


Boy, I've come a long way. :rolleyesg


Sometime later, maybe 6 months out, I saw a craigslist ad for "280ZX TURBO $500", and immediately called the guy and drove up to Oakland with my friend Sam.


Boy, oh boy.


You NEVER saw so much lipstick on a pig. It was very clear that everything that could have been done to make it look right had been done, and everything that needed to be done had been ignored. New plug wires, lots of degreaser, and new air and oil filters did nothing for the fact that the PO's claim of "It burns some oil" turned out to be a thick, greasy black cloud that shot out from the turbo area. Other things like minor body damage, torn up seats, and the fact that the driver's side lock was drilled out led me to be less than optimistic about this being a gas and go car. The thing that really told the whole story about this car was the 'new injector', decidedly for an NA.


Insult to injury, it was an '82 with an automatic. I was still slightly interested, if only to use the parts for my own car, in attempt to make that the eventual winner. Sam talked me out of it, and we agreed then that $500 was no good for this thing, and we walked.


Time passed, I got a bunch of parts, including a T-5, from a junker in San Jose, and an entire 81 L28ET longblock (with a thrown rod) for what seems like $150. Then I saw another craigslist ad (I check it twice a day) for "280ZX Turbo - $700" in San Francisco, and I figured "Okay, if $500 was a worthless car, maybe $700 will be a better thing." I was also excited, because it had the same layout (same two-tone paint, T-tops, 2+2) as the Oakland car, but just looked better.


I got there, and the kid who owned it skateboarded up, and twiddled his thumbs while I checked the car out in detail (since at this point, I could actually tell a ZX from a ZXT, and was willing to tell people "Actually, the turbo intake manifold is 17% longer" type stuff. In short: I knew it was a turbo, this time).


And I was looking at the car, and thinking "Well, it looks better than the last one, but it doesn't run as well. A lot of the same minor problems..."


And then it hit me. Oh my god, it's the same pig with MORE LIPSTICK.


I called my dad over, and told him the story. He said "You're s***ing me." We then went back and talked to the kid again, and told him "Look, I walked on this when it was $500, and it ran better then. He went chalk white and was like "Oh god, I have to move it, I can't leave it here any more, and my parents are so mad already." My response? "How about $300?"


And we loaded it up on the trailer, and celebrated my catch with Pirro's Pizza. It then came back to my house and sat while I tried to work out what I was going to do with this thing. It ran so poorly that it wasn't able to drive up a slight incline. I had to pull it up with a John Deere tractor.


In the end, I decided I would just 'rebuild the whole car, and do the engine too, while I'm at it.'


And that's how it got started. Here are a few holdover pictures to counter my wall'o'text, and I'll continue tomorrow with the teardown and my discoveries.






This was the only picture I took with the whole car. I dunno why. It's the one further away from me.



I'll probably resize these and them tomorrow, but tonight, it's 2AM, and HTML is off, so boo. (I just wanted to use , I swear!)

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