View Full Version : 1974 Datsun 260Z Resto: Just starting
07-16-2010, 07:27 PM
Hey guys, I'm starting my first complete restoration. I will update here as I make progress, just be warned it will take a while, as I'm new to a lot of this body work stuff. I'm going to need a lot of help on this one, but today I'm going to post some photos of what the car looked like when I got it.
As you can see, the car looked really good in the pictures. Also a note, sometime after these photos the hood was painted and a decent set of rims was put on. Well, even though the car looked rather good, with a rather thorough inspection, I discovered that the car was about swish cheese, full of crappy filler and patch jobs, and LOTS of rust. I want this beast looking good again, so I'm going to take you all with me in this project. Tomorrow I may upload some photos of filler and patch jobs, and most importantly the lovely rust that has taken over the car.
07-16-2010, 07:29 PM
A correction, you can see the rims that are on the car now, those are the upgrades, I thought these were the photos of the car sitting on all donuts.
07-16-2010, 09:51 PM
There are 2 really important places to pay attention too on a Z, not exterior but needs to be done with body work, under the battery tray it is usually completely corroded and will present some problems. where the front frame begins to curve up there is a triangle shaped piece of 18 gauge sheet metal that connects frame to firewall,, check that entire area very closely, blast it all off and you will be surprised to see it is almost completely rotted out. Do not cut out the triangle piece to replace it. blast it, prime all pieces with weld thru primer as good as possible and weld another plate over it with stitch welds around the perimeter and a few plug welds through the center section. Do inside and outside of the frame on both sides of the car for cheap insurance. The other place to look at really good is where the rear subframe begins to kick up above the diff, this is a very big weak point and can definetly use reinforcement. The biggest rust spots i have seen are under thecowl and rocker panels. Good luck i have been trying to semi restore my 75 for 2 years now.....
07-17-2010, 01:23 PM
lol, oh yeah, the battery tray is way past gone, corroded all to hell. I can already tell Im going to need some frame work in about 2-3 areas. The 2 of the most importance, under the battery box and about the same place on the driver side. I was thinking of way to do this. Is the entire 260 Frame 18 gauge? I was considering putting the car on a rotisserie, cutting the real bad places out, and TIG welding the correct gauge squared steel tubing back in. All that would have to wait for more money/ time, to obtain the rotisserie and buy a TIG. The rocker panels on mine are HORRIBLE. They don't seem to have gotten to the frame yet, thank God, so I may just end up buying the rocker panel and skin new. Im not skilled enough to fabricate the panel I dont think. Its going to cost about 120$ for one rocker panel and skin new from Black Dragon. Any ideas where to get them cheaper?
07-17-2010, 10:35 PM
No the frame isnt 18 ga, most of it (my 280Z) is 10 ga. dont remove what is there if most of it is intact, place a patch over it going completely down to the botton of the frame rails and under if you can, on the firewall end try to form a 90* lip and weld plug weld it to the firewall, both inside and outside the frame. This is the weakest point in the entire datsun chassis, that little triangle area carries the full weight of the engine and trans... and if it is stock motor / trans there is 575 lbs right there. I completely removed my battery from that location and relocated it to the area behind passenger seat. As far as replacement panels black dragon is about our only choice other than another donor car. You dont need a full blown rotisserie, 2 engine stands with modifications worked for me, there are a lot of plans out there for homemade rotisserie's.
If you get lucky and find another body somewhere buy you a cordless sawzall and take it out there and cut off the needed pieces. I got lucky on my 280z the only rust i had was around the gas filler door lip. and the battery plate. It had been stored for 14 years under a shed. had 68,000 miles on it. Have fun, good luck and take lots of pics.
EDIT: BTW 240, 260 and 280 Z'z up to 1978 (i think) are basically identical body panels
07-17-2010, 11:31 PM
lol, what type of welder would you suggest for frame work? Would a MIG pull it off, or would you want something that gets a little hotter(for the larger gauged steel)? I have a pretty good idea of what you're talking about, but it would help tons if you could upload some pics? Just so I can get a better idea of how to tackle it the best way possible. It might as well be a stock motor, but not. Its an L28 Block and tranny(not sure what year yet) with 1972 Datsun 240Z carb and air intake assembly. Not sure as to what the internal of the engine is yet, haven't had it apart... yet. Are you talking about the little stash-away compartments behind the seats? I know the 260, and I think the 240 have them, not sure about the 280, but I rather like that idea. did you just run the wires with the rear wiring harness and out with the center console harness? Yeah I need to see about the matching body panels, finding a 240 for cheap is like finding a 260 for cheap, its almost impossible unless I want one in horrible condition with no usable panels. 280s are a little easier to find in decent shape however. BTW, if you want a factory service manual for your 280, check here
They have a bunch of downloadable FSMs for free, I got one for my 260, and its great.
07-18-2010, 09:49 AM
All you need is a 240V mig welder and a small bottle of trimix gas, dont try to use flux core you are asking for trouble there, harbor freight has good ones, reguardless of others opinions, i have had the same one for over 6 years and weld anything up to 3/8" steel plate and stainless steel.
The L28 is the lighter of the 3 engines, but an even lighter alternative is to go with small block ford and auto trans, you will lose over 140 lbs that way. i will take some pictures this afternoon wheneve i can manage to get out i the 100* heat. i was talking about the compartments behind the seat, just cut it out and fit a plastic battery tray in there or enclose it in sheet metal, I used 00 welding cable inside 3/4" poly tubing and ran it along the passenger side sill on the carpet side, dont run it thru the cutouts, asking for a nick that way, use DY clamps to hold it into position. The extra room under the hood will give you a very good place to put electric panel and other stuff.
07-18-2010, 10:10 AM
Is the link you gave me the same welder that you have? Thats very affordable I think, I might have to check it out. As to the trimix gas, where can that be found? And will my house outlet power a 220v or will I have to run something a little stronger for it? I was looking into engine and tranny swaps, but I really want to keep the 5-speed. The motor runs strong, so I'm going to hold off on that for now. Man this Central Florida heat kills me, I can barely stand to walk to the mail box unless I want to take a shower. I was thinking the same thing. I just didn't know where to move my battery. On the 260 the fuse box and sensors/ relays are almost impossible to get to, so I want to move them from under the passenger side dash, to where the battery was, after the repairs of course. It would save me a lot of hassle dealing with my electrical stuff.
07-18-2010, 02:53 PM
yes that is the welder i have and it works great, you can get trimix gases at and place that sells cutting and welding equipment, you will have to buy a bottle up front and have it exchanged or refilled as needed, dont know what they cost.The welder will run from your electric dryer or range receptical, just get the right cord to plug it in.
You can find old mustangs, pickups fuel injected or not with the 5 speeds around here for $200 and spend another 500 to rebuild it.
I moved all my relays to where the battery used to go. if you move everything out there get a sealed fuse panel out of a newer car that is made to be out in the weather and mount it there. you will probably have to rewire almost everything anywy. Painless performance sells entire kits, they are the best but pricey. i got lucky and my chasis wiring was good but had to make harnesses and relays for the engine and accessories.
My battery is behind the passenger seat in a plastic battery box, i didnt cut out the cubby holes to use since i have a huge battery back there. When you get to the point in time to think about the V8 change over your biggest challenge is making front and rear crossmembers and driveshaft. you can keep your existing crossmember in the front and build another that the engine mounts too. only cutting is to remove the welded in motormounts from the z engine. my ford 302 mounts 1" from the firewall and the front of the engine is about even with the front of the original z crossmember.
you are about to go through the exact same thing i have been working on for the last 2 years, i spent i winter doing the engine trans swap and now working on body repaint now, next winter is finding and installing an entire interior, since my z was completely gutted for scca racing 3 years back......
07-18-2010, 05:11 PM
Wow, it sounds like you've gone through quite a few nightmares with your Z, as we all have. Yeah, the wiring on my car SUCKS. When I got it the wiring was so screwed up you couldn't even get the starter motor to turn over. Now the car starts and runs pretty good, just have to fix the smaller stuff such as, blinkers, horn and windshield wipers. A majority of my rear harness doesn't work at all, or didn't. I've pretty much rebuilt the entire harness, save for I removed as many sensors as possible, so I don't have to replace them @ 30$ a pop. Most of them were fried anyways. Theres this shop here that does custom driveshafts at a somewhat reasonable price. I was looking at having one made for about 300$ for a BMW. Well more of a conversion than being made. I like the idea of not having to chop up any more of the car than I have to, so an engine that fit without compartment mods would be awesome, although it might be worth it to move the firewall back a bit for more power?
These cars are weird,We get them for a reasonable price(sometimes) and end up spending more money and time than we have to spend, yet love them even more. We're in the exact opposite positions, I've got a somewhat decent(or can be made decent) interior, with the usual cracked dash and cracked vinyl seats. Still have a new carpet kit for it that came with the car. I was actually going to look at racing seat, 4-points harnesses and possibly a role cage for it. I'm also going to install a fuel cell. My tank is usable, and that might be a generous description. For what the kits cost to re-do the tank, I can pay 30-50$ more and get a damn decent fuel cell brand new, some even have new fuel pumps and pressure sender units.
07-18-2010, 05:47 PM
I really didnt have many problems at all, my son gave $250 for the car, we didnt even have to change the tires since it was up on jackstands for 14 years,, towed it home, squirted some galsoline in the carbs (2) jumped it off and it fired within a few minutes. Flushed out the fuel lines with denatured alcohol to clean the lines, the guy had completely drained the fuel when he parked it and ran the engine on trans fluid and gas mixture and shut it off with it still in the system. Since we got the car to race we completely gutted everything, from windshield to taillights..over 300 lbs in weight, all WAS in excellent condition, no cracks or anything, installed safety cage and 5 point harnesses and kirkey aluminum seat and went racing. He owed me money so i took the car, raced it for another year and decided to drop in the 302 since it would still leave us in the same modified scca class
Laast year i decided to get it back on the road and put on the fiberglass kit and put in interior, still trying to find interior parts but it will do for now.
I have an RCI 16 gallon fuel cell for mine but am not putting it in because i need room for spare tire so i am going to use a original tank, we can get them cleaned and recoated inside and out around here for $50. with a no leak guarantee.
Please keep me informed as to your progress and i will help you out with as much as i can along the way.
07-18-2010, 05:58 PM
When I got my 260 it was a pain. It had been sitting in a guys garage for about 15 years, not running, gas not drained out, nothing done to protect it. Just to get it running, I had to go throught the engine harness, clean all my connections, replace some wires, and I got her to turn over. Then I had to go and rebuild both SU carbs(it had a 1972 240z carb and intake), replace the fuel pump, drop the tank and clean it as good as possible, blow air through my fuel lines, to unclog, and then followed up with about 2 cans of carb spray to get the goo out. I plan on going through the brakes in the next month more thoughly, to re-build the master cylinder and maybe convert to discs in the back. She also needs a complete bushing change over, new tires, tie-rods, ball joints, etc..etc.. Struts are still decent. Looking at a better performance system for future changes. I was planning on taking out the stock tanks, cutting out the wheel well, building a custom holder to the left of the rear-end, and possibly moving the wheel well over to the right, I may have enough room if I'm lucky, if not I'll make a swell that the tire can sit vertically in, with the bottom half sticking in the hole, and the top half coming out, not sure just yet. I'm still researching it at this point.
07-18-2010, 09:40 PM
Mine came with the su carbs also and i quickly changed it to a holley 650 4 barrel. Sold the carbs, rebuild kits and intake for $500. When you do the brakes save yourself a lot of trouble and go on ebuy and get a brake line kit and braided flex hoses, total for mine was about $55, i have yet to change the front end bushings but i got a complete bushing set really reasonable, believe me the poly bushings make a huge difference in handling, just be sure and use plenty of grease when you install, the squeek will drive you nuts. as for standing the spare upright... even with the smallest diameter tire it will stick down 13" from the bottom of the floor, it will only stick up 9" inside due to the hatch height, if your fuel cell is like mine it will stick down 12", that was what i had planned to do with mine but 13" sticking down was wayyyy to low for me to get into my driveway and it stuck down below my body kit 3", believe me i done mocked it all up. 4055405640574058
07-18-2010, 10:42 PM
Well from what I've heard, the S.U.'s are pretty damn reliable, when operating correctly. But I have been looking at alternatives to gain even more power and reliability. I want to make sure the frame is salvageable before I really start modding the drive train ya know? Its never un-salvageable, its just how much money you want to spend on the car. I know that I will fix the problem no matter how much it costs. The car has grown on me to much at this point. I probably have well over 150 hours in it at this point. A lot of that was research about everything about the car, a lot was also body work, and the wiring took a lot of time(damn japanese lol). I was looking at the brake line kits, and I know my lines have to be pitted. One of my caliper bleeders had locked on there so tight that I broke the damn thing in half trying to loosen it up so I could bleed it. Thats about a 50$ mistake, considering the new bleeder screw is 20$ and a screw extractor kit is about 20-25$. Thats if the extractor even works. I might need a new caliper in the long run. Everything costs so much on the 260 because it was only made for a year in the States. How much did your bushing set cost you? If you don't mind me asking. I plan on doing it when I begin work on the frame, as I'll have to have the whole suspension/ drive train off anyways. I've heard the tip about the grease as well lol. It must be a pain to go back and do it all over because you didn't know about the problem in the beginning, lol. Dang, maybe I can slant the angle of the spare or something. Its back to the drawing board for now I guess. By the way, can you use your 240V MIG to weld in smaller stuff such as body panels? Is it adjustable or something? I don't want to have to buy another MIG cause I didn't check all my info first :goof:
07-18-2010, 10:50 PM
Also, i'm liking your 280. Is the second picture the 302? I think it is because on the standard L28 the carb and the exhaust manifold are on the same side I believe. Its that way on the 260, which doesnt make much sense. The carbs have an overflow if the needle doesn't operate correctly, and if gas leaks out of the overflow, it pours all over the exhaust manifold. Lets just hope that the manifolds never reach the correct flash temp for gas, ehh? lol I like the way you L28 engine looks in the 4th. What year is your 280? Im really just interested so I know the OEM engine HP. Also I noticed you have an air filter over where the SU hose would have been on the valve cover. What is that hoses purpose if you know? The 3rd pic looks similar to my car does now lol.
07-18-2010, 11:43 PM
40884089409040914092 mine is a 1975, the first year for the 2.8 engine, the hose is a crankcase breather, all the old egr crap was removed, i pulled a vacuum on the crankcase thru a hose on the bottom of the carb adapter so it would suck the fumes out of the crankcase. The holley 4 barrell completely changed the way the engine ran, accelerated and gained a lot of gas mileage, went up from 14 with the su's to 18 with the holley, as long as i kept my foot out of the secondaries...Check craigslist and ebuy for calipers and rear brake cylinders, i got brand new calipers and rotors for $75 for the pair and new rear drums and wheel cylinders for $85 for the pair. I think i gave $125 for the full bushing set, that is suspension, engine mounts and rack bushings. my old ones had so much gone the rear tires would rub the front of the fender during hard acceleration. I havent found anything that i cant weld with it, from 18 ga up to 3/8" it has 2 switches hi and lo wire speed and high low voltage. I posted a few pics in my albums to give you an idea of my progress throughout the last 3 years on it.
On a side note, if you want different width or 15" plus wheels i had mine made by MRW racing wheels for $85 each shipped... mine on the rear are 15 x 10 wrapped in 295-50-15 tires
They can make any size wheel up too 16"tires x 20"width and any bolt pattern you can think of
07-19-2010, 12:08 AM
nose to the grindstone...HA!
07-19-2010, 11:10 AM
Now I know what that is for. I thought it was kind of odd to have the carbs hooked up to the crankcase, but now it makes perfect sense. Thats really cheap as far as the brakes are concerned. At autozone they want 100$ just for a drum, I've been afraid to ask about the wheel cylinder. Do you remember where you got the bushing set? Black dragon wants like 2-300$ for one, which I think is a little high, considering what it is. But my bushings might as well not even be there, they're all squished, it actually looks like a lot of them just melted. They've probably been on there since '74. That sounds like a very versatile welder, just like what I need, so that it can handle all of my work, without a problem. I'm going to remember that, because later on down the road, if I want to put the car into racing, I'll need some different tires. By the way, are you aware of any differential conversions to give the car more power and better handling for the Z's?
07-19-2010, 10:52 PM
My bushing kit is a prothane complete kit, dont remember where i got it from, just do some searches for it. The wheel cylinders are available thru ebuy, they arent cheap popoffs or rebuilts, they are new old stock . When you look for the drums DONT get the cast iron ones, the aluminum drums are a lot better. As far as the diff your z probably has the R-180 3.54 rear diff, keep an eye out for a 3.92 from a datsun or subaru. most are the long nose diff. If you find an R-200 which did not come in any 240 or 260 Z bodies, it takes a different mustache bar that the r-180 but they are almost bulletproof, the r-180 can only handle 300 to 350 HP, R-200's have been known to handle 500+. We have a guy here that drag races his with a blown big block and pushes over 1000 hp thru his.
look up the different diffs, and the differences between them if you get lucky and find an LSD for under $500 better snatch it up. I have a 3.92 LSD in the back yard for mine i got for $50, it has the original 3.54 in now but it is a locked diff for racing because i run Hoosier 23 x 13 x 13" wide slicks on the rear and 20 x 13 x 9" wide fronts.
Back to the welders... tig welders are nice but too much trouble in the long run and they do take a LOT of practice to make good welds, I only use my tig for rollcages and some small brackets, and aluminum work. Migs are all around for anything steel, cast, stainless. you might also look into a cheap (if there is such a thing) plasma cutter or small torch for your cutting as well as die grinders and 4 1/2" grinders.
you have a lot of work ahead of yourself, dont give up and take things slowly. As anyone in here will tell you patience, patience, patience. I havent come across anyone in here that wont help with their knowledge or advice.
if you get overwhelmed or frustrated, walk away and come back later. I know the feeling very well, this is my first complete strip and repaint and have been at it since septemberr of last year, 3 hours every day and usually 20+ hours every weekend. Lotsa manual labor will be involved but in the end there is no better feeling that bragging that you did it yourself, no matter if it isnt to everyones liking or not you only have to please yourself.
07-19-2010, 11:09 PM
I'm going to keep that in mind. I'll start looking for one ASAP so if I come across one cheap I'll have it for when I'm ready for that. By the way, the Datsuns body panels are steel aren't they? I can't seem to remember if they were steel or aluminum. LOL, as far as a plasma cutter is concerned, probably not. I have an angle-grinder and a 3" cut off tool. They work at okay, but I need some other tools. The part about taking a break is true. This is my first take-down and repaint, and I wasn't expecting so many problems. I had to take a month break from the car because it got so overwhelming, and I didn't know what I was doing, but now Im really getting on it again. I probably spent 5 hours today on the car, I dropped the tank down again, and put some heavily diluted(with water) muriatic acid in it, to eat away some more rust, until I order the fuel cell. It worked pretty well to be honest. I also removed the rear drums, cleaned my brake assemblies really well, and adjusted them so the car is moving a little more freely. I need some new parts for them, so I think its about time to bite the bullet and convert to discs, it should be worth it in the long haul. Tomorrow I should be getting in some more parts I ordered, so its going to be a long day as well, but definitely worth it.
07-19-2010, 11:34 PM
Make sure you neutralize that muratic acid in the tank before you even think about letting it dry out with baking soda and water, lots of it, if you let the muratic acid dry out in the tank it will etch its way into the tank and will react when you put fuel in it.
There are sealers out there that you pour into the tank and swish it all around to leave a fuel proof sealed coating inside the tank.
Check around for the brake conversion idea, some use toyota assemblies and have a lot of fabrication to do. JTR (jags that run) have kits to convert but are very very pricey. They also sell your parts and kits for the SU's
I got my 16 gallon RCI fuel cell with a fuel gauge and sender for $125 on ebuy
07-20-2010, 09:58 AM
I actually ended up putting 1 and a 1/2 things of baking soda in there, I've hear horror stories about dealing with acid, so I'm extra careful. I found quite a few sealers, but alot of them are junk that won't set right, and end up in my brand new electric and manual fuel pump, so I just keep my tank clean and keep changing out my 2 in-line fuel filters, until I have a welder and am ready to install a fuel cell. It gets to be a pain, but I just want to keep the pumps from sucking up any more crap than they are already. Yeah, I know there is a conversion for the front wheels from a certain year toyota pickup truck, thats what I'm going to shoot for on that, you have to re-fabricate some brake line though, and build a bracket I think for that conversion. And I can buy the 4 lug rotors for the rear, I just have to find a caliper that would work for the system. If I had front discs, it'd probably keep me happy for a little while at least. lol
08-12-2010, 11:00 PM
Any updates for us??/ I have been watching for more pictures and updates about your Z
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