Jumping off a cliff? - Nissan : Datsun ZCar forum :Nissan Z Forum: 240Z to 370Z
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-11-2017, 03:25 PM Thread Starter
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Jumping off a cliff?

Hi folks! I'm new to the Z-world and trying to get a handle on how much it's going to cost to restore a Z that I'm planning to buy.

I'm not a mechanic. I have a basic working knowledge of cars, but don't feel qualified and don't have the space or tools to do much more than change the oil. But I've owned some pretty beat-up used cars in my day, and managed to keep them running mostly by prioritizing repairs and being OK with breaking down in the desert a lot. That said, the Z is supposed to be more of a fun car for weekend road trips to Vegas, etc.

I should say my budget right now is about $8k total for the car and repairs necessary to get it roadworthy.

So. I'm in L.A. and prices are a little higher here than the rest of the country. The after looking around, the one I'm buying is a 1980 280ZX, 5 speed manual, 2x2, not turbo. Seller agreed to $3300, which seems on the cheap end for a running Z in this town. I need your opinion on how much it's going to cost to get this into working order at shop rates.

Pros:
Exterior looks good, minimal paint chipping. Original engine. Pretty new tires, radiator, fuel injectors, fuel gauge, fuel filter, oil sensor and spark plugs. Sounds a little sputtery at an idle but starts well and there's plenty of power. Clutch felt good. No flutter in the tachometer, smooth shifting. No strange transmission sounds. The oil looked clean before and after running. It's been in the same family since 1980, original plates, the grandchildren are selling it. Not always garaged, but it probably was for a long time. The grandpa installed a vacuum gauge. Smog and registration are current in California, which is often not the case. Best pro... it's in my price range.

Cons:
Some roof and interior rust (bottom is sealed).
Front seats are torn. Needs new upholstery and trim. Lots of cracked rubber.
Brakes feel soft.
Dashboard is cracked in a few places.
Broken odometer and speedometer, reads around 150k miles. I have a feeling that may be hard to find parts for?
AC is broken - groan/whine when trying to turn it on.
Driver's side mirror servo or switch is shot. Passenger's works. Power windows do work.
The BIG ONE: On the test drive, the guy told me the rear drivers bearing was shot. There was a clunk each time I hit the gas. He said that was the bearing. At about a mile, the drivers rear wheel flew off the car and hit a trash can and jumped in the air at about 35 mph. He told me he must've forgotten to tighten the lugnuts after checking the bearing... this sounds weird, but all 4 nuts were found within 10 feet of where the car came to a stop on the brake pad. Can a bad bearing actually do that? Or is it reasonable to think it's true that the lugnuts just weren't properly torqued? The rear axle has rust. This didn't put me off... not exactly. I'm prepared to replace the brake pads, shoes, calipers, axles and bearings, just hope I can find a reasonable price for that within a very short range of where I'm buying the car.
So... I'm trying to decide whether this car is going to be great with an extra $5k invested (at shop prices) or if I'm on a fool's errand. Feel free to chime in here. It's hard to find a Z in this town for $3300 here that runs and sounds/feels good driving (excluding when the wheels come off it).

My plan is to drive it straight to a wheel shop first and go as deep on the axles as necessary to make it safe to drive. I imagine that could set me back anywhere from $1-2k depending on how the front assembly looks? My next concern then is the speedometer and odometer. Then the other stuff.

What advice do you guys have? Is this a terrible decision?
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-11-2017, 04:33 PM
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My advice is to find one in better shape and pay more money for it. You will have less grief, and everything you mentioned tells me that this car was probably poorly maintained and will be a giant time, money and labor hole.
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-11-2017, 04:45 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advice. What got me here is the price gap. I see fully restored Z's going for anywhere from $12k to $20k+. Unrestored ones from $5k and down. I'm worried that if I buy something around $8k it may have just as many problems only a cleaner interior/exterior...and then my budget is shot?
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-11-2017, 08:58 PM
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i think those prices you see are what people are asking. what they actually get is probably a lot different. 3300 for a N/A s130 in not so great shape is a BIT OF a stretch in my experience. Ain't talking Ferrari here. take a handful of ben franklins with you 2-3 K and tell the guy take this or keep the keys. Makes a powerful argument when the the benjies are right there. Bought my 86T for 1K guy wanted 2300 until I threw a bunch of hundreds on the hood.

If you can get it for 2K maybe 2.5K then wind up spending to the 8K limit you will have a nice little rig. got to find a good mechanic. You can hire folks to redo the seats and interior. the s130 is fairly bulletproof and if it is running you are probably good. it is highly possible the PO didn't reef down on the lugnuts. front bearings easy rear bearings a little more work. here is a short guide to help you decide. most of it you can do yourself with a decent set of wrenches and some perseverance.

Get your battery load tested. Be sure you have clean, tight corrosion free terminals on both ends of your battery cables. Be sure the ground (negative) cable goes to a bolt into the frame before going to the starter. grounding through the starter is not a reliable connection. Z's don't like low voltage. causes the electronics to act funny. it is possible to have enough amps to crank but not enough voltage to run the electronics. If you have one size fit all cheapo clamp on terminals they are a problem waiting to happen. Usually on a rainy night around Oh Dark Thirty.

Clean the connectors for the maf or afm, ecu and tps. Deoxit by CAIG is probably the best connector cleaner on the market. spray with CorrosionX after cleaning and before putting together this will help prevent any further corrosion. DON'T USE DIELECTRIC GREASE.

Replace outer tie rod ends, and ball joints. replace the bushings with poly (don't forget to lube them as directed unless you like squeaky things). New shocks. Get new boots for power steering. all those things will make you think you are driving a different car. doing them piece meal is a waste you won't see a great improvement until you do the complete job. You need to get the car realigned after messing with the front. Have your tires in good shape and rebalance. Rear bushings nice too but more work and you won't notice as great an improvement. Rear shocks also because if the fronts are gone so are the rears. if car squats when you jump on the gas the rears are gone. If you have the electro adjustable shocks they are DEFINITELY GONE.

JUST REMEMber. you aren't going to blow off a new Honda Accord the n/a s130 was peppy for its day but not compared to what you can get out of the showroom today.

86T, 350 Nismo 08 (#1415) gone but fondly remembered 81T, 83T, 83, 85T, 86T, 96TT
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-11-2017, 09:04 PM
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better yet fly to Ohio and buy the Z advertised by Zimmer looks in good shape

86T, 350 Nismo 08 (#1415) gone but fondly remembered 81T, 83T, 83, 85T, 86T, 96TT
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-11-2017, 09:39 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the run-down, Roger. Zimmer's does look nice... that would be a test getting back. So some rust isn't the biggest deal? What do you think replacing the rusted axles/stubs should end up costing, assuming all new joints and bearings?

Are any of these parts very hard to find? And do you think I need to go to a Z specialist or will most good mechanics be able to work on it?
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-12-2017, 01:25 AM Thread Starter
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Just a couple things to add:
1. I've wanted a Z my whole life and... yeah it's possible I might be getting overcharged by a few hundred but I jumped on it because I loved a lot of things about it. I'm just getting jitters about restoration costs.
2. I put a down payment on it already. This was probably stupid, since the **** wheel came off, but for some reason I had an overall positive feeling about it.

Here's the picture I took after it came to a stop on the brake assembly during the test drive. You can see rust on the muffler and axle. Surprisingly, it drove a lot better after we got the wheel back on and tightened... and the threads didn't look broken. So yeah probably it was the guy's error.

(I'm too new to link to a website or an image, so copy/paste the iink)... i64.tinypic.com/20tmfjm.jpg
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-12-2017, 09:19 PM
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your link didn't work for me. anyway like I said the S130 is fairly bulletproof unless you take a 10 lb sledge to it. Most mechanics nowadays are nothing but parts replacers. if the if the obi kinobi doesn't tell them the problem they are reduced to sucking their thumb.

find a guy born before the 80's. you are too freaked out about rust. some rust on an axle is nothing. rusted out body panels another matter.

86T, 350 Nismo 08 (#1415) gone but fondly remembered 81T, 83T, 83, 85T, 86T, 96TT
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-12-2017, 10:49 PM Thread Starter
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you are too freaked out about rust. some rust on an axle is nothing. rusted out body panels another matter.
Good to hear that. Maybe it's a California thing heheh.
I did think the rusted axle probably had something to do with the lug nuts not being tight enough. Unfortunately I didn't get it up to highway speed before that happened, so I missed out on other potential stuff (part of why I'm worried).

But it is a beautiful car... I'll try again with the photos plus some from the seller, maybe after the 4th post the forum will let me...
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-12-2017, 10:55 PM Thread Starter
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Hey, voila. I used to be a forum mod so I thought maybe 5th post was the charm. Here are those pix... the first one is my own photo of it with the rusted axle where the car came to rest.

By the way, what do you think a total AC replacement would cost? It's about to be hot as **** here...






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