Did I miss a good deal?
Well I just went to look at a '78 280Z that I found on craigslist. Here's the deal in a nutshell: the guy who I met to talk about the car (not the owner....will explain that later) informed me the car had pretty much been sitting for the past 3-4 years. One of his friends purchased the car a while back and just dumped almost $3k in various repairs and replacements, such as rebuilt transmission (5spd), crossmember for the rear diff, new master brake cylinder, both sway bars, all injectors, and some other stuff. Tires are pretty new and look good. He was showing me the receipts for the work, and I noticed a number of new looking components under the car and in the engine bay (such as some wire harnesses and sensor plugs). The guy I talked to also did an engine swap...apparently the original engine had a rod knock, so this guy took the engine out of a wrecked 280Z parts car. The engine looks pretty clean, and the block appears to be a non-stock color (blue.....they didn't sell these with blue blocks, correct?) so I'm guessing it was rebuilt before the parts car got wrecked. I started the car and ran it a bit.....engine was reeeeaaaally smooth, especially compared to my '79 ZX. Sounded pretty cool too....the exhaust system is non-stock, kinda loud (but appears to be rather old...I'd replace it, including the rusty manifold). No smoke coming from exhaust. Also, the air conditioning is icy cold....! The hatch area above the tail lights is rust-free, and the spare wheel well is also rust-free from what I could tell (I didn't completely remove the spare).
Sounding pretty good so far? Well, here are the bad things: both bumpers are missing and the front brackets are a bit bent up. The car would come with a separate front and rear bumper from a 240Z (the rear bumper is even the Euro style like I want), which as I understand could be adapted to the 280Z without much difficulty. The front valance is bent up pretty bad, and the two corner pieces next to it are a bit questionable as well (I know, good excuse to just get a fiberglass air dam). The right front fender has an approximately quarter-size rust spot that goes completely through. The frame rails seem to be pretty straight, however the bottom surfaces are caved in a bit in places (perhaps from running over stuff and/or jacking). There is a soft spot on the left frame rail, bottom surface, part of it is rusted completely through. There's what seems to be surface rust in various places on the rails, and surface rust on areas of the floorboards (but I didn't spot any holes....the floors seem totally solid). Rocker panels look pretty good. Some of the suspension components have a fair amount of surface rust on them, maybe just a little more than what I consider "normal". The interior is pretty bad.....the door panels are non-stock and appear to have been there for quite some time (driver's side is coming off, also). The seats are non-stock and would have to go, and the carpet needs to be replaced (not such a big deal for me since I planned on doing this anyway). I couldn't tell if the dash had cracks because there is a dash cap on it....so I'm guessing it does. The ignition cylinder was a little finicky to get out of the locked position, dunno if the key is worn or if the cylinder needs to be replaced. Also, the paint is *totally* shot, obviously the car has been sitting in the AZ sun.
This probably would be an awesome restoration candidate. The rust situation seems to be not too bad, of course I realize that for whatever rust I see, there's probably more lurking elsewhere. Unfortunately I'm not really in a position to do the rusted frame repair right now (no shop access, just a garage that I have to share with a van and a ((big)) motorcycle). Granted, the car is solid and I wouldn't really need to address that problem right away, but it's still a consideration. My biggest concern, really, is the title situation. The guy who has the car right now apparently bought it and the parts car at one of those car donation places, then sold it to a friend a while back. The friend is the one who sunk $3k into it, but recently moved to a location that restricts how many cars you can have sitting in your driveway/yard/whatever. So the Z has to go. The guy I talked to today bought the car back from his friend for the same price he sold it to him for. But......he has not transferred the title. The car is still in the name of his friend. It's an open title, he's signed it over and had it notarized. The plan is to just let the next buyer fill it out and get a title. After I found this out I didn't even bother doing a test drive (which is probably just as well because I probably would have enjoyed it too much and wanted to buy, hah).
I'm not too crazy about this......am I being paranoid? AZ does require titles to be notarized, and I believe also a notarized bill of sale is required. I really would prefer to be speaking with the person who's name is on the title, and go to the DMV with HIM and get everything signed over and notarized and complete the transaction. I told the guy I wasn't really interested because of the work it needs and the open title. He wants $2k for it, negotiable, this includes the parts car (which I don't have room for, unfortunately...he said if I buy the good car I'm welcome to pick over the other car and take what parts I want before they send it to the scrapper). It's temptingly sweet in some ways, but for what he's asking I just feel like I could probably find something with a cleaner frame/body out here in AZ.....and a clear title.
'79 and '82 280ZXs: gone but not forgotten.