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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everybody. This is my first post on this forum. I just bought a 1981 280ZX a couple of months ago and am having some issues with it. When I bought it the steering wheel was misaligned by about 20 degrees and the previous owner said it was backed into (Both front fenders were replaced but I have the left one in great shape. Right side was impact side). I figured this would be fixable and when looking for any structural damage to the unibody or subframes I couldn't find anything that would indicate it was in a major crash. After buying the car I drove it 3 hours back home with no problems besides a slight wander that I didn't notice on the test drive. I had to do some work to the engine when I got it back so it was sitting for a while. One of the tie rod ends looked pretty bad and was a little sloppy so I replaced both outer ends. Inners seemed good when I checked them. I put them back to the same adjustment spot they originally were and drove it to the alignment shop without any issues. Attached is the picture of the alignment. They could not get it in spec at all. Is there something bent in the frame somewhere?
Rectangle Handwriting Font Parallel Pattern

The guy at the alignment shop told me he didn't know what was wrong just that he couldn't get it in spec without running out of adjustment on the tierod. I know that all the bushings on the car are shot as well. Could that be part of the issue? I wanted some opinions on this before I committed to buying new bushings just to find out that the frame is tweaked. Also took it to a frame shop but they told me it was going to be $1000 just to put it on the rack and look at it. That's getting close to what I paid for the car.

Additional note: Reviewing some of the pictures of it on a cruise I was on I noticed it dog tracks a little (rear end to the right side). The bushings on the rear subframe are also favoring a direction (one side more forward on the bushing and one side the rear) and it seems like there is almost no bushing left on the rear mounts.

Is it worth putting money into?

Thank you for any assistance you can provide!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'm not a suspension expert but it seems to me like you can't fully assess the suspension until you have good bushings in it.
That is what I was thinking but I was just worried about sticking money into new bushings if the frame is not correct. I was hoping to get some guidance on reading alignment specs and if there was a way to assess if there was something on the alignment sheet that wouldn't be fixed by new bushings or a few new suspension pieces. But yes I fully agree that I cannot fully assess the suspension until I have decent bushings in it. Thank you!
 

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1983 280ZX Turbo
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If this is a clean 1981 ZX, it ought to be worth having frame work done if it's really necessary. I don't like the "dog walk" situation at all, but the bad bushings on the back changing the angle of the rear axle could be the cause.
 

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Z cars are a tough one to align. The toe and caster can be adjusted but not the camber. You can get camber bushihngs for the lower control arm here.
Motorsport Auto - The Z Store - Camber Adjustment Kit, Front, 79-83 280ZX
But if you need to replace all the bushings, you should go that route first.
I did my 81 with all poly (except the front torque arms), it took about 2 days to do the front and rear, I have a 20 ton hydraulic press.
 
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