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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have had my 83 Turbo ZX for over 16 years (in my garage) - as with most project cars, work, kids, and life have placed it squarely on the back burner for way too long. Around 2010 I overhauled the engine and replaced many of the internal parts - also swapped out the pathetic 3 speed automatic for a T-5 5 speed. Got it running for a about 12 months, but then needed to partially tear it down again due to an exhaust leak. Since then I have upgraded the turbo, installed an intercooler and upgraded the exhaust - but have not been able to get it to running smooth again. Looking to work with a QUALITY Z Car shop in South Carolina or Eastern Georgia to help me reach that next level. This car has very little rust and a very straight body, so I know with some nice engine upgrades and (eventually) some good paint this can be the awesome Z car I've dreamt of for so long. I need a garage or speed shop that knows a great deal about unlocking a Z car's potential. Anyone know some good shops near the Aiken, SC/Augusta, GA area?
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1983 280ZX Turbo
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Tell us more about how it's not running smoothly. Symptoms help.

Is it running well up to about 3K RPM, then missing as revs climb?

If not, then vacuum leaks are a very common problem - I have an '83 ZXT and it nearly drove me nuts until I found a real Z mechanic and turned him loose on it.
 

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Hey, thanks for replying. Yep, it definitely begins to bog down as I rev it higher, but it runs rough when it idles too. I have spent so much time trying to figure it out myself, that I have begun to lose interest in it. I absolutely love this car and really enjoyed getting it running previously, so now I need a "real Z mechanic" to button up some lingering issues and help get me over the hump. I'm hoping to simply get it running smooth first so I can drive it again, then I can map out the modifications ($$$) that I will make next. I assume your Z mechanic isn't in South Carolina.
 

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I haven't heard any complaints from anyone I've referred him to. Keep in mind that he tends to stay pretty busy.
By the way, he is a Z owner, too. Here's his car.
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1983 280ZX Turbo
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Hey, thanks for replying. Yep, it definitely begins to bog down as I rev it higher, but it runs rough when it idles too. I have spent so much time trying to figure it out myself, that I have begun to lose interest in it. I absolutely love this car and really enjoyed getting it running previously, so now I need a "real Z mechanic" to button up some lingering issues and help get me over the hump. I'm hoping to simply get it running smooth first so I can drive it again, then I can map out the modifications ($$$) that I will make next. I assume your Z mechanic isn't in South Carolina.
OK...I've mentioned this before, but there's a chance it might solve part of your problem - the bogging down at revs.

The 83 280ZX turbo has an ECU that can get confused. To clear its memory, pop off the driver's side footwell trim, get to the ECU and unplug all the leads. Let it sit disconnected for at least 15 minutes, then re-connect it. That will clear the memory.

On my 83 280ZX, that restored perfect operation and ability to rev freely.

It may not solve your problem, but it's free and requires minimal labor.
 

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:unsure:

How was the car running before you upgraded the turbo and exhaust, and added the intercooler? Was anything else modified or deleted?

In my experience I find that 99% of the time my car starts to run bad, its usually caused by something that I've either added (upgraded) and/or removed from the stock system. How was your car running in it's stock state before you did the upgrades? Missing hoses, vacuum leaks, and bad or corroded electrical connections can cause engine headaches.

Something else that I might mention- upgraded fuel/air ratio vs. stock fuel/air ratio....
You've now got a bigger turbo and an intercooler addition. You've got the stock turbo injectors, stock size fuel delivery system, stock pump, stock spark; and a computer that is trying to compute all of this to run fuel management for the factory system. But now you've got a bigger air ratio verses fuel going through there....
I don't know if this would be a direct cause of the running issues, but it is something to maybe consider.

If you want to really have a screamin' Z.... Look up Franky Williams from Zperformance racing in Fayetteville, NC.

Bon
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
OK...I've mentioned this before, but there's a chance it might solve part of your problem - the bogging down at revs.

The 83 280ZX turbo has an ECU that can get confused. To clear its memory, pop off the driver's side footwell trim, get to the ECU and unplug all the leads. Let it sit disconnected for at least 15 minutes, then re-connect it. That will clear the memory.

On my 83 280ZX, that restored perfect operation and ability to rev freely.

It may not solve your problem, but it's free and requires minimal labor.
Thanks Pilgrim, I will certainly give that a try and see if it makes a difference - first I need to drain my oil and and antifreeze since it has been setting for about 6 years. Once I scrap off the cobwebs and put fuel back in the tank I will see if that helps - it certainly can't hurt.
 

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1983 280ZX Turbo
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Thanks Pilgrim, I will certainly give that a try and see if it makes a difference - first I need to drain my oil and and antifreeze since it has been setting for about 6 years. Once I scrap off the cobwebs and put fuel back in the tank I will see if that helps - it certainly can't hurt.
Better drain and change gas, too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
:unsure:

How was the car running before you upgraded the turbo and exhaust, and added the intercooler? Was anything else modified or deleted?

In my experience I find that 99% of the time my car starts to run bad, its usually caused by something that I've either added (upgraded) and/or removed from the stock system. How was your car running in it's stock state before you did the upgrades? Missing hoses, vacuum leaks, and bad or corroded electrical connections can cause engine headaches.

Something else that I might mention- upgraded fuel/air ratio vs. stock fuel/air ratio....
You've now got a bigger turbo and an intercooler addition. You've got the stock turbo injectors, stock size fuel delivery system, stock pump, stock spark; and a computer that is trying to compute all of this to run fuel management for the factory system. But now you've got a bigger air ratio verses fuel going through there....
I don't know if this would be a direct cause of the running issues, but it is something to maybe consider.

If you want to really have a screamin' Z.... Look up Franky Williams from Zperformance racing in Fayetteville, NC.

Bon
The car was running a little rough before - it would stall out even after it was warmed up. Driving down the road it seemed to run fine. I agree with your summation, making any modifications seems to impact the overall smoothness of how it runs.....and it brings me back to the dilemma I have had for the last several years - make the financial commitment to go all in with the substantial upgrades or just try to get it running smooth with some small upgrades and leave it alone. At the end of the day, I just want to get it running well again, drive it for a while and decide if I am ready Go BIG or Go Home. This car has been in my garage for WAAAYYY too long and it is time move on it. Thanks for the insight.
 

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The car was running a little rough before - it would stall out even after it was warmed up. Driving down the road it seemed to run fine. I agree with your summation, making any modifications seems to impact the overall smoothness of how it runs.....and it brings me back to the dilemma I have had for the last several years - make the financial commitment to go all in with the substantial upgrades or just try to get it running smooth with some small upgrades and leave it alone. At the end of the day, I just want to get it running well again, drive it for a while and decide if I am ready Go BIG or Go Home. This car has been in my garage for WAAAYYY too long and it is time move on it. Thanks for the insight.
ah no problem man. just don't want to see you make the same mistakes that I have made with several of my Z's.
I agree that sometimes its best to just have the Z running well in its stock state. You don't want a car that's all beefed up and modified, but never wants to start or always breaks down. you want something that is turn-key and reliable every time you jump in. I will give an example from my own experience:

I owned at Z31 for several years over here. An 87 2+2 non-turbo Z. And I got obsessed with more power and turbo charging it. It ran really well- always started, never broke down, was comfortable... it just wasn't very fast. After I did the turbo conversion, I had traded all the comfort and reliability for speed and power. The car was no longer a daily driver. It was a lot faster, more fun, and had some good pulling power.... but the thing never started well, it ran rich, it was always having some kind of running issue. It wasn't reliable anymore like it previously was. I may have made some mistakes on the conversion, and I will eat those errors.

I soon afterwards got another Z31, this time an 84 AE turbo coupe. That thing ran great. Always started, had some power, and was reliable. I could just jump in and drive and even have my girl with me and not worry about a breakdown. Point is, sometimes its best to just leave things alone and as they are. Of course, this all changes depending on your driving goals.

You know what you could do, if you want to go big and still retain your sanity- have a stock Z that you can drive and enjoy daily, and then buy a second "project" Z that you can modify and tinker with on the weekends as a toy or whatever.

Bon
 

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ah no problem man. just don't want to see you make the same mistakes that I have made with several of my Z's.
I agree that sometimes its best to just have the Z running well in its stock state. You don't want a car that's all beefed up and modified, but never wants to start or always breaks down. you want something that is turn-key and reliable every time you jump in. I will give an example from my own experience:

I owned at Z31 for several years over here. An 87 2+2 non-turbo Z. And I got obsessed with more power and turbo charging it. It ran really well- always started, never broke down, was comfortable... it just wasn't very fast. After I did the turbo conversion, I had traded all the comfort and reliability for speed and power. The car was no longer a daily driver. It was a lot faster, more fun, and had some good pulling power.... but the thing never started well, it ran rich, it was always having some kind of running issue. It wasn't reliable anymore like it previously was. I may have made some mistakes on the conversion, and I will eat those errors.

I soon afterwards got another Z31, this time an 84 AE turbo coupe. That thing ran great. Always started, had some power, and was reliable. I could just jump in and drive and even have my girl with me and not worry about a breakdown. Point is, sometimes its best to just leave things alone and as they are. Of course, this all changes depending on your driving goals.

You know what you could do, if you want to go big and still retain your sanity- have a stock Z that you can drive and enjoy daily, and then buy a second "project" Z that you can modify and tinker with on the weekends as a toy or whatever.

Bon
Great advice - I appreciate the insight. I think if I can get it running well (reliable) and nudge it up just a little in HP (maybe 300 or so) I will be happy. Thank you.
 
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