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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm writing a book on cool, low-cost cars. So far the Z hasn't climbed out of that category yet. I'd like some input, please. What tends to break the most often? What should someone look for when checking a prospective purchase? What are these cars like to live with on a daily basis? How is parts availability? How expensive are parts?
If anyone has any information or hints for me to pass along, or if you'd be interested in having your car pictured in my book, let's talk.
By the way, I used to have a '75 280Z. I got it new, and it was totaled in a wreck when it was 16 months old. The idea of owning one again is gaining appeal.
Thanks, Pat
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Saw your post on the ZCAR.COM forum. IMO the best site on the Internet for information exchange regarding the Z-car. So many of these little sportscars were built over the years that they are still cheap and plentiful. As with any vehicle that's over 20 years old, there are bound to be maintenance and wear related problems. But, for people that have average mechanical ability, and or, are willing to spend time and money restoring a Z to its original, or better than original performance levels, this is the little car that could.

I bought a 78 280Z from a junkyard for $500 and did a frame-up restoration on all the mechanicals, then, I chopped most of the sheetmetal off and converted it into a 62 Ferrari 250GTO convertible. Here is my website http://www.newtier.com/graber/z-car . The car will be on the cover of Petersen's KIT CAR magazine in July or August.

I am not an authority on Z cars. Many of the people posting answers on zcar.com are racers and mechanics that have been involved with Z cars since Paul Newman was racing them successfully in IMSA back in the mid 70's. I just know about them because I took one apart and put it back together again.

Some of the areas that need specific attention when looking for a Z to purchase are:

1- suspension and steering bushings, These just plain wear out and degrade handling significantly. Easily upgraded to eurethane.

2- differential mounts, a common source of "clunk" under acceleration from standstill.

3- RUST, this is the big one. Any Z car that spent time in a winter state and even most z cars found in arizona and california have rust. Common areas not usually noticed immediately are under the battery, the frame rails and the floorpan.

4- Engine - The bottom end is made to last a nuclear explosion, but without proper maintenance the aluminum head can be problematic. The valves are mechanically adjusted and unless done properly the performance will suffer. The last bolt on the exhaust manifold commonly breaks causing an exhaust leak. All fuel injection related electrical conectors need to be cleaned or replaced. This is an almost certain cause of many unknown engine glitches.

5- Interior - I don't know much about it because I stripped mine out and replaced with custom upholstery. Typically the dash cracks, but there are many dashcaps available to cover a bad one. The clock usually does not work. In addition, there are quite a number of electrical glitches that occur because of dirt and grime in the switches.

Some of the wonderful things about the Z car are:

Phenomenal performance from a $1,000 - $6,000 car. The vehicle is a classic in every sense of the word. A ground-breaking vehicle. Offering performance, reliability, style and general comfort at low cost to the masses. The car, if properly maintained, possibly upgraded to turbo or high compression, can keep up with most sports cars produced to this day. It is one of the most beloved sportscars of all time.


Hope this helps get you started.
 
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