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1976 280z Coupe
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Discussion Starter #1
Hi, I have a 76’ 280z and I wanted to do some performance upgrades. However, I have no idea where to start. The previous owner did some work but I do not really understand what he did or why. What I do know is that he made his own aluminum fuel rail with larger injectors, he didn’t specify. It’s also has a 5 speed zx swap. The car runs extremely well the previous owner had the car for 10+ years. The first thing I have started on is a exhaust. I want to do a 3 in all the way from the headers with a Magnaflow muffler at the end, still haven’t decided which. Any recommendations on that? Also should I upgrade my headers? I am 16 so I am learning about the mechanics on this car. Also the car is freshly painted here are some pictures below.
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The absolute best upgrade I did (and can recommend) are thicker sway bars. You probably notice a huge amount of body roll around sharp corners - this will stop that and it will corner flat. It really modernized the feel of the car and is the one upgrade I could no longer live without.

This is what I bought: Amazon.com: ST Suspension 52100 Front and Rear Anti-Sway Bar Set for Nissan 260Z and 280Z: Automotive

I have no idea why Amazon changed the picture to coils but that's the sway bar set I got and can't recommend this upgrade enough.
 

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I just built a custom 3 inch stainless system for a customer's '82 ZX Turbo. It's a lot of work and there are few choices when it comes to head pipes. I built the system from scratch from front to back with a Magnaflow muffler in the center section. You can do a 2 1/2" system and you'll be amazed by the performance (and sound).
 

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1976 280z Coupe
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Discussion Starter #7
My 2 cents, put the grilles in the hood vents. Get 240z replica bumpers. MSA exhaust kit.
Whats in your tire?
I just installed the vents today. I was spraying them black yesterday, also the thing on my tire is some tape I forgot to take off haha.
 

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Nice first car! Don't do anything half-ass on the car. I remember being a kid, and I was "poor", so I may have shoe-stringed things together in my younger days. You essentially are driving what could be an appreciating asset. I'd avoid things that are "no going back" mods, like fender flares and stance nation nonsense. Do some basic stuff like an exhaust. 2.5" will be plenty. 3" is overkill and won't net you any real gains. Header will be a pretty involved job. Gotta remove the intake manifold and the exhaust manifold. Plus assume the bolts have never been off in 44 years.

The thing I would do first is inspect every rubber hose and seal on the car. If the rubber feels hard and looks brittle, replace it. With the 10 miles of vacuum lines in the engine bay, a problem with any of those hoses can cause the car to not run right. If the car will not be garaged, it will be important to make sure the cabin is leak free. If you are going to be using this car at night, look into some 7" round LED head lights. If you want some quality units, go with a morimotos or JW Speakers. I snagged a knock-off brand from eBay for $45, and they do ok. I had to get some anti-flicker harnesses to get the lights to work, because the factory harness thought the bulbs were burned out....not enough voltage.

Most of all, enjoy!
 

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I agree about checking all the hoses and vacuum lines. If you replace vacuum lines, only disconnect one at a time, because it's really easy to get vacuum lines on the wrong connections.

It looks like something has been done to the suspension on your car, because the front end appears to be sitting way high in the photos. You may want to evaluate whether you want to keep any modifications or not. My practice when acquiring a car is to return everything to stock so I know what I have to work with. I have seen too many mods that added nothing to the car (in my opinion) and either screwed up some of its functions or simply made it harder to work on.
 

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Mr.Z:

It's not what you want to hear, but given your situation, I would suggest that your learning experience should begin with obtaining a Factory Shop Manual to learn basic maintenance before you dream of diving into the deep end of anything. Asking questions is a good thing, but the trick to learning is figuring out the right questions to ask.

If you must have a more ambitious agenda, you might want to start with the current suspension setup, unless mud bogging is on your to-do list.

In the meantime (while you're reading the FSM), just drive it and learn something about what the car is, rather than frothing over what it is not.

Just $.02 from the cheap seats.
 

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1976 280z Coupe
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Discussion Starter #11
Mr.Z:

It's not what you want to hear, but given your situation, I would suggest that your learning experience should begin with obtaining a Factory Shop Manual to learn basic maintenance before you dream of diving into the deep end of anything. Asking questions is a good thing, but the trick to learning is figuring out the right questions to ask.

If you must have a more ambitious agenda, you might want to start with the current suspension setup, unless mud bogging is on your to-do list.

In the meantime (while you're reading the FSM), just drive it and learn something about what the car is, rather than frothing over what it is not.

Just $.02 from the cheap seats.
Thank you for the advice! I am trying to learn by reading through some posts and I now have a better understanding of what I may want to do. I will be working on the suspension because it is an eyesore. Do you have any recommendations? Also I do have an FSM! I have been flipping through it every now and then but I will focus more on it. Once again thank you.
 

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If you want to lower the car, I would go with eibach springs and some performance strut cartridges. This requires no cutting of your car. If you want to go with coil overs, you have to cut the stock strut tubes, front and rear, and have a threaded collar welded to the tube. It's one of those "no going back" mods.
 

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Mr.Z:

While I'd like to oblige, making suggestions without information is a no-win business.

It could be that the suspension set up is one of those mysterious things done by the Previous Owner. It's a cinch that its current stance is not stock.

A good first step of investigation would be to pull the wheels, one end at a time, to see just what's going on. You might post a couple (front and rear) fotos of what you find so that others may offer better informed advice.
 

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Unless the engine is really built up going to bigger injectors is a complete waste of time and money. Go to a 2.25" or 2.5" exhaust and be sure to use a turn down tip on the end. Going to a 3" is a pain and a total waste unless you have a turbo engine that's built up some. It's hard to say what you have from the pics but going to Eibach springs is a winner. Use KYB shocks, and of course bigger sway bars. Whatever you do, don't slam the car. One of the biggest improvements that you can make in your new z is a front rubber air dam. Right now the car wanders at freeway speeds, trucks, buses, and cross winds blow you all over the road and they hydroplane easy. Too much lift in the front end, install the front dam and all of those handling characteristics go away. Besides looking nice, they make the car handle much safer. As far as the header goes don't expect much change unless you build the engine up some. The stock exhaust manifolds are fairly efficient. It wouldn't hurt to get the block #, it's by the drivers side motor mount. It will be either N42 or F54. Check the head # as well. That's near the bottom of the head by #1 spark plug. It wouldn't hurt to run a hot compression test as well and let us know. Z man of Washington 360-668-2979
 

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SECURITY!

The first and most important upgrade you should do is install a kill-switch or some sort of anti-theft measure because these are stolen all the time and old cars are easy as pie to steal.
 

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Your Z looks solid!
I was at your point, asking same questions 3+ yrs ago after purchasing a 77 280Z from original owner.
I’d split your question into put in 2 categories and sub c:

1- First thing you need to do maintenance wise for
1.1 Esthétique - body
1.2 Hp torq - maintenance o fuel air spark systemes
1.3 Ride - new bushings

2- Best mod
2.1 Esthétique - air dam w/ big bumper removal
2.2 Hp torq - Continue 1.2 above and Header + 2.5 exhaust especially for sound pleasure
2.3 Ride - Springs/shocks

See my tread for more info.
Enjoy your z


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 

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check all your rubber bushings, if they are worn nothing you do will make real improvement. All the go fast stuff is great and we all do what we can to make our toys go faster, but remember you also have to stop the thing. Take a look at up grading your brakes, it will pay off if you ever really need them. Also since you spend ( if your lucky ) so much time driving your car, a factory fresh looking interior is way cool and really enhances the drive. My 2 cents.
 

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fire extinguisher, have it in a handy area
replace all fuel lines with FI rated hoses. Use correct FI rated clamps.
do a lot of research on the use of PU bushings, my advise is to leave it alone unless its broke and use OE parts when ever possible.
These cars drive great in stock form. From tires to suspension to brakes. Carry a spare ECU and ign module, make sure they work.
check the water pump for play or leakage at the weep hole.
read up on how to remove bolts with out breaking them.
 
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