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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Guys and Gals,

I've tinkered a bit with 240Z about 20 years ago and recently my father gave me his 1971 Datsun 240Z that he has been "restoring" since 1996.

The car is in terrible shape and I need to start over in the restoration process. Looking for tips on the steps to go through to restore the vehicle. I know this is a broad question so let me clarify where I'm at in the process.

Goal with the rebuild: Have a rust-free mostly original daily driver. By no means show-quality or all original. I'd like to upgrade components where it makes sense. I'd like to dink around with the little stuff here and there but have the major things done by a professional (body work, paint, engine rebuild, etc.). I know this may upset the gearheads on here but what I want to avoid is this car sitting around for another 30 years like my dad did and right now I'm cash-rich and time-poor.

Car info:
  • 1971 240Z
  • Stock engine and dual carbs
  • Father started the rebuild 25 years ago
  • Last 10+ years it has been sitting uncovered out in the elements in Northern California
  • Lots of surface rust from the last 10 years but nothing major that I have found so far
  • I have boxes and boxes of parts that he has collected over the years, most are junk but I have all the important pieces and trim

My plan:
  1. Achieve "rolling-chassis" status. Meaning remove everything to the shell so it can be stripped and repaired as needed and ready for paint
  2. While body-work and paint is happening I'll have the engine, carbs, and transmission rebuilt
  3. Once both are done, have the engine and transmission installed
  4. Rebuild dash and electrical
  5. Interior and upholstery
What do you think about the broad plan? Looking for small tips that will save me huge headaches.

Specific guidance that I'm looking for:
  1. Is there a relatively straight-forward upgrade to rear disk brakes? I imagine I should be working on the suspension while the chassis is getting painted so that it is ready to be bolted on after paint
  2. Rear differential suggestions? I don't know much about differentials. When I look under the car I see the number 209 stamped on it. Looks like lots of rust, can these be rebuilt? is there a "better" one to install while I have everything out?
I will attach a few photos, some are when I first got the car, others are more current as to where I'm at with the tear-down. Not sure how many I can upload at once but we'll see. I am still in the demolition stage of the rebuild and I'm just trying to plan out the next steps. Again, I'm new to the mechanical/car world so go easy on me. I will try to ask specific questions as I go along, let me know if you need any clarifications on the vehicle. I appreciate any help/advice.
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  1. Is there a relatively straight-forward upgrade to rear disk brakes? I imagine I should be working on the suspension while the chassis is getting painted so that it is ready to be bolted on after paint
There are a couple companies that make rear disc brake conversions that look pretty slick. If you upgrade the rear brakes to discs, I'd upgrade the front brakes as well. Upgrading the rear alone will change the proportion of braking between front and rear and you want to keep most of your braking in the front, around 75%. You could install a proportioning valve but that would just limit the amount of braking you're getting from your fancy, new, rear discs. The only way to work on the suspension while the chasis unibody is being painted is if the body goes to the body shop on a rotisserie. I'd get all the suspension components cleaned up and powder coated. Here is where you can consider new springs/struts or coilovers. While everything is apart, consider the bushings and whether or not they need to be replaced. It will never be easier than now...
  1. Rear differential suggestions? I don't know much about differentials. When I look under the car I see the number 209 stamped on it. Looks like lots of rust, can these be rebuilt? is there a "better" one to install while I have everything out?
Yes, differentials can be rebuilt. "Better" is subjective. If you aren't upgrading the power, you'll probably be just fine with the stock R180. Upgrading to the R200, which was on later models is pretty easy. I think you just need the new diff and stub axels, the R180 stub axels won't work with the R200. There are also different gear ratios and limited slip setups that can be attractive if certain types of driving are desired. Your diff doesn't look bad at all to me on the outside. Some elbow grease and paint will make it look pretty in no time. For the internals, pull the cover and inspect all the teeth. If nothing is chipped or broken, and everything spins freely with no excessive play or binding, you're probably good to go. Oh, might as well replace the front and side seals while it's out.

This car looks to be in pretty good shape from what I can see. I hope to see more if it!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Great, this gives me a good starting point, I appreciate the response.

I'd like to keep the car on wheels so I can easily load it on a tow truck when needed, but at the same time I also want the body and paint shop to strip the undercoating and reapply a new one. I'll get on the phone with a couple of shops and see what they recommend.

My plan as of right now is to:
  1. Find a body and paint shop and get all the details worked out with them.
  2. Find an engine/transmission place.
  3. I will drop the car off at the engine shop, have them pull the engine, transmission, and drivetrain.
  4. Take the unibody to the body and paint shop and hopefully get them to remove the suspension there and paint the car. After they are done I'm hoping they can put the suspension back in
  5. Tow back to the engine shop where they will install the refurbished engine and transmission
  6. Tow back to my garage where I can remove the suspension again and have it cleaned and powder-coated
Perhaps I can find a body and paint shop that also does powder-coating, that way they can tackle the suspension components at the same time. Just thinking out loud here.

One part that I am having difficulty removing is the heater core, blower motor, and A/C evaporator. I can't seem to find where it is bolted to the firewall.

I would like to upgrade the headlamps to LED. Any suggestions on a good company to go with on this? I'll search the archives as I'm sure this has been discussed before. I'll upload pictures as I make progress.
 

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I would suggest not doing any "upgrades" (brakes, suspension, wheels) but rather focus on getting it back to OE condition with what you have. Then if for some reason you are unhappy, and want to spend money, then start "upgrading". the reason I put "" around upgrading is I find unless you plan on re engineering the entire car, the upgrades may not improve the car from an overall balance perspective. also if you want drive it you have to read up on the effect of altering the suspension. I drive a stock 75 and its a decent quality drive (comfort, noise, overall handling). I have read (which means I don't have 1st hand experience) that changing over to things like coil overs an poly urethane can result is a rough noisy ride. Just something to consider. Lastly S30 cars have been going up in value a lot recently. early cars more than later. buyers tend to want unmolested examples the most, so if you have any interest selling it at some point it time, realize that what ever "upgrades" you do are not only going to cost you the cost and labor of installing them, but will also reduce the value of the car on the open market, so you take a double hit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Great info Dave, I appreciate the perspective and I see what you are saying.

I'd like to get more thoughts as to what are good "upgrades" to do. Obviously for its day Datsun did the best with what they had to create the most balanced vehicle they could. However there have been technology improvements over the last 50 years that would improve the car without sacrificing the "spirit" of the 240Z.

This is where my knowledge drops off a cliff and what I need help with. One obvious thing that could be improved (in my opinion) are the headlights. I always remember those things being dim when I was younger.

What other things can sensibly be improved while I have the car in pieces and restoring from the ground up? I'm not too worried about future value or selling it, I've got other ventures that are contributing towards my retirement and while it is good to think of an "exit plan" with the vehicle it's not on the top of my list.

I think you make a great point in just getting the car running. There is tremendous value and motivation in getting the 240Z moving under its own power and I agree with your sentiment. Just looking for suggestions on anything I can change now that would be way easier while the car is apart that might be 10x harder once put back together.

Thanks again for the response

-Jordan
 

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The S30's are a remarkable car from the stand point of simplicity. Nothing is hard to do, so doing it now while its apart is not going to save you a lot of time. That being said if you want to upgrade, you would be better served by seeing the actual effect of the upgrade by having a base line to compare to. That's all I have to say on the subject. what ever you do I hope it turns out well for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I hear you Dave. I'm not disagreeing with you and genuinely appreciate your input. I will likely take your advice as it makes sense to get a feel for the stock car again and go from there.

I do want to replace all the bushings, fasteners, and weather stripping. Has anyone had any good or bad experiences purchasing the "kit" from these Z specialty stores? They sell complete bushings, rubber, and all the stainless steel screws/fasteners. That is is one area where I have a lot of anxiety over the rebuild, I know there will be a bunch of screws missing. I'm pretty organized on the tear-down but I can tell my dad was all over the place with what he used; some metric, some standard, some hex, some phillips. To me it makes sense to just buy all the screws already organized and uniform.

Let me know what you think about these "kits". Yes I'm sure they are more expensive than if I sourced them all myself but if it will save me some trouble I'm ok spending more money to avoid that headache.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Also, where are my cool little storage compartments behind the seats? I was a little sad it didn't have them when I ripped up the interior. I'm assuming it came on a later model or something.
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Another question I have about logistics. I have these 4-nut "Mag" wheels. The rear driver's side tire is completely destroyed and won't hold any air. The other three need to be replaced as well but this one is making it real difficult to push the car around.

If this was your car, would you go ahead and get the brand new tires you wanted or would you take it to a used tire place and just get the cheapest tire that holds air on there so you can move the vehicle around? Then towards the end of the restoration get the new tires? My thought process behind this is what if the size of tire I want changes after I get all the body work done?

Let me know if you have any thoughts

-Jordan
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getting good fitting rubber parts will help, I recently replaced the belt molding on the windows, and purchased some new door rubber as well, but in my case the oe stuff is still holding up so waiting on that.
interior stuff like seat covering is out there as well as foam, I did vinyl since I want to be OE as possible and have had problems with leather in the past.
most of the suspension bushings can be had OE, rubber or PU. I go OE if I can find it use this to help locate PN
be very careful on use of PU for bushings. things like the mustache bar do poorly with PU (from what others have said) so unless yours is trashed leave it be.
I would say look at every rubber part from hoses to gaskets to bushings, if they look rotted or if you can get OE then replace. if you cant get OE try rubber 1st, if you are unhappy with the results get PU.
Here is another thing to watch out for. I see a lot of alum rads, to me I would rather get an old brass copper rad repaired than trust a 130$ alum rad made in china. I just don't see how it could be a good quality unit for that kind of price point. I have brass and copper unit and it works fine.

I have a you tube channel that you may find helpful

Dave WM - YouTube
 

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here is an example, used the parts manual to look of a bushing in the rear suspension, noted the PN then used that to find the oe part on google and found OE parts

IMHO this beats any after market PU part all day long.
 

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About the tires - I would probably use "rim protectors" for the moment, and make a decision about decent tires later. If they hold air, they're OK for now, so you probably only need one.
 

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that looks like a nice little Z to restore.
for your suspension, i'd say get some quality struts and springs. you should replace all the bushings that you can easily get to. you can get PU but the factory rubber ones work just fine, and they are still available as far as I know. and they will last for many years too.

if you are NOT building a race car or track car, don't waste your time and money on dumb stupid upgrades like coil-overs and giant aluminum racing radiators. why some of these morons out there do this is beyond my logical comprehension. its idiotic. stock nissan radiators and suspension work just fine for normal driving.

Bon
 
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks Bon. From what you and Dave said about the bushings there seems to be a difference between PU and rubber is that correct? What are the main differences? What would you recommend?

I'm definitely NOT looking for a track car, I don't really care about speed these days. I'm shifting more into comfort which is probably a sign I'm getting older. With that said, is there a difference in comfort from PU vs rubber bushings?

Dave - thanks for your youtube channel link, lots of good information there and it sounds like you have done that same thing I'm trying to do. I'm sure I will have more questions about refurbishing many of these small interior parts.
 

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If you want comfort, stick with rubber bushings. Poly will transmit both more vibration from the road, and more noise.
 

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That looks like a nice starter for restoration. I'll give you some of my advice based on a similar project I did with a 73 a few years back. First off, regarding the suspension- DO NOT put polyurethane bushings in that car! they totally wreck the ride, making it feel and sound like a go kart. Also, there is another issue thats hard to find good information on, but all shock absorbers available now are "gas charged", as I believe all modern shocks are. this help performance, but it will lead to a very high ride if not compensated for. This is the look you see sometimes where the 240Z looks like its had a lift kit, but what is really going on is the pressurized shocks are overpowering the springs, and raising the vehicle. I didn't have this problem, because I went with a new set of Tokiko shocks and matching performance springs. This did the trick, but again it was a very stiff ride- not sure what was worse, the bushings or the shocks. Unfortunately I'm not sure if they are available any longer. maybe another solution is available currently. Talk to one of the current reputable retailers of 240Z components and get an honest opinion on this. Regarding general upgrades like brakes, etc, just bring it back to stock first, and then see if you really want to spend the money- your ae going to need to to replace everything anyways, and stock is cheap, most parts can still be brought at places like Oreilly auto. regarding bearings and bushings, ball joints, only replace what needs replacing- I threw away a mostly perfectly good suspension in the name of modernizing the car, but in the end its still a 50 year old cheap, light, fun to drive car- thats it. its not a Corvette, Porsche, or Camaro and never will be. The best Zen for a 240Z is totally stock, with maybe some nice wheels and a great paint job. at this point, that is going to cost plenty as it is, so don't over spend, and come up with with something that isn't quite right. That would be what I would do if I had it to do over again. If you want a faster, more modern car, sell the 240z and buy a Z32 300ZX. they are a tremendous value and reasonable daily driver. thats with I did and have never looked back..............
 

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Hi Guys and Gals,

I've tinkered a bit with 240Z about 20 years ago and recently my father gave me his 1971 Datsun 240Z that he has been "restoring" since 1996.

The car is in terrible shape and I need to start over in the restoration process. Looking for tips on the steps to go through to restore the vehicle. I know this is a broad question so let me clarify where I'm at in the process.

Goal with the rebuild: Have a rust-free mostly original daily driver. By no means show-quality or all original. I'd like to upgrade components where it makes sense. I'd like to dink around with the little stuff here and there but have the major things done by a professional (body work, paint, engine rebuild, etc.). I know this may upset the gearheads on here but what I want to avoid is this car sitting around for another 30 years like my dad did and right now I'm cash-rich and time-poor.

Car info:
  • 1971 240Z
  • Stock engine and dual carbs
  • Father started the rebuild 25 years ago
  • Last 10+ years it has been sitting uncovered out in the elements in Northern California
  • Lots of surface rust from the last 10 years but nothing major that I have found so far
  • I have boxes and boxes of parts that he has collected over the years, most are junk but I have all the important pieces and trim

My plan:
  1. Achieve "rolling-chassis" status. Meaning remove everything to the shell so it can be stripped and repaired as needed and ready for paint
  2. While body-work and paint is happening I'll have the engine, carbs, and transmission rebuilt
  3. Once both are done, have the engine and transmission installed
  4. Rebuild dash and electrical
  5. Interior and upholstery
What do you think about the broad plan? Looking for small tips that will save me huge headaches.

Specific guidance that I'm looking for:
  1. Is there a relatively straight-forward upgrade to rear disk brakes? I imagine I should be working on the suspension while the chassis is getting painted so that it is ready to be bolted on after paint
  2. Rear differential suggestions? I don't know much about differentials. When I look under the car I see the number 209 stamped on it. Looks like lots of rust, can these be rebuilt? is there a "better" one to install while I have everything out?
I will attach a few photos, some are when I first got the car, others are more current as to where I'm at with the tear-down. Not sure how many I can upload at once but we'll see. I am still in the demolition stage of the rebuild and I'm just trying to plan out the next steps. Again, I'm new to the mechanical/car world so go easy on me. I will try to ask specific questions as I go along, let me know if you need any clarifications on the vehicle. I appreciate any help/advice.
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Sounds like a plan. Very much like where I am at with the early 260z.
It is in shop for paint now. Hope to get it back and start RE-assembly
in May. Not a trailer queen, just a daily drive and enjoy.
 

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Mn_Z_Man is right.... stick with as much stock components as you can. If you feel you want to upgrade later, then you can. And he's also right about the new shocks. I put KYBs on both of my Z31's and they seemed to raise up both cars a bit. I compensated a bit on one of them by installing eibach springs and I'm pretty happy with it. That having been said I got nothing against KYB shocks, but as of now they are one of the only options available for the Z31. But I think you can still get tokikos and others for your 240.

I think the bushings argument goes both ways for a lot of guys. I personally don't mind the poly bushings... they look nice and they last forever, but they don't offer as much smooth ride quality as the stock rubber ones do. now, on the flip side, the stock rubber bushings will wear out and need replacing.... in like 30 years haha. if you have decent shocks and struts that aren't worn out and you have proper sized wheels and tires on your Z, and all the other suspension worn out components replaced, your ride won't be terrible with poly bushings... but if you slam it to the ground, its gonna really suck to drive around. I have poly on my 84 300zx and I don't mind them at all. But I really only got them because they will last. But they will not offer the maximum comfort that stock rubber bushings will.

One thing that I would recommend however, if they even are available for the 240, is a poly transmission mount and a poly diff mount. I had those put on my 87 300zx and never looked back.

in the end, I think whatever you decide to do with your suspension you will be happy with. and if you end up not happy, then change it.

Bon
 
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Get the engine running well then repair other systems such as brakes, clutch, clean gas tank etc. Buy a cheap used tire to have it rolling. My car which has mostly sat inside the last 10 years came with Toliko shocks, springs and urethane bushings all in a box ready to install. I installed and loved the way it handled. Note: I drive an 00 Dodge ram with Cummins & 5 sp so don't mind stiff suspension.

Back on point: these systems were sufficient for the car when it was new. Many of the "upgrades" are done half fast and don't really work. Once the engine starts, you'll need brakes and clutch. Do the hydraulics completely including new hoses. Once it's driving, go for any of the next items you want. It really doesn't matter.

AVOID the urge to take everything apart and "restore" it. Many, many good cars have been ruined when taken apart. I know of one person who inherited his Dad's MGA, took it apart and literally 40 years later after moving from house to house, it's back together. The grandson will probably get it and sell it.

Another example: I have an 85 Mercedes Diesel that was in the family since new. I changed bodyshops twice and it's been off the road for 4-5 years. (The good news is the paint looks beautiful and I'm close to driving it.) Normal bodyshops want the insurance business. Specialists that will fool with old cars are either very expensive &/or very slow. You will also find that shops break things and you're better off stripping to where it can be painted and putting it back together yourself. Putting it back together will take time especially if you have wife, job, kids & other hobbies.

You want it functioning well enough to consider it a daily driver before you get it painted.
Bottom line, you have a good starting point. Get it driving then fix it the way you want it while keeping it always as close to driving as possible.
 
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