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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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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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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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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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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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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
Thanks for all the help so far!

My latest thought process has me removing everything, getting the body-work and paint done at a shop, cleaning and powder-coating or plating all the old parts, then reassembling everything. Yesterday I removed the old sound-dampener in the rear. That was a chore. Heard of people doing dry ice or a heat gun. I had a heat gun handy so that's what I did. I found that there is a sweet-spot where the material would just peel off. Too much heat and it turned to goo.
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I also removed the gas tank. It looks pretty good from the outside. Would you recommend any internal treatment of the gas tank? I've read on the forums that some recommend hot-tanking and others are vehemently opposed due to possible rust. Right now I'm leaning towards just cleaning it on the outside and calling it good.
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While I was under the car I saw this little fan mounted. Not sure what my dad was thinking with this? Any body have any ideas as to why he would put a fan here?

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I'm slowly working my way from the back to the front. My next issue is going to be the wiring harness. I'm doing a good job labeling where everything goes and taking pictures as I remove them but I'm not sure what to do with the harness. Is it worth it to change all the connectors like I've seen on some of these forums?

I know many of you have said just get the car running and I appreciate that. I would like to fix any parts that are difficult to access or reach while the car is in pieces, and one of those things is the wiring harness. I want to be able to do it right the first time and not worry about the car for the next 30 years.

Next question:

If I were to strip the car all the way down to the unibody could four reasonably strong men or women lift the unibody onto a trailer or am I not even close?

Goal would be to load onto a trailer and take to the body/paint shop while I keep all the suspension parts to refurbish at home or at a specialty plating shop.

Let me know what you think.
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 · (Edited)
fuel tank - this is a big one. you can clean it out, but sometimes its not enough. I had my tank taken apart, cleaned, and welded back together. I would not recommend this as it is a bit dangerous. but I have a friend who welds and was willing to do that. the tank spent a lot of time drying out and getting 'fume free' before any welding was done, mind you.

plating and powder coating - this is very cool to do, but it can also be very expensive, even for small parts. I've had some parts on my 280 chromed and powder coated... looks great but didn't come with out heavy cost. unless you have a big wallet, I wouldn't do this to every part you come across. and really its just cosmetic. why do that to stuff under the car when you can't see it?

I hope this helps

Bon
Great information, thanks Bon. A few follow up questions if I may:
  1. I don't feel confident taking the gas tank apart and putting it back together, that's a little beyond my skill level. Would a radiator shop be the next best bet? Hot-tanking and coating the inside? I feel good about painting the outside.
  2. Powder coating - My main goal is to get rid of the surface rust and get the car in good shape to last another few decades. I don't really care how the underside looks, I just want a coating on there that will last and not have this surface rust. I'm not real concerned with the financial part of it, I just want what's best. I know this is a subjective term, what I mean by this is creating a solid car that will stand up to daily driving and last the next 30+ years with minimal/no rust issues. I would like to clean up the suspension parts, see picture below. What's the best way to do this? Sandblast and powder-coat, or just paint?
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I hear you on the rotisserie jig. This is an issue I'm having with the logistics of everything. If I want the body and paint shop to sand, strip, sand-blast, or otherwise prepare the underside of the unibody how do I deliver the car to them? Ideally it would just be the unibody and other body parts without the suspension but I'm at a loss as to how to transport and move it around in this condition. I've got a couple of voicemails out to body shops but haven't heard back from them yet. Seems like they are pretty busy. Would they generally remove the suspension for me before prep and paint, then put it back on? I will figure this out, just wondering if anyone else has had experience with this.

I would love to build a little jig and do the underside myself, and maybe I will, I just don't have a whole lot of room right now to do it and I already kicked my wife out of the garage for this project. Perhaps I'll just bite the bullet and do it.

Another NOOB question. As I'm tearing down the car I've come across multiple stripped screws and fasteners. All of them I've been able to retrieve but this latest one I can't seem to get to budge. This is the gas tank filler neck tube from underneath. What are your techniques for getting these loose? I have a heat gun, but I think I need to invest in a torch. I get a little nervous by the gas tank though.
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Thanks again for all the help so far. My next steps are to remove the A/C condenser, fan blower, and heater core from the firewall, remove the engine and transmission then off to the body and paint shop.

I suppose I need to think about any body panels I may be missing and figure that out before paint. Any suggestions on places to get side skirts, front air dam, etc? Not sure on my final look that I'm going for but I like clean lines and nothing too fancy, I'll do some looking at google images.

-Jordan
 
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