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Discussion Starter #1
I would like to know how to begin restoring this car. The car has been sitting for years. About 9 months ago, the previous owner jump started it, and got it running, but it would not turn off. The headlights got really bright and burned out, and the windshield wipers started going extremely fast. He turned off the ignition and pulled out the key, and the car still ran. So he had to pull spark plug wires to kill it. Now the car is in my garage, and will start by jumping the starter, but won't start with the key. We have begun to diagnose this problem, and are pretty sure we have bad wiring. We have done some tests on the ignition switch, and think that it's working fine, since it is new. Are wiring harnesses available for this car? I would really like to fix the electrical problem first, but I don't know if I should do that, or just start tearing the car down for restoration. Is it normal to replace most electrical parts when restoring a car?

Here are all the pictures:
Engine Left:
http://cracknut.freewebsites.com/DSCF0001.JPG
Engine Right:
http://cracknut.freewebsites.com/DSCF0002.JPG
Right Side:
http://cracknut.freewebsites.com/DSCF0003.JPG
Left Side:
http://cracknut.freewebsites.com/DSCF0006.JPG
Front:
http://cracknut.freewebsites.com/DSCF0008.JPG
Rear:
http://cracknut.freewebsites.com/DSCF0009.JPG
Interior with kid who thinks he's going to get this car:
http://cracknut.freewebsites.com/DSCF0012.JPG
 

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Wow - tough question... where to begin. I just finished restoring a 1980 280ZX this week ( if you can ever really finish)..I at least put it back on the street.

My car was rough when I started. but at least it ran. I am now down $17,566.00 and still counting.

Two years ago, I was advised to forget restoring my car and go buy the best RUNNING car I could afford. That my friend was excellent advice and I ignored it. I am now giving you the same advice. Part it out --sell the pieces--go use that money to buy the best running car you can afford.

Fixer uppers are a money pit.

GOOD LUCK.. you're going to need it
 

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Re: D'accord

I fully agree with GG.

Unless you are just looking for a fun, beater dont even begin with that car. You can find really, (REALLY) nice restored cars for under $5 grand, and if you enjoy working on these cars, even the nicest restored z you can find is still years away from being finished (modified, restored, polished, painted. . . .).

GGs example is a very good one, he's $17.5gs into his car and it sounds like he has pleanty more cash to spend. What do you think he would get for the car if he sold it now? or even when it is finished? (sorry).

Check out what some restored 240s sell for on this site and ebay and then make a list of parts you need to restore yours (dont even begin to calculate labor) and you come to your own conclusions. Keep in mind, shipping coast to coast is less than $500 and you can have a car inspected anywhere and have a report sent to you before you buy one.

Either way, good luck. I guess that MSA and Brit Vict. need your money too ;0)
 

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Re: D'accord

The previous posts give good advise. I bought a very nice 240Z for $3500 and have spent almost that much "refreshing" it. I'm doing all the work myself (paint, upholstery, electrical, engine and carbs) but things add up quick. If you decide to restore a Z I would recomend getting the book "How to Restore Your Datsun Z-car" by Wick Humble. It goes through all the steps to restore a Z. A factory service manual is also a very valuable tool. Before I even started my work I spent $100 just on books (how to paint, how to restore, FSM, haynes). I got Z-therapy's how to tune a 240Z video also. All this before I even spent any money to work on the car. Good luck with your project(s). Consider it good for the economy!
 

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Miscellaneous money-pit ramblings...

You can not put a price on personal satifaction and the completion of goals, whatever they are. Sure you will PROBABLY never get your money out of the project. Is it necessarily a money pit? That depends on your goals. Are you in for RESTORATION or FIXING UP? Then you need to define each of these for yourself. It pains me that the first two responses to "I wanna restore an old Z" are very negative and--to me--don't sound very tongue-in-cheek. A $17K Z is a very beautiful thing, and true, probably not worth half on the common market. But it should not be measured by what it would pull in the 'For Sale' column, but by the personal satifaction that is derived from it. There have been thousands of uncatalogued moments that I am sure both GerryG and 4me have experienced where price is no object. I am guessing--but I have known many exceptions--that, (since you are 18) you are going to either be in a hurry or want to drive it while it is being fixed. Set some goals and stick to them. Decide VERY CLEARLY what you want from this car. Concours resto? Strict OE resto? Reconditioned/used/oe resto? Do you want it to go fast? How many 'performance liberties' are you going to take in your resto? If you dont' keep very tight reins on yourself throughout the process, you will over-spend at every turn. You will take a part off to replace and notice something else worn and something else worn and something attached to that that is worn...and so on and so forth. Make sure you keep your final destination clearly in mind throughout. That way you can ask yourself AT EVERY TURN, "Is this important to my finished product?" If you are planning on driving this car or enjoying it anytime soon, sit down and make yourself an outline of priorities. Start with the most critical to reliable running and leave body work and paint job and 'show and go' stuff for the very end. For your car, if you are planning on "fixing it up", the electrical system and just plain GETTING IT RUNNING are a priority. If you are truly looking to 'restore', then the attack is basically the same for all cars: Strip the **** thing down and catalogue everything and start researching suppliers. Don't jump in too deeply at first--You will get bogged down and lose motivation. I would suggest building a clean, well running car with a few speed parts to enjoy. RESTORING a car can be extremely unenjoyable for impatient (young) people. When you are 30 or 40 and have a career and a couple other cars to drive and a three car garage, then start a restoration.

steve 77
 

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Re: D'accord

FantaZ has hit it again. The book he speaks of is a winner. Any bookstore can order it for you or you can get it on Amazon.com. It is well worth the money, even if you decide to scrap the project before you actually begin.

That car could end up costing you a pretty penny to restore. But then again, if you are not a stickler for "concours" restoration, and you just want to have a good, reliable and safe car to burn around in and learn the ins and outs of mechanics, this Z might be a good place to start.

Rust is definitely the biggest problem. If the floorboards, rocker panels and/or frame rails are rusted through, you'll end up spending a fortune to get it back to snuff -- unless you can weld and enjoy doing that sort of thing. Every part imaginable is available for that car -- and your particular model is one of the more preferred of the bunch because it is a first generation machine.

Also, try calling Motorsports Auto, a big reseller of Z parts. They have a (lame) website at http://www.zcarparts.com. Ask for a catalog.

Whatever you end up doing, good luck and be sure to ask for advice and assistance here.
 

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interesting topic. My .02

Just wanted to add my .02.

I have been the owner of a 78Z for 12 years. During that time it has spent about 6 yewars in a garage. It was not driveable or safe. I have put about 200K kilometres on it. I have rebuilt the engine, removed the dash twice, missed countless daytime summer outings hunched over it. I do not know how much I have spent, probably in excess of 10K. It looks slightly better than this one. Certain items have been fixed that in my opinion ar enecessary fro safety, especially here in Canada. Notably the rear window glass has been REPLACED. Yes, withoiut a rear defrost a car is not safe. The heater control valve has been replaced. That was a bitch of a job. The engine runs well and I regard it as slightly embarassing, but reliable and peppy A to B transportation. Come women will climb into it, other judge me on it's looks. The judgemental ones could never maintain it. Generally, this does not bother me. Sometimes it does.

I really enjoy driving this car. I justify my time and moiney by simply asking; what is the alternative? If the alternative is laying 5K down for somethign that depreciates 5K in the first year, then I justify it based on simple math; Each month I spend driving it without it breakign down isa worth a CAR PAYMENT, ABOUT $500. It bugs me when people bug me about my car. I point out this simple math.

I have considered restoring it, but the $$ just don't add up. The gentlemen above are right. If I was to restore my car, I would simply not get my $$ back. I would spend about 5K if I did it myself, and I would nbever get it back.

The only thing I could possibly do, is slowly over time, get it back into shape, and drive it. If I ever restore it, I will have to tear it apart one last time and get every single part required, and then do it right. I will then drive it happily until it sells, and I will probably do all right, takign into account the continued use of it.

So, in anutshell, I would advise you not to restore this car unless you are prepared to lose financially. Furthermore, I would not start unless yo are prepared to spend about 200 hours, maybe 20 weekends ove the next several years, figuring it out and doing work yourself. At the very minimum, I would not recommend doing unless you are prepared to strip it entirely, catalogue everything, and ship it to a bodyshop. If you are going to mask it and let them paint over all the @!#$, forget it.

Just to let everybody know, several years ago I happened to eb in California and I was getting a car allowance. I looked hgard for a ZED and found one with an excelletn body, but mechanical problems. THe engine was souind, but needed setting up. Even with this gem I feel slightly ripped off. I have had to spend about 2K after the fact to get it right, and this was after lookign at 20 cars. Without the car allowance, I would never have done it.

Finally, let me say this: I would not advise anybody to go through what I have gone through. Life is too short. I thouight after I rebuilt my enginee that my problems were over. They were just beginning.

my advice, this thing is a nightmere. It is done. For the money it is goping to take, you can find something much better. Spend your money on a better sample. It must have a sound engine and a sound body. I have been selling parts on the Internet recently, and made good money. I am over the fantasy stage of having something sitting arouind, paying storage, and wasting money. Life is too short.

Sorry if I am being pessimistic. Good luck.
 

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Re: D'accord

If you are thinking of restoring it for fun and to have a nice driveable car at the end - then I would say go ahead providing the car is reasonably safe to drive. I would suggest sorting out the mechanicals the way you want them and then tackling the body. Your engine has the early SU carbs and the car is an early 260Z so you have a pretty good combination to get started.

The carb Z's are a great car to learn mechanics on and the archives on this website are a wealth of information.

Lets get you rolling, your headlights probably burned out due to a voltage regulator problem. If you have an early alternator (go buy the Hayne's manual for cheap at your local autoparts store) then the voltage regulator is probably a separate device on the passenger side wall of the engine compartment.

Almost every piece of the car is easy to find new or in scrapyards. That whole mess of emission control stuff on top of the intake manifold can be removed with the right tubes sealed.

They are a terrific car to restore, you just need to check the frame and panels to see how much rust you will have to deal with and make sure it is within what you are willing to do. It gets pricey when you have to send the car to someone else to work on. Unless you plan to do most of the work yourself for fun, it might be better to sell or use this as a parts car and hunt down a car in nice shape.
 

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Re: interesting topic. My .02

While I appreciate what JC has posted, I think that the reason he has ended up "pessimistic" is that he made the mistake of not starting with a really nice car at the outset.

Unless you are a skilled (ie professional) mechanic, or have a whole lot of time and money to burn, its simply doesnt make too much sense to restore a car like the one you have (not to me anyway). Having said that, I also dont disagree with whoever posted about the fun and sense of satisfaction of working on these cars. My experience is that even if you had a beautiful car to begin with, you would still find yourself spending hours doing work on it. More safety upgrades, more GT stuff, more HP, more polishing. There is no end to the stuff you can do, but dont let the lessons of JC be lost. If he spent 10k on his car and it isnt a show car he lost out. For that kind of loot he could have purchased one of the nicest zs or zxs that he has ever seen - - and chicks wouldnt be dissin him. (instead the car would probably be a chick magnet)

More important, you are looking at a 30 year old car that is pretty fast for its size and weight. There is a real safety issue with a car like the old z. Not only is frame and body integrety crucial with a unibody car, but even the original safety equipment is a little sketchy in the early z. Personally, I wouldnt let my wife in my z if it didnt have a roll bar, fat 4 point harnesses, good seats, upgraded brakes and master, good quality tires. . .

Believe me, I looked a lot like your kid when I got my first z at 16 and it was a POS just like yours, and my folks were nuts for letting me drive it. Luckily they didnt know jack about cars, but I would never let my kid drive a car like that. So now you are talking about significant upgrades just to bring it up to todays safety standards, why not just buy one that is already done, for the cost of a car with rebuilt suspension, upgraded brakes, roll cage, harnesses, wheels and tires, seats. . . its like buying the safety and getting the beauty of the fresh paint and nice chrome that come surrouding all this good stuff at no additional cost.

Anyway, thats just my thoughts. Having had several zs over the last 20 years and having restored and purchased restored cars, I can tell you from my experience that buying a resto is a much more satisfying experience, and I still enjoy working on it whenever I get the time.

Peace ya'll
 

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Re: D'accord

I agree with D'accord, rust is the biggest problem with these cars. Even a nice restored car can have some hidden rust that you don't know about. I'm currently restoring my 70 240Z and I'm a long way from getting it finished. My car was a good one to start with though, very little rust. I'm 40 years old and don't need to drive the car, as a matter of fact when I finish this project (hopefully by this summer), I'm only going to drive it once in a while because it will be insured as a classic car. Restoring a car can be a great learning experience as well as fun but you not only need time and $ but you also need quite a few tools to do a good job. This site has a lot of good info as well as people who are willing to help you out. One last thing, restoring a car is a big commitment and if your not willing to put the time and effort in as well as the dollars then save yourself some future headaches and go look for one that is already done. Good luck!
 

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coldy260, what could be left to say after all the insightful comments from above? I posted in your other thread before I saw this one. It looks like you have done quite a bit of work already and answered most of the questions I'd have as to what to check next.

Just as an indication as to how much help you'd get if you proceeded with your project........ I think your 'free web' site disabled your account because of too many hits - the pictures are no longer available!

All the advice above is great advice and applies to many people at different stages in their lives. Some will ask WHY..... Why do you have a ~30 year old car? Why do you like working with your hands? Why do you like reading so much to restore that 30 year old car properly? Why are you spending so much money/time on a ~30 year old car? Why do you like solving problems? Why do you like looking for answers? Why do you like talking to people?

Some of those questions you'll never be able to answer to THEIR satisfaction (there are certain types of people you wouldn't want to waste your time on trying to explain this to). At times you'll have a tough time answering those questions to YOUR own satisfaction. But if you are in a Forum that supports your interests, like this one, you'll get honest advice from many with varied backgrounds. Some here will even ask you, Why a 260Z?

Why do I drive a ~30 year car. I've had it since I was 18 and it was still fairly new. I know the car well. I met my wife in it and we made many trips cross country over the last 20 years. I've thought about selling it more than once - she always said no. It only gets driven a few thousand miles a years now and spends lots of time in a garage, rarely sees rain and never sees snow. When I'm asked why I spend the time that I do tinkering - it's because it is a source of enjoyment - a hobby - an escape. To others I say it is a science project - how long will it last. And then to some I say that I'm in competition with my brother who bought a new Chevy Silverado in '74 and that I'll have my car longer than he has his truck - I'm winning by a long shot his truck rusted away!

As time goes on you'll know WHY but knowing the outcome that others have experienced may help you see things sooner. To borrow a line from an old movie........"There's only ONE person that knows what's important in life and YOU'VE got to figure that out yourself."

So what was your next question?!

RLS30
 

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Discussion Starter #12
WOW. Thank you all for your replies and advice! While I know the smartest thing to do would be to sell this car and be done with it, I'm pretty sure my boys & I will rebuild it. The car is actually all there along with several new items from the previous owner. It also was free. I guess I just needed to ask advice to help me sort this out in my own mind. I have already bought the Factory Manual and How To Restore Your Z. I'm ready to start but want to fix the electrics first. I also have access to free sandblasting/painting and am a machinist. BTW The origanal poster (coldy260) is one of my sons. Again THANK YOU!!!
 

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Re: Retraction

If you are a machinist and have access to free sandblasting/painting then I would say you are the 1 in 100 type person for whom this would be a great project. You can do all of the work yourself and it would be a great learning experience for your kids. Like I posted earlier, my dad was never into cars and I always wished that he was around to help me out. To his and my moms credit, they did donate their garage and allow a parts car or two to sit in the driveway.

Anyway, the best advice i can give is check the frame rails where the floor boards meet the fire wall and where they meet the wall behind the seats. Again, keep in mind that the zs use a unibody construnction and if the frame rails rust through the car is probably unsafe. Also, check out the floorboards. After that, I would recommend safety upgrades such as 4x4 disc brake conversion (parts and instructions are available on web, along with plans to machine a rear bracket for the calipers. . . ), safety harness, strut stiffiners and a roll cage. If you are looking for a nice seat upgrade I would recommend taking a set from a 91-93z and making up some brackets (really nice seats and you can route a harness through the tops of them).

Well, good luck and keep everyone posted on the progress. Hope I wasnt too discouraging at first ;o)
 

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Everybody who has posted their opinions are exactly correct.
There are strengths and weaknesses to each.
Will you get your money back at resale- No. Will you have some fun and learning experiences -Yes. All depends what ya want to do. The Z is really no different than any other whether it be a old camaro, firebird, 67 chevy etc.They are all money pits and beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.
I'm keeping up my 75 an 76, runnin -good...The 75 is pretty nice and the 76 is pretty ugly.
So . I bought a motorcycle ! now thats my toy.
Ron
 
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