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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I bought a '78 280Z at auction then bought a good running motor and tranny. While building my house, I left the Z-Car outside for about five years.

There are about four areas where rust has eaten through:Rear fenders wells, lower rocker panel near passenger side door, inner fender well on driver's side. Also, there is some rust along an underside channel that is meant to strengthen the body. There is a lot of surface rust on the car but even I can repair this.

Is the car worth my time to repair? I am an above-average shade-tree mechanic(rebuilt/replaced a lot of engines, worked as a mechanic while in college) but a lousy fender-body man.

This is my first post here and I would appreciate any advice the collective wisdom can impart.

Thanks,
Richard
 

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Since you're above average on mechanical ability, then the metal replace required to get rid of the rust and strengthen the body shouldn't be too hard. At least those you've posted as having rusted through.

More importantly though, is what rust have you NOT seen that is just waiting to surprise you. Check the pasenger and driver floorboards. Check beneath the seats. You've mentioned the fender wells, as well as an inner fender well, this could be problematic since the inner fender well is what part of the body rests on, on top of the strut.

Strip the car's interior, look at the metal, try to punch a scribe punch through the metal, if it goes through the metal needs replacing. Do this in too many spots and you may be looking at replacing more than just that panel.

How much money you are willing to spend will also be a strong determining factor. If you want a Z car, but aren't interested in investing a lot of money to get it straight and clean as well as mechanically sound, then go buy one that's already had all that work done. Yes the price tag may range from $3,500 to $7,500 (and I have no idea if these prices are valid) but that's better than taking that car and investing $500 to $1,000 every couple months for the next year or more and finally being into it 10 to 15 thousand.
 

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no if your lousy at body work pile that puppy on the scrap heap and get
another one. surely there must be some drug addicted california soldier
from ft carson thats willing to sell his california rust free z for dope money
 

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It boils down to what you want to do with it. Show car, daily driver, just some weekend fun? If you are not too concerned with longevity and just want to drive it a few years and maybe do some weekend drives or autocrosses you could just cut out most of the rust you can get at and plate it up with sheet metal. It might not be pretty or the 'correct' way but you could preserve the car for daily transport and a little fun. If you are looking for a complete resto for show purposes, you would be better off looking for one that is more solid. Really depends on end usage and how much you want to spend. The likelyhood of getting your money out of a full-on complete resto or even the costs of floorpan/rocker replacement is not real high. I like to see some of the beautiful resto's that are in the mags and on this site, but I would never fault someone who wants to take a non-runner and plate it up and preserve it for a few more years of driver duty either. Some day down the road one of us may need those parts off that old guy! And it's better than it rusting away in a boneyard somewhere.
 

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I agree with JohnH240, look at what you want from the z and go from there, but whatever you do, keep the z in circulation, such as selling it to another z person for a parts car (or use it for your own parts on a better car). I see, in the area were I live, that older z's are harder and harder to find. GOOD LUCK
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for your advice

Thanks to all of you who responded. I wanted to replace the engine, transmission and other defective parts, repair the rust and give it to my 74 year old brother since he said he always wanted a Z-Car.

I don't think the rust will endanger the structural integrity of the car and I will inform him of the amount of rust and will probably go ahead with my project. In the event he doesn't want the car, I will probably sell it to another zCar enthusiast.

Thanks again for your valued advice.
 
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