ZCar Forum banner

1 - 11 of 11 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
15 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I currently own a 1983 280zx, and I know theres some purists out there, but what improvements over the years would you recommend being put into an old classic car thats mostly stock at this point? I know theres a way to bypass having an ecu, but what other kind of stuff would you recommend getting to improve performance, gas mileage and durability/longevity?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15 Posts
Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
One thing I was trying to upgrade was my windshield wipers, but when I got a rainx universal kit they didn't work with my Z. Does anyone have recommendations on how to improve the windshield wipers? My visibility isn't that great with my current ones.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,342 Posts
I currently own a 1983 280zx, and I know theres some purists out there, but what improvements over the years would you recommend being put into an old classic car thats mostly stock at this point? I know theres a way to bypass having an ecu, but what other kind of stuff would you recommend getting to improve performance, gas mileage and durability/longevity?
-- the short answer: change the oil, change the fluids, keep it cleaned, and most importanly keep it away from rust.

-- the long answer: is this your first Z? are you planning on keeping it for years? if so, i'd advise not doing anything too wild on it, other than correcting things that are wrong with it and/or have failed on it. these cars last forever in most cases. what destroys them is rust and neglect, the latter being caused by people. now having said that, there are many improvements that can be made, but first you have to define exactly what kind of improvements you desire. if it is slamming horsepower and top speed you desire, move on to another car. if you are trying to keep up with modern cars by upgrading with high performance modifications, you will sacrifice durability and longevity. i say, stick with simple improvements.

chances are your car is probably still in great shape with lots of life left. is it NA or turbo? that will be a deciding factor right there. if you have a non-turbo car, the best thing you can do to start with to improve performance is replace your worn-out suspension components. the next thing is a good, proper tune-up. NGK plugs are a must. find vacuum leaks, replaces worn lines and hoses, keep the cooling system clean and in good condition and correct if necessary, replace bad seals and change the oil; then learn how to properly drive it.... go read the owners manual. Really.
280zx cars can go along way if maintained properly.

in all honestly, there is a lot you can do to these cars depending on your goals. in their stock form they get pretty decent gas mileage for how old they are. but once you start modifiying things, the gas mileage usually doens't improve, but gets worse. my 83 NA is basically bone stock, except for a body kit and some bigger wheels, and its still good on gas even on the highway. for example,
i drove it from southern Utah to just outside Albuquerque NM on a single tank of gas. 501 miles... on one tank.

it all really boils down to what you really want to do with your car. check out the following for some great references on the 280zx. read read read:

http://www.xenonzcar.com/s130.html
http://datsunzgarage.us/
https://www.zspecialties.com/ -- check out Zman's driving tips

just stick with stock nissan wiper blades and you should be fine: https://www.nissanpartsdeal.com/parts-list/1983-nissan-280zx/body_electrical/windshield_wiper.html?PNC=26370

hopes this helps. Cheers,

Bon
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
697 Posts
I'm with Bonfire79. It's a classic Z-car at this point, and without substantial change that reduces reliability or longevity, you're not going to compete in performance terms with newer vehicles.

However, with a solid suspension and good tires, if you're a skilled driver there are very few vehicles that can keep up with you on a twisty road. That's where a lot of the driving satisfaction happens for me. My 2008 BMW 328xi could easily keep up with my '83 ZXT, but it would take an equivalent driver to do it.

Vacuum tubing is one of the pain points on these. Example: I have most of it done but still have a leak problem under my dash that causes the air system to change delivery under load.

It's hard to find much in terms of performance summer tires for these in the stock wheel sizes, but I'm OK with what I find at Tire Rack.

And BTW,, don't forget to pack the front wheel bearings. Unlike newer cars, the Z/ZX series doesn't use sealed hubs. That's at the top of my to-do list right now.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
624 Posts
-- the short answer: change the oil, change the fluids, keep it cleaned, and most importanly keep it away from rust.

-- the long answer: is this your first Z? are you planning on keeping it for years? if so, i'd advise not doing anything too wild on it, other than correcting things that are wrong with it and/or have failed on it. these cars last forever in most cases. what destroys them is rust and neglect, the latter being caused by people. now having said that, there are many improvements that can be made, but first you have to define exactly what kind of improvements you desire. if it is slamming horsepower and top speed you desire, move on to another car. if you are trying to keep up with modern cars by upgrading with high performance modifications, you will sacrifice durability and longevity. i say, stick with simple improvements.

chances are your car is probably still in great shape with lots of life left. is it NA or turbo? that will be a deciding factor right there. if you have a non-turbo car, the best thing you can do to start with to improve performance is replace your worn-out suspension components. the next thing is a good, proper tune-up. NGK plugs are a must. find vacuum leaks, replaces worn lines and hoses, keep the cooling system clean and in good condition and correct if necessary, replace bad seals and change the oil; then learn how to properly drive it.... go read the owners manual. Really.
280zx cars can go along way if maintained properly.

in all honestly, there is a lot you can do to these cars depending on your goals. in their stock form they get pretty decent gas mileage for how old they are. but once you start modifiying things, the gas mileage usually doens't improve, but gets worse. my 83 NA is basically bone stock, except for a body kit and some bigger wheels, and its still good on gas even on the highway. for example,
i drove it from southern Utah to just outside Albuquerque NM on a single tank of gas. 501 miles... on one tank.

it all really boils down to what you really want to do with your car. check out the following for some great references on the 280zx. read read read:

http://www.xenonzcar.com/s130.html
http://datsunzgarage.us/
https://www.zspecialties.com/ -- check out Zman's driving tips

just stick with stock nissan wiper blades and you should be fine: https://www.nissanpartsdeal.com/parts-list/1983-nissan-280zx/body_electrical/windshield_wiper.html?PNC=26370

hopes this helps. Cheers,

Bon
500 miles on a single zx tank? Is that even possible??
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,342 Posts
500 miles on a single zx tank? Is that even possible??
Yup. This was while I was driving back to North Carolina in my recently purchased 83Z. Gassed up in Cedar city, Utah and drove all the way into New Mexico, with a piss and food stop on the way. mind you this was pretty much highway and freeway miles... mostly on I-40. I had also done all the necessary prep for the trip -new air filter, fuel filter, oil change, tune-up, and engine bay electrical contact cleaning. I wanted to do everything possible to make sure she was firing up and running on all six, cause I wasn't totally sure I was going to make it all the way back without breaking.
But I did 😃

best damm drive I've ever done!

Bon
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Just getting started on my 82 280zx. Got it when I was 26, I am the second owner. It has always been garage kept so except for the typical rust at the top of the windshield its has very little cancer. It is my daily driver but since I work from home it only gets about 50 miles a week on it. I'm making a list of what needs to be done, and looking for priority and maybe a sequence of what to start with. The engine runs good. But the vacuum lines should be replaced, anyone know how tubing is needed? I also replaced the flexible hoses for the fuel pump. New plugs and wires and rotor new thermostat and coolant. Wheel bearings were repacked 5 yrs ago. New rack and pinion, rebuilt rear calipers. New Tires with raised white letters and Dyno beads inside. I'd like to polish and restore the original gold anodize on rims, not sure if that is possible. The transmission is leaking a little. ( not nearly as much as my VW bug :). I need to fix the AC, the compressor has been dead for 9 yrs. Replace the now cracked windshield. Fix the original radio and maybe upgrade the headlights to LED. Any suggestions on conversion kits? When the mechanical is all done I plan to redo the headliner, interior panels, and carpet. Maybe add some new sound deadening? Dynomat? I was told to just take them out the door panels and paint them with at plastic paint! Is that the way it is done? Eventually get it painted to the original brown metallic.

What is everyone else doing to start with?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,342 Posts
Just getting started on my 82 280zx. Got it when I was 26, I am the second owner. It has always been garage kept so except for the typical rust at the top of the windshield its has very little cancer. It is my daily driver but since I work from home it only gets about 50 miles a week on it. I'm making a list of what needs to be done, and looking for priority and maybe a sequence of what to start with. The engine runs good. But the vacuum lines should be replaced, anyone know how tubing is needed? I also replaced the flexible hoses for the fuel pump. New plugs and wires and rotor new thermostat and coolant. Wheel bearings were repacked 5 yrs ago. New rack and pinion, rebuilt rear calipers. New Tires with raised white letters and Dyno beads inside. I'd like to polish and restore the original gold anodize on rims, not sure if that is possible. The transmission is leaking a little. ( not nearly as much as my VW bug :). I need to fix the AC, the compressor has been dead for 9 yrs. Replace the now cracked windshield. Fix the original radio and maybe upgrade the headlights to LED. Any suggestions on conversion kits? When the mechanical is all done I plan to redo the headliner, interior panels, and carpet. Maybe add some new sound deadening? Dynomat? I was told to just take them out the door panels and paint them with at plastic paint! Is that the way it is done? Eventually get it painted to the original brown metallic.

What is everyone else doing to start with?
i usually start with making sure everything in the engine compartment runs at optimal levels. making sure the car runs perfectly the way it should in its stock configuration before doing any upgrades or modifications. its kind of pointless to have a great looking modified car that doesn't run well. this includes cooling and lubrication systems.

1) just get some silicon vacuum tubing that is the correct size for those vacuum lines
2) your transmission (if manual) has the usual leaks. replace that main gasket seal going from the main gear box into the bell housing. these were still available last I checked. also, your speedo and reverse gear switches are probably leaking... those seals and switches are still available as well. at least mine was for the T-5 on my Z31. also might want to check the rear diff for leaks. if so, replace that rear seal gasket. still available too
3) powder coating is a great way to redo your wheels. can be quite expensive, but powder coat will last.
4) just get a quality set of headlights. if you really want the LED upgrades, theZstore should have a kit. also, i recommend getting a quality set of fog lights (not stupid ones, but ones that fit with the car) especially if you ever intend on sporting tinted head-light covers.
5) SUSPENSION - chances are everything under there is worn. replace those worn or missing components and your Z will feel like a brand new car on the road, and it will thank you for it. aside from engine and rust of course, this is probably the most important area to invest money into. before you think about speed, power, racing, cosmetics, or any of that other bullsh*t, fix your suspension. aint nothing better than driving a good-handling car that feels nice and comfy on the road.

Bon
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
697 Posts
Don't paint the door panels. An upholstery shop can match the vinyl as needed.

The last few AC compressors I've had done, I used Blend-Air in Dallas as a rebuilder. You'll need to convert to R-134A refrigerant so you need the right seals. While you're at it, you must replace the dryer and the orifice valve (a little conical screen that's in one of the tubing connections) and any seals in tubing connection points that you can get at. Don't neglect the lubricant in the system.

What I've done with AC replacements is to take the car to an AC shop and have them vacuum out the system, which hopefully will remove any debris. Then I take it home and do the parts changing. When I'm done, I take it back to the shop to have them charge the system with lubricant and refrigerant. This minimizes expense.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Thanks for the replies! I do have the leaks in the transmission and definitely the differential is leaking, (it has been refilled) along with the seal around the speedo. I'll take care of that. I did have a unexpected need to have the valve seats done, so that is fixed now. I forgot but I see I did change out some of the vacuum lines with new rubber lines. Is silicone rubber that much better? The headlights ( Sylvania H6024 ) are a only about $16 but to convert to LED is much more. I think I''ll change out to LED down the road if needed. The vinyl on the rear interior panels has let got of the fiber board and the headliner has let go too, I'm going to remove the rest of it and replace it with a fabric that matches the carpet kit that I have on order. The upholstery shop said that the can recover the doors but it would not have the same stitching, maybe I should find another shop. The A post and the other tan plastic parts are discolored from age and I see there is a paint that will adhere to the those parts.The seats are not the original leather, those were redone a while ago and are still in good shape. The front end bushings and steering as been replaced. The back end needs some attention. I did replace the struts all the way around perhaps 30k miles ago. Although I think it rides a little higher than originally, or the old ones were so worn that I got use to it sitting lower. There maybe a leak in the AC lines, ( duh that's why there is no refrigerant in it ) To adapt the compressor to R134-A is the orifice valve on that or on the dryer? Given that there is a leak in the system can I just take off all the AC hoses, build or have built new hoses and re-attach? Hmmm what if the leak is in the evaporator in the cabin... I'd smell it right ? there would be oil inside. I see that I am also missing the little bump to engage the cruise control on the brake and the clutch.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
697 Posts
To find a leak in the AC system is a job for an AC shop doing a leak test. The orifice valve is a fancy name for a small screen that is placed in the AC tubing at a joint. It could be at the dryer but could be in other locations. Pulling all the AC tubing would be a big enough job (including pulling the dash heater) that you would want to avoid it if there is any alternative.

BTW - breaking your posts into paragraphs by topic would help in working through and understanding them. Thanks.
 
1 - 11 of 11 Posts
Top