Sunday, March 19, 2017

Little Things

Another afternoon on the car and I got a couple of little bits tidied up.  Firstly, the dimmer knob was missing, and there was no handle for the bonnet release.  The easiest thing to do was fit a whole new release cable, which was a nice easy task.  It was nice to start doing some actual spannering, and I was pleased to find every single bolt came out easily.

I've got some thinking about what to do with the cracked dash.  New dashboards are ridiculously rare / expensive, but you can get covers to redo them with.  Hmmm.

There were a couple of broken link covers in the engine bay that I swapped out:

The brake fluid appears to be a little low, and maybe it's weeping a little out of the one of the unions.  I liked the details on the lids:

I also got the seats out and threw them back in the Jeep, with the intention of recovering them this week when the kit arrives.  When starting the car, I also noticed the fuel pump making a weird buzzing noise.  It looks easy enough to replace, so a new one is on it's way.

The weather here is getting much nicer, so I'm getting super excited to get it on the road.

Monday, March 13, 2017


I had a spare evening which I thought spend going through some of the history that came with the car.  There was a couple of big folders, so I decided to sort it out by date.

Firstly, there was a cool Datsun brochure from the year the car was purchased:

Sadly I'm not as cool as this guy, so I might have to give up ownership:

I organised the history that I had by year.  There was quite a bit of it, but it's all pointing towards the 76k mileage being genuine, which I'm pretty pleased with.  Being a Californian car, it had to past a smog test every year, along with a road worthiness test.  This has led to a heap of money being spent on oil, spark plugs and the fuel system.  The owner around '00 seems to have spent an inordinate amount on replacing pretty much every single thing that could've broke, so he was either very unfortunate, or didn't mind doing some work.

There were a few cool old bits of paper, like this toolkit list:

Then a nice bonus; the original warranty and service booklet:

And it looks like someone was a bit naughty as some point around 1986:

And finally, big thanks to my friend in Edinburgh for the key rings!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

A Proper Look

Despite it being -9C, I made it over to my friend's house with a few goals in mind.

Fitting the new rear plate:

Well that was nice and easy.  You can see the holes from the rear bumper - I'm mulling over what to get to put on the rear, I don't like the OEM dumpers (they also weigh 110lbs).  I'm sure I'll find something.

I then secured the battery down in the front, and took it out for a very short run to see if anything exploded.  Well good news, I'm still in once piece and the car is too!

First things I noticed - the steering is SUPER heavy.  I've been spoiled with power steering for as long as I can remember, so I guess this is something I'll have to get used to.

The brakes are pretty worn.  Once it gets warmer outside, I think I'll take a look at them.

Aside from that, everything was good.  I had a good look over the car, it's in great shape.  The only issue of concern is the rust in the boot shut at the rear:

The patch is very localised.  I'm going to get some quotes for repair.

And now some just general shots of the car.  I love the styling on these, and every time I see the car, I'm noticing new details.

Friday, March 10, 2017

It's here!

Chris arrived on Wednesday at my friend's house where the car is occupying half the garage.  It's a bit grimy from being trailered for 3.5 hours, but it's just as good as I first though.

I had to buy a battery for it, but it fired to life straight away.  I started a mental list of the immediate parts that I'd want to replace before getting some serious usage out of it - weather strips, the latch for the bonnet is broken, a couple of trim pieces missing.  If I'm being picky, the cracked dashboard will probably annoy me enough eventually to recover it, and the seats have seen better days.  They're leather, but most of the stitching is coming apart.

Oh, and bumpers.  It probably needs them before I drive it on the road.  It came with two sets; the original, 110lb, ugly as sin chrome ones, or some much small other chrome bumpers that I think are from a 240Z and will require some new brackets.

Aside from that though, there really was very little to do before it could be pressed into service.

It's been added to my insurance so I could pay sales tax on it, and get the title transferred over to my name.  The DMV was feeling fairly agreeable today, and I was only waiting for about 30 minutes before I could hand over some money in exchange for a couple of plates and a bit of paper.

Tomorrow (after the England / Scotland rugby game) the car will get a good hosing down, and a comprehensive list of parts written.  I also want to sort through all the spares that came with it and get some more photos in the daylight.

Monday, March 6, 2017

New Car

I've never really cared much for new cars.  I find them rather dull, void of any personality.

When I moved to the US, I knew I wanted to do that roadtrip.  You know the one - where you fly to one of warmer states with a pile of money and buy your dream car in immaculate condition, then drive it home.

Well my dream car has always been a 280Z.  Ever since seeing the combination of the long bonnet and fastback, I love the styling of them.  I love the interior.  I love the endless possibilities of modifications.  I love that it's a Japanese RWD GT car.

Idly browsing through Craigslist, to get an idea of prices / condition, I was a little disappointed.  $2k gets you a heap of rust.  $4k gets you a heap with slightly less rust.  It's not until you get over $6k that you start to see something that looks appealing.  But for that real mint, Californian, stock, never seen salt, low mileage car you dream of, you're up to around $14k.  And these prices are on an upwards trend.

Factor in transport, accommodation and all the other hidden expenses with buying a car, and it quickly became unattainable.  A pipe dream for a future date, perhaps.

That was until I turned my search Northwards, to Minnesota.  There it was on Craigslist.  A very genuine looking 1978 280Z, driven up from California a year ago, used for a summer and dry stored since.  For the price, it was too good to be true, surely.  I got in touch with the seller as quickly as possible, and after a lengthy chat, felt convinced enough about it to sacrifice my Sunday to go and view it.

The newly fixed Jeep would be my uncomfortable, back crippling home for the next six hours.

Don't get me wrong, I'm really happy the Wrangler.  It's great fun, has a lot of character.  But for highway speeds, and lengthy journeys, it's the exact opposite of what you want - loud, uncomfortable after four hours, gets buffeted by the wind constantly thanks to it's brick-like stream lining.  Oh, and EVERYTHING rattles.

The drive North was uneventful.  Three hours later and I was at the seller's (Chris) house.  It was easy to spot, as it had four cars of various types parked outside.  I'd gone up with the intention of finding everything wrong, talking myself out of buying a money pit and waiting for the perfect one to come up.  But it turns out the car was exactly as described.

Chris let me have a good look at all of it.  There's not a spot of rust on the underside, or in the usual traps like the battery tray or under the brake booster.  The sills are totally clean.  There's nothing lurking behind any of the trim that I could see.  

The engine fired up first time and got up to temperature nicely.  The oil pressure was good.  The gearbox felt good.  Hell, it felt newer than the Jeep I'd just driven up in.

But that's not to say it doesn't need work.  Most of the weather seals are dried up from the California sun, and the dash is also cracked in a couple of places.  The heater matrix leaks, so right now that's bypassed.  There's a vacuum leak somewhere that results in a high idle sometimes.

The biggest concern from the advert was a patch of rust on the boot shut, where a weather seal had perished (now replaced) and pooled water underneath.  It was a little crunchy, but not structural.  I gave it a solid prod and was satisfied that it could be fixed.

Chris laboured to point out all the imperfections in it; a stone chip on the rear quarter that had some surface rust, the brittle plastic interior, the handle had snapped off the bonnet release.  He also pointed out all the new stuff he'd added in his ownership - upgraded ignition module, leather seats, brand new aluminium radiator.

But it was too late - I was smitten.

As well as the car, there's a ridiculously comprehensive service history, service manuals, and a whole host of spare parts (including a replacement heater matrix).  And he also offered to deliver it.

More pictures when it arrives on Wednesday.