Hoosiers Rock!

F Prepared Datsun 280Z Buildup

The Buildup

It Begins...

Sometime about 1999, I decided that I was bored just changing the oil on my AStock MR2 Turbo and that I wanted a Prepared car that I could build from the ground up and have something to tinker on when I wasn't autocrossing it. I've always had a thing for Japanese sports cars and I thought the Datsun Z car represented a good candidate vehicle for turning into an autocross car. They look good (subjective, I know), they don't really require a huge initial investment (I never said anything about being competitive), and they have good aftermarket support for being an old Japanese sports car (CP cars are king here but they can be fat and ugly...again, subjective).

Z car #1

So, after I had made my decision on what to look for I went out and bought a 1971 240Z for $400. The car was a piece of crap but it had some good junkyard parts on it that eventually made their way into the first incarnation of my FP 280Z. Some goodies on the car were: a (close to) running L28 w/ flattop pistons and N47 head, a pair of SU carbs, MSD6AL ignition, and 3.90 R200 differential. The car also had adjustable Tokicos all around, although those were ditched in favor of shortened struts and coilovers at a much later date. The main issue with the car was the unacceptable amount of rust on the rocker panels and floor pans.

Z car #2

After considering how much time, effort, and money I would be putting into my new project I quickly decided that I didn't want to start out with a piece of crap. So, I started a search for a rust-free Z car that would become the starting point for an all-out Prepared autocross car. I eventually ran into someone else's ill-fated project car and their loss was my gain. Z car #2 was a 1972 240Z that had already been fitted with fender flares, bolt-in rollcage, and a 16-gallon fuel cell. The new car had almost no rust on it but didn't come with a suspension or any running gear. We fabricated some makeshift camber plates out of 2x4 (yes, wood) and bolted on my suspension pieces to get it onto the trailer and bring her home. Within a couple of weeks I had transplanted the guts of Z car #1 into my new project car and I had a running/driving 240Z!

It Begins (Again)...

Almost a year passed before I made any more progress on the car. Even though the car was driveable for almost a year, it was far from ready to tackle an autocross course. Originally I had envisioned a double-duty street car and autocross car, but that proved to be more trouble than it was worth as it often does. So, in November/December of 2000 I started aquiring parts to upgrade the suspension of the car to coilovers. This was mainly done so I could run 16x10 inch wheels and take advantage of the hand-me-down racing slicks run by the other FPers in Spokes (Tom and Troy). While I was saving my money for all the expensive go-fast suspension parts I stripped the interior out of the car and prepped and painted the interior only figuring that the exterior would have to wait at least until I had a truck and trailer to haul the car around.

The POS motor evolves...

Sometime in early March 2001 Tom Holt called me up at work with a proposition I could't refuse. The Ft. Worth National Tour was coming up and the motor out of his FP 280Z was being rebuilt and wouldn't be ready to run in time to make the tour. The Ft. Worth Tour is always a great time because it gets all of the serious members of our club (Spokes) together to hang out and enjoy some stiff competition from other autocrossers in this part of the country. So, instead of not going at all, Tom asked me if I wanted to run his car with my motor (pulled from the $400 car above). I agreed and we transplanted the motor from my non-running project into his non-running FP car over a weekend. I inherited an E31 head in the process since Tom was running a square port header on his car and we didn't want to mess with fabricating a new exhaust. Well, we ran the tour and Tom did ok and I sucked but it was fun. The motor pulled well to 5000rpm and ran out of breath. That's alright, I'll worry about a real motor after I have the suspension sorted out.

It's Finally Coming Together...

By May 2001 I had most of the parts I needed to build an FP car with a decent suspension and a gutless motor (remember the POS motor from above).