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Old 01-31-2015, 10:42 PM   #1
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'77 280Z LS1 Storage Unit Build

Well i've been dreaming of owning an s30 since i was about 13, but since my dad is the ultimate old school hot-rod muscle car or die type I ended up with an '89 mustang as my first car. I fell in love with foxbody mustangs and owned it for about three years. I ended up selling it and buying a gorgeous '76 280 from down in South Carolina, and finally my little dream came true.





As you can see the car was insanely clean, and that was my issue with it. Never been the type to drive someone else's beautiful creation and present it as my own, so after about 7 months of enjoying the car i sold it for a reasonable profit. And with the neat little life story out of the way, we come to what this thread is really about. My 1977 280z:




I drove about 4 hours to Savannah, GA to pick the car up. It had been sitting for about 10 years according to the previous owner, The floorpans were in real nice shape, but it definitely had some Z car rust going on. It still had the chrome grandpa spec bumper on the rear, but the interior is really what sold me on the car. It had been fully restored somewhat recently, and it really does look immaculate inside. I havent been very good at snapping pictures as i work, but now that im starting a build thread ill try to keep it up.

The paint was sun rotted like you wouldnt believe, so i figured id go ahead and knock the bodywork out first, even though i cant stand doing it. So off to harbor freight i went, got me an orbital sander and as many 100 grit sandpaper packs i could find. You may have also noticed that the title of my thread says "storage unit build", which is because ive got my s13 in the garage next to dad's fire breathing america or die '55 chevy, so off i was, searching until i found the cute little 11x15' metal box that this car will be created in.







Sorry for the picture quality, my buddy comes and hangs out with his Dslr pretty often so ive got more pictures on his fancy camera. But I spent about three or four days sanding the car to get it where i wanted, and after i removed the tacky black and chrome trim running down the sides of the car i was left with a bunch of pinholes in my bodypanels. I decided to borrow my friend's little mig welder and see what i could come up with as far as sealing them all up. Currently going to school for my associate's in welding, so someday ill actually know what the hell im doing.








After a bit of grinder work, I ended up with all my holes patched and i finally had a Z without the tacky side trim. If you look closely you can see all the deep splits in the paint where the sun did its thing, in every possible place on this car.






After the panels were all buttoned up, i set about cutting two rusty spots out, treating all the surfaces and welding in new .20g sheetmetal.



Stayed away from filler at every possible chance, but it was unavoidable in a couple places like the rear end.









Like i said before, I havent been good with taking pictures so far, but bear with me. But after a few weeks of incredibly tedious cutting, welding, grinding, patching bodywork shenanigans, Ive got all the bodylines flawless and rust-free. All thats left to do is finish up some light layers of filler where i removed the rear bumper and up front where the hood has a considerable dent put in it. I gave it a good wash, and this is how it sits currently, in all its 15 colored glory.



If you've managed to make it this far through my text heavy boring bodywork filled thread, i promise it's about to get good. Ill be working on it tomorrow, finishing the bodywork for good and starting to remove the old Drive/Powertrain. Once the driveshaft is out i can measure my flange and put the order in for the swap kit, the last vital piece of the puzzle.

That being said, we've reached the powerplant phase.

Motor: 1998 Firebird/TA LS1-5.7
Trans: T-56 6-speed
Swap kit: John's Cars Inc.
Wiring: Factory harness+ECU

At the moment i'm working on getting the powerplant in the car and have it running reliably, but obviously i plan on changing things like the suspension setup, Hp numbers, and just about everything else. Im starting to run low on cash; committed myself to two months working construction solely to build my dream car. (Never Again.)

The good old L28, which is up for grabs or parts if needed, im near Charlotte, NC. No clue if the motor runs but its 100% complete, l28+ factory 4 speed. Previous owner said it ran good before but who can say.






And the wonderful hunk of metal that will eventually send my tiny metal japanese contraption into space.




And that's all ive got for the time being. I work on the car almost every day so ill keep the thread updated as much as possible. Sorry for making it so text heavy, but i kind of like to read through builds that tell a little bit of a story. That said, heres some fun facts about how i acquired my pile of parts that will make this thing awesome.

-4 hours one way to Savannah for the car.
-4 hours one way to Hilton Head, SC for the motor.
-8 hours one way to Florida for the 6 speed and supporting parts.

And the trusty parts getter/ temp daily:



Currently in the trunk of that poor Honda Fit:
-T56
-Datsun gas tank
-Pressure plate/flywheel
-all of my tools.

My parents hate me.
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Old 03-09-2015, 12:18 PM   #2
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Cant wait to see it finished! I have a 78 280z that im also building.
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Old 03-11-2015, 11:34 AM   #3
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will be good to see. I've got a storage unit build going on currently myself so I feel your pain.
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Old 04-14-2015, 07:00 PM   #4
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This will be a great build!
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Old 04-16-2015, 08:00 PM   #5
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Alright guys, completely forgot about the thread for a while while i was waiting for it to be approved, and ive been so busy with work and the Z that i havent had much time to update the thread. That said, i have made so much progress since the last post, so here goes.

I'll go ahead and start with the progress on the chassis. The first order of business was pulling out the old L28.


Things are pretty tight in the ol' storage unit, but ive got pretty much everything i need out there. It really sucks when i forget a tool i need cause its a solid 20 minute drive from my house. But anyway, off with the hood and out with the motor.



This thing was so complete its insane, literally everything was there. But as you can see, it looked like it had been covered in oil and parked in the desert with the hood off.







The fluids looked amazing, like it had barely even seen much time on the road.









As you can see, its got some of the good old Z car rust. more stuff to go ahead and replace, although most of it was simple surface rust thankfully. I decided to go ahead and cut out all the original brackets and smooth out some seams, essentially shaving the bay but not going too crazy with it. I also went ahead and welded all the factory holes shut that i wouldnt be using anymore.
















And after all the hard stuff was taken care of, down went the primer and paint.











After that i clearcoated the bay and im real happy with the results. It took a long time to get the bay right, but every time i look at what it used to be im reminded of how worth it it was. I also sprayed a small part of the rear quarter to see how the body work turned out, the thing looks immaculate in person, so stoked on that.



Now that the bay is done its time for the motor. It was pretty dirty as well, and i don't care much for dirty ass parts. So off i went on my mission for a sparkly little Ls1.



Dont have many pictures of the process here, but you get the idea. I spent four straight days cleaning this thing, and had my first experience taking a blast of carb cleaner to the eyeball. I would not wish that upon anyone, btw. haha



After a 9 hour drive to florida i got my hands on a t56, clutch, flywheel and bellhousing for a hell of a deal, and a pretty fun road trip to boot. Again Ft. My mom's poor honda fit



Boxes of parts had been sitting in my room for weeks, it was like christmas every night as the build went on.






And then it was finally time to drop the motor into the car. Somehow we managed to get it right the first attempt, got everything bolted up that night and celebrated with a few beers of course. At this point the kid in a candy store feeling was pretty much a constant as i stared at this thing of beauty.













My dad is used to his old big block 454 so he was obviously a bit confused, but even i was surprised at how tiny the Ls looks sitting in the bay.



Everyone seems to use the Tilton 7/8 clutch master for this swap but i opted for the Wilwood because its gorgeous. You can see it fits really well too.^

Went ahead and picked up an aluminum radiator and dual 12" fans to go with it, they couldnt fit any better and they look so sweet sitting up front. Here you can see the Walbro 255 pump and the Corvetter filter/Regulator as well. Stupid expensive little guys.



Cleaned up all the ignition components and finished the motor off, Now you see how sweet the fans tuck up into the factory radiator cutout.






With that, it was time to begin the thing i have been dreading the most since i began this project. I put it out of my mind until i had no choice but to do it; The wiring.




But after 14 hours and plenty of help from that pretty KM in the background, i wound up with my own little standalone Ls1 harness.



Reworked the body harness as well, removing any unnecessary stuff form both harnesses.




For me, wiring is like math. When i understand it its actually pretty fun. Plus my dad has been doing electrical for 30+ years so i dont really have a choice but to like it. Got Vats, Downstream 02's, evap, Air injection, and all that junk tuned out of the stock pcm for the healthy price of $50. Huge thanks to the guys at PCM of NC for the work there, highly recommend their services to anyone. After i finished tying my harness into the datsun wiring, it was finally time to turn the key. I said a quick prayer that three months of work didnt burst into flames, and lo and behold, the thing started up like a bat outta hell. The feeling was insane, on a whole different level than any other build ive done so far.

Pieced together my intake setup from JTR, and with a little mothers polish it came out pretty badass.










Looks a little goofy i admit, but once the hood/grille are back on itll tuck away nicely.

Well, I guess that about does it for the massive thread update ive been putting off for so long. Ive only got a bit of wiring to do and a couple small things to knock out before its daily ready, but ill do my best to keep the thread updated as i go. This thing isnt even finished yet but i already love it 10x more than any other car ive ever touched. Theres nothing quite like seeing this much work finally come together. If youve made it this far then congrats, hopefully it didnt take you as long to read as it did to write. hahah, hopefully some of you dudes like what ive got going on here, im pretty damn stoked about it myself. Thanks for checking it out
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Old 04-16-2015, 08:12 PM   #6
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im tuned in for this, i was in the same place with my first car deal, hardcore muscle car dad. We eventually found a deal too good to pass up on my 71 240. anyways good luck with the build, that engine is suuuuper clean.
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Old 04-16-2015, 08:16 PM   #7
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Glad you like it man, I might be moving to the Tampa area sometime this year so you might have another z to roll with. haha and i appreciate it, it was a pain in the ass but i love the way it turned out.
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Old 04-16-2015, 08:21 PM   #8
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Engine bay looks great, can't wait to see the exterior catch up! SUB'd
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Old 04-16-2015, 08:26 PM   #9
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Thank you sir! unfortunately the progress you've seen so far is the reason why theres $1.32 in my bank account. so the exterior is gonna be a bit slow moving. hahah
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Old 04-16-2015, 11:02 PM   #10
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awesome thread! any shifter location pics?
not sure if i missed it but are you use stock headers?
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Old 04-17-2015, 07:17 AM   #11
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Definitely subscribing to this.

You're doing some great work, man. I can't wait to see this thing progress.
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Old 04-17-2015, 10:25 AM   #12
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Definitely subscribing to this, amazing work so far!
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Old 04-17-2015, 10:34 AM   #13
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This thing is hot! Good work man I'm excited to see the outcome.
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