New Seats: 25% done

I finally found some time this morning and re-upholstered the seat back…yes, just the back.
Previously I purchased 1976 styled 280z seat covers for my 1977 (my year had the plastic “basketweave” styled backrest, ugh), and now it’s time to put them on.

Check it:

280z seat - recover - complete

And I’ve got to say, my forearms burn like i just went rock climbing!

Here’s some of my feedback on the process. If you’re looking at recovering you’re own seats, here’s what I did, and it may help you.

1) Take off of the old covers – I paid special attention to how the old covers were put on, and it made a difference. My 1977 280z “basketweave” seat covers were held down by metal prongs / tangs, and two sets of metal rods for reinforcement. The front face of the seat cover is under the back face. And the prongs pierce through the vinyl.
1977 280z seat - original attachment

1977 280z seat - unbinding

What was interesting was this seat arm “pocket” on a single side of the seats – none of them had been used! The arms were attached on top of the pockets instead of inside of them (though the original fit looks intentional).

1977 280z seat - seat arm pocket

There were metal reinforcement rods along the edges that will need to be removed and reused for the new seat covers.
Always remember to label just in case!

1977 280z seat - metal reinforcement rod

Like taking off a shirt, there’s two ways of taking off an old seat cover: 1) starting from the headrest, 2) starting from the bottom and rolling up.
There is a flap of extra material that hold down the seat cover snug to the seat between the headrest and the back.
If this flap has disintegrated like mine has, then you can just shimmy off the old cover like a shirt (method 1).
If the flap is still intact, then you’ll have to roll up the cover from the bottom (method 2), undo the hog rings, and then take off the cover.

1977 280z seat - uncovered

Very surprising – the back wasn’t foam material at all! The seat back padding is this straw-like material that is semi-dense and springy. With the vinyl, i’m sure it’s provides a good amount of breathing for the back.

You can also see the disintegrated cotton flap that previously help hold the seat cover taught. The new 1976 seat covers have vinyl flaps to hold the material down.

1977 280z seat - disintegrated cotton flap

On to the new seat cover! Here you can see the flap that lays between the headrest and seat back, and the hog rings that keep it there. There’s also a metal rod through the flap to help reinforcement it.
I ended up getting new hog rings at home depot (chain link fencing aisle), as well as hog ring pliers. HOG RING PLIERS AREN’T REALLY NECESSARY. It takes a touch of finesse, but I was able to manage with just needle nose pliers.

1977 280z seat - new seat cover - hog rings

“Put the cover on like a condom”. That’s actually pro advice from a friend who used to work summers at this father’s upholstery shop. And he was right. Invert the cover first. Then starting with the headrest put the cover on, rolling back on the rest of the cover on to the seat. When you get to flap between the headrest and the back, hog ring it down to the metal rod that’s between the two paddings. And continue to roll down.  Putting on seat covers work best when the vinyl is warm.

Inserting the metal rod at the end of the seat cover.

1976 280z seat cover - inserting metal rod

Work the vinyl downwards starting from the headrest on down to the bottom – almost like massaging it down. This will really help you be able to pull the covers tight, and get the ends around the prongs.

1976 280z seat cover - folding over the prongs

1976 280z seat cover - completed

Cut holes for the seat arms.

1976 280z seat cover - seat arm holes


1976 280z seat cover - installed

Seat re-covering takes quite a lot of patience and arm muscle – but certainly more of the first. You need to be patient and work the vinyl from the top down, continuously. This will help with the fit, and certainly when you need to secure the seat cover ends to the seat back frame / prongs.

Additionally, i should probably re-do this one after the passenger seat gets done – there’s excesses material in the upper bolsters that should be mounted down and lie flat on the chair. To do this, my friend suggested that i use spray glue / mounting adhesive. I’m sure this technique will require some practice to be good at it, as drying time, and allowing for stretch are major factors.

I wish I could pass down where these came from, but the previous owner can’t remember where / whom he’d bought them from. I’d give them about an 8/10 – good quality, decent fit (could be a touch better).

1.5 seats more to go.




OFFICIAL: NISSAN brings back DATSUN brand

It’s official! Nissan is bringing back the Datsun brand. Wow – just when we got rumor of it’s comeback, it’s already here.

According to news / blogs, the Datsun brand will be offered in Indonesian, Indian and Russian markets; and most likely a heavy amount of re-badging instead of new / retro models.
Most enthusiasts were really only hoping for new 510‘s, mini-trucks, and  roadsters.. but who knows, maybe they’ll swing around once the new Datsun picks up.

Datsun logo - new Datsun logo







Read the press release below:

Nissan CEO expects strong growth in Indonesian auto market
– Carlos Ghosn details Indonesian investment and the launch of Datsun –

Production capacity to grow to 250,000 by 2014
33 billion Japanese yen investment
Nissan strongly supports Indonesia’s green car program
Return of the Datsun brand

JAKARTA (20 March 2012) — Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. today announced measures to strengthen its production base and sales presence in Indonesia. Total capacity will increase to 250,000 annually by 2014, with the workforce expanding to 3,300, and sales outlets are planned to increase to 150 by 2015.

On March 19, CEO Carlos Ghosn met Indonesia president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and reiterated Nissan’s commitment to the nation’s motorization.

“Nissan is bringing new jobs and new vehicles to Indonesia,” said Ghosn. “We are going to expand our production capability and offer a new and exciting product line here.”

The new plan announced today will make Nissan’s Cikampek site, located 80 kilometers outside of Jakarta, one of the largest production facilities in the ASEAN region for Nissan.

In 2011, 890,000 vehicles were sold in Indonesia, for the first time making the nation ASEAN’s largest car market. Nissan is in line to achieve its sales objectives of 60,000 units for fiscal year 2011. Indonesia total industry volume is estimated to increase nearly double by 2017 compared to 2010, largely driven by the introduction of the Green Car program now being drafted by the Indonesian government. Nissan strongly supports the program and looks forward to its speedy ratification.

While talking to the media, Ghosn announced the return of the Datsun brand, Nissan’s third global brand, alongside Nissan and Infiniti. Datsun will provide sustainable motoring experience to optimistic up-and-coming customers in high-growth markets. Datsun represents 80 years of accumulated Japanese carmaking expertise and is a important part of Nissan’s DNA. Datsun vehicles will start sales in India, Indonesia, and Russia from 2014.

Source: Nissan Global

Top 20 Nostalgic Japanese Classics, Z in 3rd

Editors of the latest Nostalgic Hero magazine have just pulled out a list of the Top 20 Nostalgic Classic cars. To no surprise, Nissan / Datsun filled 7 of those spots with the likes of some amazing machines: Datsun Fairlady 1600 / 2000, C210 Skyline, and the Bluebird 1800 (Datsun 510) to name a few.

In 3rd, you’ll see the esteemed Nissan / Datsun Fairlady 240ZG.
While it’s great to see a Z on the list, I think I would’ve liked to see the Z432 over the ZG. The 240ZG is great, but sometimes that G-nose doesn’t look right. I suppose it all depends on the rest of the look.

1970 240 ZG


20. Hino Contessa 1300 Coupe
19. Suzuki Fronte Coupe
18. Subaru 360
17. Datsun Fairlady 1600/2000
16. Daihatsu Midget
15. Nissan Sunny Coupe 1200 GX5 (B110)
14. Nissan Skyline HT 2000GT-ES (C210)
13. Mitsubishi Colt Galant GTO MR
12. Isuzu 117 Coupe
11. Toyota Celica Liftback 2000GT
10. Isuzu Bellet 1600 GTR
09. Nissan Bluebird 1800 SSS (510)
08. Toyota Corolla Levin 1600 (TE27)
07. Honda S600/S800
06. Toyota Sports 800
05. Mazda Cosmo Sport
04. Nissan Skyline HT 2000GT-R (C110)
03. Nissan Fairlady 240ZG
02. Toyota 2000GT
01. Nissan Skyline HT 2000GT-R (C10)

Of course at the top is the awesome C10 Skyline GT-R. No matter what variety that two-door C10 model comes in, it’s awesome.
With the rest of the list, I haven’t heard of most of these, so it was a great list to check out some “new” cars. Let’s check’em out.

Nissan Skyline HT 2000GT-R (C10)
Nissan Skyline C10

Suzuki Fronte Coupe
Suzuki Fronte Coupe

Nissan Skyline HT 2000GT-R (C210)
1973 Skyline HT 2000GT-R

Isuzu Bellet 1600 GTR
1970 Isuzu Bellett GTR

Toyota Sports 800
Toyota Sports 800

Source: Japanese Nostalgic Car

No Bumper = +5% MPG

You read right: by removing the hefty bumpers on the Datsun 280z, i was able to get a solid 5% MPG increase (19.5MPG).

While safety takes a nose dive, an extra 1 mile per gallon actually translates into quite a bit over a tank ~10-12 miles.
Though the real question here is: ‘is it worth it?’. Probably not. Which is why soon enough i’ll be putting on the 240z bumper (better than nothing, right?).

Now if only that guy on eBay would get back to me…

For anyone looking to purchase 240z bumper conversion brackets for their 280z, I’m not having a good purchasing experience with eBay user: v8-240z.
I’ve already sent two emails (via eBay and personal) and I haven’t heard back yet on anything (‘hey i got your email, i’m working on it”, or “shipped, here’s the tracking”, or “i don’t want your business”).
I would suggest zspeed240‘s listing instead.

240z front bumper brackets - stainless steel

240z Steering Wheel refurbished – part 1

A few weeks ago, I picked up a series 1 (slotted spoke) Datsun 240z wood rimmed steering wheel for the 280z at a great bargain.

Took some time this past Sunday to give it a good clean up and re-paint!
Sanded, 2 coats of primer, 3 coats of paint and a 2 coats of matte clear coat.
Didn’t come out too bad, but I think it could use a buff and another coat of clear just to be safe (and some of the matte clear came out patchy).

I’ve determined the wood grain on the wheel is actually worn pretty heavily, and needs a stain to bring it back to it’s former cherry color glory. That’ll be for “part 2”.

240z steering wheel - series 1 - start 240z steering wheel - wood grain close up

240z steering wheel - wood grain close up

240z steering wheel prep'd masked off 240z steering wheel primer grey coat close up 240z steering wheel primer grey coat

240z steering wheel black coat close up

240z steering wheel - black paint coat 240z steering wheel spoke finished

Datsun brand relaunch?

It’s been the buzz of all the Datsun / Nissan forums out there: News of Nissan possibly bringing back the Datsun brand!

Datsun logo -

In a nutshell, if anything transpires at all, it’ll be for emerging markets like China, India and Brazil (read: non-US), and be a low-cost, sub-brand (ouch). This is probably just market research at best, and since Nissan is so prevalent around the globe already, it’s hard to think why they would want to revive (*taint*) the Datsun brand. Though as Nissan pushes upward (like Toyota / VW), if it’s to compete against the success of Toyota’s young Scion brand, that reason alone just may do it.

There’s tons of articles on Datsun coming back so i’ll leave you with those:

thanks Dana for giving me the heads up on the news!

No Bumper – Let the MPG Experiment Begin!

Obviously the Datsun 280z was never purchased as a gas saving, fuel sipping, economy car. Prius’ step aside in horror and repulse as the 280z zooms past their 60mph earth loving vehicles. :] But on the flip-side, with the rise in fuel costs (currently $4.40 for 87 grade gas in the San Jose area), I need to take action.

I found something interesting this morning: my average fuel economy, 18.5 MPG, is actually better than the average passenger car in it’s time!

Fuel Economy History Chart - Daily Datsun

Since my first tank, I’ve consistently maintained 18.5MPG on the 280z (my worst and best being 18MPG and 20MPG respectively).

Now fast forward 35 years, and it’s not quite the same. Though the fuel economy from the late 80’s to the mid-2000’s was stagnant, cars in the past 5 years have had a huge increase in fuel economy (the 2012 Hyundai Elantra pushes 40MPG highway). Though the 280z may never see those types of numbers w/ it’s L-series engine, the alternative to drive train replacement is to reduce weight. This weekend, Kris and i popped off the front bumper, est. a weight savings of ~25-30lbs.

280z Front bumper removed -

Best to have all the right tools.

280z Front bumper removal -

280z Bumper shock removal -

Stock bumper shock, ~5lbs each

280z Bumper shock -

Remounting the horns. There’s one on both sides.

Remounting the 280z horn -

While I wait for the new 280z bumper mounts (made to hold a 240z bumper), I’ll roll around bumper-less and see what kind of MPG we can get!

Seat Covers Coming In!

Pop open the door, what’s the first thing you see? Yes, the seats. Or in the 280z’s case, torn up seats :]

Looks like a cat got to it as normal tearing would’ve probably gone width-wise.

Datsun 280z basketweave seat -

Datsun 280z basketweave passenger seat -

These original seats for the late Datsun 280z are called ‘Basketweave” and replacement covers sell for about $299 on BlackDragon Auto. Yikes.

Initially I wanted the 240z version with the horizonal “jelly rolls”(as i like to call them). They just scream, ‘classic’.
But even those are $200/piece (w/ replacement foam) from Les at Classic Datsun Motorsports – and sad to say, after two emails and almost a week later for a price quote, I haven’t heard back from them.

240z seat -

In the end, I guess it has worked out. I just picked up some great looking ’76 seats covers from Mark D over from the All Datsun Classifieds / ClassicZCar forums.
He was selling them for a great deal: $150, and I’ll reuse my current foam. Although they’re not my first pic, the look has really grown on me. Can’t beat that they were at a great price… and they have the vent holes. love those.

1976 280z seat covers -

When then come in, i’ll be sure to post how I’ll put them on, and perhaps make a helpful video for it.