PART III – WE MADE IT! – DailyDatsun’s Wedding 280z Complete

WE MADE IT – we did it! What started as a daily driver project, transformed into a serious restoration and finished as our wedding chariot. My fiancee and i tied the knot on Sunday, May 27th with a wedding nothing short of amazing. And getting this car completed on time was definitely a part of that weekend. 4 days and 10 people later, the 280z barreled it’s way over to our hotel and drove us to our wedding.

DailyDatsun 280z - Just Married

Truly starting the week before, I had already ordered the parts i had needed for the final assembly – window seals, weatherstripping, carpet, seat covers, and a front windshield (more on that later). I needed to those parts ordered quick to be ready as soon as the car came back. Once the car rolled out of the painters garage it was already Tuesday evening – literally only 4 days and 5 nights remaining. That night i got straight to it, sorting out the pieces getting it ready for a full attack the next day.  We quickly got into full swing with my brother Kris and a groomsman Erik helping hammer it’s way back to road-worthiness.

DailyDatsun 280z - instagram

We were able to complete the rear tail lights, some trim repaint, side marker lights, headlights, hood louvers, hood rubbers, floorboard prepping, and the front feet area of the carpet.

Thursday rolls around for another big day. During the afternoon I had the neighbors install the front and rear windows – truly a blessing to have a family who owns an auto glass repair company live next door to you! Late afternoon, brother brought over another groomsman Jerry and his girl Kennie (who had just both come over from Hong Kong) to lend a hand, helping clean windows and tackle the carpet. Carpet continued to dominate our time because of the measuring / cutting required for all the interior fittings: both sides of the seat belts, shifter, e-brake, and seat rail holes among other things. Carpet needs to go in first because it instantly transforms the visual impact of the car. Additionally, once that’s in, seats, center console, door trim, all that can go back in.

Later that evening, I had three more sets of hands arrive: my future sister-in-law Dana, my sister Kathryn and her boyfriend Jake! It was great, we all had our hands on this thing! Jake and Jerry tackled doors, Kennie and Dana helped clean parts, Kathryn helped me assemble the last seat, while Kris had the dreadful task of installing the rear driver-side interior quarter panel trim. Imagine having so many people who, for the majority, have never worked on cars (let alone re-assemble one) all help out at the same time – yes, it was a circus. Yes, you’ve gotta make sure all the correct bolts were used. But truly it was such a fun experience. I love working on projects with friends, more so with my brother and sister!

DailyDatsun 280z - Seat and sister

To top off the night, even LATER that evening, my parents flew into town, and they too dropped by to check out how things were going. I wish i got it on video / photo, but both my mom and dad would later return the next day to help out to complete the re-assemble.

Friday, My dad and i put in the seats, dash and door trims; while my mom cleaned parts, and even tackled the biggest task: clean / organized the storm of parts and trash that my garage was left in the previous night. Yes, I definitely should have gotten photos of my mom and dad helping out but we were just so focused on getting this done. Wipers went on, the last three pieces of chrome front windshield trim were found and installed. I got to say the whole project has been amazing, but there’s nothing like working on a car with your dad. More over, he’ll be driving it while we’re away on our honeymoon. It’ll be 40 years since he last drove a Z, and I can’t wait to hear what he’s got to say!

I had a two hour window to install the final touches late Saturday afternoon – front grill, front parking lights and their trim, horn, side-view mirrors, and of course, the c-pillar ‘Z’ markers. I took it off the battery tender attached the night before, and started him up. Perfect – solid and strong. Looks – amazing and fast. I’m proud and thankful that my friends and family helped get car back on the road, and ready in time for the wedding.

Sunday night we drove it back from the reception only to be stopped by a police officer 1/4 mile from our hotel. Doh. Were parts falling off? Lack of rear bumper? Nope. No tail lights. Brake lights were working but the car was “invisible out there” with no running tail lights. Luckily the officer was more concerned about our safety, and with the ‘Just Married’ sign and us still being in our wedding get-up we were let go with a congrats rather than a ticket. :] Sigh! now this rebuild story is complete!

Pictures of the re-assemble will come soon – for now here are some pics straight from the painter that Tuesday afternoon.

DailyDatsun 280z - fresh paint

DailyDatsun 280z - fresh paint 2

DailyDatsun 280z - fresh paint hood

DailyDatsun 280z - fresh paint 3




Getting Wedding Ready – Part II

So it’s been over at Pacific Auto Body & Paint getting the full treatment. Rick has been a great fellow to work with, and keeping both the car’s looks and my pocket change budget in mind. For the time it’s been over there, the 280z has gone through some great personal treatment. Let’s take a look…

Pacific Auto Body & Paint - shop front

After driving it down the shop, he went right away at it with a sanding wheel! WWRRrrrll!


Next, the guide coat. The guide coat is a light spray of color done all over. This helps him make sure no spots are missed! From here, it gets “blocked”. Blocking is a sanding technique of which i don’t know much about, but i know it’s important to get those surfaces even, smooth and consistent.

280z-paint-guide coat - 1

280z-paint-guide coat - 2

280z-paint-guide coat - 3

And then the sealer. Even with just the sealer, you can see the lines really popping w/ all the reflections from the overhead lights. And this is all BEFORE primer!

280z-paint- sealer - 1

280z-paint- sealer - 2

280z-paint- sealer - 3

If you’ll notice in the next picture, we decided to take of the cowl (just above the engine bay) and decided to do it right. He’s gonna black out the inside, and paint in/out of the cowl.

280z-paint- sealer - 4



YES! In April of 1977, this 280z rolled off the manufacturing line and on to the docks, headed for the Bay Area. Though his 35th birthday would’ve been more appropriate to celebrate last month, I wanted to post it along with his birthday gift – a new paint job.

Datsun 280z front valance removed - front

We’ve decided to take the 280z over to Rick at Pacific Auto and Paint, located on Santa Clara St in downtown San Jose. In the initial scoping for paint, Rick was very enthusiastic and very friendly about getting the car in and handling the job (more importantly, complete the work before the wedding!).

So a short post before a separate painting post, but here’s a few pics to wet the appetite – bon appetit!

Can you figure out what’s missing from this picture?

Datsun 280z - no side molding

Removed the rivets with a 1/8″ drill bit.. all the rivet heads were piling up!

Datsun 280z - rivet removal

The ‘Z’ side emblem removed.

Datsun 280z - side vent emblem removed

door locks were actually quite easy

Datsun 280z door lock removed

I’ve used quite a few “easy-out” screw removers, but Grabit is awesome. Many of the front valance screws were rusted tight, and the heads got striped while taking them out with a drill / screwdriver. Grabit is a bit with a drill bit on one end and the extractor on the other. A set of 3 sized bits, it was worth every $.

GrabIt - works

And it made quick work on getting the front valance off.

Datsun 280z front valance removed

The ‘Datsun 280z’ comes off, along with the rear hatch lock.

Datsun 280z - rear badge removed

And thus i’m left with a bin of parts. OFF TO THE PAINTER!

280z parts bin



Getting Wedding Ready – Part I

OH yeah. It’s on.

Time is ticking, and the Z is on it’s way to being our wedding car! Yes, I convinced my beautiful, sensible minded fiancee to use the 280Z as our chariot. The only catch: it has be 100% ready. For my wedding, is there anything else it would be? :]

Since that day (about a month ago) i’ve been planning, scoping, and wrenching on the 280z to get it ready for game day. With little over three weeks away, it seems like it’s got a great distance before it gets to 100%.

This morning, it was back to the seats.

Last time, I had just recovered the seat backs leaving the seat bottoms to be finished.

Datsun 280z seat

There are three small screws that hold in the cover plate to the adjustment mechanism. Behold! the underside uses that same straw-like padding as seen in the seat backing.

Datsun 280z seat - cover plate screw Datsun 280z seat - underside

Seat adjustment mechanism

Datsun 280z seat -adjustment mechanism

I was blocked by these stubborn screws holding down the chair adjustment spring fixture. Even with WD-40, corded drill with PH-3 (big) bit, and some taps from a hammer – those tough screws were NOT coming out.

Datsun 280z seat - spring mechanism

So I got a little clever and cut the old vinyl to slide it out from the seat spring fixture. This method will prove VERY useful when putting the new cover on.

Datsun 280z seat - working around frozen screws

Undoing the chair slider…

Datsun 280z seat - seat slider

The original seat foams are from Toyo. A quick part search on google for ‘PM690M9’ reveals nothing – surprise.

Datsun 280z seat - seat foam

Minor surface rust in the seat spring; only a little clean up required.

Datsun 280z seat - spring seat frame

Tada! No one’s going to see this part anyways…

Datsun 280z seat - resprayed

After a quick test fit of the new seat cover, I thought there was a bit too much play in the cover and the seat foam. So i decided to use some extra foam i’d been saving just for this purpose. Though pink open celled foam like this isn’t ideal (as it WILL eventually disintegrate), it should last several years before collapsing out, by that time, i’ll just get new foams entirely. Here, i cut a pattern for the seat bolster because the seat cover is a touch wider than the tapering original seat shape.

Datsun 280z seat - extra foam pattern

Datsun 280z seat - extra foam applied

I also decided to replace the straw-like padding on the bottom between the seat foam and the seat spring. My first thought was it was just a protective layer between metal and foam.. but the other day when working on the driver seat (which had this material and burlap…), i realized it’s other responsibility… absorb any excess moisture. oh well.

Datsun 280z seat - spring pad cut Datsun 280z seat - spring pad replaced

The new seat covers use a string to cinch the cover to the frame. I decided to re-use  the hog tie re-bars (as well as the string) to make sure the covers sit firmly in place.

Datsun 280z seat - seat re-bar inserted

Here, you can see where i cut the new seat cover to fit in between the bolts that hold the spring assembly. I pulled the string out from that portion of the seat cover, cut, slid the cover through the opening between the bolts, and then fished the string back through. First thing i thought of was that this solution would be something my dad or grandfather would think up of. Worked like a charm, and best of all I can move forward.

Datsun 280z seat - seat cover fix

Looking pretty full in there – now just to pull down that mid-section to give it contour…

Datsun 280z seat - seat complete topside

Seat completed, hog tied tight.

Datsun 280z seat - seat complete underside

Perfect. The seat bottom is extra cushy, and it’s got great shape. I lightly sanded down the bolts, sprayed the seat back bracket with bed liner for a nice rough texture, and cleaned / sprayed the slider lever.

Datsun 280z seat - seat complete side

Datsun 280z seat - seat completed

Datsun Z: Playboy’s #18

No, I don’t read Playboy. But i DO read Autoblog, and they had a mention of Playboy’s 25 Greatest rides.

What do you know, the Datsun / Nissan Z made no. 18!

I’m sure in anyone’s list of greatest cars to make it into this world, the Datsun Z is on most of them. It’s just a fantastic car with great lines, modest performance, and a price tag to match (both originally and current).

Here’s the Press Release on Autoblog’s site – see if your car is on their list:

Ferrari GTO Speeds to the #1 Spot

Take a drive through auto history in Playboy’s new comprehensive list of the best cars of all time. Jaguars, Lamborghinis, and Porsches all find their way onto the list, but the Ferrari GTO gets top honors in The 25 Greatest Rides.

The cars range in price from $7,000 to more than $35 million and date back to the 1940s. Playboy editors Ken Gross and A.J. Baime share their definitive list in the magazine’s May issue (on newsstands and on Friday, April 20).

Following is the list of cars that made the cut:

1. Ferrari GTO
2. Porsche 911
3. Shelby Cobra
4. Jaguar E-Type
5. Mercedes-Benz Gullwing
6. McLaren F1
7. Chevrolet Corvette
8. Aston Martin DB5
9. Lamborghini Miura
10. BMW 507
11. Lamborghini Countach
12. Jaguar XK120
13. Ferrari 275 GTB/4
14. MG TC
15. Ford Shelby Mustang
16. Chevrolet Camaro
17. Ferrari 458 Italia
18. Datsun/Nissan Z
19. Chrysler 300
20. Pontiac GTO
21. Mazda Miata
22. VW Beetle
23. Chevrolet Bel Air
24. BMW 2002
25. Pontiac Firebird Trans Am