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Old 04-19-2018, 02:16 AM   #1
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Default Mean Green - 1982 280ZX Project

I recently picked up a Series II (upgraded suspension/driveline) 1982 280ZX for a partial restoration. Purchased from people I have known for many years, this car hasn't been driven since 2016. It does get started about three times a month and driven around the block just to keep everything active.

It has zero mechanical issues, but one electrical issue. After you drive it a half-hour or so, EVERYTHING electrical goes out. When I say everything...I mean everything right down to the dome light. Absolutely zero electricity getting to anything, although after a while it will restart normally and everything works. I suspect a weak main relay, or weak fusible links, but it has to be something near the battery. Fuses are good.

Purchase price: $1,000.

As far as brakes, clutch, engine, rear end, etc everything is good. When it goes, it goes like a bat out of hell. The main problem is that it needs a damn good detailing, polishing, and cleaning from the engine bay to the rear of the car. Most options that were available for this model in 1982 are in place, including the 'Betty' voice warning system that had just come out when the car was manufactured. NOTE: For those of you who aren't familiar with 'Betty,' a lot of folks think it's a solid-state unit with 128K of memory or something. Nope. Believe it or not...it's a three-inch white vinyl RECORD installed inside a small black box with a bunch of wires going out of it. It says 'Do Not Drop' on the box, but the vinyl record is actually secured pretty well. There are seven or eight built-in warnings, and what happens is that a stylus actually drops onto the record in the proper specially-separated groove for that particular message. "Fuel level is low," or "Parking brake is on," are a couple of the warnings. It's a female voice. You can turn it off or on as you wish, from the switch down low on the dash near the driver door. 80's tech...you gotta love it sometimes.

Initial pictures posted of the car in its present state. As work progresses, there will be more pictures. But that won't happen until sometime in June. This kind of work needs to be done in summer, and right now the weather in Seattle is crap. But it will get done eventually. No one around here wants to sit out in the rain and try to clean up a car...not even one as cool as ZX.



Generally, this Z is in pretty good shape on the body. I crawled under it and checked it for underbody damage or rust and found none. No hits underneath I could see, and trim parts still nice.



Mileage is reasonable for a 36-year-old Z. I found the original manual and paperwork in the vinyl case they give you when you buy it from the dealer. Looks like it got factory service for the first few years, and I already know the owner took it to reputable shops after that time. He bought it in college many years ago, but his daily driver is a new Audi now.




Seeing it in person, you know that detailing this one out will take more than a single weekend. I don't expect to have it road ready until after the Fourth of July. Will I take it on a road trip? Are you kidding me? Of course I will. Have to make sure everything works. Sunrise at the Mount Rainier National Park is my goal. Nice drive both ways from where I live.



This area really IS the worst part, but that's expected because that's where the driver sits and where all the action happens.




(Robert says: We may just clean the body up, and try some high-quality waxing first. I hate to try compound unless absolutely necessary. Not sure how deep the paint goes after 36 years.) EDIT: I actually posted on the Facebook page for Chris Fix, asking for advice before I touch the body.) One of his YouTube videos on doing an engine bay is HERE. Uploaded nine months ago, already has 13 MILLION views to it. Go see why.




Dashboard is very clean, and gauges and controls (including 'Betty') all work. The horn cover needs a bit of work. AC is good, but sooner or later it will need a recharge, and that means a conversion kit to use legal refrigerant. R12 is no longer sold.




Good and REASONABLY clean engine bay, but I plan to pay special attention to it. This bay will get a full detailing and will probably take an entire day to finish, if not two.



Major cleaning and detailing required on all parts of the body. For sure.



There's a good chance I will probably just replace the carpet. Those orange stains are real. I don't like the white carpet anyway. I need to inspect this carpet more closely to see if it actually IS factory install. I'm not really sure. Only got the car today.





Looking at the door, I'm starting to suspect the flooring carpet might not be factory. I'm no expert on Z cars, but you would think the door stuff would match the floorboard stuff. Hmm. That carpet trim on the door is light gray, but the floorboard carpet is white.
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Last edited by XoXSciFiGuy; 04-20-2018 at 06:37 AM.
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Old 04-21-2018, 12:00 AM   #2
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Never heard about the bitchin Betty record in one of these. That’s quite fascinating.
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Old 04-21-2018, 12:49 AM   #3
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many many years in the past, my uncle had a mint 84 280. it was the last year of the Datsun name. it was metallic blue and man that fucker would fly. he drove it for about 15 years, then parked it because the injector seals were leaking. it sat behind my moms old place rotting away. all it took was someone smashing a window, then it was destroyed. it sickened me to see that car get ruined.
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Old 04-21-2018, 01:53 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by cadillacdude1975 View Post
many many years in the past, my uncle had a mint 84 280. it was the last year of the Datsun name. it was metallic blue and man that fucker would fly. he drove it for about 15 years, then parked it because the injector seals were leaking. it sat behind my moms old place rotting away. all it took was someone smashing a window, then it was destroyed. it sickened me to see that car get ruined.
I wish I could keep this one, but if I did, I would have to sell my truck. I will probably end up selling the Z at some point. We live in a townhouse with two assigned parking slots outside the front door, and there is no room in the garage. Garage is the housecleaning supply HQ, and a part-time shop. I can use our third slot, the visitor slot, but for no more than four months, I'm told. I'm still undecided on what to do. In the meantime, I do what I can on it. Don't expect many updates until the weather starts getting better around here, though. Rain has been almost endless this month.

YouTube video: Shows the Betty unit out of the car and how it works: https://youtu.be/6hJBko3-oV4
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Old 04-21-2018, 02:29 AM   #5
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Great score fellow Washingtonian. Looks like not a lot of rust and the seals still look pretty good. Was it garaged mostly? I wish I checked the health of the window/door seals when I got my truck.
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Old 04-21-2018, 03:01 AM   #6
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Never heard about the bitchin Betty record in one of these. Thatís quite fascinating.
Same here. Extremely interesting.

Really nice photos of the guts of the box in this link:

https://zparts.com/index.php/product...a-25926-89910/
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Old 04-21-2018, 03:18 AM   #7
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Great score fellow Washingtonian. Looks like not a lot of rust and the seals still look pretty good. Was it garaged mostly? I wish I checked the health of the window/door seals when I got my truck.
Not garaged since 2016, but was covered most of the time. Only rust is the two tiny spots on the door hinge area, and a one-inch long spot about a half-inch above the top of the windshield. Neither are serious, and will soon be gone. Underbody looks good. I don't think the carpet is factory, though. Too thick I would say, and the white color doesn't match anything else. I dunno...have to call the former owner and ask him. Well...I see him next Wednesday anyway when their clean comes up on the schedule. They've been customers for eight years with us.

EDIT: Some people have WAY too much time on their hands, but sometimes do really cool stuff with that time. Like this guy at YouTube who actually paid three bills for an old Chrysler voice warning system...and then...well, just see for yourself. Unreal.

https://youtu.be/8DwKqCZlKnw
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Old 04-23-2018, 09:25 AM   #8
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Picked up air filter, plugs, oil with Lucas, cap/rotor, and mass cleaning supplies for this one. Trust me, there's been a lot of family discussion on how to approach this one.

I already found the problem with EVERYTHING ELECTRICAL dying after a half hour of running. The fusible links were weak and corroded, and basically crap. Replaced. I changed a couple of relays up near the battery on general principles. It ran for an hour without problems. I think we're onto something here. I hope.

Our first move on this Z will be to change out the other parts we bought, and detail the hood interior side, as well as the engine bay.
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Old 04-23-2018, 04:27 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Hands On View Post
Same here. Extremely interesting.

Really nice photos of the guts of the box in this link:

https://zparts.com/index.php/product...a-25926-89910/
That's about the most complicated way they could have done it.
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Old 04-24-2018, 08:55 AM   #10
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Hard to believe they actually used a VINYL record for the warnings. I wonder if it ever hit the Billboard Top 100 list. Or if you can order the record itself in CD, or as an Amazon download LOL.

And if they do...I expect decent cover art. Something with an 80's theme.
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