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Weekend Rides Shop Projects

1972 Datsun 240Z Restoration

By August 8, 2008No Comments

This page is a photo journal of a one owner 34,000 mile 240Z. It made on its journey back to Z car glory and we are proud to showcase it here. This very special Z has numerous period documented modifications including a Racer Brown Camshaft installed by Bob Sharp Racing, as well as the fondly remembered Datsun Competition Department lowered suspension. The Z rides on 4 imposible to find again Chromadora true magnesium wheels. The Z has Koni shocks, a heavier front sway bar and a rear sway bar kit. Datsun did not provide one in this era. We promised the original owner, Don Eckenrode, who bought this Z car locally that we would restore it if he would sell it to us. After two years of Rick Bolus hounding him, he sold Rick his beloved Z car. Sadly, Don died during its tenure in our shop, but we know he would be proud of the way it turned out. After extensive documentation, and laying out the plan to restore this time capsule of Z history, we began the process of removing just about everything we could on the body. We then chemically stripped the Z to bare metal. This Z has all original interior, a perfect dash. This Z had no old accidents ever, not even typical Z car hood back damages. It has a dual remote oil filter set-up. We replaced all the windshield and rear window seals with NOS from Datsun. Many people overlook these areas when doing a restoration, but we take no shortcuts when preserving history. Few people can replace a Z car windshield correctly. Thankfully, we have done hundreds and know how to do it the right way. This ensures you will see no tape marks and no overspray on the 30 year old seals.

In the photos you will see that we had to cut away several places of structural rust where we found nests of mice and squirels. They had stored grass, nuts and other rust-making enemies inside this 240Z unibody. We used our extensive Z experience with the unibody, knowing if left unopened, the Datsun unibody will rust from the inside out. We decided to clean up the engine compartment from its imersion in the black tar Ziebart undercoating which was very difficult to do. We cut areas like these shown above open, which is where Datsun thought it would be a good idea to let the cowl drains let water run down inside the fenders! Of course none of this was painted at the factory, and rust would begin. If the drains got blocked, they would let rust start inside. In the case of this Z, rodents ran up the fresh air channels by the radiator, then filled it with nuts and straw. This created a perfect breeding ground for rot. We knew we had to cut this area open, and we found several pounds of nests. Like the saying, home sweet home. After thorough cleaning, we treated these places with Por 15 and welded them shut.

We also treated the back of the fenders with Por 15, and by having the body disassembled like we do, we can address the areas Datsun failed to in that era. We also replaced the outer rockers with NOS new ones and of course the achiles heel of any Z car, the rear quarters had rust over them, so we butt welded from those donated from one of our parts cars. We kept the original wheel well welds intact and kept the original seams of the door jambs and roof intact this way. In the photos you can see the Z still has its original hood date coded decals, which we carefully preserved when we repainted the back of the hood!

We stripped the doors of any trim and glass, and fortunately, the Ziebart penetrated the seams 30 years ago and they were suprisingly rust-free. We painted the hatch and doors off the body, ensuring no overspray or sloppy work. We treated the inside of the common K box frame support with Por 15 and welded it back up, knowing this Z car would not rust from the inside out years after being restored. We painted the Z shell seperate from the fenders and doors and hood. We then bolted them on during the reassembly stages.

We painted the Z in base coat clear coat, using high build primers, some old school body fillers, and a coat of sealer before paint. The body was block sanded for quite some time using guide coats. The result is a very straight body. Because we took our time and had an accident free body, the panels fit perfectly.