Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Oh Gee, How bout a Z?

Today's brief post is about finding and acquiring a project car for my 16 year old son. To our former service men and women, happy Veteran's Day and thank you for your service.

Not our Z: rust in usual spots
Long before my divorce, and re-marriage, I had made a commitment to my sons. I promised that when they were ready to commit to a car, the project that it represented, the time it would require, etc, that I would invest $1000US on something. When T was 17, we drove up near Seattle and got him a late 90's A4 (See Gotta Keep Moving). Well, his brother C has just turned 16, and while he doesn't yet have a license, he is now ready to commit. To be fair, $1000US bought more car 10 years ago when I made the commitment, but we've had pretty good luck, and good finds are out there. You just need to work that much harder.

C has been keenly aware of this money-for-car arrangement. Last Summer, I drove to Vancouver WA to look at a project 280Z, but the rust had affected too much of it. The body had large nasty rust holes in the rear quarters, rust pinholes in the rear lid and a couple of flat tires. The interior was kind of sad too, but it was complete. After a few minutes of looking, I knew it wasn't passing muster, so I walked on it. C was disappointed, but that didn't dissuade him from looking harder. He likes sports cars. So, he was looking at BMW's, Camaro/Firebirds and, always, Datsun 240/260/280's. We talked to lots of people, emailed more and drove by a few, and after a year we thought we may have finally found one worth looking at.
not our Z: more rust

C found a 1979 280ZX project that had hit a hard patch. He had rebuilt the engine, fixed up the transmission and replaced the clutch. He had stripped the interior of everything but the seats and door-cards and slapped on fancy rims and tires with a plan to turn the car into a drifter. Unfortunately, while driving to the brake shop to get the brakes done, he was hit, damaging the driver door and front driver fender. The owner was working multiple projects and needed cash for the Mustang he was almost done with. Meanwhile, the 280ZX wasn't getting much focus and the accident had pushed away some of the love for the project. Listed at $1200, we figured the engine / transmission was probably worth the money. Add in the rims and tires and we could probably get our money back and more just by parting it out. BUT, if the frame wasn't bent or damaged in the accident, we could pop new body panels on there and make a car out of it. So, C made an appointment to go look at it on one of the final nice days of the fall.

That'll Work
C's Z
Since C didn't have a license yet, we brought his brother T with us. I decided to make this a learning opportunity for both of them by having them lead the conversation, inspection and test driving. We walked the car, searching for rust and weird frame issues first. The rust we found was surface stuff. The floors were perfect: no rust, and well protected. I thought they might have been replaced, perhaps by the person this owner bought the car from. We did our other look-sees as well, using all of our senses as best we could and then T took it out for a test drive with the owner while C and I stayed with the owner's friend and asked a ton of questions. T came back grinning from ear to ear. Clearly, he enjoyed driving it. Rather than get too deep into that, though, he jumped into giving us feedback: the brakes were good, same with the steering. Neither one impacted the other. Hard stops were good. Held firm over bumps. All the switches and dials work, lights, turn & brake signals too. I made the decision to let them make the decision. They had asked all the right questions, and got good answers. They wanted to do the build, so I shelled out $1100US cash, C signed the title, and the deal was struck.

not our Z: interior trashed, but complete
The appointment was in Newburg, which is around 30 minutes from my place. Since the boys made the decisions, they got to drive the new project home, while I followed in the chase car. That little car has some get-up-and-go. They turned the corner from the side-street onto the 99W and simply took off. They didn't speed; they just arrived at the speed limit much faster than I did. We stayed together, though, and they pulled all the way into the driveway and under the awaiting canopy. The smiles on their faces remained for quite some time after the engine was turned off. I think this is going to be a fun build.

Since we got it home, C has been over a few times and has made some headway. I'll post on that soon. Thanks, as always, for following along-

No comments: