Z32 Harts TT restomod build thread

Discussion in 'Member's Garage' started by Harts, Oct 7, 2020.

  1. Harts

    Harts Active Member

    Hello all,

    Still a novice forum member, but (after inspiration from other members) I have decided to move my Z32 TT conversation from the tech section to the ride section as it makes more sense for the general chit chat and updates that have been happening.

    Thanks again for having me, it is awesome having a community of supportive members and differing opinions on the Z. In the vein of contributing to the forum and the community, here is my ongoing build thread for my 1991 Z32 300ZX TT Auto.

    Build Goal: to take a tired 300ZX and bring it back to life, tastefully.

    Build start point: A neglected Auto TT 300ZX with some niggling issues.

    Build end point: A tidy, predominantly standard looking, manual 300ZX, looking refreshed and featuring a decent amount of power.

    So, I bought the 300ZX in 6/10 condition. It had some running issues, but was generally in good condition for it's age. I wanted a project car (at the time I was a couple of months out from having my first child), and I certainly got one! I'm a tinkerer at heart, so I felt that over time I would be able to pull her back from the brink.

    The car was inspected before I bought it, nothing untoward came up, and so I went ahead and purchased it. In the following weeks I got to become familiar with the subtleties of owning a Z32 (f*#k me). After 2 x week and a half trips to the mechanic (2 different mechanics), I thought I was on top of the situation. The car was running generally well and I felt that the information I received from the 2 mechanics was positive, so I moved on from problem solving to general maintenance. By this stage, I had performed the following:

    New Iridium plugs
    New coils
    New coil plug looms
    New injector plug looms
    New fuel filter
    New K&N air filter element
    New radiator fan
    New radiator fan clutch
    Various engine loom repairs
    2 x oil change with oil filter
    Tighten all accessible fuel and vacuum line clamps
    New silicone intercooler hoses
    Diff fluid change
    New uni joint in steering column
    Radiator flush x 3
    New Hankook Ventus RS4 tyres all around
    New Rhino Alarm
    New Alpine Halo stereo and Focal 8" integrated sub
    New windscreen cowls L&R
    New bonnet hinge covers L&R
    New bonnet adjustable bump stops L&R
    New T-top centre finisher bar
    New electric, retractable aerial
    Refurbished original windscreen wipers
    2nd hand OEM steering wheel, 3 spoke with cruise control
    2 x 8 ounce tubs of Obenaufs Leather Oil

    Identified issues needing rectification:

    Inconsistent factory oil gauge behaviour
    Oil sump dent
    Possibly due for Major
    Heat-soaking - Missing lower radiator shroud
    MintZ32 likes this.
  2. Harts

    Harts Active Member

    Images of the car before I bought it, from a country town around 100kms outside of Adelaide.

    The car had 120000kms on it.


    Even though the car had relatively low kms, it was owned by a 63 year old and was in general need of TLC inside and out.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I have used a couple of bottles of Obenaufs to good effect on the leather so far, and the new OEM trims have brought the car back nicely.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    MintZ32 and lidz like this.
  3. MintZ32

    MintZ32 Active Member

    Awesome, glad to see another Resto themed build thread :D
    Harts likes this.
  4. Harts

    Harts Active Member

    Thanks @MintZ32, I think it's an age thing as I just can't stand seeing a good car tarted up too much nowadays. We can compare notes!

    By this stage, I had established (from advice) some problems that needed attention, as mentioned in the first post:

    Inconsistent factory oil gauge behaviour
    Oil sump dent
    Possibly due for Major
    Heat-soaking - Missing lower radiator shroud

    And some more minor issues that were not as time dependant:

    Radiator support bent - bonnet sitting up
    Exhaust rusted out in sections
    Fog light headlamp stage not working
    Front indicators taking moisture
    Non genuine floor mats to be replaced
    Cargo cover to be restored
    Various trims to be replaced due to damage or age
    Original wheels to be restored

    So I set out on a mission to begin to collect the necessary parts. For the most part I have been using Z1, Rob RGS and eightfivetwo for OEM gear, depending on price and availability. For rare and out of production parts I have been using Yahoo Japan. I am also buying bits and pieces from forum members (Thanks Ian) and Facebook.

    One of my key goals for the car is to have it remain standard looking and clean, so I am trying to avoid ricer bits as much as possible.

    Now, I started to begin to form my plan of attack for addressing the major issues. I had been chasing an oil pressure problem from about 3 weeks into my ownership, I had the oil pressure checked by my mechanic with a mechanical guage in the engine and it was reading ok, 4kg/cm at 3500rpm or thereabouts. This led us to believe it was the guage (we replaced the sender) so I purchased a Defi link advance ZD Club sport to get a good read on things. It also needed to be installed, so I decided to do that and replace the oil pump with the full major (water pump, tensioners etc.) to be absolutely sure I had the problem sorted and get the oil pan fixed at the same time.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    IB likes this.
  5. MintZ32

    MintZ32 Active Member

    100% mate your car looks really clean by the way!
    Harts likes this.
  6. Harts

    Harts Active Member

    @MintZ32 I have been systematically cleaning an restoring the interior, engine bay and paint by hand (at this stage). If anyone has a leather interior that isn't cracked but needs some love, I highly recommend Obenauf's Leather Oil. It must be used at 25 degrees and above, shampoo you leather with your chosen leather shampoo, apply and let it settle in, wipe off the residue then give it a couple of weeks and repeat. Great stuff. For hand buffing I have been using Meguiars Compound and Polish with P21S Carnauba wax to protect. I have a machine (RO) buffer, but not the time to tape the car and get it done right now, so I just hand clay and polish a panel at a time.


    Did I mention I just had my first child? The most awesome experience yet, but 300ZX now takes a far back seat :D

    So, and here is the kicker, whilst I was idling at a set of lights last week I noticed the revs drop from 700 to 500rpm and the idle become laboured. I checked my factory cluster and noticed a zero oil pressure reading on the gauge, not uncommon in itself, but coupled with the laboured idle, this was new.

    I limped it 600m to my house and parked it up safely. I didn't have any lights on the dash at all, so I shut it down and let it sit for 30mins. I came back out and started it up, she fired up fine but never read any oil pressure at all... this was new. So I shut her down.

    I called a workshop that currently has a 1000 hp VG30DETT build up and running and went in for a chat. I am expecting an oil pump failure, and potentially some associated engine damage... but I am no expert and I have been wrong many times before! As of yesterday they are ready to take the car and so I am having her towed in tomorrow morning.

    The plan of attack is to diagnose the issue, if it isn't what I think it is and if no engine damage has occurred then the major will be performed with the oil pump change over, oil sump repair and Defi gauge install. If engine damage has occurred, we have discussed the rebuild at length :)...[​IMG]
    MintZ32 likes this.
  7. Harts

    Harts Active Member

    Did I mention the tyre fitters put my stock wheels on back to front? Really killing me btw, can't be unseen :rolleyes:
  8. Harts

    Harts Active Member

    So, with the pending uncertainty (impending doom) of the engine mechanical report to come, let's talk about the rest of the build so far.

    As mentioned, restomod is my goal. I intend to keep the body work standard and keep the paint colour. I love the yellow, I love the pearl. As I hand polish each panel the white pearl begins to pop out, it's pretty awesome to behold in the light of day (when it's actually clean). To be fair, the paint looks good from afar, but is far from good. I will work on that and may need to have some paint repairs done at a later date, but it will do the job for now. I need to have the front bar repainted, it has a black strip painted on the bottom which looks a little silly and is full of paint chips and cracked, the rear bar has some crazing in it too.

    I am slowly replacing or rejuvenating the door and windscreen trims, they are all tired and faded. The front windscreen cowls are done, the wipers are done, the t-top centre finisher is done. Really now it is simply the lower door window trims, roof trims and rear windscreen trim to go.

    In some good news, I purchased a Veilside exhaust and some Veilside Andrew V wheels for the car. The exhaust I sourced from Japan, I was stoked to get it as they can be considered rare. It's a cat back and will be mated to some test pipe made here in Adelaide (and dumps if the engine is built). The exhaust needs some cleaning up, but I will happily do that in my spare early morning hours supervising my newborn daughter's sleep :).[​IMG]

    The wheels I snagged here in Adelaide, I was originally looking at some more aggressive Andrew V's in Ireland, but then found some Work Meister 3P wheels here, locally. The seller sold them from under me and so on a wing and a prayer I did another local search and the Andrew V's popped up a few kms away from home, I couldn't believe it. I did the deal, paid the money and took them home, at 1/3 of the price the set in Ireland was going to cost me. Good result. The guy had them sitting around in boxes for 8.5 years, so they were showing some oxidisation...[​IMG] [​IMG]
    but it wasn't anything I couldn't do in my spare early morning hours supervising my newborn daughter's sleep :).[​IMG] [​IMG]
    The guy that I bought them from unfortunately polished the faces, so i think I will reinstate the original finish and change the wheel hardware whilst I'm there.

    Wheel specs are 18x8.5 +37, 18x9.5 +42. I am considering having custom outer barrels made for the rear to make them a touch more aggressive. I'll fit them up to the car first and see how clearance goes.

    I am currently looking at coils and control arms to compliment the wheels.
    lidz and MintZ32 like this.
  9. MintZ32

    MintZ32 Active Member

    Ahhh new born life, congratulations!

    Keen to follow the 3 piece wheel restoration, we really are following a similar path including looking at custom barrels made up :D
    Harts likes this.
  10. Harts

    Harts Active Member

    Haha, awesome! Are you trying for LM's again?
    MintZ32 likes this.
  11. MintZ32

    MintZ32 Active Member

    Haha I wish! You're almost up for a deposit for a house to get into a decent set of LM's these days :p

    I actually found some Rays Cerumo C5s that I'll need to restore and rebuild with new lips and barrels, but they're still on the boat from JDM land. I'm going out on a bit of a limb choosing these as I've never seen them fitted with tasty widths and offsets to a Z32 but hopefully it pays off ;)
    Harts likes this.
  12. Harts

    Harts Active Member

    Oh nice, I think we have already discussed my fondness for a Rays wheel, most of my mates were like: Here we go, TE37s again! Whilst they look cool on the Z32, I think the 5 spoke, 3 piece and deep dish suits this platform really well.

    Looking forward to seeing yours land and the wheel build. Are you replacing the rim bolts? I currently have a place called SRR hardware lined up but I would love to see some more options.
  13. MintZ32

    MintZ32 Active Member

    Couldn't agree more! 5 spoke dish on the Z32 seems to hit the sweet spot in my book as well!
    I really like the SSR SP1 look on the Z32 like I already have but can't deal with the fake copy wheel thing, as mine came with replicas...

    Those Veilside Andrews definitely take the cake on unique and JDM lust factor though :D

    We will need to compare notes on where to source some of the hardware I probably will replace rim bolts as someone looks to have rattle canned over the bolt heads on the rims I have coming, same with the centre caps because.... Well they don't have any :p I haven't looked into it too much yet but have a couple of places on Facebook that look promising such as "three piece Oz" :)
    Harts likes this.
  14. Harts

    Harts Active Member

    Ahh cool, yeah I really like the professor/meister look too, I was going to happy with the meisters I found (I have always wanted a set), but very happy with the Andrews. To be fair they are probably more period correct, but the caliper clearance is not as great as the meister.

    I'll have a look at 3 piece Oz, thanks for that.
    MintZ32 likes this.
  15. lidz

    lidz Well-Known Member

    Great update! Exhaust looks in pretty good condition actually, nice buy. Wheels are fantastic, suit the z32 really well & should look amazing if you do rebuild & go a bit wider.

    ztothebone and Harts like this.
  16. Harts

    Harts Active Member

    Thanks @lidz I will get them on the car and see how wide I can go . I think there is an extra half inch without too much trouble.
  17. Harts

    Harts Active Member

    Let's see what happens! [​IMG]
  18. MintZ32

    MintZ32 Active Member

    Ahh is this part of the uncertainty/impending doom?
    Harts likes this.
  19. Harts

    Harts Active Member

    Yup yup, 0 oil pressure at any time (as per the gauge) and laboured idle, so towed off to the shop for the diagnosis/fix. I really can't wait to find out what is happening hahaha!
  20. Dreilide

    Dreilide New Member

    I thought that Z looked familiar, I drive past it every morning on the way to work! Noticed she was missing lately :(.

    Have a similar idle issue with my slicktop (NA), actually had to give it some gas at the lights because it felt like it was about to stall, only happens occasionally though. My pressure gauge works normally and didn't notice any fluctuation during the idle drop. Haven't found the time to figure it out yet but hopefully its just an IACV issue.

    I'm also trying to keep my car stockish/OEM+ so will definitely keep an eye on your journey. Always glad to see another Z32 in Adelaide.
    Harts likes this.

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