In my last post I led you up to why I picked a 240Z and how I came across mine. Now that the car was home I wanted to get started right away. The plan for the build was strip the car all the way down and start fresh. At the time, my wife and I recently bought a house with a barn. I was enclosing the barn (soon to be my shop) at the same time.
So I started the tear down on the Z. I had no idea what I was about to uncover on my little $1,700 240Z. I did know there was body filler on the car. The car had been repainted and the rockers were painted black. The rockers being painted black was a dead give away that some rust repair had been made. I completely expected all of this. What I didn’t expect was how bad the car was. Every time I took a body panel off the car, the over all condition looked worse. It really sunk in when the car was stripped. I had quite the project ahead of me.
Now that the body/chassis was bare, I really wanted to get a fresh start. I contacted my good buddy Fernado at JPN Garage to media blast the car. He’s built some killer JDM cars and an insane 260Z that broke the internet. We were both curious what lied beneath the yellow paint.
The phone call… About 2-3 days later Fernando called me to let me know the car was ready, or what was left of my car was ready. I vividly remember Fernando saying “Have you seen the new Mad Max movie that just came out? This would have been a perfect movie car.”. Insert sad face emoji with gun to his head. So I hitched up the trailer and made my way to JPN Garage.
So how bad was it? Bad. Really, really, really bad. Bondo sorcery had been done to the car. We were dealing with a professional Bondo wizard of sorts. He laid 3/4″ of body filler on the roof with no cracks! There were so many patch panels that were held together with wood screws, tack “welds”, rivets, and fiberglass. The only Mad Max car I could see it being was one that exploded and left for dead. My mind is still blown to this day. At the time I was still hyped on the car. Screw it! I’ll bring her back to life.
The plan was to make a wooden dolly, take all of the suspension off, and get the Z in the air to make working on the car easier. I started cutting and cutting and CUTTING. The floors, mid frame rails, and rockers were the worst. I uncovered at lot of hidden rot and some really shotty work. The depression was sinking in. It was just too much work. This was not what I signed up for.
How was I going to build a track day car out of 40+ year old swiss cheese scrap metal? The answer was simple. I wasn’t. Structurally the car was a hot mess. A and B pillars were hanging by a thread, frame rails were shot. I think I let the car sit for about 6 months untouched. I didn’t want anything to do with it…
I needed a new game plan. A refresh. It wasn’t practical to restore the car. The car I wanted to build in my head had changed. Same car, just a different vision. Any restoration shop would have just scrapped the car and I probably should have done the same. I wanted to build a purpose built race car. That ment I needed to get my tool game and shop on point. The car in my mind couldn’t be built with an angle grinder and a Mig welder. I need to bring in the big guns. So I bought a Pro Tools 105 HD tube bender, Hypertherm plasma cutter, Everlast Tig welder, built a solid fabrication table, and some other “do the job right” tools.
This also ment I needed to build a serious dolly/jig to build the car off of. I needed a solid and very square starting point. I borrowed some ideas from the JD Squared frame dolly/jig. Looking back on the chassis, the dolly/jig was the only way I’d have the car that I have today.
So I mentioned I had a new vision for the car. I was going to build a full-blown race car now. There was no restoring the 240Z. I wanted to test my fabrication skills and push my racing abilities. I wanted to race to the clouds!