Well now, here's a project that didn't quite go the way I expected...
After I sold the '83 280ZX, I wanted another Z car bad. I didn't necessarily want another 280ZX, and I
wasn't a fan of the Z31 bodies. I could not afford a Z32, even though I tried to buy a '91 red twinturbo
after I sold the 1988 Mustang that had plagued me with all kinds of self made problems. All I had at
the time I bought this little Z was the Thunderbird and a parts car Mustang, so another car made sense
to me - sort of.
I found this Z for sale the night that some friends and I went to the Dallas Z Club the night many of the
club members picked up their new 350Zs from the dealerships across DFW. It was a hot summer
night in September of 2002. Mad Mike was there. We took rides in the new cars and it was a pretty
awesome night. The club gave out fliers, and the fliers had some cars for sale listed on the back. Once
of the cars was this little Z right here. First generation Z cars at the time were kind of hot, Jerry sold
running first gen cars, 240s, 260s, 280s for a premium, and I decided that they must be desirable. Why
was this little so cheap at only $600?
When I went to go get it, I found out. I shudder to think of it to this day - the damn sunroof .On the
beautiful lines of that little car was the most hideous, leaky aftermarket sunroof disaster you've ever
seen. It totally ruined the natural beauty of the Z. Plus, it had the wonderful '78 crash bumpers on it
that extended the car what seemed a foot in either direction. Also, it was carpeted with house carpet.
Regardless, it ran, and it sounded decent for that paltry $600. I bought it from the second owner and
Cody trailered it back to my apartment in Fort Worth from old Avenue K in Plano.
So, now in December of '02, I'm a Z car owner again. The first thing I did was start talking to the
various bodymen at my work about painting this car. At 22 years old, you're invincible and have no
real idea or clue about what it will take to make such a basket case to look good. I was full speed ahead
on this deal. I started buying all kinds of parts from Motorsport Auto. I bought wheels. I bought
carpet. I bought seals and seats. I bought Nissan's own B17 Daytona Blue paint. What I really needed
was a new roof. That didn't stop me form taking the car apart and rendering it undriveable - a decision I
The reason for that was because the little Z would take a quick backseat when I had to purchase
another garage at the apartment and store the parts car Mustang. I had to get it out of the barn and the
apartment was the only place I could keep it. I made the decision to go ahead and build the Mustang
and complete the 5.0 swap I started a few years prior. As I alternated between projects, I did manage
to go and find a suitable replacement roof. At some point in 2003. a technician and I went again to
Jerry's place in Kennedale and literally used a sawzall to cut a roof from a wrecked Z. With a roof
purchased, it took another year before I got the Z to the shop and cut that freakin' sunroof off.
After the new roof was welded on in September of '04, the car looked like a Z again, but I was still very
far away from getting the car to paint. I needed to remove the godawful bumpers and the rear bumper
was going to be a tough challenge. The finisher for the rear bumper was welded below the tail lamp
panel and Nissan designed the rear body to accomodate the large shock absorbers that held that
monstrosity in place by making two very large holes in the rear. The technician who did the roof work
allowed me to relocate the car to his own garage and he began the metal work in the rear. Life happens
quickly from that fall of '04 to the fall of '07 when you blow a Mustang up, it gets wrecked by your
brother, you buy a beater Camaro to get around because your Mustang is busted, you buy that Z32
you always wanted, then you get married, you trade in the beater Camaro and 300ZX for your 350Z,
fix the Mustang, you get a job promotion or two, and you forget about the little Z - which is what I did.
You remember the little car when you find it like I did, alone, derelict at a shop I didn't expect to see it
at, getting wet in the rain. All those plans, all that hope and work, meant nothing. The car would have
been better off if I had done absolutely nothing to it.
I rounded up Jon and Cody and amidst a sunny January day in 2008, we brought the little Z to Keller
on a trailer after addressing the flat tires it sat on in West Fort Worth, Texas. That day, we put the
doors and fenders back on the car for the first time since 2004. The Nissan battery I bought for it new
when I got was shot. The fuel pump was seized. On a cold night later that month, Chris and I got it
rattle some windows as it ran for the first time since 2004. That it ran at all and the electronics weren't
shot is a small miracle.
After a few more moths, I relocated to a permanent shop and mashed the gas. I spent a whole day up
there sanding the Z for its last coat of primer. That night in late spring of 2009 , the B17 finally went
on the Z. It truly was a work of art.
Over the next few nights, I began reassembling the Z. The new carpet that was now seven years old
went it, the seats was bolted in finally, the trim and new glass was re-installed. The front bumper
bought from ebay the previous decade was attached by purchased some customer fabricated brackets
and now the 240Z look erased the memory of the old crash bumpers. I went with a single mirror and
the Grant D-shaped wheel replace the worn out factory job. The rest of the wheels were installed and
then finally, after all this time...
The 280Z came home.
I eventually sold it after a year or two of having it stored in my garage at the house, to a good person
and great owner who's going to make it even better than what I did to it. I was pleased in the end that
my vision for the car eventually was realized, but it certainly was the long way around to get there.
After it moved under its own power again, it was time to take her from her temporary home in Jon's
garage on a trailer and revisit that paint situation. I talked with yet another technician, and plans moved
forward on finally finishing up the body work started so long ago. That day started early and ended
late into the night in West Fort Worth as more got done that night than in the four years prior.