1979 Datsun 280 ZX

I decided I could not ride my 1979 Suzuki GS550 with a broken arm, so after 6 years it must be time to sell it!

I also had a Nissan Sentra to get rid of (it got crunched 01/01/99 4am, hit & run, never found the truck that did it).

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Put the Sentra in the driveway with a sign "$150 obo" (car still runs good). Many people looked at it, but 4 days later I still had it. Then a guy comes along and asks if I would trade for a 280ZX? I went & looked at the 'Z' and said ok, (the 'Z' was not running at this time) but it was late friday & starting to rain. We decided to do the deal saturday. Next morning (sat) he came by & said he changed his mind. He said 'the Z is worth much more than the Sentra'. Of course I had been thinking all night about how fun this 'Z' was gonna' be & not having any money to offer I asked if he would trade for my GS550. Anyway, I now have a 280ZX (1979) and no motorcycle. (The Sentra sold that night for $100)

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I spent saturday afternoon getting the Z running. First task was getting power to the car. The wire from the battery terminal to the car had broken from the terminal. I replaced the terminal and got power to the car, it would crank, had spark, but would not start. Gas gauge read 'E', so got the 5 gal can and off to 7-11 for some gas. Still would not start. The battery was given to me by my father, he had said it was a strong battery. The battery held up quite well, but the motor was not starting! The guy I got the car from had said "If it chimes, it will start". (The door chime, key in ign.) Anyway, I had the glovebox removed, right kick panel and some trim off looking for a wiring problem to the fuel pump. My wife got in the drivers side to check out our new 'Z' and was poking & pushing buttons when I heard the 'Chime'! I asked what she did, "I turned on the lights" she said. I said "See if it will start now". Sure enough, it coughed to life!!! (I now believe this to be a coincidence, but hey, it did start!) I think that the car had been sitting for some time, maybe years and it just took this long for the gas to get to the external fuel pump and through the injectors.

The motor smoked a bunch, ran lousy, but gave me hope. After about 5 minutes the smoke started to clear and things were looking up.

Sunday I went to Autozone and got new spark plugs. (Champion R12's, looks real HOT, the guy at the parts store said "It is a race car!".) Anyway, with the new plugs the engine runs smooth. I advanced the timing a bit and this thing runs REALLY good now.

I noticed the dome light was on saturday night as I was selling the Sentra. Took a quick look at things and could not find the problem. I disconnected the battery for the night. I looked for the problem again sunday, but still found nothing. I pulled both door switches, looked under the dash and found nothing. Looked in the book & found some relays under the passenger seat that are in the dome light curcuit. I disconected the battery again and decided to try again tomorrow. By the way, the chimes for 'lights on with door open' sounded anytime the lights were on.

Monday after work I removed the right seat (with the help of Brandy, my daughter (my right arm is in a cast)). Still could not find a problem. I removed the rear stereo speaker to check the wiring behind it. No problems found. I now went to the drivers side and removed the rear speaker, no problems here. I traced the wires from the drivers side to under the back seat. So now I (with Brandy's help) removed the back seat.

I had now found the problem. The wire loom is melted where it goes over the hump in the middle of the back seat. The foam rubber of the seat is burned from the heat as well. It was not the wires that got hot, it looks like the heat came from under the car. When I get a look under the car this weekend, I'll post what I find. Anyway, I was not able to make the splice, so I cut and taped the wires for now so things are ok, but no dome light when I open the drivers door.

8/9/99 I got the air conditioner working today. The v-belt was missing, so I had already bought one at the parts store. The first thing I checked was the idler pulley and found the bearing was bad. I took this as a good sign as any other reason for not having a belt could be very expensive! Anyway, I removed the pulley (the balls fell out of the bearing when I removed the nut) and went to Nissan for a bearing. Nissan told me "The bearing is not available. The pulley is $86.00."! So I went to Pueblo Bearing. The person I showed it to said "we don't sell pulleys here". I asked him if he could measure the bearing and look up the part number? Another person overheard and asked to see the pulley, took 1 measurement and told the first guy "Go get a 203". Anyway, the 'VERY COMMON' bearing cost under $7.00! (less than 10% of what Nissan wanted). I took the pulley and bearing to my father to help me install the bearing. (Remember I have a cast on my right arm). I was able to re-install the pulley and install the belt and I now have COOL air in the car! Things are looking up...

8/19/99 My friend helped with the wires today. Spliced new wires over the hump in the back seat, so now the dome light goes on when I open the door. And the 'Chimes' only sound with the door open! (The chimes did not work when I had the wires cut.)

The thing most needed now is the hood repaired and painted. I think I will have to wait a while for this as I expect it to cost about $200.00.

11/15/99 Went to the court house and had my name removed from the title. Now the car belongs to my soon to be ex-wife.

My ex-wife sold the car after she drove it for about 6 months.

This is the end of the 280ZX story...


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This page copyright Steve Renfrow 1999, 2000

First date 08/06/99

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Last rev 11/08/03