Project Description

  • John Tyler 280z
  • John Tyler 280z
  • John Tyler Datsun 280Z Rebuild

Jeff has been instrumental in helping me live out a dream that started with a Z car when I was sixteen years old. I am not a racer. I do not plan to be one. However, I love Z cars and I always wanted to build a classic Z car the way Datsun could have but never did off the track. Jeff took his time teaching me the ins and outs of suspension, braking, engines and how to build a true high performance street vehicle that I could drive every day. He is a master technician, a superb mentor, an incredible driver and I recommend him to anyone looking to add performance to a street car or planning to campaign a full blown racing machine. He will tell you what you need to hear and make sure you succeed!

We started with a 1978 280Z with 63,000 original miles that I purchased from the original owner’s estate attorney in Loveland, CO.  The car was in almost perfect original condition.  I toyed with the idea of keeping it bone stock but after many discussions with Jeff and because it was not an original 1970 240Z with innate collector value, we laid out a plan of action that fit my budget and time frame.  Phase 1 involved upgrading the brakes with stainless steel lines and vented Wilwood discs with four piston calipers all around.  The brakes were supported by Eibach springs, Tokico Illumina adjustable struts, Suspension Techniques sway bars front and back, urethane bushings, a urethane steering coupler, Panasport racing wheels with Yokohama S-Drive tires, Momo pedals and a Momo Competition steering wheel.

Once the car handled and stopped correctly we embarked on Phase 2: the engine overhaul.  Jeff completely disassembled the existing motor.  The cylinders were bored .030″ with flat topped pistons installed.  The crank was balanced, the head ported and polished with a new cam, valve springs, rocker arms and lash pads.  The fuel injection, air conditioning and existing exhaust system were completely removed and replaced with Triple 44mm Mikuni Carburetors breathing into a Cannon intake manifold.  Jeff fabricated a custom heat shield to deflect heat from the ceramic coated 6 into 1 headers below the carbs which exited through a custom 2.5″ free flow exhaust and a Flowmaster muffler fabricated by Bud’s Muffler Shop in Denver.  With the street cam the new motor produced 187 rwhp at 5,200 feet of altitude with a completely smooth and consistent power delivery at all ranges of rpm.  A more aggressive cam and some more tweaking would certainly yield even more raw horsepower.

Phase 3 was really my first experience rejuvenating the interior of a 40 year old car.  All carpets and all vinyl were died or repainted to repair sun fading.  All interior surfaces except for the roof were coated with a sound and heat shielding aluminum backed adhesive insulation.  The seats were completely rebuilt with new cushions and covers from MSA. We also had a custom SCCA approved roll bar installed to stiffen the back end of the car and to prepare for future track days.  Except for the roll bar and the Momo upgrades the interior looks completely stock.

Phase 4, if there ever is a final phase with a classic car, should be my last.  The heavy and protruding 1978 style bumpers and shocks have been removed.  An MSA urethane air dam has been fitted to the front and a set of original 1972 style bumpers will be mounted once the holes have been filled and re-chromed by Denver Bumper.  The holes and indentations in the rear body work of the car shall be completely removed and repainted to match the original champagne gold.  Perhaps it will finally be done sometime during the summer of 2013.  Then, I can start cleaning up the original 1970 240Z occupying the garage bay next door!