Our Cars- Datsun 240Z Update

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I know I haven’t given an update on my 240Z in a while, so I thought I’d let you know what’s up with all that. Let’s start out with it’s new hood. Well, it’s not new exactly, I pulled it off a ’74 260Z in a Sun Valley Junkyard, but it sure looks better than the dented oldness, which if you’re in the mood you can reminisce about after right the jump.

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Yeah, that was messed up. Not only was the hood pushed in, but the inner hood frame had been damaged, pulling the welds out at the mount and cracking the fiberglass of the right-side sugar scoop.  The new hood lines up perfectly and I will be replacing both the fender, the scoop, and the headlight bucket (so much rust there!) once I get around to it. I also have to take the front blade bumper off and have it dipped and re-chromed owing to some surface nastiness there. That’s a lot of fun to have to undertake here in California so I may take both bumpers down to Tijuana to have them renewed. And yes I do have both the rubber inserts and NOS guards for the front.

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One bit of dumb design that the early Z exhibits is in the electrical system, specifically the lighting. These cars have 4-segment tail lights, one of which serves as the back-up lamp, and all the rest do communal duty as running light, brake light, and turn signal. That makes for a rather complicated wiring system to get the lights to do the things they need to at the proper times without making the car look like a pachinko machine. They did it by running the brake lights through the turn signal switch and the hazard blinker switch, both of which are old school mechanical and prone to wear.

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Fixing these switches means disassembling them from the car and then further breaking them down to get at the little rockers inside that serve to make the various connections. This is a chore as the switches are contained on circuit boards held in place by a set of pot metal tabs that don’t appreciate being bent and un-bent over and over again. So far I’ve had to do so three times to get in and adjust the angle of the dangle on the physical switch which has four separate connections – one for each corner – for the signals, and another pair for the brakes.

DSCN2962Cleaning these, then carefully bending the connection arms and applying dielectric grease to the rocker ramp, is now something that I can do in my sleep. Re-soldering the connecting wire because it has popped off due to age and my monkeying with the unit is not however, and yes I had to do that too. These switches were installed in the 240Z from late ’69 until, I think, August of ’71. After that Datsun decided to separate the turn signals and brakes and all later cars have a much simpler (albeit similar in appearance) switch. That makes these extremely hard to find in the yards, and decent ones go for big bucks on places like eBay. That’s why I dig into mine to fix it rather than replacing.

Still, the car runs great and is a blast to drive. It’s not just a fun ride however, it’s also rewarding to get into and do all the things necessary to bring it back to life, and eventually to reasonably good shape. That’s the joy of having a cheap classic, it’s something that gives you the experience of ownership with at least a little break on the cost, and a car that you don’t mind driving to Cars and Coffee every once in a while. In fact, I might just do that this coming Saturday. 

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Images ©2014 Hooniverse/Robert Emslie, All Rights Reserved

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