So you got an early Z......

Welcome to the Z Club!  You now have a reliable sports car that is easy to work on, fun to drive and beautiful to behold!!!

As a new Z owner, the most important information to know is that there are lots of resources available on the internet for free.

If you take advantage, these will help you keep out of trouble and do things right the first time.

Internet support

Online Forums
Why rebuild the wheel?  These forums contain posts by thousands of z owners who are doing or have done what ever you happen to be doing to your Zcar. This is the best resource for getting instant help and tips from real people. Their support, wisdom and experience will make every job easy. Typically to access a forum, you go to the web site and sign up. You are then free to post your questions. A key point to remember is that 99% of the people on the forums are as enthusiastic about a Zcar as you. They are friendly and keen to help you out.

! An often unused resource on any forum is the search feature. It allows you to see if others have already asked the same question you are about to ask. Usually for every question you have, there are more that a hundred related items that are found in a search. These often contain the answer you need.
example: here is a search of's 240z-280zx forum for "best spark plugs"

Parts Suppliers
Obtaining parts for an older Zcar is not very difficult. There are between 10 and 100 suppliers of new or refurbished Zcar parts on line. Some are even Nissan/Datsun dealers. Most of these parts are "stock" but there are still lots of aftermarket upgrades available.  As well, there are even more used Zcar parts dealers on line. Some online sellers mail catalogues that have valuable drawings as well as parts and prices. These catalogues are useful to see if parts from different years will fit on your car... simply matching the same part number is all you need to do.
victoriabritish motorsportauto danny's zfindings

Finally, classified ads such as those associated with Zcar web sites or Ebay can be sources for new and used parts. (Usually Ebay prices are too high so shop around before bidding).
examples: Zcar ebay

Zcar Documentation
There is very little copyrighted Zcar documentation on line. However you can easily buy Zcar books on line via typical sources such as,, etc. The standard books people purchase are service manuals by Haynes, Chilton or Clymer. These offer good basic information to help you work on your Zcar but they are not always able to provide enough detail for all models or areas. A highly recommended book is the Factory Service Manual (FSM) for your model year. It is published by Nissan and covers every nut and bolt of your vehicle. Usually you can pick them up on Some Nissan dealers also supply the manual on CD.
examples: Amazon Ebay FSM FSM-CD

In addition, there are hundreds of books on rebuilding and modifying your Zcar. Searching "Datsun", "Zcar", "240z", "260z", "280z" on Amazon will find them.

Scanned Nissan microfiche is available on line. It is a great resource for seeing exploded drawings of parts. It also includes change history, and more importantly, part numbers. If your local Nissan dealer is like mine, chances are, they won't be keen on taking out the microfiche machine. Having these numbers in advance makes it easy. 

Z car web pages
There are thousands of Zcar owners all over the world who have Zcar pages. These are great resources... especially for getting ideas for paint schemes. To find these pages, simply go to a search engine such as,, etc and search the web for "Zcar" or "Datsun" or "240z" or "260z" or "280z". You can also go to a Zcar forum such as and checkout their links page.
example: google search for

Zcar ring
A Zcar ring exists. It is simply a large group of Zcar web pages that are hyperlinked to each other.  A control panel on the home page of each site lets you navigate through the ring. It lets you browse but stick with only the Zcar sites that are registered with the ring.
example: Zcar ring

Z magazine
There is no online Zcar magazine but there is a home page for a printed magazine called Sport Z Magazine. Some issues have snippets posted.

Z Car Clubs
Almost every area has a Zcar club and these clubs usually have a web site. If you do not have one in your area then it is time to start one!  Most major Zcar Clubs around the world are formally associated with each other via the Zcar Club Association. You can search their web site to find a club near you.

General Information

Turbo Information

Renovating a Z
By now you must be overwhelmed to learn you have so many resources at your disposal. But probably, your are like I was; sitting there at the computer with a new  Zcar in your driveway that you want to spruce up and don't know where to start. Here is a quick over view of the systems followed by some standard items to check:


  • engine block
  • head




  • alternator
  • voltage regulator
  • fusible links
  • fuse box
  • lighting
  • wiring



  • distributor
  • coil
  • spark plugs
  • spark plug wires
  • ignition unit
  • switches and relays



  • radiator
  • fan
  • fan clutch
  • thermostat
  • water pump



  • springs
  • struts and inserts
  • sway bars
  • compression rods
  • ball joints
  • control arms
  • rubber insulation bushings


drive train

  • transmission
  • clutch
  • fly wheel
  • drive shafts
  • differential



  • steering rack
  • tie rods
  • steering column
  • steering wheel



  • panels
  • unibody



  • electronic fuel injection system
  • carburetor
  • gas tank
  • gas lines
  • gas filters


  • callipers
  • rotors
  • drums
  • cylinders
  • lines
  • emergency brake
  • brake booster


  • wheels
  • wheel bearings
  • wind shield washer
  • air conditioning
  • seals
  • glass
  • gauges
  • interior trim
  • lubrication system

Usually it is best to get your Zcar up to scratch first before even thinking about performance enhancements. It is best to evaluate your Zcar then prioritize your path towards improvement based on safety, ease of doing and cost. For instance, if your engine is leaking fuel, or your brakes don't work then these should be priorites. Below is a list of common first tasks in no particular order. Doing the ones you deem fit will certainly make your Zcar safer, more reliable, and more fun. You can easily farm these tasks out to most garages but it will cost you money and deprive you of gaining important knowledge. As well, if you do these tasks yourself, you will be more familiar with your car and itimately become one with it. My personal opinion is that many mechanics don't have a lot of experience with older Zcars so giving them your car to work on can be a gamble. If you do it yourself, you can be certain more care and thought is taken. As well, it is easier to live with your own mistakes than with the mistakes of others... especially when you paid them!

Metric Your Zcar is constructed with metric sized nuts and bolt (and hoses, and screws, and clamps... etc). Thus, it makes sense to invest in metric tools AND take extra care when buying items like nuts and bolts and hoses to ensure proper fit. Incorrect tools or components will result in things like: stripped threads, leaking gas or manifold hoses, broken bolts, unfinished jobs, etc.

Typical tools required

Diagnostic tools

It is recommended that you keep a journal and record your work and test data. This will allow you to easily bench mark performance and back track if needed. Digital photographs are also great. Especially before taking parts off.

Tune the car (sorry this is EFI related only, as I have no carb experience)

  1. debug any obvious problems (make sure all systems and gauges work and check for vacuum leaks)
  2. read plugs and exhaust, record results and install new plugs (NGK BP6ES-11, ZFR6FIX-11 1.0-1.1mm gap)
  3. install new plug wires, dizzy cap and coil (NGK NE-61)
  4. replace air filter and pcv valve
  5. check battery and replace if needed
  6. check oil and change oil and filter and oil pan plug
  7. check coolant level, pressure test and flush
  8. check brake fluid and flush/bleed
  9. check clutch fluid and flush/bleed
  10. check compression and record
  11. check manifold vacuum and record
  12. conduct leak down test
  13. clean all electrical, sensor, fuse, fusible link, computer and EFI contacts
  14. check gas and gas filters drain tank
  15. replace fuel filters
  16. check fuel pressure and record
  17. adjust valves
  18. check compression and record
  19. do EFI system diagnostics
  20. top engine clean and throttle body clean
  21. replace oil and filter
  22. check compression and record
  23. tighten anything that is loose
  24. replace transmission and differential fluid (Most use Redline fluid)
  25. change water pump
  26. change brake pads, shoes
  27. balance tires and replace if needed
  28. wheel alignment
  29. have radiator, brake and exhaust systems inspected by specialists
  30. Re-torque head bolts
  31. Re-torque manifold bolts

Improve Performance
Once you get the car to a known state of reliability and stock performance , then you can start tweaking it:
(btw at this point you will be very familiar with the car and be capable of making good decisions on what you want to do with it)

  1. adjust mechanical and ignition timing
  2. adjust fuel/air mixture via AFM
  3. buy light performance stuff: (air intake, headers, high voltage/multi-spark ignition systems, etc)
  4. replace brake lines with stainless steel ones
  5. replace front rotors with Toyota 4X4 rotors
  6. replace brake booster with larger unit
  7. replace alternator with larger unit or one with integrated voltage regulator
  8. upgrade fusible links to fuses
  9. replacing head with a ported one

If you are looking for tons of power, you may think about dropping a Turbo ZX motor in. This job is pretty much plug and play. Others have dropped Chevy small block 350's or even LT1's.

If you want handling performance, look at upgrading the sway bars, getting better shocks and springs and replacing all the rubber with polyurethane bushings (they come in cool colours too). Check for prices. Sway bars, bushings, springs and strut inserts will cost ~ $1200. Many also install coil overs.

Certain year Toyota 4X4 brake four piston callipers are direct bolt on replacements for early Zcar 2 piston callipers. This is an economical upgrade to do.

If you want looks then look at body panels. MSA sell a variety.

For improving the drive train, you can upgrade clutch. It is important to note that you can  swap transmissions and rear differentials between most Zcars. The different gear ratios can help in performance (higher gears for more fuel efficient cruising or lower gears for seat of the pants acceleration).

My experiences:

  1. Lucas Oil additive helps with my older engine. I get ~ 5psi more compression.
  2. Timing Chain Mechanical Advance helped too. I got a sense of more power ~ 5psi more compression.
  3. Cleaning all electrical contacts helped idle and higher revving.
  4. New coil helped idle and higher revving.
  5. TB cleaning, air filter and new PCV valve gave piece of mind.
  6. AFM adjustments gave more power.
  7. TPS adjustment smoothed out acceleration from 1500to 5000rpm
  8. Ignition timing advance gave more sense of power.
  9. Brake/clutch bleeding and flushing helped improve operation.
  10. Valve adjustment resulted in better performance
  11. Re-torqueing head resulted in more pep and better performance and higher compression ~5 psi
  12. Top Head clean resulted in smoother/better engine performance and higher compression. ~5psi
  13. Disassembling, cleaning, greasing and reassembling throttle linkage made pedal feel/work much better.
  14. Tightening manifold bolts quieted engine and stopped small exhaust leak.
  15. I used Redline fluid MT-90  transmission fluid and it was night and day. Unbelievable improvement in shifting.

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