280zx engine swap/restoration | The Z Club of Great Britain
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280zx engine swap/restoration

Discussion in 'Hybrid Z cars' started by bazpantsphil, Oct 16, 2018.

  1. bazpantsphil

    bazpantsphil New Forum User

    Hi, my dads just bought a 280zx off ebay in need to restoration, after seeing a 260z on a show with James May and Damon Hill and a 510y on wheelerdealers and impulsively buying one which needs a lot of welding to the floor, and restoration to the bodywork which he would be looking to get done local to us, but although a recommendation on where to get it done would be welcome

    Its a 2.8 n/a and has been sitting at 117k miles for the last 10 years so it hasn't been driven.

    Its a 1982 model so it will still need to go through an MOT and get road tax until 2022, which it should do once everything is complete.

    One of the ideas that I have had as this is all being done, is for an Engine swap and my dad is onboard as well. We don't mind just using the current engine which runs at the moment, but is not very powerful out of the factory and is not in the best shape.

    Posting on a general car forum I was told to use an RB25det and just keep the car all nissan, and ive been put off a v8 build. I would still be happy to go for a 1jz if the overall cost of the build and amount of work required would be the same, and it would be better in the long run.

    i've looked for engines online and found RB25dets on JDM garage and ebay for between 2100 and 3800
    • The lower being for a normal engine.

    • A NEO engine for £2500, which i've read has stronger internals

    • An engine and gearbox package for £3750

    • Also there are 1jz engines between 1650 and 2350

    Would it be best to buy the rebuilt engine, or go for a cheaper engine and get it rebuilt. Is there a better gearbox to go with the engine, or the the package worth going for? Or is the NEO engine the one to go for. A 1jz does look cheaper to buy so would still be open to it.

    Ideally we are looking for around 400bhp, but the option for more may be ideal as well in the future. Would the rebuilt or NEO engine be better for this, as i've read that the standard engine has weak rods, and issues with piston rings, or would it be better to just use the standard engine to start with and get it rebuilt. What else would be needed for the swap? Is there a better transmission to use, or should I look for the one that came with the RB25

    One of the issues, is that that we would need the work done by someone as neither myself, nor my dad are capable of carrying out the work ourselves so we also need to find someone to carry out the swap. in an ideal situation, we want to be able to take it to someone, and get the engine for them to drop in but I don't expect it to be that easy. I live in Warwickshire and would ideally look to get any engine swaps done nearby, but its not too big a deal to get it trailered throughout the UK if necessary considering its going to cost a lot to get done anyway.

    The car would need to remain as a manual, and I believe it has powersteering and would still want that for it to be easy to drive. Ideas on suspension and brakes would be good as well.

    I'm also not a fan of the rear taillights, and like the ducktail spoilers i've seen on some of the cars. I like the tail lights on the older 240z/280z or even the z31, so I would like to change that as well. Would it be a straight swap?

    Any advice would be appreciated
  2. johnymd

    Z Club Member

    I love the 1jz. Especially in near standard form. Good easy mods include tubular dump pipe/down pipe and Brian Crower 264 cams, and boost increase to 1bar. This should give you just over 350hp with no lose of drivability. I ran my car like this for over 5 years and it was a joy to drive. I then went single turbo and aftermarket ECU which added another 150hp but the car became more temperamental and then unreliable. Keep the factory ECU for as long as possible and you wont be disappointed. RB engines all seam to be more fragile, especially when moded.
  3. bazpantsphil

    bazpantsphil New Forum User

    Your car looks amazing, especially in that colour, I just followed the link to your site. Did you change the gearbox as well or keep the stock one?

    Where did you source the engine from, and did you carry out the swap yourself, or have someone do it?

    What issues did you face when upgrading the turbo and ecu in relation to reliability, and was it worth it?
  4. Albrecht

    Albrecht Well-Known Forum User

    You might well be biting off more than you can chew here. All the engine/drivetrain questions are neither here nor there if the very structure of the car needs serious fabrication. S130-series Zs are not very well catered for by the aftermarket and replacement panels/unibody sections are few and far between these days.

    Not to be overdramatic, but you might well be on a hiding to nothing with this base car. It's possible that a donor LHD car - or even a decent RHD car from Japan - might cost less, take less time and give a better result in the end.
  5. johnymd

    Z Club Member

    I purchased a complete running Soarer than I used as a daily driver for a few months. It was already a manual with r154 gearbox. I did the conversion myself which was quite straightforward. If your good with welding and fabrication plus you understand how modern engines are wired then it should be no problem.

    As Alan has said, you need a solid rust free car before you even consider the extra strengthening that may be required.
  6. bazpantsphil

    bazpantsphil New Forum User

    The restoration to the bodywork was really just requiring a new coat of paint. The body work doesn't have much rust, there was a bit around the edges of the doors, but the reason the floor needs the welding done is because it looks as if its been done previously to a poor standard.

    The engine bay is in good condition, but the engine doesn't run very well. The welding is going to be done first, and then wax oiled underneath. What kind of extra strengthening would be required?

    And is there a a garage in the UK that has some familiarity with these kind of engine swaps to get it done?
  7. Chappers

    Z Club Member

    I have a 1983 280zx 2+2 I am breaking with very good floors as well as other areas which could be useful for repairs if you are interested?
  8. niroshann

    Z Club Member

    I am running a stock NEO25DET with a matching manual box and a taller than factory 3.7 ratio diff (skyline came with a 4.1 diff). I haven’t upgraded the suspension or gone to an LSD. If I was looking to increase the power of this engine I would have to tick off all those other boxes to make the car safer and driveable. The 280zx is lighter than the car the RB came out of and so you might find that you don’t mind what you get in stock form. If you want to stick to a Nissan drivetrain then, based on my limited experience to date I would suggest trying a stock NEO DET setup and then deciding where to go from there.
  9. bazpantsphil

    bazpantsphil New Forum User

    The car that I have bought is just a 2 seater and not a 2+2. Would it be possible to use it in mine?

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