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The Roadsterstein Rust Rocket build thread!!!

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Well, to start off, I figure a little background information on me and the car is in order. I have quite the story! but it is a long story, so you can skip ahead if you wish.


My first car was a '89 300zx which my dad and I did some mild restoration work on (body work and paint, mostly, Dad is not much of a hands on guy) and that car spawned a love of Nissans. I drove that car through high school and tortured it in almost every way a teenager could. I ran it out of oil, raced it, slid it, nearly crashed through a fence, and was very hard on it in general, but it never stopped running, and ran well the whole time (didn't knock, tick or anything!). I sold the car a few years ago and it is still alive and well, as I have had several friends tell me they see it on occasion in a nearby town.


Because of that car though, I became a huge Nissan fan, and soon went about collecting anything Nissan related that I could get a hold of. One of those things was a video the history channel put out, "History of the Nissan Z." In the video, there was a brief part about the roadster. They showed a few clips of roadsters being imported, and moved on. Well, as soon as I saw that car, something stirred inside me. I thought "Wow, I had no idea Nissan made such a cool car!!! Why have I never heard of it before?!?" I swore right then, that if I ever found one, I would buy it. The roadster effectively became my dream car at that moment.


Fast forward a few years, and I was on craigslist looking at Z cars, purely out of boredom. I entered "datsun" in the search bar and hit enter. As I scrolled down the listings, something caught my eye... "1969 Datsun Roadster---$500." I was stunned! I had never seen a roadster in my life, and therefore, I assumed they were insanely rare and unobtainable! I couldnt believe I could find one at all, let alone for $500. I immediately e-mailed him, trying hard not to sound desperate. I e-mailed him 3 more times, franticly trying to get my affordable dream car. He never responded. I was crushed, thinking I had let a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity get away, but at least I knew they existed! For the next 2-3 weeks, I was checking craigslist like an addict, waiting for another car to come up. Finally, two cars popped up at once, and I swore I wouldn't let another one get away. A tan '69 2000 that was only a rolling chassis with no interior, and a silver '68 1600 in Colorado Springs (about 110 miles away). I drove to see the '69 first. It was missing everything, and by now, I had done some research on parts availability so I knew how expensive it would be to replace everything. The good part was the body. It looked like someone had started to restore it but abandoned the project. It had new paint, and a very straight body. (The car had been sitting for 10 years, so I guess the paint wasn't really "new.") Since the car was missing almost everything (and when I got there I learned it also didnt have a vin plate, let alone a title,) I walked away. Time to drive to Colorado Springs I guess!


So, this is when my adventure really began. The picture of the car was very grainy, but it looked really nice, and unmolested. I talked to the owner over the phone, who was a very nice lady. She explained that the car had been at a shop for the last two years, but that it ran beautifully. She went on to tell me someone had stolen her soft top off of the car, so it had no top. The suspension was also worn out, but the car was drivable. The interior she said was in good shape other than some rips in the seat... no big deal, I expected some wear on a 40 year old car! So a friend and I decided to drive up, hoping to return by driving the car home. (Remember, it "runs well!")


I actually found the original picture from the craigslist ad:



When we got there, I was astonished... The car looked nothing like the picture! It was the same car for sure, but im betting that picture was taken 6 years before. The car had no top alright, and had been snowed in, and rained in for quite some time. The car was full of leaves, above the seats! The dash was so cracked there wasn't much left of it, however there was a broken dash cap behind the seats. the seats were definitely "torn", in fact there wasn't much foam or vinyl left on them. In fact, when you sat in them, something sharp poked you in the butt. All four tires were flat, and weeds were growing around the axles... One weed had managed to grow between the seam of the hood and the bumper, making the car look like a giant planter! It was taller that the car, too, which spoke of how long it had been there. I thought to myself, "No way does this heap run... if it starts at all, I will be surprised!" So I turned to my friend and said "If it runs as well as she says it does, I'll buy it... but there is now way thats gonna happen!" Well, I should have remembered how robust datsuns are, and when they are that abused, they will do funny things to get a good home...


After a few shots of starting fluid and jumping the battery, she fired right up! I was absolutely astonished at how well the car ran. It idled well, revved up nicely, and sounded great. (On very bad gas to boot!) It looked like I hadn't made as safe a bet as I had thought! So, we let her idle while we filled the tires with air, and took her for a spin to the gas station to give here some fresh food. As I put it in reverse and started to back out, I could hear the weeds tear free from the axles. The car hadn't moved under its own power in years, but it felt like it wanted to go. The brakes still worked, and even locked up with enough pressure. The turn signals worked, and so did the brake lights (although they did get stuck on sometimes.) The whole trip to the gas station was great. (By the way, this was only the second roadster I had ever seen... and the first was just a shell!) This was a totally new experience. I had the wind in my hair, a wonderful burping sound coming out of the tail pipe, and people were staring at my soon to be "new" old car! The car was posted for $1700, but considering the poor condition, I talked her down to $1300. When it came to signing the title, however, I learned her title was void as it had been written on already. DAMN! Well, I swore I would own a datsun come hell of high water, so like an idiot I told her I would take it for $1000, and give her $300 when she sent me the new title. (This never happened, but luckily I had a friend who could get titles, and ironically it cost me $300!)


So, my friend and I began the 100 mile trip back home in my newly acquired 1600. Only 3 miles in, we learned the headlights didnt work. We spotted an Autozone, and pulled in to buy some bulbs. After replacing the headlights, we learned a new problem... they STILL didnt work, and neither did the driving lights... so I guess the bulbs were okay, something else was wrong! Without proper tools, and running out of daylight, we bought two LED flashlights, and some duct tape... yes, I am serious... but what were we supposed to do? after a quick "installation" of our new lights, we hurried to get on the highway. Remember when I said it had no top? Well, mother nature decided to test my conviction with a nice downpour...


After 100 miles of fake headlights, no speedo, and a cold/wet... everything, we made the trip home. The motor ran like a top the whole way, and never over heated. It was actually extremely fun, as hard as that is to believe. I had a HUGE ear to ear grin the whole trip. I would do it all again in a heartbeat!


That was two years ago, and a lot has broken/been fixed since then. I will show you the whole process the car has been through since then, and will then keep this thread updated from now on... so, enjoy the ride!

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so, lets pick this story up from the day after bringing my baby home. I spent several long hours cleaning the disaster of a car i had brought home, and this is what i uncovered... i really wish i had taken pictures of it before cleaning it, or better yet, as it sat in its "grave". oh well.







(i covered the gaping holes in the seats with foam anf duct tape, to save my poor rear...



this is with the cracked dash cap on that was in the back. way better than the original!



how do you like the "breather"? ghetto, but at least i didnt do it!




after all of this cleaning, i was able to take a better look at the pile of worn parts i called my car. i discovered the car had been hit in the front at some point, and there was a tremendous amount of bodywork trying to conceal this. in addition, there was a small amount of rust, (repairable, but...) and enough dents and dings the whole body resembled the surface of a lake, with all the ripples and waves in the metal. well, i did know where i could get a straight body...




so, for about $400, the guy with the '69 2000 delivered his car to my house. and as an added bonus, it had a new looking hard top, and a rusty soft top frame! whoo-ho!


here is the top, finally on the car after being topless for god knows how long...




now for some fun... the car went under surgery nearly every day for a while...



I thought these were some of the smallest shocks i had ever seen...







quick rattle can paint job, trying to tie in the tan top, while covering up some exposed metal on the car before it rusts... total spent: $6


then i meet a guy with a '67 1600, and he happened to have a soft top sitting in his garage. it was covered in overspray and had a few small rips, but he only wanted $50. after some cleaning, the overspray came off, i welded the rusty/bent frame i had back into shape and I had a soft top!






the same guy had a center console, but it was pretty rough, so he gave it to me. I worked my magic, and it came out looking like this:




then, i spent some time cleaning up the engine, and used an air cleaner housing i found in the 2000 (the old one was off something else. thats why the car had the crappy breather. it also didnt match the filter, and let crap get past it! dont ask why a 2000 had a 1600 air cleaner box laying in it...) I also did a quick tune up.






This got the car to a somewhat acceptable condition, but the real work was still ahead.

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at this point, the carbs started acting up... it wouldnt idle lower than 3k rpm. I had absolutely no idea how these carbs worked, so i decided to buy a donor pair off of e-bay for $25, and i bought a cheap carb rebuild kit. I pulled the donors apart, and used them to figure out how the SU carb was set up. then, i was off to rebuild mine/cannibalize the donors for any parts i needed.






unfortunately, it didnt work. i did discover the old needles were so worn they were actually round, and had corrosion of some kind on them, so it wasnt totally fruitless! after studying the donor carbs some more, i discovered the problem--- the choke was stuck! easy fix... i pushed the lever down and shot some WD-40 on the cable. it still works!


well, it was time to address the super loose steering wheel... seriously, it drove with the steering response of a bus. I knew that wasn't right, so i jacked it up to see how bad the suspension was. after a quick shake down, i found out i was lucky to be alive! the wheel had about an inch to an inch and a half of play in it, both vertically and horizontally!!! the tie rods were totally shot, and so was EVERY SINGLE BALL JOINT. yes, boys and girls, that means i had exactly zero good parts in the front end! to top it all off, the upper a-arms would shake back and forth about a half an inch... no kidding. I dont know how someone would even go about driving a car long enough to cause this much damage, and not have the suspension just fall out at some point! so, e-bay provided some used tie rods and a center link, all for $50. sure beats $800 to get all those parts from Dean! and i called Dean to get all the boots i needed to switch all the parts over from the other car. (thankfully, everything was good and tight!) so, here are a few shots from that process:






unfortunately, i didnt get any pics of the newly painted a-arms and ball joints. I blacked out the fenders with rubberizer at the same time. looks great, but let me tell you, that wasn't the best part... holy steering response, batman!!! now THIS is how a roadster SHOULD feel! its a sports car again!!!! 0_0 by far the best improvement i have made so far!


while i was in there, i discovered the wheels that were on the car rubbed a brake line (the sticky wheel weight did, anyway) so they had to go. plus, i learned they were actually not the same wheel! i had 2 of one kind, and two of anouther. they were close enough you could barely tell, but different nonetheless. so, I bought some new ones!







I had to clearance the rears a bit to make them fit. since i plan on using the other body anyway, i gave the 5lb sledge a workout. unfortunately, this only flung giant pieces of bondo off the car, but at least now the wheels fit!


this improvement prompted me to address the brakes. the car has always veered to the left a little when i hit the brakes, and a new sound started coming from the rear. pumped up and feeling invincible, i decided to rebuild everything! i ordered my kit, and confidently pulled the front brakes apart first. I disassembled the front calipers, and found this...







this last pic is after cleaning and honing it out... needless to say, they were totally f***ed. and they leaked, after reassembling them. well, i guess i aught to see what that small sound from the rears was... (please note, you could barely hear it, and only under the right brake pressure. otherwise, they were silent.








that was a SMALL sound!?!?!?! how????


I used the '69 again, and threw the slightly worn but infinitely better shoes and drums on my car as a temporary fix. unfortunately, somehow between pulling it apart and reassembling everything, one of my brake cylinders began to leak... well, more like puke fluid. so, now 3 out of 4 of my brakes leak, and i am worse off than before...

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time for a serious upgrade. after discovering the huge cost of putting the stock brakes back together, i decided it was more worth my time to put all new, serviceable modern brakes on. so this is where i am now! here are all of the parts, as they arrived this week!






unfortunately, the other z32 caliper was subject to some jerk who ground the nissan emblem off and when they did that, they also ground off the bar that the nissan emblem is on top of. so, i am sending it back! rock auto isnt very pleased, claiming it "wont affect the functionality of the caliper" and they "cant guarantee the new caliper will say nissan on it." well, rock auto can suck it, because i am not going to trust a BRAKE caliper that someone took a grinder to and removed huge amounts of material! plus, i want that "nissan" lettering! here is what it looked like:




the front brakes are the '90 nissan 300zxtt calipers (aluminum!), and the rears are off an '82 200sx. I also have a new brake master cylinder from a '78 280z.


I am using the Spriso kit to convert the front brakes, but for over a week, i havent heard back from Spriso. I have money waiting for them, as soon as they contact me! I still havent ordered the vented discs for the front, as i am waiting on spriso. I will keep you updated on that as it progresses!

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well, immediately after posting this, I was e-mailed back by spriso. Michael tells me they are currently out of stock of the conversion kit, and it may be months before he has them back in stock... great. i have had plenty of adventures during this whole process, i dont need more!


well, i figured i would make a list of repairs i have done to the car, as i missed a lot of the things i have done...


-Miata seats

-fixed glove box latch

-bought rollbar (needs modification to fit under my hardtop)

-fixed headlights and re-wired them to use the relay instead of the switch

-fixed/rewired reverse light

-fixed speedo... only to have it brake again

-replaced fuel pump

-repaired throttle linkage

-polished all the chrome

-repaired the knobs in the center console

-replaced the fuel lines and installed a see-through fuel filter (it didnt have one!)

-replaced the brake master cylinder (although it will have a new one again!)

-replaced fuel cap (it had a weird rubber plug, and it fell out, lol)

-fixed the door since the hinges were worn out

-attached a 520 "D" emblem on the front for some "bling"


there is a lot more, i just cant think of it....


anyway, here is next years project! time to update that old tired engine!!!




KA24E complete with ECU, wiring harness, 5-speed transmission, MAF, etc... $150!


I will rebuild it with some light mods and i hope to produce around 150whp. we will see, but no matter what, it should be a far cry from the R16. plus, it will start in the cold without hesitation! stay tuned...

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Cool car!


Great story!


I'm glad you are in Colorado!




You will need to get together with us Colorado guys. Denveratsun (Kya) is the person who seems to keep us all organized. He is having a car show at his church in Denver on Memorial Day (Monday 5/31/10). You should try to make it. I plan to bring the MX520! :D


I'm sure he will chime in soon.

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Cool car!


Great story!


I'm glad you are in Colorado!




You will need to get together with us Colorado guys. Denveratsun (Kya) is the person who seems to keep us all organized. He is having a car show at his church in Denver on Memorial Day (Monday 5/31/10). You should try to make it. I plan to bring the MX520! :D


I'm sure he will chime in soon.


man, i would love to get together with some other datsun fanatics! the car is finally getting to the point where i can trust it on a long trip. unfortunately, i dont have any brakes at the moment, and i am not sure it will be ready by memorial day... i am going on vacation the week before memorial day... however, i am pushing HARD to have the car up and running this summer so i can make it out to as many events as i can!


and to Fisch, i was astonished i didnt get pulled over going down the interstate at night with only flashlights! we even passed a few state troopers! to make matters worse, one of the flashlights burned out on the way... so yeah, it was quite the adventure!


Thanks for the comments! i will keep this thread updated to the best of my ability!

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well, i got my e-brake cable for the rear brakes yesterday, and I ordered a new front caliper. I have decided to paint the calipers red and polish the "nissan" word.


the brakes are going to look way too good for this car, so after seeing a few amazing rattle can paint jobs online, i have decided to repaint the car. I plan to paint it bright red, and lay down way more coats than last time, and i will do a much better job sanding it down and doing bodywork. This time I will also color sand as I go along. The goal is to make the best looking paint job i can without spending much money. I think the bright red paint with the tan hardtop and gold wheels should look great! If anyone has any suggestions on what paint works best and holds up well over time, let me know! (just remember, im using rattle cans. eventually, i will do a proper paint job, but that will be on the other body. this will just get me by until then!)


I used duplicolor touch up paint from Autozone last time, but didnt lay down nearly enough coats, or do a good enough job sanding it. I have used duplicolor paints before to get amazing results, but it took 8-9 coats:






that is a 1960's ItalJet Mini Bambino motorcycle. 50cc baby! I have owned that motorcycle since i was 3 years old. I recently did a pseudo restoration on it (without ANY part support, there is only so much you can do...) It is incredibly rare! It is my pit bike, and its perfect, because it fits on the back shelf on the roadster. just to give you an idea of scale!!! it almost fits in the trunk! (yes, i actually ride it... its pretty funny, as i am 6'1")

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ugh, how hard is it to get a damn brake caliper???


I just went down to advanced to pick up the new left front brake caliper to replace the mutilated one, and what i got was a cheap knock off that doesn't have the Nissan script. I had them send it back and order a new one. the box even said in big letters "O.E.M. Original equipment remanufactured." can you say false advertising? I have lost a fair amount of respect for Cardone after this fiasco. wish me luck on round 3!!!

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the non turbo calipers were designed for narrower rotors and had a smaller bore size. they also said "nissan". the calipers they shipped had the right specs, but looked different and had no nissan inscription. it is a major bummer! supposedly the new ones will be here on wednesday. with any luck, they will be rebuilt oem... and not mutilated! I will keep you all posted.

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Well, I made some progress on the new brakes today! I cleaned up the old caliper mounts (the new calipers did not come with any) and here is what i ended up with (the calipers are the donors for the mounts. the nice one is a new caliper with a cleaned up mount attached):










the pictures also show the differences between the '82 200sx caliper and the '85 caliper. the new ones are for an '82. the e-brake is very different between the two of them. I am glad i ordered the '82 calipers, as i have an '82 e-brake cable! should make things easier.


so, after cleaning both of them up until they looked brand new, i have started painting them. I am using Duplicolor Caliper paint, it is a brush on kit. looks even better in person, the red is very bright and rich...




they take 3 days to cure, so i wont reassemble them until they are fully cured. they are dry enough to handle in 3 hours, but i have noticed if you follow those directions, sometimes it leaves fingerprints. I want to play it safe after all that work!!! unfortunately i wont be able to install them for a couple weeks, as i am going on vacation, and the rear brackets are not done yet anyway...


for kicks, i cleaned up and installed the horn button from my parts car. it has the rubber ring, and my wheel did not. it is also larger by a small amount... does anyone know what year this button belongs too?



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you have no idea how excited i am about this. I went to Advanced Auto Parts after making the last post just in case the caliper actually arrived on time. I was totally expecting another wrong/messed up caliper... but i opened the box and found a nice, OEM aluminum caliper with "nissan" across the front! I literally yelled "whoo-hoo!!!" and threw my arms into the air. after 3 calipers, 2 stores, about 2 hours on the phone with Rock Auto, and shipping calipers back, let me tell you; it was a relief.



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  • 2 weeks later...

Nice looking car. The wheels do make a huge difference.


Thanks! Its coming along slowly. I am a poor college student, so money and time always hold me back. (plus i work at wal-mart, so i am hardly wealthy!!!) so right now, i am focusing on making the car mechanically reliable rather than pretty. the wheels were a functional repair as the old ones were miss-matched, and corroded to the point they leaked air. plus, the tires were dry rotted and the wheels were grinding on the brake lines... i knew i wanted upgraded brakes, and i hoped the nice wheels would distract people from the sorry state of the rest of the car... looks like it worked!!!


this thing is a true ratsun roadster!

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  • 4 months later...

Sorry I haven't posted anything for so long, I have been really busy with other things. This may be off topic, but I wanted to show you guys what I have been doing since my last post, and I assure you the Datto is next in line on the to do list.


I restored my Mom's old '83 Yamaha XT200 dirtbike, which she had since it was new. She gave it to me a couple years ago, but it is too small for me to really be able to use, so I sold it to my cousin, who is just learning how to ride. Before selling it however, I brought it back to its original glory:



Me riding it in the mountains. This is a "before" pic.



Tearing it down and sanding it. My little brother is helping with the process.



The gas tank after painting and applying decals. I just used a rattle can, and put about 12 coats of paint on it.



Finished product!!! It looks so good!


After selling it, I needed a bike more suitable for my riding ability, so I bought my Dad's old ATK 440 (american made dirt bike!)


This is the "before" picture. I took this pic immediately after riding it home. (It didn't make it though, and broke down. Long story...)



After cleaning it up and fixing it... for the second time. (facepalm)


I decided it needed more style, plus I can't leave anything stock... its a habit of mine to change things once I buy them! Here is what it looked like after many hours of work!



After all that work, I got to play!



I am planning on beginning the brake swap (finally!) next week. Look for updates! I unfortunately lost my job last week, and as unfortunate as that is, it means I might find the time to actually work on my baby. Hopefully despite the bad economy, I will find work again soon! Wish me luck!

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I have made massive progress this weekend! I have the rotors on the hubs, repacked the bearings, and the calipers are mounted and painted! I also installed the firewall brace, and test fit the new master cylinder! Then, I removed all the ancient brake lines, and decided on how to route the new ones. I am going to run the rear brake line down the left side of the car as opposed to the right, and I will run the front line into the left fender well where I will mount a T-fitting to split them. I like Spriso's idea of cleaning up the brake line mess! WOW, are there a lot of lines going back and forth on the firewall! They are a pain to fish out, too. Not to mention several of them were stripped, and all of them were seized. I'm pretty sure they were the factory brake lines!!! Based on how they look, I would say some of them haven't moved since the car was new, too... I will have pictures of everything hopefully tomorrow. I'm pretty excited!


Stay tuned!

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As promised, here is a brief update!




New studs, quite a bit longer! Good thing too, because my wheels will require a spacer for them to fit now... I got a 5mm spacer on order, so no big deal I guess. I was hoping I wouldn't have to do that though!




The bolts I got from Fastenal to mount the rotors to the hubs were about 1/4" too long, so I had to massage them a bit... Saved me from having to get new ones, so thats always good!




This image is practically pornographic to me! Those brakes are downright sexy now! I can't wait to see how well they work!




My first attempt at running brake lines! It took about 4 attempts to figure out how to get a good double flare, but part of that was the fact that the tool I loaned from Advance Auto was a major POS. I put two kits together to make it work halfway well! I also covered the brake lines in rubber tubing, since it is in the wheel well where it could be pelted with rocks. Brake lines are seriously tedious! I spent about 4 hours making two lines, but of course a lot of that was just learning how to do it! Sorry the picture is so blurry, my phone takes awful pictures. I will try to snap some better ones later!

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  • 6 months later...

Well, it's finals week, which means I will have free time again soon! In the next couple weeks, I should hopefully have the time to wrap this project up and get her back on the road for some fun summer trips! I am sorry it has taken me so long to update, I have been incredibly broke in both a financial sense and in the sense of free time. I have to do a bunch of maintenance work on my DD before I can finish the little car, but I still need to have those damned rear brackets made, so hopefully they will both be finished at about the same time. In the meantime, however, I made this little picture to both inspire me, and also just to show off my handiwork. :)



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