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The Greengoon Build Thread 2.0 // Refresh


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I had never created an actual build thread for my goon. A lot of the modifications I did before I found Ratsun. I've got plenty of photos and such scattered throughout Ratsun but I thought I'd put everything in one location.

It all started back in early 2002. I had a few projects before, including a lowered and shaved '86 Dodge Caravan and a 1963 VW Notchback that I put 4 wheel air shocks on, but I hadn't had a project for a few years while my kids were babies. I was itching to get another car but didn't know what I wanted. Talking with my lifelong friend and Datsun-aholic Lawrence (BRE510). He of course pointed me toward Datsuns. I decided, being a dad of two young kids that I wanted a wagon. 510 wagons weren't nearly as popular back then. I wanted a car that ran well so I could concentrate on modifications and still drive it, unlike the VW, which ran but I never registered.

After a couple months of internet searching, I found a green one up in Seattle. It was in great shape, low miles, but it had a worn out black vinyl top. At first, I was kind of disappointed and thought I wanted to get rid of the vinyl but it quickly grew on me. I talked to the owner, Leigh L'Heureux, off and on for about a month before I flew up to drive it home. He told me he had driven it 30-40 miles at a time but was unsure if it would make the 850 mile drive back to Salt Lake. Leigh picked me up from the airport in his 240Z. The wagon was his 'dog bus' and I still have the chewed up rear door pull as evidence. I drove the wagon around the block and I was set. We did the deal, he pointed me to the interstate and I started the long drive home. 16 hours over 2 days. No radio. No problems at all. The 4 speed was a little noisy (still is) at highway speeds but I did 65-70 all the way home. And got about 30mpg!


I bought the goon with 76,000 miles on her and from what I can tell and have been told, I believe they are original. It looks like the car spent its entire life in Washington. Originally sold to a gentleman from Bellevue on 7/31/72 from Sam Younker Motors, Inc. in Renton. It still has the service sticker in the door from Barney and Al's Chevron in Bellevue.


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Now for the modifications :D


First thing I did was to flip the turn signals inside the fenders while I was waiting for my Ground Control adjustable coil overs to show up. I don't have a lot of early pictures of it back then. It was pre-digital camera era for me.


I had a friend of mine with a band saw cut my stock struts as Ground Control suggested, then I welded them all back together. Tokico shocks and 175lb Eibach springs. Front was done.


The back I experimented with. Having had a couple mini trucks in the past, I promptly pulled some leafs and made my own 3" blocks from 2x3x5 tubing and had u-bolts made to size at the local spring shop. Got it to sit right where I wanted it but of course but of course the bumpstops were in the way, so out they went. I think the pumpkin is pretty close to touching the floor in this picture. 185/70/13 tires.




It was perfect… except for the not being able to drive it part. Since the rear shocks were shot anyway, I took some measurements and went and got my first set of air shocks. These worked great and now I could drive it and air it out when I wanted. This ended the first wave of lowering. I have better suspension pictures later when I took it apart to get it lower.


On to the sunroof:

I ordered a 35x40 canvas sliding ragtop from Street Beat Customs. I originally wanted a full length sunroof but I did not have the budget at the time. Turns out, it is probably for the best due to the structural integrity of the car. This seems to be a good size and the back seat passengers still have a good view of whatever is above. I have always liked sunroofs so this was a planned modification from the very beginning. I was going to do it on any wagon that I bought. Turns out the vinyl top just made it look even better.




I scraped off the old vinyl and carefully removed the trim pieces. I can't imagine trying to find these factory pieces. I cut the hole with some air nippers which worked really well. I fixed some rust in the back hatch and top. Primed it with some left over tinted blue primer and drove it a few miles to the upholstery shop. The shop used a GM pattern vinyl and did a great job. I had the shop pull the old windshield and toss it. I drove it home about 4 miles without a windshield. That was a memorable experience. :lol: When I got it home, I had a new window installed and then I finished the sunroof install.

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Here are some details about the sunroof: Its manual and is slid back by hand. It works better to grab it in the middle so it stays centered on its tracks. Not too difficult. You have to gather it as you go. I try not to open or close it while sitting at a light. It latches in the center and has two safety latch things on the side to keep it from lifting at speed. The opening is about 28" wide by 26" deep. Pretty simple design. Street Beat still makes them and I've been very happy with it the last 8 years.







The car has the original headliner. I slipped a few times trimming it to fit so its not perfect but it fits the character of the car. On really windy days, the sunroof creates kind of a buffetting in the interior. It could probably use a wind deflector like new cars have but it hasn't bugged me enough to fabricate one. As long as I leave the windows down when the roof is open, it works well.







The roof only leaks when the car is being washed. The canvas hangs over the opening so as long as the water is not sprayed in horizontally, it stays dry. Scrubbing and rinsing the canvas usually gets me a few drips on the front seat so i just put a towel there and solves the problem. I have driven and let it sit in pouring rain and it does not leak.


The only problem I've ever had is that just recently the nylon busing that rides in the aluminum track stripped out so that now the top can raise up while driving. I fixed it with a bungee cord and I'm going to modify a metal nut and fix it so that it won't happen again.





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I always wondered how you mated the sunroof and the headliner together, like doing away with the bows.


I have thought about doing a "glass top" for a moon roof. Like a panoramic roof in the new cars. That currently is just a thought though.

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...Oh, I forgot to mention that I shaved the antenna holes before I had the vinyl top put back on.


Now that I had the top done and the suspension sitting the way I wanted it, I started looking for wheels. I started learning about the odd offset issues that come with the 510 wagon. I was pretty much on my own, being in Utah and completely unaware of any trends, other than a little bit of exposure from the Dime Quarterly. I liked Panasports and MiniLites but being cheap, I was scouring Ebay for something cool, cheap and that fit.


Then I found an auction for Infinity M30 wheels that had an hour left, $50 starting, no bids and to my surprise was in Logan, Utah which was 90 minutes north of me. I bid, won and the guy even delivered them to me since he was coming down near me. So I bought him lunch.




They were cheap enough so I figured I'd get them and if they needed adapters, I'd go from there. Well, they fit just perfectly. 15x6.5 +25 offset. Cleared the strut and the fender. So I cleaned them up, painted them (they were originally a goldfish paint) and had Federal 195/50/15s put on them. I had to have the tire store re mount them because they did not notice that they put directional tires on directional (2 right and 2 left) rims.






So now the car was pretty dialed in for the moment. Lowered, check. Sunroof and top done, check. Wheels, check. I was having fun driving it around and even took it down to a general car show in Moab- about 3.5 hours away. Other than the alternator going out, everything was working well. I even drove it to work sometimes...


Well that's when this happened



A woman in a minivan decided to back up. I was way behind her and assumed she would see the green car. She kept backing up and by the time I realized she was headed straight for me I couldn't get it into reverse fast enough. I was honking and yelling and she crunched right into me. Worst day of my life. :sick: It was May that year so there went my plans of having fun with my car that summer. I have Hagerty insurance and they were great. They took care of the claim right away and got me a good settlement. I had a friend with a body shop pull the damage. I ordered a used fender online and fixed it myself. It still isn't perfect. I came out ahead moneywise but I would have rather it not happen at all.


This started the next phase of modifications. Wrecks always do :) I got the '69 grille from eBay as well as the H4/E1 light combo. I was really lucky because the hood and bumper were fine. The big, bulbous, stupid Dodge Caravan bumper slipped right between the two. I don't have any pictures of the repair process.


After I got it all back together again, I think that's when I started on the next step of the suspension… stay tuned!...

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Oh, one more thing before I get too far away from the top. I've always called the vinyl top "factory" to let people know that it originally came with the Datsun and was not a modification by me but someone at JCCS this year mentioned that it was probably a "port addition". It was added after the car arrived in the states. I have only seen a few wagons with vinyl tops on the internet and am really curious as to how many of these options were produced? Does anyone have any idea on numbers?


All I know is that the quarter panel and hatch trim pieces would be extremely hard to find I'm guessing. I'm just happy mine are in great shape.






On to the front suspension. In the quest to be "moar lowar" I pulled out my struts and started to think of how I could gain more drop and get rid of that pesky fender gap. A local metal supplier has round cut pieces in various thicknesses. I got a 6" diameter x 3/16" thick plate and found a pipe with the exact inner diameter as the outer diameter of the stock strut bearing. Cut that pipe about 3/4" tall and welded that to the 6" plate. Drilled 3 holes in the plate and pressed (read BFH) the stock upper strut bolts into the new piece. A hole in the center for the strut cartridge and I had new top hats that are 1" shorter than stock. I don't have actual pictures of them out of the car but here is a rough drawing of what they are:





I still don't have any camber adjustment so in the future I plan to remedy that. I really like what Joel has done to his tower:



I do have a set of RCAs but I have not yet put them back in. I'm hoping they will clear my Rota RBs as they put the lower control arm to close to the Infinity rims so I removed them. The car would definitely benefit from them as my lower control arms are quite angled. I'll have the RCAs machined if I have a problem. They are on the to do list.






Now I was able to twist the coil over perches all the way down to get maximum drop for show. The tires would tuck great. I could bury the 155/80/13s but the 195/50/15s rubbed on the fender and I still had another inch I could go. I flattened the inner flange and pulled the fenders a bit. That helped but I still wanted more. The front tires looked proportionately too big.


This really was evident when I got the back done: (I'll get to the back soon, I promise)




I thought about using skinny 15" drag tires but that would mean different rims and the side profile was too high for my liking. I thought about this for a long time, doing searches and getting really good with tire size calculators. Back when tire stretching was just starting, I saw a VW Rabbit with 165/50/15s and I thought that would help but I could not find that size tire in the states. Forward a few years and I'm back on VW sites looking for ideas. That's when I found out about Smart Car rear tires. 175/55/15s had the same sidewall height as 195s but were 20mm less in width and gave just enough stretch to let me drop that last 1". I can drive at this height and it just rubs a little at full turn. These are used eBay specials Continentals but this size is getting a lot easier to find now which means lower price. :D





I think that about wraps up the front suspension. The rear is a little more complicated...

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To get the back lower, I originally thought about a 4 link. I looked at mini-truck kits and universal parts and custom building from scratch. In the end, I decided I just wasn't experienced enough to try and get it all to line up and function properly and at the time did not know where to turn for advice. I decided to go the tried and true direction of leaf spring modification.


I started with the front spring hanger. I cut the sides off of the original and made a couple of 1/4" plates that were the same size. Drilled the mounting holes and welded the original sides on to the new piece which resulted in a good 1" of space saved. I don't know how much drop I got from this, I was more concerned with clearance. I had a slammed '93 hardbody at one time and this piece was the lowest part of the suspension and had always hung up on things while driving.


I "borrowed" this stock shot of the hanger from Just Joel's Little red wagon build. Thanks, Joel :D




And this is how my mod turned out: (gee, I didn't know my nuts were so rusty)




Then I took the spring packs out and took them over to a local company called AAA spring. This is also where I get my U-bolts made. I had them de-arch the spring packs 1.5" which cost me about $25 total I think. They put them in a huge press and then all of a sudden they don't have as much arch. It makes them less stiff but the air shocks help restore the spring rate to them. Along with the 3" blocks and the front hanger modification I estimate the car is down at least 5". I never took stock measurements so I can't say for sure.


This picture shows the small rubber bumpstops attached to the metal frame nugget.




These were quite hard when the rear end came down on them so I recently replaced them with a set of bouncier rubber stoppers that came from my '71 Hilux. I cut the nugget off to mount these so I have the same clearance but much cushier when the axle comes in contact with them. I can also drive around at low speeds, aired out on these and still have somewhat of a ride. This is my preferred ride height. About 40-50psi. I will put more in it and raise it up if I'm carrying people or a load.





I was a little worried about carrying Lawrence's cooler over So Cal roads on the cruise to JCCS 2010 so I aired it up to 100 psi in this shot. I didn't need this much at all for the load or the ride but it helps me clear obstacles when the front is all the way down. This just shows the full range of the rear suspension.





When I went lower, I had to replace my air shocks with some that were even shorter. I went down to my local Checker and consulted their shock book. I picked out the smallest eye to stud shock they had. Not sure what car it was supposed to be used on but it fits mine perfectly with good lift and travel and does not bottom out. They are Monroe Max-Air 48756. I ran two separate air lines so the air does not mix and handling improves. I just have two schrader valves in the corners of my rear hatch area and I fill them manually with a cigarette lighter powered compressor from Harbor Freight. Someday I will get an air management system but it hasn't been a priority.


EDIT: The old Monroe part number stamped on the shocks does not seem to work anymore. I pulled up their mounting length specs pdf and went over the list. I remember that it was the shortest stud/eye shock I could find. Looks like it is probably the new part number of MA756 with a collapsed length of 10.25" and extended of 16.375". If my memory serves me correctly this is the right length. I remember them being 2 some inches from stock. The stock shock is MA805 which is 12.75" compressed. Hope this helps.




I've redone the exhaust a few times to get it to clear the axle. I've done that in my garage as well. I just go to the local auto parts store and buy some angles. Get it all to fit under the car and mark my joints with a sharpie, pull it all out, weld up the joints and slide it back in under the car and use one clamp to attach it to the original header piece. I'm pleased with the latest layout as it clears everything and doesn't rattle.


Now that I had the suspension slammed appropriately, I got some cheap 155/80/13 and 185/80/13 white walls to go with my hubcaps for the stock and slammed look. I've always liked this look and run it occasionally for a change. (Ignore the huge exhaust tip… that was a failed attempt and it is long gone :lol:






I will get to the tunnel surgery next... :D

Edited by greengoon
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Dwayne I love those shots of the stock and slammed look! :thumbup:


Looking forward to some tunnel modification myself, one of these days.


If you were to do on-board air would you have an air tank in addition to a compressor, or just the compressor?

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