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Twisted Images Bagged, Body Dropped, & Rotary Powered 510

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Hi all.  My name is Phil, and I've been on here for a while- even have another unfinished Datsun with a build thread somewhere (a 521 that's currently sitting on pallets above my office!).

 

This car fell into my lap several years ago, and I really didn't have time or space to deal with it.  My buddy Nate wanted a project, so off it went to his house.  These pics are from 2008:

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So, plenty of rust, lots of missing parts... but hey, it's a 2 door Dime, so it's gotta be worth saving, right?Hey- there's my little brother WagDatto supervising!

What a beauty, right?

 

After sitting at his house for a while, it went over to the West Sacramento WyoTech (he was an instructor there at the time), and he let his students loose on it.

The floors were cut out and rebuilt out of 18 gauge steel, a full roll cage was fabricated (through the firewall, tying into the strut towers), and the front and rear suspension was swapped out for narrowed 240sx parts.  This last piece was never finished, however, and the car ended up sitting at WyoTech for the next several years, even after my friend no longer worked there!

 

And it sat there collecting dust until January of this year, when WyoTech made the decision to close the West Sacramento campus, and they contacted my friend to either pick up his car or have it sent to the crusher.  He had moved on to other projects, and because I'm a sucker I borrowed a trailer and headed out to pick this sweet ride up...

 

...and here's how I found it at WyoTech:

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No wheels, no front suspension, missing the passenger door and driver fender... yikes.

 

Well, I already had the trailer, so what the heck.  They forklifted it on, I strapped it down, and off I went!

 

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I waited until my wife was at work to bring it home, so I could get some wheels under the rear, a furniture dolly up front, and my son and I got it posed in the garage:

I had a ratty door lying around, so at least there wasn't a gaping hole in the side!

 

Good stopping point for now- this is where the car sat until two weeks ago...

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I'm loving the graphics and cage.

 

Do you know of the race history of this car?

You might kick yourself for getting rid of this.

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Alright, sorry about that.  Real life takes priority!

 

So, from January until two weeks ago, the car sat in my garage.  Sometime a couple months ago, my friend came across a bunch of parts that had been removed at Wyotech- a couple totes full of tail lights, emblems, wiring, nuts and bolts... and the passenger door!  So, the only non-original panels on the car are the driver fender, hood, and cowl panel- makes the graphic package a bit more complete!

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My buddies Miles and Matt came over during the 105 degree weekend we had a couple weeks ago- I'm the guy with the pool, and I'm always happy to entertain.  While they were over, our conversation came around to project cars, and the Datsun in the garage.  Of course we ended up out there, kicking ideas around and daydreaming.  I honestly had no concrete plans for the car, other than to store it until my free time and budget lined up (so maybe never!)...

 

Miles stepped up to the plate and offered his garage and fab skills, and so the project begins!

 

First step was getting it out of my garage and onto his trailer- not easy with a rear end that's too wide for my wheels and a furniture dolly holding up the front crossmember!

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Got it loaded up, and here we are in front of Miles's house!

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I'll post pics of Miles's trucks another day- he's a nut!

 

Anyway, with the car unloaded and in his driveway, I began the teardown while Miles got started mocking up new suspension parts...

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Bitchin woody!! I had a bagged caprice wagon a few years back...

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Alright, here's where some fun pics start!

 

We're using an '89-'95 Toyota Pickup front frame clip, narrowed to match a stock 510 IRS.  This meant taking about 4" out of the center:

46.jpg52.jpgThere's still plenty of room for a 4 cylinder motor in between the frame rails.  If I decide to go with an SR (most likely), I'll need to figure out oil pan clearance to the steering and crossmember, but we'll get there eventually...

 

This IRS had been set aside for my 521 project, but I never welded it up to the frame rails, so I threw it together for this car instead. I had already cut the brake backing plates off the arms, so I guess disc brakes are in this car's future!

 

We laid a sheet of MDF on the garage floor to square everything up against, and laid the front and rear suspension assemblies in position.  The rear crossmember will sit 3" off the ground when the car is fully dropped.

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With the front and rear ends squared up, we cut frame rails out of 2x3 box tubing and laid them into position.

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While Miles started welding up the angled front sections to tie the rails into the front suspension, Matt and I started on the shell in the driveway...

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OK.

 

This went where I didn't think it was gonna go.

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58.jpgSo, here's the floor.  It won't work for this project, so it's gotta get cut out.  Those 2x2 rails under the cage won't be staying, either...

 

Here's how the rear end looked:

60.jpgIt was narrowed several inches from stock, but still way too wide to run any wheel inside the quarters.

 

We grabbed some Sawzalls and got to work!

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With everything cut out, we had a shell sitting on stands:

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Miles was just about done mocking up the frame rails, so it was time to set the body on it!!

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After test-fitting the body over the frame, we found more areas that needed cutting.  Out came the Sawzall and plasma cutter again.  We added a couple more tabs from the cage to the body just to make sure nothing moved around more than it already had...

 

As you can see, the rear inner structure under the package tray is pretty much gone.  Most of it was cut out before we to to it, but now the inner wells, shock towers, and floor are all gone.

 

Up front, the firewall was cut out for the wheels to clear...

 

Let me take a moment to mention that the wheels you see in these pictures are NOT staying!  Miles keeps these around for mock-up, and since my Hayashis won't fit the 5 lug front end and are too wide to clear out back (-2 offset), these will work for now.

 

With everything cut out of the way, here's how we finished the first weekend of work:

 

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The frame and body are spaced off the garage floor 3/4" by the MDF panel.  We still had to square the body and frame to each other, and weld brackets to tie them together, but at least we had a glimpse of where this was heading!

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Today we got back on the car.  Miles had already squared everything up, and started to put all of the steering components back on the front clip.  We had been cutting pieces of the firewall away initially, but decided to cut it fully at this point since not much will remain anyway.  I cut about 1/2" below the top seam, so it should be easy to put a new panel in later.

 

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We mocked up the front clip and welded temporary supports to it- it'll get framed up later.

 

Miles welded up the frame rails and brackets fully at this point to permanently attach the body to the frame:

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With this done, we put some temporary supports on the suspension to hold it up and rolled it out of the garage on four wheels!

 

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As you can see, the rear end goes WAY positive camber at this height, because it's set up so much higher than stock.  My ride height will be about 2-3" off the ground, so it won't be an issue.  The Toyota front clip actually doesn't change much in camber or toe, even at this height, so it should drive very nice.

 

After a good sweep of the garage, we rolled it back in, pulled the spacers out of the suspension, and...

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...here's where we are right now:

 

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So, from here, I need to design mounts for the rear airbags, we need to design and build the frame behind the rear axle, tie the front clip to the frame, and install the airbags front and rear.  From there it will be a roller, and we can move to drivetrain, brakes, steering, and finally a floor and firewall.

 

I plan to do NOTHING to the body.  It's rusty, but with a full frame and the cage it'll be plenty solid, so what the heck.

 

Wheels will be 16x7 BBS RS from a good friend of mine- they're coming from Japan, so I should have them in September.

 

I don't know the exact history of the paint/graphic scheme.  I was told many years ago that a Bay Area dealership campaigned a couple of cars in the Trans Am series, and this was a dealer-prep street car to promote it.  It looks like it came with a wood steering wheel and some sort of center console as well.

If anyone has more insight into the real history, I'd love to hear it.

 

I know some of you HATE the idea of cutting a car up like this.  But this car had a lot of structural issues, even before the WyoTech kids cut into it.  We've found rot everywhere, so I don't think this would have been a good candidate for restoration.  Combine that with the prior modifications, and I feel it was a perfect car to go this route with.

 

So, the low-buck stuff is almost done- now I need to decide how fast I want the rest to come together!  Might consider selling other projects to move this forward- we'll see!

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Thanks for the kind words about my Roadmaster!  I picked it up a couple months ago, and I love it!  LT1, 4L60E, 12 bolt posi... it tows better than my last 1/2 ton truck did, and still hauls 8 people!

 

As for comparisons to Ruby... well, they're both pretty far from hitting the road under their own power.  With this frame built, though, I can see a finish line in the distance- it's pretty far away, but not so far that I'm overwhelmed by it.

I feel really fortunate to know Miles and Matt- they're both great friends and keep me motivated!

 

I'll keep you guys posted- hope to have some good tangible progress in the coming weeks.

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Indy, new screen name?

 

How are you going to fit an engine in there without it sticking out the hood? Is there enough room?

 

Looking through this.. I started getting scared... then really scared.. then intrigued. Now I just have a bunch of questions.

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I don't mind the engine poking out of the hood, or even running without a hood. We'll section the pan as much as possible to keep it low, but whatever happens happens.

Initially I had planned on a normally aspirated SR20, but seeing this thing laid out in the garage makes me want a turbo. We'll see if the budget agrees!

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Hrm.. well whatever you do.. just get it back on the road. It's good to see people doing diffferent stuff. Indy probably has a internet woody for this thread.. You've gone this far, now you gotta go all the way. It's the rules.. its in the rule book... fur eels.

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Yeah, yeah. My truck was already unhappy about being on the back-burner for the last three years- when it sees this Dime come down to the shop it's really gonna be pissed!

 

I'll definitely make steady progress over the next few months. The cheap stuff will keep me busy for a while. It's when we get to the big spending on the engine that the car may have to sit a while. I've got some other projects that may get sold off to fund this one, though, so we'll see!

 

Thanks for the words of encouragement!

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Holy smokes! What an approach to your build! With the condition you picked that thing up in, you may as well go extreme with it. Look forward to more updates.

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This will be excellent when completed. Can't wait to see more progress, even if it's piddley stuff. :D

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Alright, here's something piddly.

 

The Toyota front hubs are a 2-piece design, so I can't redrill them to 4 lug to match the rear.  The 510 hub looks easy enough to redrill for 5 lug, though, so the hunt has been on for a set of appropriate wheels for this project.

 

A good friend of mine is a bit of a wheel whore (not a bad thing!), and came up with these for me:

 

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BBS meshies, 16x7, with a +33 offset.  Not as wide or dished as I'd really like to run, but they'll tuck nicely for now.  I can always re-hoop them later if I decide to flare this thing- we'll see.  They're coming from his warehouse in Japan, so I'll see them in September sometime.  I'll tentatively set that as my goal to have the suspension complete, and MAYBE have an engine/trans mounted in there...

 

More piddly updates coming soon!

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I wouldn't be so quick to assume that the 510 rear hubs will be easy to re-drill to a 5 lug pattern. I ran into this problem on my project, after removing the drums I found that the hubs were milled into a square. So unless its a tiny 5 lug, it may be hard without extensive work. My truck has turned into a 4 lug swap because of this. Those wheels are sweet! And look expensive so make sure they will work before u drop the cash!

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Nice save and it looks like a all around future fun car to drive. Sr was mentioned so planning to have a use for the roll cage after all lol lol jk That did you end up doing with that rear end?

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I'll look into it some more- I took a few posts on here for granted that mentioned redrilling the hubs, so I didn't scrutinize them while I had everything apart.

 

The 240sx rear end is sitting in my side yard- know anyone that wants it?

 

I'm still trying to decide on what engine to run, though. I've owned an sr20det, and I've swapped a few 510s with ka24s... I'd love to do an F22C since it's so clean, but the front sump would be an issue with my steering setup...

 

I'll just keep moving forward with the project and the right answer will present itself!

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