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DATSANITI - '80 210 Wagon VQ35 Swap

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G35 wheels. 17x7 with 45 section tires and they look a little goofy on such a small car. I would prefer 15 inch wheels, but the G wheels are free in the budget since they came with the donor car. 5x114.3 which is also Ford pattern, so I am keeping my eyes open for the right deal.

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The paint is dry so I put the subframe up under the Datsun. It's pretty easy to do alone and the bolt holes/dowels still line up.


The rear is at the intended height. The front...not so much. From my measurements on the G35, the front needs to come down about 3 inches. 


Probably because the front of a stripped-down Datsun weighs substantially less than a midsize luxury car (curb weight of 3,300 lbs vs 2,080 lbs). Once the ride height is correct, the UCA should almost hit that dark metal part of the Datsun. There is a plan there involving more metal fabrication. But first, let's see how close lowering springs get us.


Removing the front struts is pretty easy on G35's and 350Z's. Just jack up the front, unbolt the top strut studs, unbolt the UCA from the chassis, let the spindle swing out, and unbolt the lower part of the strut. You don't even need to remove the tires, but they will be left hanging at goofy angles like a cartoon car.


Hmm, angle grinder marks. A sure sign of a Midwestern shock replacement job. Notice how the threads look new but everything else is rust. That means these shocks are definitely not original, and probably still have plenty of life in them.


I took them apart, removed all the rust, and touched up the paint.


Then I installed the lowering springs. A little degreaser and armor-all go a long way to cleaning up all the rubber isolator and boot pieces. Looks practically brand new to me. Hopefully these springs lower the front the 2" they are advertised for. Then I hope adding hood, fenders, radiator, interior, and bumper weight will bring the front down the rest of the way. Only then will I resort to coil chopping.


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Got the front lowering springs put back together. I still need about 1" lower and I doubt I will add enough weight back to do that. Also here is the hood and front fenders on. Not only do I need massive flare, but the wheelbase is slightly stretched. 

If you're reading this and near southern Indiana, I'm hosting "Fender Flare Friday" at my garage! PM for details




Don't mind the front bumper. It will be replaced with a "tucked" modified version of the original Datsun bumper. But right now the front end is so flimsy it's probably holding my geometry together.

Also check this out. The Datsun and Infiniti share the same location for firewall harness hole. They're almost the same size too!


Before we get too excited about flares, I have a real problem here. Any amount of travel is going to crush some Datsun.


I cut a window only to find this clip is filled with insulation. 


After some careful odd-angle cutting and some arts 'n crafts, we have CAD templates. 



The top plate goes the entire width of the Datsun beam thingy, forming an upper control arm "cup" for clearance. Planning on 1/8" beefy stuff. It will have to be welded from below, which means taking the front suspension apart again. I am also adding a diagonal 1x1 beam from the cup down to the lower firewall/framerail area for stiffness. 


I figure the more Datsun I replace with Infiniti and/or structural steel, the better.

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Fender Flare Friday!



I had a lot of help today! Thanks to everyone who came out to lend a hand. These flares are a lot more work than I thought, but it went way faster with all the extra help. Most of the extra work was just cutting out enough "tub" from the body and doors.






The idea is to slice the top edge just past max expected travel (I hope), which lines up with a nice body crease. Shallow vertical slices were made to the front and back edges of the panel to all it to bend. Then pop the pieces out 3" from the body to make room for tire. This leaves a gap above the tire that needs to be filled with sheetmetal. 

Where will I find long pieces of sheetmetal on a $2018 budget? How about the yard sale the next subdivision over.








The gas tank door was a little tricky, but we decided to just leave it recessed from the box flares and in it's original position. 


The fronts are a little different because the wheel is not centered in the arch, but there is way less metal to cut.

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Very nice for a rapid flare. I like it. Interested in seeing the front. Are you relocating the wheel arch in the fender?

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Yeah, I didn't take that into account when positioning the wheel opening before the bump out. It shifted a lot because of the sharper angle of the forward-most bend. Now I have to go back and patch it with more filing cabinet LOL.

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Got the front fender a little more better


And some of it welded up and ground down smooth


The driver side fender is definitely "parts car" material. It is all sorts of wrinkled and dented from an accident. Most of that side might have to be filing cabinet unless I can bang out some dents.

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Here's how rough the driver fender was. This is after I beat it down with a hammer. There are bumps and ripples everywhere. But it's just a Challenge car...I have to keep telling myself that.


Here is some duct tape body repair!


And here is a step-by-step how to fender flare.






Now about that tire gap...needs about half a coil I think

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Fender work continues. There are more inner patches to be made in the rear fenders, since now the rear doors silly floppy things lacking any stiffness. The front strut braces were finished in to the Datsun body.


But I don't think that's quite strong enough. I need to connect the upper part of the strut tower to somewhere stronger on the chassis. A fender brace should do the trick. Here it is mocked up.


I don't think it will make me any faster, but it should keep it from falling apart.


The pair weigh 10.8 lbs. At $0.75/lb for new steel, that's a pretty cheap fender brace.


Welding in progress



Funny story about this car. The front core support in all the pictures so far would suggest the head lights are round. In 1980, some 210's had the older, more retro round head lights, and some had the later 80's square headlights and matching grill. The previous owner's other 210 had these square head lights and he wanted the "cooler" round ones. Also his was wrecked. So he bought this parts car and swapped all his wrecked parts onto this 210, including the crumpled fender, cracked headlight housing, and damaged bumper. Then I bought his parts car and tuned it into a race car. 


These headlights don't exactly bolt right in. They will need new little brackets and holes to mount to my core support, which I have to cut a huge hole in to fit the Infiniti radiator. 

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Sometimes to go forward, you must take a step back. This is 3 hours working alone after work today. 2 of that spent trying to un-torque the super rusty sway bar and LCA bolts. Damn they were stuck but very surprisingly not of them broke off! 




Out the bottom made sense because the G35 uses a lower subframe which cradles the engine, mounts the steering rack, and one of the LCA's.


The black lower piece is the subframe, the top grey stuff is G35 unibody/front clip. Notice the two hefty studs. Two on each side hold the subframe to the car.


There was one casualty tonight. Here is what the "rear LCA" is supposed to look like:


Here is what one side looked like after tonight:


I sure hope that bushing isn't hard to replace...


...or hard to get this off its post!


Here's why I did this. I need to join the G35 and Dastun frame rails for the last stretch of major structural work. Luckily the Datsun rails fit snugly inside the Infiniti ones.



My plan here is basically "gap, cap, and overlap". First I'll weld all the seams between each rail, then the cut open ends will get capped with 1/8". After that I will plate across each rail, fully boxing it in. 

While I'm in here, I want to clean and brush/polish all the engine aluminum, mount the brake booster and MC, route the steering shaft, and clean and paint engine bay and inner fender area. I also have to cut 1/4 coil out of the fronts to get another inch (hopefully). 

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Thanks! I still have good momentum.


Got the old bushing outer ring off using a hack saw and chisel. Alright how am I gonna do this. The clamp in the rent-a-tool kit isn't long enough to get this bushing.




Think about it




Think about it some more




Get it good




All this effort saved about $40 in the budget versus buying a new control arm with the bushing already installed. Now I have to get the other half of the old bushing off its post.


I rewarded myself with some engine cleaning. Simple Green, coarse kitchen brushes, garden hose, followed up with wire brush on a cordless drill.




The pulleys were all rusted from the cracked radiator and sitting for a while. The wire brush and a bit of black paint helps them out a bit.



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