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DATSANITI - '80 210 Wagon VQ35 Swap

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12 hours ago, ol' 320 said:

The wagon is cool, but I want the Model A!

Me too man, me too. But my new garage can only support one crazy project at time. The hot rod is practically buried in Datsun/Infiniti parts.


Thanks for the kind words yall. It's been quite a journey and I still look forward to working on it everyday when I get home. The tin work is instantly gratifying, keeping my "project momentum" up. Especially now that it's on the street.


Feel free to reach out for any VQ swap questions. I did a ton of research before diving in but learned even more by doing. I think I've proven VQ swap is possible on a budget, no ECU tuning required, as long as you're cool with continuously throwing like 7 engine codes ?

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Thanks! It's pretty fun now that it's drivable. Here's more patchwork. The rear door gaps are much better now. Also found a big rust spot and patched that up too. 






Used the tape trick to make a template










The hatchback had a splotchy rusty cow motif going on, so I brushed it and sprayed a few coats of primer on. 






On the driver door, the bottom inch or two were completely rusted away. At the 2018 Challenge, the number sticker was holding it all together. Probably the single biggest rust patch on the list, so I tackled it first.




This patch is made from a metal shelf I picked up off a curb. The matching bead was formed by hammering around a screwdriver.






I'm still struggling with the e-brake cables. This like Rev 3 or 4 at this point. The swaged cable stop (aluminum) keeps slipping off. I might need to find steel or copper cable stops. Or tack weld the end of the wire. But the bolt does a good job of adjusting tension.






Also I finally patched the giant hole in the floor. Another piece from the free metal shelf.




Feels like I did more this week but I guess not. 

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This week's "after work" progress. Driver door welded, ground down, and primered.




Moving towards the back, I made some patches to fill the gaping hole in the rear door created by the fender flare. More pieces of metal shelf.






Welded in




Ground down. Still lots of gaps, but that's what seam sealer is for.




And primered. 






Sucks working outside during that cold snap, and also in the dark, and also on the ground...but at least it's looking better. I miss my old shop. 

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I tried to drive to work this morning but only made it 1 or 2 miles before the engine died. I suspected fuel pump or just low on gas, because I couldn't hear the fuel pump whirring like it usually does. To be honest, I've only ever put about 3 gallons in at a time, and have never filled the tank, so I left her in the middle of the 4-lane street and walked a block over to the gas station. After 3 gallons and a few cycles of cranking, the fuel pump came back to life and I was on my way. I opted to go back home and switch to my daily driver since I was already late. 

I'm curious about the fuel pump circuit. How would the fuel pump know to turn off when the tank is too low? The relay is controlled by the ECM. I only have 1 wire going to the pump module, the power from the pump relay. Level and temp sensors are not hooked up, so the ECM knows nothing about the gas tank level. The system is returnless, using a built-in regulator in the pump module. From digging through the FSM, I don't think there is a fuel pressure sensor on the engine. This is as specific as the FSM gets for pump module wiring. There must be something in item B27 that turns off the fuel pump if the level is too low. Does anyone know? Or is there some kind of ECM logic that detects multiple starts without resulting in a certain engine speed, so it kills pump relay? 



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Do your rear windows still roll down with the chunk taken out of the door? If not you could make a little bracket to hold the window in the up position and chuck the regulator over the fence. My Buick was a poverty spec model and was setup like that from the factory.  It Should save at least a little weight. 


Can’t help you with the wiring unfortunately. Good luck. 

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Rear windows still work all the way ? 

I'm pretty sure I just ran the tank too low. I'm just curious why I couldn't hear the fuel pump when it was too low, or if somehow the pump turns itself off when it's low. I'll drive more this weekend and see if I get further than 2 miles lol

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It almost sounds like the pump has a shut off feature when the fuel is low so it doesnt burn out the pump....

Poking around on the internet, out of curiosity, I've found some info that supports that, but not specifically nissan.... 

I still love this build keep it up.. .


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The fuel pump strikes again!


Image may contain: car, sky and outdoor


I filled up the tank this morning to finally take this thing to Caffeine and Octane, only for the same exact issue to happen again. It was so early it was still dark and it happened in a not-so-great part of town. Luckily a cop rolled up and offered to push me to the gas station up the block. With his car! He's the hero of the day. Once at the gas station I tried everything to get that damn pump to turn on, tracing wires and whatnot. It finally started and I decided to head home...only for it to break down again! In an even worse part of town. While waiting on AAA, I tried to "hot-wire" the pump with brake light wires. Still nothing.


Once I got home, I did everything from replace the pump to hooking it up straight to a battery, only to get inconsistent pitch/whirring of the pump, sometimes dying. Fumbling around the rear passenger area I finally noticed the ground was tearing away from its post. Then I noticed the ground wire was not actually 14ga, but was some tiny wire with shielding around it, which was grossly undersized. I did wire half this car in the dark...So I cleaned up and replaced some more wiring and that was most of the day. 

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Sorry, I thought I implied the bad ground was the culprit. I upgraded the ground wire and it seems to run fine again, but of course I won't know know for sure until I get far enough from my house to need a tow truck! The pump whirring noise seems much more consistent. I also divorced the pump from the Infiniti harness and put it on a relay and toggle switch, next to the switches for fan and (future drag race weapon). 

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Did you know you can put 15x8 wheels on an Infiniti G35, then put that G35 on your Datsun? And that doing so will net you 20 lbs in total weight savings? Not only that, the Infiniti center cap pops right in.


Front needed 1" spacers to clear the calipers. Still a great deal at $32 for the pair and $10 per wheel. If I fair-market-value the Infiniti wheels, this setup is pretty much Challenge budget neutral. Then I had to grind the caliper jusssst a bit with the flap disc. Also had to unbolt the steering-stop bumper thing.




Rear was just barely okay without a spacer!




Did you know tire guys will look at you funny when you ask to put used BFG g-Force Rivals on wheels that clearly say "Jeep" on them?




I dub them "Jeep-Force Rivals"




And I love them.

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  • 3 weeks later...

More 15" stance pics. I really love how this looks, but I haven't test driven them yet because I've been re-wiring the entire car.






CAD models of the interior panels. Cut them out of sheetmetal shelf scrap. 




This panel controls everything outside of the Infiniti engine harness. Lights, signals, radiator fans, fuel pump override (normally controlled by the ECM), and of course my drag racing secret weapon. I spent probably too long sorting this all out but it's nice having everything so simplified.




I also needed to house the Infiniti computers, so I fashioned this faux glovebox.










And I finally got the e-brake working, mixing Datsun and Infiniti parts.



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Budget-wise nothing much has changed since 2018 Challenge, which I was right at $1,500.75 for. I've only added the wheels and some wiring supplies, so still well under $1,600 which leaves $400 to work with. Half is going towards paint and bodywork supplies, half towards nitrous. 


I got the other side of the dashboard complete. This piece houses the OBDII port, traction control button, and the ABS module. To get my speedometer to work, the ABS module and pump need to be present to send/receive some signals. I wired all four wheel speed sensors back into the Infiniti harness and pulled the controller module off the heavy pump and block, hopefully tricking everything into working but without the weight of the full system.












I constantly keep a smartphone OBDII adaptor installed so I can periodically check codes, making sure it's only throwing the ones I don't care about.




Also got an aluminum Butlerbuilt racing seat with a Kirkey cover at the drag strip swap meet for $40. It will need some cleaning up, but feels about my size.



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I've actually been collecting the parts already for a NAHWSZZ kit, ready to blow out some floorboards:


$64 shipped - Fuel and nitrous solenoids with fogger nozzle

$30 - 10lb NOS bottle with valve (last certified 1994)

$15.95 - bottle gauge

$7.98 - AN fitting adapter

$20 shipped - 4AN hose

$21 - blowdown tube

And now I'm just waiting on the bottle hydrotest to check out so they can stamp it with a new cert. It only costs $18 to do that locally.


My New Year's resolution is to go racing more, because I've spent the past 4 years wandering from ambitious build to build without getting enough time to enjoy them. I've learned a ton of skills, but I'm getting worn down. That's why the 2JZ hot rod is on hold, so I can get this Datsun fully sorted out and ready to race all summer. Friday night drags start March 1st and SCCA Solo in February. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I started cutting some rocker rust out. Got distracted by all the squirrel nests and acorns.




I'm kinda jumping around so seats are out and the floor work has begun. It will all be one color. Here's a before:




I finally finished the IRS cover panel and seam sealed it. No pics of it finished but I'll show it once it's painted. 


With the interior bare, I noticed the shock mounts were starting to rust. These were hastily fabbed up the week before I moved here so I could dolly tow it without the rear end bouncing everywhere. I never really finished them, but they made it through the 2018 Challenge. With speed holes and paint, they are now finished. About 1/4 lb removed.






Since I was jacking up the rear to get the shocks out, I saw an opportunity to replace the rear springs back to OEM height, hopefully raising the rear and leveling out the stance. Here's my super awesome trick for easy rear spring removal.




Not sure it's any better, but maybe?




Also I paid $18 to get some new numbers stamped on this thing I found at a flea market.



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