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CollinMB

CollinMB's RestoMod 521

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Hello everyone. I am traditionally a Miata guy, but I had been looking for a classic Datsun for some time. Since I already have a sports car that I don't intend to part with I began the hunt for a pickup instead.

The Miata in question:
zKMx48z.jpg?1

 

Long Term hardtop project:

ta6rBJQ.jpg

 

 

And my 521 (Circa February 2020):

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Pros:

running, driving, clean title, registered, straight

 

Cons:

Rusted out passenger rocker panel, dodgy repairs and cut corners, ok repaint job in non-original green, dodgy electronics (half of the stuff didn't work), terrible etched rear window.

 

So full disclosure and this might not be to everyone's taste, but I purposely bought the the trucks with plans to restomod it with a couple of JDM inspired touches. The engine runs solid but is a bit worse for wear and will eventually be swapped with a KA24DE.

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First order of business for the truck was to get it sealed up and prevent the cancer (rust) from spreading. The seam sealer around the edge of the truck was no longer doing it's job, so it need to be replaced.

Out with the old:
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New:
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It's not the prettiest, but I only really care that it does it's job.

Next up, fixing the taco'd hood:
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removing 50 y/o glue:
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Re-bonding:
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Not wanting to just fix things, but also make them better, I cleaned all the rust and dirt and grime and added some sound/heat/vibration/rust prevention spray as well:
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Following that, I opted to update the ancient wiring and fuse block with a modern blade fuse block from Blue Sea Systems. This snowballed into replacing the entire wiring harness from the interior:

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I made the harness from scratch with new connectors and labeled every end to keep it easy when tracking down issues.

 

Onto the next set of interior fiascos:

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I hit everything with rust converter and rebuilt the heater fan box and got it working:

hofAKgV.jpg

 

The dash was heavily cracked and rusted, so I set about throw some coats of rustoleum on it and patched the cracks with foam and set about recovering it:

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The last piece of the dash puzzle was the glovebox that was falling apart. Nothing a few layers of fiberglass couldn't fix:

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Back together:

qCrLM9g.jpg

I also went about replacing the gauge lights with LED's while the cluster was out of the truck.

 

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Onto some modern/style mods:

 

The mirrors were destroyed, so I opted to replace them with a set of fender mirrors:

mP04Yli.jpg

 

I also happened to be on Facebook Marketplace at the right time to score a pair of Dapper Headlights from a certain member that likes big tankers:

 

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I also needed to replace the rotting rear tail lights. I may have bought the wrong ones, but I actually kinda like them:

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I also set about swapping all the running lights out for LED's while I was at it.

 

The last little bit to finish my exterior, a new rear window. Goodbye Foreigner 1:

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I have also been slowly replacing the other seals as I see fit.

 

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That catches the truck up to today. I ordered all the parts necessary to do a mild engine refresh including a new water/thermostat housing, sensors, gaskets as well as the intake/exhaust gasket and carb rebuild kit.

 

I have the replacement rocker sitting at my place ready to go, but the Covid situation has prevented me from being able to get it welded in for the time being.

 

The last bit of electrical gremlins I have been having are from the headlight relays drawing current, so a replacement relay harness is in the mail.

 

New 15" wheels are on the way as well in anticipation of doing a front disk brake conversion in the near future. A slew of other upgrades and changes are planned as well. Stay tuned

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There are a couple guys on here & on the 521 Facebook page repop'ing some 521 parts.  A guy named Jake (??) is 3d printing tail lamp housing (looks like you are handled) & glovebox cubby (you might have figured that out already?).  There is also a guy stamping out the "skin" for the rocker panel..............sorry don't know his name, maybe somebody else will chime in!  Good lookin' truck!

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Yea, I'm in the Datsun 521 Registry group and Datsun Classifieds, I see some of those parts pop up here and there

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Jakes Makes on FB has tail lights and glove box inserts amongst other hard to find shit.  
 


 

 

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Looks like your on a good start. Dash looks pretty neat. Nice job. 
-Pidge

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On 7/8/2020 at 2:08 PM, CollinMB said:

Onto some modern/style mods:

 

The mirrors were destroyed, so I opted to replace them with a set of fender mirrors:

mP04Yli.jpg

 

I also happened to be on Facebook Marketplace at the right time to score a pair of Dapper Headlights from a certain member that likes big tankers:

 

1sPnY97.jpg

c4Remq9.jpg

B4LaenY.jpg

 

I also needed to replace the rotting rear tail lights. I may have bought the wrong ones, but I actually kinda like them:

7lQ7lO7.jpg

BOJvGB0.jpg

 

I also set about swapping all the running lights out for LED's while I was at it.

 

The last little bit to finish my exterior, a new rear window. Goodbye Foreigner 1:

5d219DC.jpg

avjvlag.jpg

 

I have also been slowly replacing the other seals as I see fit.

 

GHpplQc.jpg

YKo4lX5.jpg?1

 

That catches the truck up to today. I ordered all the parts necessary to do a mild engine refresh including a new water/thermostat housing, sensors, gaskets as well as the intake/exhaust gasket and carb rebuild kit.

 

I have the replacement rocker sitting at my place ready to go, but the Covid situation has prevented me from being able to get it welded in for the time being.

 

The last bit of electrical gremlins I have been having are from the headlight relays drawing current, so a replacement relay harness is in the mail.

 

New 15" wheels are on the way as well in anticipation of doing a front disk brake conversion in the near future. A slew of other upgrades and changes are planned as well. Stay tuned

Love your truck

have a very similar project on the go, but sadly not a lot of time to work on it lately. You’ve got a lot more done in the last 6 months than I have! 

Question for the experts- is that the oem exhaust exit location? I am at the tailpipe stage of building my exhaust, and I’d like to mimic the original look

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Yes that is factory exhaust location on 520 & 521.  The exhast turns from drivers side behind the transmission if I remember correctly.  This so the exhaust is not near the fuel tank.

Edited by Charlie69
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2 hours ago, greenthumb said:

Love your truck

have a very similar project on the go, but sadly not a lot of time to work on it lately. You’ve got a lot more done in the last 6 months than I have! 

Question for the experts- is that the oem exhaust exit location? I am at the tailpipe stage of building my exhaust, and I’d like to mimic the original look

 

1 hour ago, Charlie69 said:

Yes that is factory exhaust location on 520 & 521.  The exhast turns from drivers side behind the transmission if I remember correctly.  This so the exhaust is no near the fuel tank.

Yea, the exhaust manifold is on the driver side and crosses over and terminates about 6" from the tailgate on the passenger side with a 45 downturn

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CollinMB:  nice looking seafoam green 521. i had 1 in same color also.  i need those headlights for my 521. i have bought a set of taillights from jake even though i have  a few sets of original tail lights that i refurbish and resale if anyone is looking for oem items. i am also redoing dash tops and have extra back glass

 

pm sent

Edited by gene knight
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Updates since last time. So after ordering all the parts to do the engine overhaul, I also noticed another issue:
up3w2g2.jpg?1

 

Fuel was just running out of the carburetor and dripping right onto the exhaust manifold 😧

 So while I was at the maintenance, I ordered a rebuild gasket kit and went through the carb as well. I also found that the water outlet had rusted out pretty bad and went about ordering a new outlet, t-stat housing, and gaskets.

 

Pulled apart:

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While I was in there, I decided to go about pulling out the remainder of the AC system that was left over after the truck was robbed of the compressor and blower motor:

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Started to put everything back together, replacement parts:

 - New headlight relay/harness (no more battery drain)

 - Re-loomed wiring to horns, starter

 - New carb seals

 - New intake/exhaust gasket

 - New spark plugs

 - New plug wires

 - New distributor cap

 - New t-stat & housing

 - New water outlet

 - New air filter

 - New oil/filter

 - Flushed coolant system/new coolant

 - New trans fluid

 

I really need to take another engine bay pic as it is pretty tidy, but I didn't want to take my phone out with my grubby hands at the time.

 

I then moved onto the next order of business, replacing the horrid, bouncy suspension. After pulling out the first strut, the problem became pretty clear:

jI3mEj0.jpg

 

Completely blown, possibly original. Since I originally just thought it rode poorly due to cheapy suspension, I ordered the "premium" struts:

VaYpCpM.jpg

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Those were fun to get onto the truck with all the rust (don't worry, I misplaced, found, installed the new bushings after this picture). 

 

That brings us up to today. Next week I'll be going about ordering tires for my next project of 2. Sneak peaks of each:

aQfJSHY.jpg

 

I'll be doing a separate post about these wheels once I get tires mounted and balanced. 

 

After that, I ended up grabbing a certain item before I was planning to. A friend in the Miata community was clearing out some parts to fund his FD RX-7, which lead me to grab this:

 

OR2xJGj.jpg

 

The one expensive piece I wanted for my interior. I've always wanted a Nardi woodgrain, but it didn't make sense for my ND Miata. I'll be ordering a quick release and hub (and some new horns since mine were completely crapped out) in the next couple weeks.

 

For now, I need to take a little break =_=

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13 minutes ago, Stoffregen Motorsports said:

Yes, take a break. Burnout is a real danger and nothing kills a project quicker than burnout.

That's why I have 2 cars XD. I have been periodically switching between the truck and my Miata. Working on changing some interior bits on the Miata as it's the last part to "complete" the look I'm going for, which has been good to not get too frustrated with this project.

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You should work on changing out those yellow wheels on your boyfriends car. 

 

Inappropriate Clint Eastwood GIF by Cheezburger - Find & Share on ...

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4 minutes ago, d.p said:

You should work on changing out those yellow wheels on your boyfriends car. 

You should work on a joke that isn't based off of the same overused joke everyone makes.

I know they're not to everyone's taste, but I like them so I don't really care what anyone has to say about them. Also, if Mazda would stop making all their cars 50 shades of grey, I might have gone a different route with the wheels

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Don’t mind DP, he drives a BMW, and there are tons of jokes about those. 😂

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Just now, banzai510(hainz) said:

what is that red wire????????

For the lasers XD. It's for the LED running lights. I had it running up along the firewall and across the driver fender, but I pulled it and re-ran it with the rest of the headlight wiring when I redid the headlight relay harness.

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Lol don’t mind me.  
 

 

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1 minute ago, d.p said:

Lol don’t mind me.  

Don't worry about it. I typically just do the RDJ when I hear those jokes
UnconsciousNeglectedBug-size_restricted.

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If you wouldn’t mind could you let me/us in on some shock info. Mines a 69 and looking at them shocks  I’m sure as heck there from 69. Would you happen to have any part numbers and or details where they came from? Any info as how they are in the road? Thanks. 
edit: I am digging those wheels. Don’t know why, but liking the colour. Maybe that’s doin it for me
-Pidge

Edited by pidge

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