Archive | 4:19 PM

Classic Z1 – Part 1: Drag me to Hell

1 Nov

Over a series of posts, we’ll take a look back to where Z1 Performance began.  We’ll chronicle some of the projects, and events from back in the day and share some old photos and stories along the way.

Z1 Performance, the brainchild of a few die-hard Datsun fanatics, saw Adam’s 1979 280ZX as a veritable guinea pig in a project that would strive to blend old school and new in a timeless package.

Mike was the owner of Z1 at the time and an experienced mechanic.  Along with Billy (an equally knowledgeable tech) they had been restoring, repairing, modifying and racing Z-cars for years prior.  They had the experience, parts and knowledge required to get this project off the ground.  Together with Adam’s vision, they targeted the ultimate street car of the time; the 993 911 Turbo, capable of running mid 12-second 1/4 runs with a full interior, A/C, and stereo.

This ZX was not destined to be a trailer queen.  Rather, it would be a fully functioning daily driver as comfortable cruising to work as it was on the drag strip.  As the project grew legs, progress was made quickly.  It wasn’t long before we were all spending Friday nights at Long Island Dragway for test-and-tune.  The boys would have hours to make countless runs, note changes and results.

Phase 1 was simple: Turbocharge the higher compression N/A 280zx motor using OEM Datsun turbo parts along with a rising rate adjustable fuel pressure regulator.

Phase 2 required the stronger Turbo motor’s internals, a front mount intercooler (Starion core) high flow fuel pump, larger turbo and a programmable ECU (Electromotive TEC II).

Phase 3 would bring along a fully built motor, aggressive cam, massive injectors, larger turbo and intercooler plus loads more boost.

Once armed with the ECU, Adam scoped out the few dyno’s available in the area at the time and gain some experience tuning the L series for boost.  We’ll have to search for dyno sheets!

Success wasn’t always the name of the game, and driving the ZX to and from events and testing would often mean long nights prepping and repairing.  I recall one particular test session at LI dragway when the original N/A tranny finally let go…after perhaps one run.  After a tow back to the shop (and a large bill), Mike and Bill had another tranny bolted up in under and hour and we drowned our sorrows with pizza and beer.

Through it all, we built not only fast cars, but solid friendships that would stand the test of time.  While Mike and Bill have since moved on to other careers, they are still very much a part of the Z1 family and continue to offer their assistance, experience and knowledge in their free time.

LI Drag1

Is it a prybar or a boost controller?

LI Drag3

Likely waiting for an authentic LI Dragway hotdog in between runs

LI Drag2

Sitting pretty!

LI Drag4

There we go!

LI Drag7

That's right, a brushed aluminum gas cap in '96. Z1, setting trends!

LI Drag8

Compensating for something?


Now that's competition!


Would this be called "attack mode?"


Who won the holeshot?



Z1 Dyno 1

On the dyno, after a quick stop at the airport for jet fuel! No joke.

Z1 Dyno



All of it, impossible without this man (Mike). That hat was stlyin in '96!


Bringing up the Rear Part IV

1 Nov

The 4.3 rear is now finished, and in transit back up north! This was an adventure to say the least, and essentially represents a bunch of parts that otherwise should not fit with one another. Ben @ Puddymod sent me some final pics of some more of the custom things that had to be done. I figured I’d share them, just so you guys can see what was involved

On the ring and pinion setups, you have a crush collar. This collar is a use-once part, and basically serves as a base that lets you set the torque of the pinion nut consistently. Here you can see the standard crush collar, vs the one that had to be machined for this setup


Here you can see how everything stacks on the pinion itself – just gives you a nice visual to show where the bearings go


Even the shims needed to have the gear mesh so nicely had to be custom done


Because this involved so much custom work, Ben actually made a fixture to make things easier. A prybar is used to set the lsd/ring gear assembly into place quickly and evenly, and the fixture holds it in place



After the bearing caps are reinstalled a backlash reading of 4.5 to 5 thousands is measured, note the sweet gear to gear pattern


Total turning torque on the assembly is 30 inch pounds with 270 foot pounds on the pinion nut


And there you have it – the inner workings of the 4.3 setup. I’ll be using the SPL Pro Differential Bushings with this setup, and I’ll also be testing out a new Urethane Transmission Mount as well, which I am really looking forward to.

Once everything is installed, hopefully by next weekend if time allows, I’ll do some in car videos and post them on our Youtube Channel

Thw questions we’ve gottan alot: Can you do this for me too? The answer is yes. The second question is “how much is it?”. The answer is, unfortunately, insanely expensive. Between the custom parts that had to be made, to the sheer hours of labor involved, this is easily several thousand or so in labor (parts not included). So if you’re serious about it, and it’s on your ‘must have’s”, drop us a line at For a brief period we were able to get our hands on a drop in 4.3 final drive, but sadly, the part was discontinued from our Japanese supplier, and no more will be produced. While it was in and of itself very expensive, it was still less than 1/6 the cost of everything that has gone into this. One of those situations where you are so deep into it, you have no choice but to finish.