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Paul Ruschman's 280Z / V8 Project
12.34 1/4mi Timeslip





It all started because I couldn't leave my Z alone. I have been altering the Z for years now and have just about maxed out its potential while still retaining driveability. This is my grocery getter/autocrosser/road warrior. The L-28 would deliver 28 MPG on the freeway, do 0-60 in 5.7 sec, the 1/4 mi in 14.4 sec @ 97 MPH, pretty respectable for a street car right? Well as some of you Tim Allens know you can never have enough power. 1st gear had incredible thrust, 2nd gear was definitely fun, 3rd gear would still pull real hard, 4th gear still pretty impressive pull, but I wanted that set back in the seat feeling that I got in first gear in my second gear and so forth. After much deliberation I realized that the only way to increase the torque of the Z was to turbo it, supercharge it, or motor swap. We all know that torque is what you feel, horsepower is torque over time. The turbo was out of the question as I love that INSTANTANEOUS thrust of natural aspiration. This left supercharging or motor swap.

The supercharged kits I have priced are around $3500-$4500 dollars not incl. rebuilding the engine to handle all the extra BMEP. This left motor swap as my option. I have always had an interest in the Rotary engine and have heard you could stack these things in a line. WOW, two rotary engines, approx. 150 hp each, easy to do, still lighter than the straight six with more room left over. Cost again played a role in shooting this option down. Well how bout keeping with the NISSAN tradition and putting in a 90+ ZX twin turbo? $5000 for the complete engine and if anything ever went wrong with it it goes to the dealer and some of them might not even touch it as it is not in its original home and if they would, have you seen dealership shop rates lately?Well the CHEV little block was looking pretty appealing at this point. There is even a manual written by Mike Knell from Jaguars That Run, (JTR) that I purchased, very informative, and even covers the suspension like no other book I have, I have the how to hotrod your Datsun Z, 510 etc book, How to make your car handle book written by Fred Puhn, and Chassis Engineering, but JTR book is by far the most informative. I found a 350 four bolt for next to nothing, traded a little multi meter for it, and parts are REAL inexpensive.

There are several manufacturers of heads, aluminum and iron in every possible configuration and at prices that are well below Z stuff. Cam kits, brand name cams in every possible grind that can be done for under $120 incl. lifters. There are also these roller cams and roller lifters, windage trays, induction combinations that would make you dizzy, exhaust combos that......Well you get the point. Bang for the buck, the Chev little block swap can't be beat. I bought a close ratio, World Class Five speed out of a 91 Camaro IROC out of Arizona. I picked up the 4 bolt main 350 from this guy and tore it down to find that it had eaten the thrust bearing and the crank had contacted the main webs. I found a High performance Machine shop that had a 350 four bolt main short block for sale and after some time talking with this shop found that they also had a set of desirable small chamber heads also. I talked with the owner about this possible combo for quite some time and even went down to the shop to see what he had and what his operation was like. I was also contemplating using the ZZ3 GM crate engine or a Jaspers High Po 350 engine. Well after talking with the owner at great lengths about what I wanted and what he could do for me I chose to have this shop do it for me. What really sold me on it was his knowledge of making power and building strong reliable engines and that I could also help in the building/machining process of my own engine. My background is Aviation Maintenance/machinist and building high po Z cars and with my knowledge and abilities me and the owner of JLS Automotive Machine hit it off quite well. I took the heads home and ported them myself. When I took them back for the machine work to be performed the owner was so impressed with my porting abilities he offered me a job on the spot. after several months of him asking me to work for him and helping out at the shop on some weekends I accepted his invitation and haven't regretted it. This is one of the most thorough and knowledgeable shops around the greater Portland OR area.
I did this swap as per the JTR manual and any thing I did different I put down here for all to read....I brought the completed engine home and took some measurements as to where I wanted to locate the alternator. I wanted it as low as possible and of course to look clean. I used the Datsun Alternator and the Z lower alt bracket and machined it down to bolt onto where the V-8 fuel pump would normally go and used my Performance Engineering top alt bracket after lengthening it, this worked fine.

The car was stripped down from the firewall forward incl. the fenders, wiring, and all brackets that were spot-welded to the inside of the engine bay. TECH TIP>>> Use a slightly larger drill than the spot weld is big and drill the spot welds on the part being removed, in this case it was the brackets in the engine by and all that is left is small holes that can be filled in with body filler, (My dad uses JB weld for this, to each his own.)
After making the hood latch per the Manual I would crawl into the engine bay with hood partially on and pull it up its resting location and trial fit the hood latch bracket to see where it be located on the firewall and used my trusty Sharpie felt marker to mark it's location. Then I would remove the hood, examine the location on the wiper motor side of the firewall and made the marks for the bolts then mounted the bracket. After much debating as to how the hydraulic clutch would be done I settled on one of two options, the JTR Manuals way by using a TILTON 3/4" bore master cyl, (The 67 DATSUN Pickup used a 3/4" master cyl that would be less expensive at the local parts store) and tapping the plastic slave cyl for SAE pipe threads or using the stock 5/8" dia Z master cyl. IF you use the Z master cyl you have to shorten the length on the release fork between the pivot ball and the slave cyl attachment point. The stock measurement is 5.75" in. By shortening the length to 4"in this would give the fork enough throw to fully disengage the clutch, this also moves the slave cyl next to the bell housing, more clearance for exhaust and fork release between the firewall, all that is needed is to tap the plastic slave cyl for 10 mm x 1 metric thread and shorten the stock clutch line as the slave cyl is on the driver side. I heated the fork to red hot and dimpled the slave cyl end with a dimpler I made just for this purpose, (Thank God I work at a machine shop) and cut the excess off. Now I had to clamp the bell housing on the mill and machine down the slave cyl mounting to relocate the slave cyl and angle the hydraulic line to whatever angle I felt would give the best all around clearance.All this does pose one prob though, now the slave cyl is directly in the middle of the oil filter. I used a SUMMIT RACING remote oil filter kit and went down to the local Home Depot and used 90 deg fittings and relocated the filter to just behind the radiator in front of the engine for easy access and to keep the CG as low as possible. With the trans/engine bolted together it was time to trial fit the entire package. The engine mounts fit perfectly, and now it was time to make the trans bracket. Mine came out very similar to the manuals except that there is diff in bodies on the Z cars. Basically there are two different bodies. 70-74 and 74 1/2-78. The 74 1/2-78 have a wider trans tunnel, lower bottom radiator core support, longer and stronger frame rails under the cockpit, stronger T/C rod brackets. The wider tunnel allows for a lot more exhaust room and a wider trans bracket. The JTR manual's bracket will fit all Z cars but not make use of all the extra room the 74 1/2-78 cars have I then removed the engine/trans and began to make adjustments to the install accordingly.I rewired the engine bay harness and modified according to the cars intended purpose and hooked up the alt and powered the circuits to make sure everything worked before I dropped in the engine/trans for good.
I did some extensive modifications to the rear crossmembers and raised the diff by approx. 2 1/2" to gain more exhaust ground clearance. I used a Datsun 510 oil pressure sending unit wired to an LED I installed in the oil pressure gauge so as to have an immediate low oil pressure warning system, I recommend this for all Z cars.Headers. The JTR manual recommends the S&S Headers full length header. I would agree on a real high performance engine and I even bought these only to find out they will not work on a lowered Z. I was told by the designing engineer at S&S Headers that these headers hang no more than 1/2" in below the oil pan. Installing everything as per the JTR Manual the stock chev oil pan hangs 3/4" in below the crossmember, and my cross member is only 3 3/4" in off of the ground. I found that these headers hang 2" below the pan, not 1/2" in. I mocked up two other Chev small blocks at the shop on engine stands, used several stock oil pans and this measurement came out the same every time. With a straight edge across the collectors, there was exactly 2" in to the bottom of the lowest part of the oil pan. This would give my collectors only 1" in ground clearance. Not good, so I used the Hooker Street rod headers instead and I am very impressed these.I used a Ron Davis Racing Radiator, all aluminum construction, cross flow design and 3"in thick, exactly like the Howe Racing radiator. These Radiators are used in Nascar and keep those 8000 RPM, 700 hp engines cool they should keep my 350 HP 6000 RPM engine comfortable.I used the 19" by 26" radiator and it fit perfectly between the frame rails and on the 74 1/2-78 Zs will sit parallel with the lower core support and level with the upper core support. I wander if it was originally designed for the Z? Any way, even a six cyl Z could use this radiator with the Chevy outlet/inlet configuration as it is the same as the Z. this radiator only costs $199 new. Parts and info sources....

Paul Ruschman owner and installer of the 280ZR1 braap@datsuns.com

Summit Racing http://www.summitracing.com/retlstor.htm (330) 630-3030

JEG'S High Performance 1-800-345-4545

Jaguars That Run (JTR)
ph (510) 462-3619 9:00am-4:45pm Pac
Time fax (510) 846-3642 P.O. Box 66
Livermore, CA 94551

* * Car is currently dismantled - R.I.P. **

This site last updated Thursday, November 19, 2009