A little something to offend everyone

DRIVEN

DRIVEN

Geezer
Apr 25, 2009
5,869
113
Owyhee County
I guess this is technically a sub-thread from The Compound. Hang on to the end and you'll see why I thought I would offend every niche of the car community.
Chapter 1:
My wife drives a '95 Neon that we've had for 16 years. She loves it (she's a keeper, right?) but I know it isn't going to live forever. I've been looking for a suitable replacement for a few years. I actually was hoping she'd drive the Rambler wagon I had for a while but she just didn't like driving it. We finally settled on a Datsun 510 wagon. They're still pretty affordable, parts are available, it's pre-smog, they can handle well, and most importantly - she thinks they're "cute". I found the first one for $400 but it really had more body issues than I had hoped.

My brother is my bodyman and suggested I look for a better platform. I had it for a few months and got it running and driving. Mechanically it was actually well above average. I came across the second one at a local tow yard auction. The manager said it had a blown head gasket. I assumed the engine was toast. Here's how it sat when I got it home.

There actually IS an engine in it. The good news was that it had an L20b (2 liter) swapped in place of the 1.6 they came with. Not really a big deal because the engine was never intended to stay. I immediately started "operation un****".
Replaced the head gasket and leaking radiator then replaced the faulty, incorrect carb.

Removed the decals. Tossed the ill-fitting Cavalier seats in favor of a stock pair. Upgraded from stack steering wheel to a spare 240Z unit I had.



Next up was an altitude adjustment. I picked up some clipped stock springs from a buddy and ordered up some Toyota MR2 rear strut inserts. This is a fairly common upgrade for the front of a 510. In order to make them work you need to shorten the strut housings.


Stock spring on the right, mystery spring on the left. Don't know why they were installed but the inside edges of the tires were wasted so I think they were used for a while. Makes no sense because there were 2" lowering blocks in the rear :roll: .

While I was at it I replaced some worn frontend parts and installed bumpsteer spacers. Also got some different wheels and tires they were red so I painted them and added a set of trim rings I had laying around. Much better!

Another common upgrade is replacing steel rear drums with the finned aluminum ones from a 240Z.
 
pontiacgp

pontiacgp

Canadian Prime Minister
Mar 31, 2006
25,132
113
Kitchener, Ontario
Those Datsun 510's were awesome cars and were so good they stopped making them...In one of your pictures in another thread I think I saw a white 240 or 260 or 280Z in your mega garage tucked in the corner...I luved those Z cars
 
DRIVEN

DRIVEN

Geezer
Apr 25, 2009
5,869
113
Owyhee County
Chapter 2:
Making it more acceptable.
Around Christmas time 2009 I sold the blue wagon.

So at that point the pumpkin wagon was finally drivable. I did a little more clean up. Blacked out the hood to temporarily disguise some poor attempts at body work by a previous owner. Since the front bumper was missing and the valance was tweaked I addressed those issues too. The other wagon had a nicer grille so I swapped them out. Some 510 guys run a deep duckbill (chin spoiler) from the Mk1 GTI but I prefer the small version so one was ordered and installed.


Needed some tunes:


Around this time I stumbled across a deal on a 280Z 5-speed for $40. Like I mentioned earlier, I had no intention to keep the L-series engine for very long so it really wasn't necessary. I couldn't resist. The 4-speed (bottom) next to the new 5-speed (top). See anything different? Everything!


I needed to modify the crossmember, move the shifter hole in the floor, reroute the speedo cable and shorten the driveline. I showed the details (on a Datsun forum I belong to) of shortening my own driveline and got flamed hard about the "lack of safety" and my use of hose clamps to balance it. It was great for about 2000 miles and I should have ignored it but I finally let it get to me. I had a camping trip planned that involved an 800 mile round trip and figured I'd better "safe". I sent it to a reputable driveline shop and they screwed it up...twice, along with almost causing me to cancel the trip and costing $60 more than I was quoted. For the record, it was smoother after I shortened it and before they "did it right".
Before the camping trip I decided to investigate some inop dash lights and discovered that the dash harness had experienced a "thermal event". Once I replaced a couple wires I found that all the lights worked and my gauges were now accurate. The trip went off flawlessly. We loaded my car with the stuff and the dog. My brother and his wife and kids did the same in his '69 Volvo wagon. We spent a few days at Wallowa Lake and had a great time. Both cars ran great!
The car stayed basically just like this and I drove it all summer.

*Edit. Also fabbed up a safari rack. It was a little crowded on the trip so I figure I'd be ready for next time.
 
Oldsmoletick

Oldsmoletick

Royal Smart Person
Sep 18, 2009
1,604
38
cny
Neat little car. Normally I don't admit this because of what you mentioned goes with it.....I ran my malibu with a home shortened driveshaft for about 3 or 4 years, never an issue. The only reason I stopped using it is because I went from a 7.5 to an 8.5, and I found a direct fit shaft from another car, so I didn't have to shorten it again. I trust my fab work, but others get bent when they see or catch wind of that sort of thing :roll: .
 
DRIVEN

DRIVEN

Geezer
Apr 25, 2009
5,869
113
Owyhee County
Yeah, the ones who were most vocal really didn't understand what I did and were under the impression that the balance clamps were somehow holding it together...idiots :lol: .
 
Bonnewagon

Bonnewagon

Geezer
Sep 18, 2009
6,236
113
Queens, NY
Nice work. What do they think a driveshaft shop does? Wittle a billet driveshaft? They weld it of course. And the GM factory manuals all say to use hose clamps to check for out of balance shafts. Sheesh.
 
DRIVEN

DRIVEN

Geezer
Apr 25, 2009
5,869
113
Owyhee County
Chapter 3:
Here's where it starts to get offensive. Datsun guys are generally a pretty cool crowd. However, they do have a pretty short list of "acceptable" candidates for engine swaps. As long as you are sticking with an L18, L20b or any of the LZ variants everyone is happy. Those are pretty much like putting a 350 or 327 in place of a 283. Most Datsun guys are really receptive to the idea of newer Nissan engine too. The KA24E, KA24DE, CA18DET, SR20DE(T) and VG30 are all pretty common nowadays. The equivalent to a TPI, LT1 or LS swap. You won't be too ridiculed for a rotary either - as long as it's fast. It's actually kind of rare that any other swaps get completed. I knew I wanted a more modern engine but I don't like Nissan's engine control systems. Plus, they've all been done. I went on a search for an alternative. The criteria was as follows; it needed to be reliable, economical, readily available and have reasonable power. I considered Ford 2.3 turbo, Volvo turbo, Chrysler 2.2 turbo, VW TDI, even GN 3.8. The one engine I always liked the idea of was the 2.3 Olds Quad4 and it's variant the 2.4 Twincam. They run good and I just think they look cool. I decided to go with the newer 2.4 Twincam. Yeah, that oughtta piss everyone off!

I went out to PicknPull on 1/3 off day and pulled an engine, harness and ECM from a Grand Am GT. Total cost was $165 and included all accessories. It had some pretty substantial body damage so I figured it might be a safe bet. I was wrong. After a few months in the corner I pulled it out and started to prep for the swap. I ordered a gasket set and water pump and set out to clean it up. Once I pulled the pan I thought I'd pull a rod cap just for kicks. Glad I did, 3 of 4 were spun. URG! As luck would have it a half-off sale was coming up. Replacement engine from 2000 Alero that was slammed hard in the butt. This one had to be a runner. Even better, it had a GM replacement sticker on the timing cover. All cleaned, sealed and ready for harness work.


The harness needed the automatic transmission, ABS, EGR, AC, PS and SRS circuits dissected. Part of the discard pile.


I also did an ignition system modification. One of the common complaints/problems with the quad is the ignition system which sits between the cam towers. Too much heat and general neglect earned a poor reputation. I wanted to run without the cover anyway so I converted to remote coils from a 2.2 in a Sunfire. Easy upgrade because the wiring is fairly standardized. Plugs were different but wire colors are the same.
 
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G-Body_Vet

Comic Book Super Hero
Oct 15, 2010
2,995
48
My buddy had a B210 back in high school. It was actually a fun little car for what it was. The thing I remembered most about it was that damn aggravating door chime!

There's quite a following for the older imports. The early Corollas and Mazda RX's from the 70's & '80's are pretty popular too.
 
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DRIVEN

DRIVEN

Geezer
Apr 25, 2009
5,869
113
Owyhee County
Chapter 4:
Making it fit.
The 2.4 Twincam was never offered as a RWD and it has a unique bellhousing pattern. There was a company making a bell that would allow you to bolt a T5, Muncie, etc and also an adapter for automatics. They cost $550+. Since I had spent the money on the driveline I decided to adapt my $40 5-speed to the GM engine. After doing some research I found that the Datsun clutch disc was exactly the same diameter as the GM. Nice! I ordered a flywheel and pressure plate for the quad and a disc for the Datsun. I reused the throwout bearing and fork from the Datsun too. I found that the 1 wrap of shim stock around the Datsun pilot bushing made a nice tight fit. Next I made an adapter plate out of 3/8" plate. Nothing fancy here:

I was feeling pretty good up until this point. I was using my old 4-speed for mockup and everything looked good on paper. When I went to slide everything together and looked through the side I found this. Not enough spline engagement. URG AGAIN!

So what's the solution? Yup, cut the bellhousing back. Luckily, there is a ton of meat to work with. I scribed a 5/8" line all the way around and went to work. Problem solved.



Random wife shot:

Another fitment issue is the "thermostat" housing. The thermostat is actually under the water pump and the original outlet is plastic and points straight out of the back of the head. I found one from an earlier quad and 45ed it. I don't weld aluminum so I got a buddy to do it for me.

Next up was a trial fit. I knew the Twincam is a tall engine and was certain that I'd have to section the crossmember. My measurements indicated it would fir under the hood - but just barely. I slipped it in and attached it at the transmission mount, marked the crossmember and pulled it back out. Trimmed as needed and reinforced on the bottom side.

Slid it back in and fabbed mounts to bolt to the block and set in the original Datsun rubber motor mounts.
When I tried to close the hood I found that the oil fill cap hit the inner hood brace. I shaved the cap and carefully made a pocket with a hole saw. Everything fits under the hood!
 
DRIVEN

DRIVEN

Geezer
Apr 25, 2009
5,869
113
Owyhee County
Chapter 5:
Getting ready to run.
So the engine is in and I need to hook everything up. Starting at the back, I picked up an extra fuel tank. My brother welded in a fuel pump hanger from a C/K pickup. I gutted the sender portion and installed a new '89 Calais fuel pump.

I ran a feed and return line up to the front and installed a permanent fuel pressure gauge. Next, I tackled the exhaust. The manifold is on the passenger side and the Datsun system goes down the driver's side. I got a mandrel bent "J" bend kit from Speedway and joined it all together. Kind of visible here:

It's also a good view of where the coil pack is mounted to the firewall, the coolant fill point in the return pipe and the snug clearance around the battery. I found that a '98 Jetta radiator was a perfect fit and the inlet/outlet are in the correct position. It's also very efficient along with being cheap. The electric fan was salvaged from a buddy's Landcruiser project. Mounts were obviously pretty simple.


Another random wife shot:

The air filter was supposed to be temporary until I got a cold air system built. It's still there :lol: .
I layed in the harness and hooked up the ECM. Then I connected it to the necessary grounds and power sources. Almost time to hit the key.
 

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