Rebirth!

Posted: January 23, 2012 in 300ZX Build
Tags: ,

Is that a car, or some sort of lunar space craft?” That was the question posed by a passerby while loading the Z onto a tow truck after a trip to the local body shop.

The funny metal tube wrapped around the bumper support was my homemade intercooler bypass. The Z comes from the factory with two intercoolers (one for each turbo). Unfortunately, the driver’s side was destroyed in the accident, and the car won’t run properly without it. So I devised this temporary fix from some flexible exhaust pipe bought at the local auto parts store. She ain’t pretty, but gaining the ability to move the car under its own power was a real lifesaver.

There are limits to what I can do in my home garage, and although I plan to do much of the body work myself, straightening a unibody is beyond my ability. Special high dollar equipment is required (like a frame machine), and best left to professionals. 

Enter Eagle Valley Auto Body, a real old school “mom & pop” body shop. Today’s shops won’t touch a car like my Z – either they’re too busy doing collision repair for insurance companies (big $$), or they’re just plain not interested in taking on a project where the owner does the finishing work. I can’t say I blame them, there’s no money in it (as well as potential liability if an owner doesn’t fix the car properly and an accident occurs). But a good buddy of mine knew the owner of Eagle Valley, and he agreed to take on the job. Yes! We’re in business!

The Z’s lower rocker panel was also heavily damaged in the crash. But if you look closely, there’s a long strange crack visible in the center of the quarter panel, away from any accident damage. Remember my passing reference in the “My Fairlady” post wishing we brought a magnet along when looking to buy the car? Well here’s why…

 

 

The entire drivers side quarter panel was made of Bondo! As soon as they started pulling on the frame machine, it all cracked off. We’re talking Bondo as thick as 3/8″ or more. Someone had covered up some pretty serious accident damage. What a bunch of jerks!


Eagle Valley spent about a week pulling the rest of the unibody frame to within spec, and smoothing the existing metal (hammer & dolly style) as best they could. They really had their work cut out for them, especially since I specified NOT to order any new sheet metal if at all possible (to keep costs down).

Although the car’s still rough around the edges, and there’s lots of further metal massaging to be done, Eagle Valley got me to a good starting point.

In hindsight, I should have just stripped the car of everything good and found a clean shell to put it all in (and I may still go that route if a good one comes along). But I have to keep reminding myself that this will be a track car, and there’s a good chance it’ll get banged up out on the circuit anyways.

Jay

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Comments
  1. Gilbert says:

    Jason,

    You definitely needed that magnet. It is looking good.

    Gilbert

  2. Thanks! Making progress everyday. More to come!

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