Automotive Personal

My 1972 Datsun 240z is done!… kinda

Back in June 2019, I purchased a blue 1972 Datsun 240z (it’s not blue anymore). It was my second 240z since I sold my first one and regretted it, so I bought another one. The car wasn’t in the best of condition so in October 2019 I dropped it off at a garage to get it fully restored. The project was estimated to take around 5 months, 3 months for bodywork, and then 2 months to put everything back together again. That didn’t happen, instead, the project ended up taking over 2 years to complete! 27 months to be exact and last week I finally got my car although still not 100% complete with a bunch of things that I still need to sort out.

Photo I took when I first found the car

So where did things go wrong? Everywhere really, issues popped up every step of the way. I had issues with the body shop, the mechanic, the electrician, with parts I ordered, and then to top it off Covid hit and slowed everything down considerably. Generally speaking, everyone was super slow or very sloppy and I had to and still am double-checking all the work that was done myself. When we first started stripping the paint away from the car we spotted issues that weren’t noticeable before and so that took longer than expected. Thankfully the body shop guys were chill about it but they were also very slow, and with Covid lockdowns and curfews, it brought the work down to a stand still a number of times. Then I had issues with the mechanic who a friend had recommended and that guy’s work turned out to be really clumsy. I brought in an electrician that specializes in Datsuns to wire the car back up and his work also turned out to be very rushed. So now I’m taking note of any issues I spot so I can get them sorted.

I also ran into issues with some upgrades I had for the car. Since I wanted this car to be a daily driver, I upgraded the engine with a modern electronic fuel injection system (FAST EFI), I installed AC and I upgraded the brakes to much more powerful Wilwood’s. The problem is nobody I dealt with had fitted a similar electronic system into a 240z before and I couldn’t find someone who did. So I had to learn everything about it and install and set things up myself.

The previous sentence really summarizes the whole experience. There was no way the car would have been done the way I wanted it to be done if I wasn’t very knowledgeable in the car or researched and learned so much about how things work. When I picked up the car last week for example I barely got it home. Actually, I only made it home with the help of a tow truck since the car switched off on my way home after misfiring and running terribly. After getting home and googling the car symptoms, I realized I might have a problem with the spark plugs so I checked them. Turned out the plugs weren’t screwed in properly, were the wrong size, and were carbon-fouled (you can see how black they are in the photo above). I had a new set of correct plugs that I had previously purchased and after installing them the car started and ran perfectly.

I even ran into issues financially with the car even though that was under my control. When I first started the project I wanted the total thing to cost me KD10,000 including the cost of the car (I bought the car for KD2,750). When I started the project I created an Excel file to track all the expenses and late last year I realized I was going to exceed my budget by a pretty good chunk. The car has to date cost me KD13,800 including the car purchase price. I really didn’t want to pay this much yet it was all my own doing since I kept wanting more and more things.

While thinking about this post one question that popped into my mind is if I’d recommend a full restoration to anyone. I was going to say no at first but that really isn’t fair. I currently actually have another classic that’s being restored right now, a 1980 Toyota FJ40 (the green one above). But, I chose to restore it in the UAE and not here. There is a garage based in Abu Dhabi called Classic Drive (@fj40uae) that specializes in restoring old FJ40’s and Landcruiser 60’s. So far they seem to be doing a great job with the car and moving at a fairly quick pace although they are also behind schedule. All the parts they’re using to build the car are either brand new or restored back to new condition so I’ll basically be getting an FJ40 that looks like it rolled out of the dealer today. So what I will say is this. If you are thinking of restoring a car know that it is going to be a big project and there will be things for you to do as well once it’s done. You need to really love cars, understand them and be patient with them. I know of a lot of people who had their cars restored only to sell them right after since they didn’t want to deal with sorting out the issues that would pop up. It also doesn’t help since we don’t have that many if any specialized garages for classic cars here.

And that’s where I am with the car right now. I’ve been driving it daily since I got it and loving it. Now I just need to finish going through the to-do list and sort all the issues out as they pop up. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments.

26 replies on “My 1972 Datsun 240z is done!… kinda”

Mark the “Mechanic”: Kahrabaa wa bunchar.

Waiting for this to open up….

Jokes apart, do you have a write up on how you went about restoring the FJ in Abu Dhabi? Would be an interesting read.

The color on the 240z looks amazing.

I don’t have one yet since I had only told a few friends about it but since I just made it public now I could do a write-up. Basically, it was a pretty simple process with them, they have a base price for the car which includes full restoration and cost of the car (around 9,000 if I remember correctly). Then depending on what options you want the cost adds up. So mine is costing around 13K. They’ve restored over 60 FJ’s and Landcruisers so far so they know it inside out. I’ve posted a few photos in my story highlights on my car account @380cup

Things do go over estimated time and money in such project. Love the color on the 240z, it looks awesome from out. Could you post images of the interior (before and after).

I haven’t taken any pics yet of interior cuz still haven’t installed the radio, but it looks OEM, bought every interior part online from original new old stock door panels to interior plastic panels. So nothing custom. My dash was perfect before the restoration but due to his car was stored at body shop it’s now developed cracks.

Looking forward to see it perform in summer traffic. Both the engine and A/C.

My Fj43 engine would do ok in our summer heat, but the cabin would get too hot. The cabin had no insulation, it would feel like sitting in an oven inside.

I had to step out of the car in mid-July traffic just to cool off…in July…

I’ve never met anyone trustworthy in Kuwait to do any kind of work on the car. It is always half-assed or just plain wrong. At the end I try to do all the maintenance myself and once it is beyond my ability it is time just to dump it. 🙁

WOW.. your car look amazing in the photo. I understand it cost you a lot but think it’s worth it. Wish you all the best for ur FJ too.. I would love to do a photoshoot of your car (Personal project), please let me know.

Good job, the color look awesome !! Where do you get the parts? Is there any specializes shops or you order online?

A bunch of shops online. In total I placed 52 different orders over the span of two years for various parts. Best find was probably the new old stock door panels which I got from a place in Canada for around $400. My exhaust system ordered straight from Japan, the rest from different US websites and eBay. Oh and my rear wing from a guy in Malaysia.

Lol you would think that restoring a 1972 model car would include brand new spark plugs but nah fuck it as long as it starts it should be good.

I’m telling you the mechanic was the worst. He rebuilt the engine for me so hopefully he did a good job with that but he was super sloppy with the install.

I have known a pakistani mechanic for last 25 years based in Hasawi, he works only on Z cars and always busy as major of these car owners are from Jahra and surrounding areas.

Acerboy, Mark, looking for some advice here. i have a 2002 chrysler concorde that i absolutely love. the exhaust produces some really bad smelling gases. i wanna get it fixed and have been to a lot of garages and they give me BS saying that its the oxygen sensors, engine, this that and the other, i have replaced quite a few parts to no avail. i suspect its the catalytic converter but not really sure. every time i get out of my car my clothes smell of these fumes!!! its frustrating to say the least. any recommendations on good garages/mechanics?

Could be a lot of things which is why you’ve gotten different solutions. Plug an OBD reader and see what error codes you get. Catalytic converter would be expensive so if you’re changing it make sure it needs changing first.

Oooo sounds like the usual “down the rabbit hole” project car haha.. but I’m sure it’s all worth it. Looks gorgeous

“I know of a lot of people who had their cars restored only to sell them right after since they didn’t want to deal with sorting out the issues that would pop up.”
And some people also enjoy the excitement of build process more than owning. Once they finish it, that excitement and “want” factor die down… I’m sure a couple of years down the line ull smile a bit when u think about all the research and greasy work

Hi Mark

Car looks amazing. They always cost more than expected but looks like money well spent to me.
Would love to see some more photos of the car when you get the chance to post them.
So after your experience, can you recommend a good body shop as looking to restore one myself, when I eventually find one to buy.
Thanks for your previous reply, very informative.

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