Warren Gilbert's 76 260z with RB25DET conversion
This month we bring you Warren Gilbert's labour of love, a car owned by him for the past 20 years and having seen several iterations of the build. Warren still has no plans to sell his lovely car though and continues to enjoy owning it. As Warren says they just get into your blood, something all of us long term Z owners understand.
Warren's also happy to answer any questions for those embarking on a similar build. So if you're planning an RB swap you know who to contact.
You’ve had this 260z for 20 years, why do you think you’ve kept an S30 for so long and have you been tempted by any other makes over the years?
Well the design and shape of this car is timeless and any Z driver will know, they just get into your blood. There is something about them. There has never been one second where I have contemplated selling my Z. I have definitely been tempted by other cars, and have bought them, but NOT by selling the Z. That will never happen. In the time that I've owned the Z, I have also bought an R33 GTR Skyline (which I still have), and am currently importing a rare Callaway Corvette from the US. 1 of only 500 ever made (factory Twin Turbo) I have separation anxiety if a sell a car, so I may as well keep it, haha.
The car has been through several different phases in your hands, you've gone from a turbo carby set up to an injected L-series turbo and now the RB25DET, how does the car behave now compared with the previous builds?
The Draw-through Carby setup went VERY hard on the old L26 Engine. I remember driving home often, in the early hours of the morning, with nice cold, dense air outside and remembering the amazing power and crispness of the engine lifting the bonnet once home would often reveal glowing manifolds & turbo exhaust housings. The current RB25DET is magnificent to drive, but for different reasons. New technology has made it so smooth & reliable, and coupled with the Massive brakes and suspension upgrades, it's like driving a wolf in sheep's clothing.
There seems to be a bit of a fantasy around a turbo carb set up probably due to the Wangan midnight series, was it at all reliable and would you recommend anyone actually try it now-a-days?
Yes, I would, however there are reliability problems associated with it, but no doubt it was probably more responsive, but not as smooth and fuel efficient as a fuel injection setup. These days EFI is defiately the way to go, and with the huge improvement in engine management over the past 10—15 years, the choice is obvious. You could still build a turbo carb engine relatively cheap though.
You have managed to do much of the work on this Z yourself and the result is top quality, is this part of your trade or just a hobby for you?
I am a mechanic by trade, but haven't worked in the industry for 15 years or so. I suppose that its more of a hobby than anything. Im a bit of a perfectionist and like things to 'look nice' as well as 'go nice'. I reckon I spend as much time admiring my Z as I do driving it.
What was the biggest challenge in this project over the years and did you ever have any particularly 'trying moments' with it?
Plenty of trying moments with this build, for numerous reasons. Sometimes I just simply needed a break and didn't touch the car for a couple of months, other times I just got fed up by suppliers / tradies incompetence (sending wrong parts / not doing as good a job as was promised etc). Often a small hurdle would take a month to overcome – Getting things done when you work full time, when most of the stores that sell specialty items, or offer specialty services, are not open during the weekend. This means taking time off work to take the car there, then again on pickup. Little things like that wear you down, but in the end, its all worth it.
The air-con system is a real bonus, I bet in Western Australian heat you have no regrets? Has this made the Z much more comfortable? Do you / could you use it as a regular grocery getter?
I feel the heat terribly, I NEED Air Con! I'm happy to sacrifice a smidgeon of power to have it. The car had the stock factory A/C, but never worked that well, and was a maze of wires, vaccum lines & Actuators. I was SO excited when I discovered the Vintage Air System. It fitted in beautifully and have managed to minimise the under bonnet visual impact that A/C systems usually have. It is fully fitted however isn't wired & gassed yet, as I have been waiting to get a whole bunch of wiring tasks all done at the same time. I'm sure its going to work a treat though, as the Z cabin is so small.
It seems like you still have many more grand plans for your Z, do you think you’ll have it in another 10, 15, or 20 years time?
Without a doubt. The only way I wont have this car, is if some wealthy person came up to me and said 'name your price' the stuff you only hear about happeining once in a hundred years. Very unlikely though, if it did, I'd just build another one.
Any advice for others taking on a similar project?
The best advice I can offer, is to plan the project out from scratch, and research what is needed and costs involved before you start so that you know roughly what you are getting into. How many times do we see cars for sale that are 'unfinished projects'? Building a car takes money, usually a LOT of it, so be prepared.
Another thing, is that your first thoughts are often the right ones – For example, I initially wanted to buy a RIPS custom manifold, but decided it was too pricey. I then bought a Polished Greddy(Copy), and had to sell it for a loss because it was such poor quality. So then I bought a genuine Greddy which looked brilliant until a 60mm billet throttle body was purchased and I found there was no clearance for The intercooler pipe-work. So, once again I had to sell it for a loss, and what did I end up doing? Yep, I got a Custom manifold from RIPS racing, lesson learnt.
|Vehicle Category||Details and Modifications|
|Name:||Warren Gilbert (Forum User: woza01)|
|Previous Rides:||1996 R33 GTR V-Spec, 1988 Callaway Aerobody Corvette. Factory Twin Turbo. No 50 of only 500 ever made and a 2000 VT Series 2 LS1 HBD Berlina Wagon|
|Suspension & Brakes:||
Front and Rear
|Wheels and Tyres:||
Performance Superlites 16x7 Front & Rear
Toyo Teo Plus 205/50 16's Front and Rear
These will be making way in the next 6 months for a set of 18" Fuly Polished Simmons. This will ensure the car loses the 'pizza-cutter' look and give it a much more aggressive stance
The Z had factory under dash Air-Con, but I never really got it working properly. The spaghetti tangle of vacuum lines and actuators was a friggin nightmare to work out. I ripped it out and tossed it, in favor of a Vintage Air system. Although its yet to be gassed, it is a brilliant unit - So simple in design, size and it fits behind the dash beautifully.
Currently a stock RB25DET engine with stock injectors & turbo. The initial tuning showed power at 270HP ATW, which is nothing special, but everone knows the potential of these engines.... I have a larger turbo planned, as well as bigger injectors and a custom billet Fuel rail.