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BenZed

Light weight, Japan-style 240Z

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Here's my latest Zed project. Some readers may be familiar with my last project, the burgundy 1JZ-powered 240Z project car in Zoom magazine around 2001-2003. That car was sold to a buyer in the UK about three years ago and about six months later I got started on this project. If you read through my posts you'll see it is just about finished now. The plan was to build a car that was as light as possible while still being road-registered. I also wanted to use a highly-tuned non-turbo L-series engine, like most modified Zeds in Japan use.

I started off with a fairly typical 1973 240Z, mostly original apart from a sunroof and various minor body repairs. It had about the average amount of rust, but none under the battery tray, which was a key consideration for me. Stripping the car revealed a lot of rust in the rear quarters, sills and floor, plus the panel above the tail lights. I purchased a number of repair panels from All Zed in Hornsby and set about cutting out the rot. As you can see, it looked quite a mess by the time everything was cut out.

I bought door skins and repair sections for the front guards too, but later decided to use fibreglass replacements for these parts.

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The new quarter panel repair sections and sills were TIG-welded into place in an effort to reduce buckling of the original metal. Unfortunately it was still a very big job to get the quarters looking factory again. Some extra sections needed to be welded into the tops of the sills and the vertical panel for the tail-lights needed some fresh metal welded in before we could fit the replacement panel above it.

The rear quarters had both been repaired in the past, but not very well, so there was about a centimeter of bog in some places. I got it down to just a light skim coat instead. The new floor panels were MIG-welded in, as it is thicker metal and easier to work with. 

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While we were in welding mode, it made sense to do some more chassis improvements. We welded in two braces on each of the rear suspension towers up to the roof, as Zeds are a bit weak in the C-pillar and often crack at the panel join. A cross-bar was welded in too, which doubles as a harness mount. In the front another bar was welded in to each of the inner guards to increase rigidity (this is a fairly common modification in Japan). The lower part of the radiator support had been bent by some sort of impact, so it was cut out and replaced with 50mm square section steel which is also much stronger. With this done, I moved on to stripping the engine bay and interior. A few other rust areas were cut out and welded up in the process and any unnecessary brackets etc were removed.

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I painted the engine bay and interior myself to save a bit of money and speed things up (the project was already dragging on a bit by this stage).

The next big issue to tackle was the sunroof, which had to go. The metal around the edge of the sunroof was rusted and buckled, to the extent that we couldn't easily repair it. Instead one of my friends suggested making a carbon-fibre skin for the roof. We made a mould of another car's roof and produced a one-off skin with one layer of carbon and one or two layers of fibreglass. The roof was cut out a bit further, with supports welded in to add strength to the roof skin, which is quite flexible compared to the original metal. The skin was then glued onto the remaining parts of the roof panel with sikaflex and blended into the pillars. The end result is smooth and a bit lighter than the original roof too.

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Before I go on with the painting prep of the car, I should talk about the engine.

As I wanted an angry L-series engine and I had some budget to play with, I entrusted the engine build to Stewart Wilkins of SWR. Starting with an F54 L28 block, we added an LD28 crank, L24 conrods and KA24 pistons for a capacity of just over 3.1 litres and compression of around 10.5:1. The head is a P90A (big ports, small chambers) which I sourced from Japan. The head had already been ported, but SWR ported it more and added new valves, Tomei springs and a 298-degree cam with 14mm lift (big). The sump is extended and the engine features an SWR balancer designed to control the harmonics of the long-stroke engine. Final balancing was done with the new OS Giken TS2BD twin-plate clutch already attached to the crank.

Having been frustrated by a triple-Weber set up in the past, I decided to go with an OER injection set-up. This uses a Weber-style manifold with six 45mm throttles. The manifold was match-ported to the head, along with the long-primary Trust exhaust manifold. I found all of these parts second-hand in Japan too.

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In the interests of light weight I sourced a number of new composite panels and parts. The front guards, rear hatch and dash are all from Alfa Fibreglass in Melbourne. The complete fibreglass doors and front spoiler were imported from Japan. This is the most popular style of front spoiler in Japan and the only one I like to be honest.

The guards took a bit of work to match up to the doors and headlight surrounds, but soon all of these bits were rolled across the road to be painted white.

I also ordered a pair of carbon-fibre bumpers and carbon fibre bonnet (with fibreglass frame) from the US, so these bits didn't need painting. I masked up the carbon roof so only the side sections were painted, which worked out pretty well I think.

Once the car was back I set about fitting a pair of Bride 'Holding Monster' seats on generic rails, along with a set of 3-inch harnesses. The dash shell saved a lot of weight, especially as I ditched the whole heater/fan assembly in favour of a little ceramic 12V heater to blow into the demister ducts. The original gauges went back into the dash with a bit of fiddling so it looks fairly normal.

Next I sent the original glass from the hatch, doors and quarters to get remade in acrylic, which was cheaper than expected. The windows still wind up and down, but you need to help them a bit to stay in the bailey channels. The rear window is the same thickness as the original glass, so it went into a standard reproduction rubber. All of the rubbers have been replaced with a kit I ordered from the US too.

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The standard Hitachi carbs have been bolted onto the engine so I can run it in, then I'll get the injection set up fitted and tuned. The wheels are 16x8 and 16x8.5 Watanabe RS, which fit perfectly without spacers. Some other bits worth mentioning include the Raybrig headlights, which have blue reflectors but produce bright white light. The exhaust system was ordered from Japan too. It sounds good but doesn't fit well so I might have to splash out on a Fujitsubo twin system, with twin rear pipes mounted one above the other (432 style).

I painted the tail light surround in a colour called tungsten, which is a bit brighter than the original gunmetal colour. Since these photos were taken I have got the doors and hatch to line up better and I've fitted an oil cooler kit along with the PWR aluminium radiator in the picture. I'll add some more pics and power figures when the injection has been set up. As it stands the car weighs 935kg with an empty tank, so hopefully the L31 can provide a good power to weight ratio.

I still have to tackle some other issues, such as the LSD, suspension and brakes, so I'll post these things up as I go. I have driven the car a few times already and despite having no interior trim or sound-deadening it is really not too noisy inside. The engine is very responsive even with the Hitachis and sounds awesome. The idle is very lumpy too. Can't wait to hear it with the six-throttles wide open  ;)

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I'm really glad to see this car near completion since i first heard about the project in High Performance Imports and never heard from it again even though it was in Zoom (I searched, couldn't find).

 

Good work Ben, awesome car!

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Hey Ben, awesome setup I haven't got my Z yet but I'm looking at a similar engine setup with fuel inj and six throttle bodies but probably stay 2.8 as I don't think I could afford a stroker setup. I found a place on hybridz that does them I think they were called Extrudabody. What sort of figure would it cost to get a 3.1 built? Great weight too, that weighs less than my old turbo mx5, can't wait to see it finished!

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Wow 8) I'm building a car very similar to you at the moment, same colour, engine and wheels. I’m not going the super light weight route as you are. More GT style as I’ll be running it back in Europe eventually i.e. on the autobahn on my way to the ring so I need a bit more comfort at high speed.

 

Was there a reason not to go with a six point cage?  I would have thought that would have stiffened up the car a lot more but maybe not so light weight.

 

The head looks good how much did SWR open up the ports and did they fit larger valves in the head for increased airflow or was it deemed not necessary?

 

Keep up the good work! Hopefully I can catch up with you and there will be two white stroker Z's prowling the streets ;D

 

C  I 

 

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is this Ben Ellis (sorry if i got ur surname wrong) from zoom/hot4s magazine?

 

funny thing yesterday i grabbed this old issue of hot4 or zoom (cant remember now) and stumbled accros a small write up about the burgundy 240z with 1JZ in it that Ben Ellis was doing,and a write up on choosing the right engine conversions etc..

 

I was wondering what happend to that car. Though back in the days of that project i did read about it but never got the last issue of finding how it ended up.

 

Anyway this one has some impressive work done on it. cant wait for some footage in action.

 

 

 

 

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Was there a reason not to go with a six point cage?  I would have thought that would have stiffened up the car a lot more but maybe not so light weight.

 

The head looks good how much did SWR open up the ports and did they fit larger valves in the head for increased airflow or was it deemed not necessary?

 

C  I 

 

 

Don't want the cage for weight reasons, but may add one later if I need it for racing in other classes. Only plan to do the odd tarmac rally or hillclimb at this stage. I am making some custom side intrusion bars for it too. As for the head, not sure about the port size, but I believe the valves are still the normal size for a P90 head.

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is this Ben Ellis (sorry if i got ur surname wrong) from zoom/hot4s magazine?

 

funny thing yesterday i grabbed this old issue of hot4 or zoom (cant remember now) and stumbled accros a small write up about the burgundy 240z with 1JZ in it that Ben Ellis was doing,and a write up on choosing the right engine conversions etc..

 

I was wondering what happend to that car. Though back in the days of that project i did read about it but never got the last issue of finding how it ended up.

 

Anyway this one has some impressive work done on it. cant wait for some footage in action.

 

 

 

 

 

Yes I am the Ben Ellis that worked on Hot 4s, HPI, Zoom and Drift Battle.

The car worked out very nicely and is still appearing in magazines in the UK. Here is a pic of how it looked the day I sold it.

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OH MAN... this really puts a lot of our Zeds to shame...

 

I know definitely mine has its exhaust between its legs now...

 

Lovely car, love to see this thing in action.

 

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Hey Ben, awesome setup I haven't got my Z yet but I'm looking at a similar engine setup with fuel inj and six throttle bodies but probably stay 2.8 as I don't think I could afford a stroker setup. I found a place on hybridz that does them I think they were called Extrudabody. What sort of figure would it cost to get a 3.1 built? Great weight too, that weighs less than my old turbo mx5, can't wait to see it finished!

 

My engine build cost well over $10k

I may be able to supply the OER throttle kit new. PM me if you're interested.

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OH MAN... this really puts a lot of our Zeds to shame...

 

I know definitely mine has its exhaust between its legs now...

 

Lovely car, love to see this thing in action.

 

 

Thanks fufu, GBA etc for the positive comments. I'll try to organise some video clips of it on the dyno and on the track when the time comes.

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Very nice, looks a lot tidier than a lot of the worked Z's i inspected when I was living in Japan.

 

Looks like you have built the car many of us dream of having the budget, foresight & resources to create!

 

Let us know if and what magazines it will be featured in  ;)

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Mind boggling how you can spend $10K on a motor but MAD SHET!!! : )

 

Yes please post up clear big vids...........

 

Very interesting bracing as well.

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Hi Ben,

I have to ask, can we feature the car on this site? We would love to have another Aussie car featured on the site.

 

http://www.viczcar.com/forum/index.php/topic,1456.0.html

 

Cheers,

Gavin.

 

 

 

No worries Gavin, send me a question sheet and when I have everything finished I'll take the photos for you.

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Mind boggling how you can spend $10K on a motor but MAD SHET!!! : )

 

Yes please post up clear big vids...........

 

Very interesting bracing as well.

 

Actually it was well over $10k and I can assure you it is very easy to spend that much on a serious engine build. It's all the little bits like rod bolts, metal gasket, valvesprings and so on that really add up. There is a lot of money in machining, balancing and labour to consider too. If you only think about the big parts in the engine you will be boggled  ;D.

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Yes I am the Ben Ellis that worked on Hot 4s, HPI, Zoom and Drift Battle.

The car worked out very nicely and is still appearing in magazines in the UK. Here is a pic of how it looked the day I sold it.

 

Cool that 240z did turn out very nice. Ive met you back in the days of Japanese motorsport When Dany Vahoumis was runing it. You and Martin Donnon were working on project drifter back than (many years ago) me and few of my mates were almost living at JMS. Im the the one that had the green S14a and my mate had a blue S14a while my third mate which you probably know better as his car was featured in the Zoom some years ago Ben yellow 2JZ supra that was on the cover.

 

Funny thing how back than all i cared for is 180sx silvias and 200sx. now ive caught the s30 bug as well.

 

keep up with good work and keep us posted on progress. 

 

 

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No worries Gavin, send me a question sheet and when I have everything finished I'll take the photos for you.

 

Hi Ben the link is in the post previous listed but here is a direct link to the questionaire.

http://www.viczcar.com/forum/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=1456.0;attach=1422

 

Let me know if you have any problems with it. Its good to hear we will be featuring the car.

 

Oh and I can imagine spending 10k easy on such a motor. Especially since I am building an L31 for my Z myself. As you say its all the little unaccounted for expenses. It must be a blast to drive though?

 

Cheers,

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so good to see one done up JDM styles though. I hate this USDM V8 or turbo stuff (no disrespect).

 

NSW FTW hahahhaha.

 

Mind boggling how you can spend $10K on a motor but MAD SHET!!! : )

 

Yes please post up clear big vids...........

 

Very interesting bracing as well.

 

Actually it was well over $10k and I can assure you it is very easy to spend that much on a serious engine build. It's all the little bits like rod bolts, metal gasket, valvesprings and so on that really add up. There is a lot of money in machining, balancing and labour to consider too. If you only think about the big parts in the engine you will be boggled  ;D.

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Nice Z!!! Have you had it on a weigh bridge?  Should have awesome acceleration with all that weight reduction and a stroker  :)

 

Do you think the bracing to the front wheel arches has made much difference?  I saw the same thing in a BRE book and though it looked like a good idea to stiffen up the soft nose of the Z.

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