They say every journey begins with a first step. The first step in our Datsun Z restoration started with a road-trip. We live in Utah and my son and I stopped to look at a 1976 280Z in Boise on our way back home from visiting my parents in Seattle. It didn’t run but it was the most promising car we’d been able to find with a straight body and what appeared to be minimal rust. We showed up at the poor guys house at around 8:30 at night and begin poking and prodding what he’s already told us is his baby. We then proceed to put the screws to him about the price. Needless to say, he didn’t feel much like selling it to us at this point. In hindsight it was probably a lot like trying to find a home for his favorite hound, which he really didn’t want to get rid of but circumstances insisted. We weren’t the right home.
Trying to put a good face on things, the Z owner told us to give him a call back in a few days, since he had another potential buyer, and he might reconsider our offer. When I did, he told me it was sold. Not willing to give up this easy, a few days later I had my wife go back and take a look for the his ad on Craig’s List. Sure enough, it was still there. This time, rather than have the hard-charging knuckleheads call him, I turned it over to my wife. She called, told him how much she loved the car and what great shape it appeared to be in and that she’d give him what he wanted for it. Done deal.
Now we just needed to get to back to Boise and pick the thing up. After some research, we figured out that renting a trailer in our own town and taking it round trip was less expensive than taking it one way. Saturday morning we packed up the kids, picked up the car trailer at our local rental outlet (OK, we didn’t tell them we were crossing state lines. I’m pretty sure this would have voided my damage waiver. :-), and we hit the road.
All the way there we rehearsed the various ways we’d work the transaction so that the guy wouldn’t figure out that he was selling his beloved Datsun 280Z to the same clowns he already decided weren’t worthy of his ride. We discussed everything from disguises to simply jumping out of the car after my wife sealed the deal and loading up the car before he knew what was happening. In the end he wasn’t home and we dealt with his wife who hadn’t met us before. If the guy who sold us his car is reading this and feeling bamboozled, know this: Your 280Z is in a good, loving home and we promise to treat it with all the respect it deserves, though unfortunately this is going to first require ripping its guts out.