Your options for Datsun 280Z suspension updates are too long a list for this blog so I’m just going to stick with what we’re doing to our car.
As I’ve indicated in previous blog entries, we made the decision early on in our 280Z restoration to completely tear down the car to make sure we’ve addressed all potential problem areas. Our aim in this restoration is to rebuild a nice, stock-with-a-few-minor-alterations driver car. Therefore, with our suspension as with other assemblies, we wanted to make sure everything was in good working condition.
As with any vehicle that’s 30+ years old, you can be pretty sure that any of your 280Z non-metal suspension parts that haven’t been replaced previously are now junk. Ours were no exception. Our original Datsun sway bars, springs, strut assemblies and other metal parts seem usable. We were also happy to learn that our car had fairly new Tokiko replacement struts installed. However, all the rubber bushings appeared to be original, having become extremely soft and shrunken (I’ve written and deleted several innuendos here. I’ll spare you. :-)). You can only imagine how much handling and power is lost in the sloppy movement of all these assemblies held in place by rubber with the consistency of a stiff sponge!
We ordered a complete set of Energy Suspension 280Z polyurethane replacement bushings from Motor Sport Auto. The kit is very complete, containing all the new bushings, inner sleeves and washers needed for every assembly underneath your Datsun Z, including the transmission & differential cross members as well as the bushings in the steering column. My only complaint is that the new bushings come with minimal instructions. That’s somewhat expected, since this is a fairly advanced project. However, the Energy Suspension bushings don’t always fit into the assemblies the same way as the stock bushings so one would expect a little more guidance in some cases.
In many of the Datsun 280Z suspension assemblies, the original bushings are cemented inside a metal ring that’s pressed into the assembly (transverse links, etc.). The Energy Suspension parts sometimes take the place of these metal rings and sometimes they fit inside them. This means that in some cases you will need to just remove the rubber part of the bushing but leave the metal outer ring in place. Other times you will remove the outer sleeve also. The only real way to tell whether removal of this outer ring is necessary is to hold the new rubber bushing up to the old one to see if it’s intended to fit inside the ring or to replace it completely.
When we were in the process of getting our bushings out, I came across the Atlantic Z Car Club website. The Datsun Z “Tech Tips” section of this site has outstanding photos of the process of getting the bushings out (along with lots of other projects). Because they’ve already provided pictures with instructions and I’ve provided you the link, it’s pretty pointless for me to explain further how to get the old bushings out and the new ones back in. I’ll let them take it from here.
We used various wire wheels on an angle grinder, drills, etc. to strip all our suspension parts and most of the dealer undercoating from the bottom of our car. We painted our undercarriage black and we chose the bright red Energy Suspension parts. The contrast looks great.