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Thread: Z car for daily driver?

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    Default Z car for daily driver?

    Hello to all. I'm Bill in Houston. This is my first post here. I'm about to buy a car for my girlfriend-she doesn't have a car now. I drive a '06 Grand Marquis and was thinking of getting her a '07-09 Marquis(those cars are reliable and have such poor resale value). But I've been fascinated with the Z cars since I was a kid. I thought about getting a 240/260/280Z for me and give her my car. Are mechanical parts for them still easy to find? Are they fairly reliable? Would one make a good daily driver? I won't be able to have the Z for an "extra", it will have to be my way to work if I get one. I'm not really concerned with cosmetics or finding body parts-just keeping it running good.

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    Registered User rossiz's Avatar
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    there are lots of folks who keep a z as a DD - including me. although, to be fair i've got other options (wife's car) if i need to do a project and it will be off the road for a bit. the key is to remember that it is an old car, so it will need some love and some new parts. but once you've re-built or replaced the common stuff, these cars are really simple and quite stout. i was amazed that after 140K miles, the cylinders still have their honing cross-hatches.

    the weak points are electrical, structural rust and rust-induced fuel system issues, all of which can be sorted out (although i would avoid serious structural rust if possible - too much $$ and work for me).

    parts are pretty readily available - there are some bits that are rare, but lots of aftermarket stuff to keep you running.
    '78 280z - Daily driver/work in progress...

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    Registered User siteunseen's Avatar
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    If you won't have a spare car DON'T DO IT. Like Ross says, they're old.
    1972 240Z #918 New Sight Orange
    1977 280Z #305 Light Blue Metallic
    1972 240Z #110 Persimmons Red

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    Yellow Z-Car Club DougN's Avatar
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    If you get one that has been properly sorted (don't buy a project - spend the money to get one that is "done") using it as a DD should not be an issue. While they are old, they are quite easy to maintain, so keeping it on the road should not be an issue. I would have no concerns using mine for a DD and in years of driving it a few times a week, I've never had an issue.

    The bigger issue will be DD driving comfort. While you can get working AC in a 240/260/280, it typically doesn't work as well as a modern car. Driving on 90+ temp days even with working AC can be uncomfortable for some - and since you're in Houston, I'm guessing that should be a concern.

    On any given day, when I decide whether to drive my Z or not, weather/temp is the deciding factor - not reliability.
    Doug

    '73 240Z (HLS30-126840)(10/72) Yellow (64XXX original miles)
    '66 MGB (GHN3L108501)(12/14/66) BRG
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    No more body roll! SteveJ's Avatar
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    Something else to consider is that the until the 260Z, the cars were not offered with factory AC in the US. Even with the 260Z & 280Z, AC is not all that common. Aftermarket units do not necessarily cool the car down that much. There is a lot of glass in the greenhouse, and these cars will get pretty hot. I used my 240Z as a daily driver in Northern California about 20 years ago. The saving grace was that it was very dry in the summer. Driving my 240Z in Northern Texas in July? That was a sweatbox, even with the windows down and an extra fan blowing on me.

    So how well can you tolerate the heat?
    73 240Z
    74 260Z

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    HLS30A 17574 djwarner's Avatar
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    Since acquiring my 1970 Series I 240Z two years ago, I have driven over 20,000 miles. So I guess it qualifies as a daily driver. Trailer queens are not for me. Part of the gestalt off a car involves going from point A to point B on demand.

    During this time I have had two extended periods of non-availability, one, to install AC and two, repairs after I was rear-ended.
    Since I now do most of my maintenance, I have systematically gone through each area of the car renewing their functions. I have had jobs that take the car down overnight, mostly due to needing to replace additional components once I've started a task. Fortunately, I have my wife's car as a back-up in these situations.

    One such example was needing new O-rings for the end caps when replacing bearings in the differential. And after 44 years of questionable maintenance, I have to say I've had to fix at least one shoddy repair for each case of truly worn out component.

    The major difference between repairing a Datsun versus an old Ford, Chevy, etc is that almost any part takes a day or longer to get. So if you don't have a back up vehicle, you are apt to find yourself walking from time to time.

    However, on the good side, my Z has never left me stranded.
    1971 240Z HLS30A 17574 L24-021025

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    Thanks for all the replies. Yes the A/C will be an issue. I've gotten spoiled with modern cars having a super cold A/C. And humidity removal is necessary to defog the windshield. Right now I live with my grandma and she wishes I would drive her car at least once a week because it is rotting away from not being driven enough. I can borrow it if the Z is down. When Crystal and I get married next year and I move in with her, I'll be able to use her car if need be. And she works in the the apartment complex where she lives and where we're gonna live, so she doesn't need a car to get to work. So I guess you could say to an extent I would have a "back up". But the A/C thing kinda bugs me. So I assume most parts for the Z have to be mail ordered??? I talked to my mechanic today. I asked if they would work on an early '70s 240. He said they generally don't like to work on cars that old but will.

    Since I've never driven one or even sat in one, the next step is to find one for sale and sit in it. I'm a big guy and may decide the car is too small for me. I've been driving Crown Victorias and Grand Marquis for 12 years now.

    Something I just thought of-I work at a machine shop with flexible hours. You can get to work and leave when you want to as long as you get at least 40 hours a week. If there's no A/C in the car, from June-September I can get there before 9am and leave after 8pm. That will help a little.
    Last edited by 240zfan1; 10-01-2014 at 06:00 PM. Reason: Added last paragraph

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    Registered User txvepr's Avatar
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    I talked to my mechanic today. I asked if they would work on an early '70s 240.
    This is your first red flag. You will have to be your own mechanic if you plan on owning and DD a 280Z. Even if you were able to find a competent mechanic, you would not be able to afford his services for very long.
    36 yr old cars need a lot of basic repair and replacement of parts that you would never think of in newer ones.

    I DD a 78 280Z up here in Dallas. It has factory R12 air that will hurt you on high. It can handle the Texas Summer very well and I depend on it every day. I know one day it will finally die, but for now I enjoy it.

    I still love my Z!

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    My 280Z is also a daily driver, although in all fairness, its owner does not drive daily! I would not hesitate to make a very old car a daily driver. However, I would caution anyone that the car must be in exceptional mechanical condition. Whenever I see a claim that a car is in great running condition, I translate to "it runs without dying and can move the car from point A to point B." That doesn't mean it runs properly or reliably. However, if you buy it and work on it, and if you continue to drive it daily and pick away at it for maybe a year, you will probably be able to achieve whatever level of reliability you demand of it. All of the various gremlins will have presented themselves, and you will have either chosen to fix them or ignore them. Your car will have no further surprises in store for you.

    But can a Z become rock-solid reliable? Absolutely -- as much as any other car. My '78 Z is as reliable as my '92 Saturn, which is as reliable as my '94 Miata, which is as reliable as my '09 Ram. Any car will break from time to time, but it is rare for a car to leave me stranded.

    One precaution bears mentioning: These engines are somewhat large, and the hood compartments don't ventilate very well. So the 280Z is prone to a hot restart issue (search for "hot restart" and read all about it). Theories vary about why this problem occurs, but many believe it's because of a combination of low fuel pressures (by design) and complications from ethanol gas. Worst case: You have to twiddle your thumbs for 10 min with the hood open to cool the engine enough to restart it. However, in many/most 280Zs, this isn't even a problem (or much of one).

    And what others say is quite true: You should learn to be your own mechanic. It's not that a 280Z requires frequent repair. I find it to require less attention than many other modern vehicles. However, it will take much more attention to put it into a state of good repair, after decades of neglect. That could be expensive if you are relying on a mechanic, and the mechanic might not even get everything right. Again, very, very few old engines really run as they should.
    My last three sports cars while I still owned all three:

    2001 BMW Z3 Roadster 3.0i soft/hard top (sold)
    1966 Ford Mustang Coupe (sold)
    1978 Datsun 280Z (enjoying very much )

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    A Crown Vic to a Z? DON'T DO IT.
    1972 240Z #918 New Sight Orange
    1977 280Z #305 Light Blue Metallic
    1972 240Z #110 Persimmons Red

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    Quote Originally Posted by siteunseen View Post
    A Crown Vic to a Z? DON'T DO IT.
    Ignore previous post....DO IT!
    NOT Empty Anymore...

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    Registered User siteunseen's Avatar
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    Yeah, DO IT! Park it at an apartment complex, they love rain.
    1972 240Z #918 New Sight Orange
    1977 280Z #305 Light Blue Metallic
    1972 240Z #110 Persimmons Red

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    Haha, siteunseen actually has some really good points. If you're a big guy and you're used to a Grand Marquis, (or even if you're a small guy and you're used to a Grand Marquis!) a Z-car is going to take some adjustment. It's narrow, with a low roof, low floor, and low h-point. But settling that point is nothing a test drive wouldn't decide.

    Rain is another good point. My car leaks; I'm sure a lot of old S30's do. And whether it leaks inside or not, they don't hold up to water/corrosion like modern cars.
    Brian
    73 240Z HLS30-151534

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    Registered User Hunter260Z's Avatar
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    The first time I took a test drive at the Datsun dealer I was hooked big time. So if you go test drive a Z you best have some money in your back pocket. I've been hooked for 40 yrs.
    Ray
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    Interpart Front Spoiler
    Addco Front & Rear Sway Bars
    My Very First Car
    Purchased 5/23/1974

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    I woke my Z from a 14 year nap and it was basically a parts car when I got her home. That was last October, after months of repair work I've been daily driving it since june, and it has yet to strand me(it's gonna do it now that I said that). I couldn't imagine having any other car to daily now, so I think its a great idea personally. Having said that there are a few things to keep in mind. I'm 5‘9 and about 170, I find the interior comfortable, and have plenty of room. My brother is 6‘ and about 325, he looks like he is driving a clown car when he sits in it. It's very small, if your a big guy, definitely sit in one first, with the windows up. Mine sleeps streetside every night, in a bad neighborhood, unless you get one with perfect paint, I wouldn't stress about were its parked, its really in no more danger tham any other car will be in. A/C is something you can fix, or have added, wouldn't let that stop you. It sounds like a back up car won't be an issue, its not like its gonna break that much more than any other used car, so long as you get a decent car. Like everybody else I think your big issue is if you plan to rely on a mechanic for everything. The big stuff yeah thats one thing, but I've found to be alot of little maintenance and tinkering to be done. Not alot that would stop you from getting to work but little things that although require very little mechanical skill to handle, will add up fast at shop rates. Even if you don't possess any mechanical skill, its hands down the easiest car to work on I've ever encountered, and a great one to learn on.
    1974 early 260z, Weber DGVs killed my motor.....

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    Bottom line for me. It's the funnest car I've ever sat in, I literally look for for excuses to go places. The drive anywhere went from drab and boring to fun as hell. And it wouldn't be half as much fun if I didn't enjoy it everyday. The looks you'll get, everybody always talking to you about it, asking to buy it, the way it handles, the way it sounds, I couldn't ever daily a normal car now. You give up alot of modern comfort, but you make a good trade in my opinion. I wouldn't let all the fuss and long winded posts like mine, that come from this kinda thread scare you. At the end of the day it'll be a car in everyway you need it to be, and it'll be alot more as well. If when you test drive it, it fits and its comfy for you, and you like the way it feels, and think you can handle at least the little stuff it throws at you, then I would do it. It's not for some it's definitely for me, and might be for you.
    1974 early 260z, Weber DGVs killed my motor.....

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    Quote Originally Posted by 240zfan1 View Post
    Hello to all. I'm Bill in Houston. This is my first post here. I'm about to buy a car for my girlfriend-she doesn't have a car now. I drive a '06 Grand Marquis and was thinking of getting her a '07-09 Marquis(those cars are reliable and have such poor resale value). But I've been fascinated with the Z cars since I was a kid. I thought about getting a 240/260/280Z for me and give her my car. Are mechanical parts for them still easy to find? Are they fairly reliable? Would one make a good daily driver? I won't be able to have the Z for an "extra", it will have to be my way to work if I get one. I'm not really concerned with cosmetics or finding body parts-just keeping it running good.
    Don't use it for a daily driver, unless it's a completely restored one. But most people won't use that as a " daily driver ".
    HLS30 32581, 5/71 Matching numbers

    Jay Leno : You know one week after the Americans have walked on the moon, the Japanese introduced this sports car, and…if you’re a car guy pretty equal. I mean walking on the moon was pretty good, but how many times you’d gonna walk on the moon? But here was an affordable sports car that had real performance and looked like it cost a lot more than it did.

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    Z geek at large FastWoman's Avatar
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    Nah, a completely restored Z is going to be too pretty and perfect for daily use. The best DD, IMO, is a car that looks pretty good (but not perfect), maybe has a scratch or a ding or four, but is mechanically sound. If you can park it at the grocery store, turn your back on it while you buy food, and not worry excessively whether someone will ding it or whether you will be able to make the trip home without a tow truck, then I think it's a car you can enjoy very much. But certainly make certain you fit inside it OK. FAIW, this used to be a popular car for alums to give to football players.
    My last three sports cars while I still owned all three:

    2001 BMW Z3 Roadster 3.0i soft/hard top (sold)
    1966 Ford Mustang Coupe (sold)
    1978 Datsun 280Z (enjoying very much )

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    Registered User Stanley's Avatar
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    Main thing for a DD is it's a Datsun. Datsun's from that era are known to last. But any car can be a DD. Main thing for me is it's a racer that beat way more expensive cars.
    Bad things: radio sucks, dash cracks, CRX-Si's will beat you unless you tune it well. But it can be tuned very well.

    Related bad thing: it's hard to find good cool-cushions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FastWoman View Post
    Nah, a completely restored Z is going to be too pretty and perfect for daily use. The best DD, IMO, is a car that looks pretty good (but not perfect), maybe has a scratch or a ding or four, but is mechanically sound. If you can park it at the grocery store, turn your back on it while you buy food, and not worry excessively whether someone will ding it or whether you will be able to make the trip home without a tow truck, then I think it's a car you can enjoy very much. But certainly make certain you fit inside it OK. FAIW, this used to be a popular car for alums to give to football players.
    My reaction was based on his first post. Driving a classic car isn't something for him, unless he buys a restored one or he is prepared and skilled enough to do all the work himself.
    HLS30 32581, 5/71 Matching numbers

    Jay Leno : You know one week after the Americans have walked on the moon, the Japanese introduced this sports car, and…if you’re a car guy pretty equal. I mean walking on the moon was pretty good, but how many times you’d gonna walk on the moon? But here was an affordable sports car that had real performance and looked like it cost a lot more than it did.

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