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Thread: Practicality of daily driving a z (and safety)

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    Default Practicality of daily driving a z (and safety)

    Finally decided (saved enough cash) to buy a Z. Preferably a 280 cause I dont like carbs. What are some issues with dd one? And what about safety? I figured that i woulkd install rollbars, 5 point harness and rear disc brakes what else could be done?

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    Registered User Ben's Z's Avatar
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    My 280z is not daily driven, however make sure all of your bushings and fuel lines are in good shape. Some dumbass put carb only fuel lines all over my engine bay, I had leaks everywhere for awhile.
    1977 280Z 5 Speed
    HLS30-388451

    Do you know where my Grandpa's 240z is? He sold it around 1994. I think it was a 72. It was orange with black interior and some sort of scissors style aftermarket crank up sunroof. I think it was sold to a fellow pharmacist and I think he was from Egg Harbor Wisconsin. At the time the car had between 32-36k original miles. He sold it for the lowly sum of $3000-$3500. My grandpa passed away a few years ago and I would like to know its whereabouts.

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    I would make sure that it had all the line, bushings. etc replaced beforehand.

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    My Z was unstable and twitchy until I replaced most of the front end including ball joints, tie-rod ends, and especially the sway bar links and bushings. As well as the rear links, bushings, and struts. It was undrivable as purchased, until I replaced the rear struts.

    The thing that would make ANY early car 100% safer would be an airbag system.

    Good tires and brakes go without saying, just saying....

    That and removing the cellphone.

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    The number one saftey addition to any car, but a sports car in perticular, is a good set of driving skills. I advise everyone to take an advanced driving course, you will learn things that you would have never thought of otherwise. It also provides an air of confidence and makes the drive more fun.

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    Roll bars and a 5 point harness seem like overkill, if you'll excuse the expression. What kind of daily driving do you plan on doing - demolition derby, NYC taxi driver? Certainly a "circle of safety" is important, but good driving skills and a watchful eye are probably your best upgrade.
    Dennis
    1971 240Z - Original Owner
    2010 Infiniti G37 Convertible

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    Registered User Walter Moore's Avatar
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    In stock form any car from the early 70's leaves a lot to be desired from a safety perspective, but any car is safer than say a motorcycle.
    '71 240Z, Because any fool can drive fast in a straight line.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Walter Moore View Post
    In stock form any car from the early 70's leaves a lot to be desired from a safety perspective, but any car is safer than say a motorcycle.
    That’s nonsense, I’ve ridden motorcycles for over 3 decades and I can tell you that on a motorcycle can maneuver your way out of a crash much easier than you ever could in a car. If you know how to ride, or drive for that matter, the vehicle you’re in or on, your chances of getting into an accident are greatly reduced. Being aware of your surroundings and road conditions are crucial to your safety. I will submit that I would rather be in a car if someone slams into me, or if you slam into something, accidents do happen after all, but to say that motorcycles are more dangerous or less safe than a car is a totally uninformed misconception.

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    Registered User Hardway's Avatar
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    About 5 years ago I had a '77 280z that was my daily driver for about 3 months. It was well maintained and had AC which is a must in Texas 9 months out of the year. I did not have to drive very far each way to work, only about 7 miles or so. Even with a car in near top notch condition it got old after awhile. The overall brakes and handling really felt old school which was great when there was very little traffic around. But when driving and dealing with other drivers who most of the time were on their phone, doing their makeup, and just about anything else but driving it got a bit scary after awhile so I bought a 1989 Chevy SWB truck. So as others have said before, make sure everything on your car is up to scratch and keep an eagle eye out for everyone on the road.
    08/1970 240z Series-1 #8011 - Silver, black int., 2.4L I-6, 5spd, 90% restored.
    06/1973 VW Karmann Ghia - Black convertible, 4spd, 1600cc air-cooled engine.
    11/2013 Scion FR-S - Silver, 6spd, a car with the soul of a Z for the modern times.
    Restoration thread of my old '72 240z -> http://www.classiczcars.com/forums/o...1972-240z.html

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    Quote Originally Posted by psdenno View Post
    Roll bars and a 5 point harness seem like overkill, if you'll excuse the expression. What kind of daily driving do you plan on doing - demolition derby, NYC taxi driver? Certainly a "circle of safety" is important, but good driving skills and a watchful eye are probably your best upgrade.
    Dennis
    I live in Oklahoma where drivers are really stupid. I would prefer overkill to being dead...thats a bit dramatic but you get my point.

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    Jack
    I've been daily driving my 280z for just over 3 years now (August of 2009). To me the most important thing to have is driving skills. Anyone can kill themselves in any car no matter how safe by driving like an idiot. I'd agree that a rollcage might be overkill but if you want one go nuts. There's three bigs things I did to improve the Z. One I upgraded the stock suspension to a more agressive one. (it doesn't have to be updated but in good shape is a must). I updated all the busings to poly and I updated the head lights.(a lot of people over look this but it gets pretty damn dark out here in the desert).

    Jan
    1976 280Z
    HLS30288273

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    I don't think I could take the anxiety of driving mine daily. I always wonder before I turn it off is it going to crank again? They're old. Buy a 10 year old Camry and a fixer upper Z car for the weekends. That's what I would tell a friend.

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    Im planning on taking advanced driving classes and i would attempt to restore the engine as much as possible so i wouldnt be to anxious about dd it. I would add the fuel pump cutoff just in case though.

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    When I first got my '79 ZX, I did so with the full intention of having it as a small project/weekend car-alas, life has odd ways of changing things, and the car ended up being my sole means of transport for several years. I had no issues driving about 350 miles a week (commuting to/from school and work) in all seasons.
    The key (as with ANY vehicle) is maintenance. Starting with a solid vehicle is equally important, though if you've gotten a fixer-upper, you shouldn't have any issues as long as you fix whatever issues you encounter, and work from a pro-active mindset.
    David
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    Good part for me is i already have a daily that i can drive while i fix up a Z and my uncle is a mechanic and will help me restore it if i mow his yard.

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    Quick question: which brakes are more important front or back?

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    With some minor tuneing of engine, brakes & suspension, any Z should be able to take off like a rocket, turn & stop on a dime. All good for safety. On the other hand, you're about a foot lower than everything else on the road, so maybe they can't see you. Defensive driving every second. Since getting broadsided about 15 years ago (in a ford turino station wagon-tank, thanks!) I look both ways whenever I go through an intersection. WOT a lot so watch for police. When it's bumper to bumper at 90 mph on the freeway, I'm glad as hell I've got a car that responds.

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    By the nature of the questions you've been asking, I'd hazard a guess that you're hoping this will be an inexpensive endeavour.

    That will depend on how good a base car you are able to obtain.

    If you find a barn find, that hasn't run in 25 years.... it ain't gonna be cheap, nor quick. Just getting it running is going to take up a bunch of your time and money.... without dealing with broken items or items that must be replaced.

    If you are able to find a good and currently operating well car... then it will be quicker, but hard to say as to how cheap. It will depend on the condition and what maintenance has been applied and what is still needed.

    If it's a fixer upper: between Fast, Correct and Cheap... pick two. The one you don't pick is what it definitely WON'T be.

    But to address your need for safety over and above a rollbar, you might want to consider another car entirely. As has been said, 40+ year old build technology against current robot assembly processes that were computer designed.... and then add that the steel wasn't the thickest, nor rust-proofed well and the car may not have had the easiest of uses... Get a newer car.

    Bluntly, with the size and weight of the current vehicles on the road.... you're better off in a vehicle of commensurate size and weight.
    Anything else and your safety factor comes down... in their favor. i.e. not good for you.

    Even a Mini-Cooper is clocking in at well past 2500 pounds... and that's without passengers. Toss in your typical overweight soccer mama and you can add another couple of hundred pounds.

    If all that doesn't scare you, then you can adress your own driving skills. From what clues you've given, you're a relatively young person, as such your driving experience is just beginning to happen. If, and it's a big IF, you've been driving since your teenage years, chances are that you've only been exposed to the mildest of driving hazards out there. And those... using a relatively newer design vehicle.

    I'm not telling you to NOT like or own a Z, I'm saying that you need to be realistic as to what you are considering.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JacktheRiffer View Post
    Quick question: which brakes are more important front or back?
    If you have to ask this question, you will need to take a beginner driving course before you daily drive anything. Do us all a favor and stay out of sportscars for a few years.

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    Im looking now as the Z being more of a project/fun car as I just got offered a prius for my daily driver...so now I can afford to do the Z right and not worry about safety as much.

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    I've 15000 miles of daily driving in my stock 240Z for a couple of years now. I agree with the posts above. If the car is in great shape it can brake handle and accelerate like a modern car. Safety is an issue however. I'd stay away from a roll cage in a street car. There is not a lot of head room in these cars. Keeping the bars far enough away from your head so that you would not need a helmet to drive it could be an issue. If you get in an accident your head is going to move around quite a bit. If it hits the roll cage very bad things can happen. Google "driving a caged car without a helmet". You might be surprised what you find.
    Steve

    1973 240Z (daily driver)
    1971 240Z (track car)

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    Here's one thing I did to help take the stress out of making my 510 wagon, which is daily driven, a clearer target for the average dummy out there, was I installed a third brake light. I found a light out of a mid 80's Subaru wagon and installed it with a "Back off" module that the motorcycle shops sell. The module flashes steady, then three "one two three" flashes three times then cycles again. I watch people in the mirror and have more than once seen their front end dip when they hit the brakes when the module starts flashing. It's an attention grabber and I know has saved me from getting rear ended more than once.

    I would highly recommend you guys hit the wrecking yards looking for a third brake light out of a "something" that will match up with that back deck glass and come up with some bracketry for a sanitary mount to "Git 'er Dun".
    Yeh, start a finder contest among y'all to see who can come up with the best junk yard version. The winner could have his name put on it as say "The John Smith third Brake Light"...... I see fame and fortune ahead....
    Bruce Palmer
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    Crumudgeon
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    Four point roll bar, welded in subframe connectors, upgraded seat from any car made after 1995 or a FIA approved race seat, Schroth 4 point ASM harness, upgraded seat mounts, replace all the rubber lines running to the fuel tank including the vent lines, complete suspension and brake rebuild, replace all the fuel lines in the engine compartment, and a general refresh of the car.

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Coffey View Post
    Four point roll bar, welded in subframe connectors, upgraded seat from any car made after 1995 or a FIA approved race seat, Schroth 4 point ASM harness, upgraded seat mounts, replace all the rubber lines running to the fuel tank including the vent lines, complete suspension and brake rebuild, replace all the fuel lines in the engine compartment, and a general refresh of the car.

    Coupled with everything that has been offered up here, none will be worth spit unless you are willing to play the "be aware of what's going on around you" and be prepared to drive your way out of approaching danger. The more preciselly the car handles, the better, when you need to take evasive action.
    Bruce Palmer
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    morning , some very interesting comments and some very valid points from everyone . Going to toot my own horn so to speak , I just turned 49 yr s old and I have had a spotless drivers abstract since I have been 18 . The one collision '' note it wasn't a accident '' I had is when I trusted my passenger to look for me to see if the intersection was clear and we got tee boned on the passenger side . My fault for trusting a passenger to do my thinking . The point is that driving is a privilege and not a right and the key to keeping that in focus it drive with absolute patience . In our family we own 5 vehicles and my daily driver is a 87 suzuki samurai . It doesn't go fast as it only has 60 hp although in my line of work I drive on a daily basis 13 speed , 18 speed dump trucks and a variety of loaders and heavy equipment on the road year round plowing snow and otherwise . I have the safest driving record in the whole corporation and have just recently taught two twenty somethings to pass their commercial drivers licence . While teaching these two young me my entire emphasis was on patience and observation of what was going on around them .My mantra was '' self preservation '' and going home at night so you can enjoy the money you have just earned . My dad who drove 45 years in a semi trailer with a spotless record to retirement taught me these virtues at a very young age and I am thankful to this very day . Almost any car can be a safe DD if you want to be a safe driver yourself . keep a safe distance and be aware always and hopefully you can pass on good skills to someone else .
    OK , off my soapbox and everyone enjoy your day
    Chris
    71-z , great for me , awesome for the parts store , hey I'm helping the local economy !

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    Quote Originally Posted by fuzze View Post
    morning , some very interesting comments and some very valid points from everyone . Going to toot my own horn so to speak , I just turned 49 yr s old and I have had a spotless drivers abstract since I have been 18 . The one collision '' note it wasn't a accident '' I had is when I trusted my passenger to look for me to see if the intersection was clear and we got tee boned on the passenger side . My fault for trusting a passenger to do my thinking . The point is that driving is a privilege and not a right and the key to keeping that in focus it drive with absolute patience . In our family we own 5 vehicles and my daily driver is a 87 suzuki samurai . It doesn't go fast as it only has 60 hp although in my line of work I drive on a daily basis 13 speed , 18 speed dump trucks and a variety of loaders and heavy equipment on the road year round plowing snow and otherwise . I have the safest driving record in the whole corporation and have just recently taught two twenty somethings to pass their commercial drivers licence . While teaching these two young me my entire emphasis was on patience and observation of what was going on around them .My mantra was '' self preservation '' and going home at night so you can enjoy the money you have just earned . My dad who drove 45 years in a semi trailer with a spotless record to retirement taught me these virtues at a very young age and I am thankful to this very day . Almost any car can be a safe DD if you want to be a safe driver yourself . keep a safe distance and be aware always and hopefully you can pass on good skills to someone else .
    OK , off my soapbox and everyone enjoy your day
    Chris
    If you ever want to sell your Z PM me, sounds like it has never been driven.

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    Registered User Stanley's Avatar
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    One more lil comment: yes I street race, and do WOT test runs with a stop watch, but only when it's safe (divided road, 3 or 4 lanes ahead with no cars and no side streets for 1/8 mile or more), never when it would endanger or frighten another driver.
    Watch the other cars but also yourself, if you're tired or had a beer don't fiddle with the radio or look for a map. Red light runners and drunk drivers can happen any time, any place.

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    I teach people how to race cars for SCCA, Speedventures, and NASA. I know the value of driving skills, awareness, and experience. But there is always the unexpected and making sure the car is best prepared for an unexpected impact is a very smart thing to do. As a driver, if you're so full of yourself to think that you can avoid all accidents due to your superior skills, abilities, and situational awareness - you are a fool. You are exactly the kind of person that gets asked to leave race driver training because you're a danger to others on the track. Why do we bother to put roll cages and fire systems in race cars if superior skill makes them unnecessary? Why indeed...

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    John's point is spot on.

    If there were a way of perfecting the skill necessary to be a Safe Driver, you would still be operating in a field of other drivers many of whom may not be equally safe!

    In different words, and not trying to be patronizing, accepting your statement that your driving experience and knowledge sets you well above the median level of experience and knowledge; How can you protect yourself from the bad driver that clips YOU, through no fault of your own?

    At that point the car needs to be and should be safe.

    The Z is only as safe as the collision it can avoid. Sadly, it does not take much before you've crunched a Z well enough that it's safety is compromised.

    Internal reinforcements in the doors are more for sheet metal support than they are for use as an impact panel.

    Ever seen a Z that has had a pick-up hit it from behind? And the one I saw wasn't even on lifts, as they tend to be around here in the Pac NW.
    (Granted, some of the P/U's I've seen are high enough that you'd have the tires doing the damage and not the chassis or body of the truck.)

    My point is simple: for a daily driver... as much as I love my Z or my Roadster, I'll take the safety of a newer car over one of my classics.

    I do drive my cars often, but I try to stay away from the push and bustle of everyday traffic.

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    Maybe I was a little harsh... Just remember, if skills and abilities are all you need, Senna wouldn't have died at Imola.

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    I love the way threads affect people and illicit some emotion ! I road a 10 speed bike for years and gave up on it as it was way to difficult to avoid the fools . As far a driving , come to british columbia where we have a huge immigrant population , where the common saying is '' i can't see , I have a windshield in front of me '' . I have driven all over the eastern Us and I can tell you people in the Carolinas have their **** together . go to Seattle and you take your life in your hands but make it to oregon and you can feel safe once again . 5horseman , Maryland driving is a nightmare and if you would like to come to Vancouver Island or to the Coquihalla highway or the Sea to sky you would have a real adventure with a well tuned car . As far as skill and ability some people have it and others will never even come close . where do you want to place yourself in that line !
    Chris
    71-z , great for me , awesome for the parts store , hey I'm helping the local economy !

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    I tend to drive as if everybody is trying to kill me if that makes sense...

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    Quote Originally Posted by JacktheRiffer View Post
    I tend to drive as if everybody is trying to kill me if that makes sense...
    That does make sense. The question is, do you really know how to do that? I'm not trying to insult you by any means. I remember when I first started to drive, I thought I had it figured out. In my 20's I thought I really knew what I was doing and I was a good driver. In my 30's I got involved in autocross and open track events. That's when I learned what a sucky driver I really was. I'd like to think now that I'm vastly improved but like any skill it takes practice. And as the saying goes, practice makes perfect but the real idiom is perfect practice makes perfect.
    Sadly, I know this from driving as well as shooting but we guys make lousy students. We let our egos drive us too much. It's hard for us to admit there is someone somewhere (and most of the time many people everywhere) better at a given thing than we are. If you can shelve your ego for a couple days go find a local autocross or track event and get to know some people. You get a ride from a local hot shoe and you'll have a better appreciation for how much you have to learn. I've been doing it now for almost 15 years and I learn things every time I get on the track.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fuzze View Post
    5horseman , Maryland driving is a nightmare and if you would like to come to Vancouver Island or to the Coquihalla highway or the Sea to sky you would have a real adventure with a well tuned car . As far as skill and ability some people have it and others will never even come close . where do you want to place yourself in that line !
    Chris
    fuzze, Maryland and DC drivers are the worst in North America according to the insurance companies, we will give anyone a license to drive here. Add to that the construction of the roads laid over the buggy trails of the 1700's, and half of the people that can't drive to begin with are lost and looking to find their way home.

    The idea that you can compare track driving skills to road driving skills is dangerous. Sure knowing your cars handling characteristics translates to both, but 99% of the competition on the roads would be kicked off the track in the first lap. You have an expectation of what other drivers are going to pull in a race, no such expectations or trust of the others around you should exist in the real world. You should expect the worst out of other drivers, the stupidest, the most dangerous, and the least courteous is the soup dujoir every day

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    5th horseman , you should re-read the posts , the only poster making comparisons to the road and the track is John Coffey . This isn't even a intelligent comparison unless you are at a state fair involved in a demolition derby . Racing is a directional pursuit , just ask John
    71-z , great for me , awesome for the parts store , hey I'm helping the local economy !

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    Quote Originally Posted by JacktheRiffer View Post
    Quick question: which brakes are more important front or back?
    Instead of insulting you, allow me to try and answer your question. The front brakes do 80+% (appx) of the braking work on MOST cars. However, the way most brake systems are designed, the fronts don't engage until AFTER the rears have begun to engage. This results in a weight shift to the front --- the nose dives a little bit. This puts even MORE weight on the front tires, allowing the front brakes to perform even MORE braking work before a skid begins. If you've ever driven go-karts, you know that locking up the rear wheels tends to make the rear end swing around --- something you desperately want to avoid, especially in a Z, which may spin and "swap ends" on you.

    Whereas locking up, skidding the fronts TENDS to result in understeer --- you scrub off rubber, speed, and energy as the front "can't make the corner." If you're lucky, you regain traction BEFORE going off the road. Furthermore, once the front locks up, by letting off the front brakes, you can trade braking energy for cornering energy. Think of a pie, you can apply various amounts of traction to either cornering OR braking. Which is why you brake on the straightaway BEFORE you get into a corner, so you can have ALL your traction available for cornering. The "circle of traction" is a concept you really DO need to understand before you start aggressively driving sports cars, if only to keep yourself alive.

    Manufacturers have long found that cars which understeer are GENERALLY safer for consumers than those that OVERSTEER, and slide the rear end around.

    I'll stand back and let all the "experts" clarify, correct, argue, etc. at this point.

  37. #37
    Registered User psdenno's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JacktheRiffer View Post
    I tend to drive as if everybody is trying to kill me if that makes sense...
    That makes perfect sense. Years ago, my wife gifted me with a few days at the Bob Bondurant Driving School. My "in car" instructor was Johnny O'Connell of Indy 500, LeMans, and 24 Hours of Daytona fame. While a big part of the course was "go fast" driving on a track, handling and evasive/defensive driving techniques were also instilled.

    A couple months after taking the course, I was driving my pregnant wife to an appointment in her Porsche when an inattentive driver blew through the red light at an intersection I was entering. The Bondurant lessons kicked in and we avoided being T-Boned. I'm a strong believer in driving skill/training and awareness of others - especially in this age of texting while driving, which I see on an almost daily basis.
    Dennis
    1971 240Z - Original Owner
    2010 Infiniti G37 Convertible

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    Count me in with 5thhorsemann, Palmer, and others who have wrote that words to the effect that the most important nut for safety is the one behind the wheel. That said, and based on 13 years of 150 mile round-trip hammer & tong commuting, a Z is not a great choice for heavy-duty commuting. My other car, Stella, is a 2001 Pontiac Aztek. My Z can accelerate faster, corner harder, and brake a bit better and yet, spanning conditions from bumper-to-bumper crawling to high-speed (i.e., the #1 flow in the mid-70s) pre-peak commuting, Stella will get to the destination no later and usually sooner than my Z. It comes down to visibility, and, though I don't consciously use it, bulk (well, once in while, but only when someone has really managed to irritate me). In the Aztek I can easily see eight to ten cars ahead of me, judge traffic flows and plot out a strategy (which usually is simply staying in the #1 lane). In the Z, I'm pretty much stuck with what the car immediately in front of me is doing, and if he/she stands on the brakes, that's my first indication that something is amiss. In a similar scenario in the Aztek, I've already backed off and, if warranted, knocked a few mph off my speed with the brakes and know whether or not I'm clear to dive down into another lane before the car in front of me even lifts his foot off the gas. It's nothing specific to a Z, any low-slung car is going to be at a tremendous disadvantage during the serious commute hours. I actually felt sorry for some poor bastard who had a new Lotus (don't know the model, but it was one of the very newest) who got by me four times during a pissy commute. He had to work his ass off to get in front of me and time and time again, I serenely floated by at 35 or 40 or 25 mph as his lane slowed or ground to a halt. I could tell it really was getting to him that this ... this ... blob of a car was faster than his, but, it was. I'm guessing he was a weekender.

    Two-lane country highways? Z all the way. I can safely get around a slug in the Z in places that I don't even bother thinking of passing in the Aztek.

    Chris

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