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Project Theseus

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  • Project Theseus

    Hey everyone, new here; was told about this site and the club by a friend, and figured I'd post up a build that I'm in the middle of.

    I've copied the various posts from another forum, so these first few posts will be a combination of posts, catching up to the present day. Fair warning, this is super picture-heavy.

    Some of you may have seen this on Kijiji back in April (in North York). I ended up picking it up for 1700$ and towing it up to my family's place near Ottawa on my birthday (talk about timing)

    To preface, here's what has lead to the project's name (so far):
    - while towing it home, I blew two brake lines and suffered a trans fluid leak that coated the side of my Outback, the 260z, and the u-haul trailer with ATF
    - I got the car with no ownership from a towing company (that impounded it 3 yrs previous) and had to go to three different ServiceOntario places before I could get one that would transfer ownership from whoever the official owner used to be (with an affidavit and bill of sale)
    - the floors are completely destroyed; partially due due to rust (expected), but not helped by a forklift lifting the car to get it to where I could tow it home.
    - whoever owned this car before me was a total idiot; there is a good 4-5mm of bondo over most of the car, and aluminum sheet + rivets over rust, not to mention the state of the wiring harness. Everywhere I turn there is more bad work done.
    - I have no keys whatsoever for it, and the rear hatch is currently locked closed.

    Current plans are to fix all the rust/wiring issues, give it some decent paint, wheels, and lower it a bit. Longer term I'm thinking an engine swap is in the cards, but I want to get it on the road safely first.

    What it looked like in the kijiji ad:

    Loaded up and ready to get towed 500km:

    And home:

    Starting to dig into the carpet:

    The beginnings of realizing how much of a hackjob the previous owner was:

    Oh c'mon (the seats were mounted to that sheet, not the floor, and it was held in by the carpet and 4 rivets):

    Underneath. Pretty much gone, and patched before by someone:

    Seeing what is under the primer on the wheel arches:

    Under putty on the rear. Not the end of the world, but a pain nonetheless. From the inside I see more rivets in the centre, but the extent of the damage is hidden by the locked hatch for now:

    One trip to Quebec later, I got a better hood and some inspection panels for 100$. I'll need to strip the hood down and patch 2 small rust areas, but it's WAY better then the crumpled one.

    And how it currently sits with the new hood (inspection panels not pictured):

    Luckily, everything from the front of the doors forward seems unmolested, other than one of the fenders being tacked on when a bolt broke in the past. The usual rust by the battery and frame dogleg, but nothing unexpected.


    I visited my family this weekend, and was able to do a little work on the car, stripping off the drivers-side rear quarter.

    I'll just start off by saying whoever worked on this car before me needs to rethink their life decisions:

    Yep, that's literally 10mm of body filler over riveted on sheet metal. I was removing it with a WOOD CHISEL!

    It looks like the rockers/sills are going to need to be entirely replaced too, as I was thinking might be the case:

    And overall. I may just end up buying a repro rear wheel arch to save me some time reconstructing the bent section behind the door, even if I'm just cutting it up afterwards:

    I also found someone on ebay who could cut a key to the key # that was in the glovebox, and that should be here soon. Also took a gamble on some 94USD shipped flares from the ukraine, so we'll see if they're any good. Unfortunately the next time I can work on the car is the end of June, but hopefully I'll have some $ for repro metal by then.


    Alright, time for a proper update. I drove up to my parent's place on Friday to pick up a 240z parts-car, and got some work done on the 260z as well.

    Finished stripping the rear panel off, looks like at least three different people "fixed" it in the past, each worse than the last (brazing, riveted aluminum, and riveted sheet metal):

    Everything from the taillight surround up seems alright-ish though.

    I also got the hatch open by unbolting the lock, and it looks like someone (poorly) brazed on a replacement rear panel at some point. Not a huge deal, I was planning on buying one anyway.

    Stripped a lot of the bondo off the passenger's side, and it looks like it's even worse than the driver's side; the inner wheelwell is gone at the rear.

    That's about as far as I got before today, when I went to pick up the 240z with the help of a family friend with a trailer and skid-steer.

    I'm going to grab the doors, windscreen, gas door, and other misc before scrapping the shell (it's SUPER gone, no floors, rear subframe is trash, rockers are nonexistent, and it has random subaru forester bits welded on), and I also got all of this.

    Not bad for 300$, I think.

    The hood and hatch cleaned up pretty nicely:

    While I think it's unlikely, does anyone in the Ottawa, Ontario area need a 240 roof? I'd be happy to sell it and take a loss (compared to scrapping it) so long as it helped keep another Z on the road. the roof looks to be in pretty good shape overall.
    Last edited by zedfoot; 03-02-2019, 10:03 AM.

  • #2
    First order of business this week was to get the P/S fender off. This took some doing, as some previous owner had snapped a few bolt hols off and just brazed the fender off in some spots.

    I got it in the end:

    Happily, (I needed SOME luck with this build) the fender seems perfectly fine other then the dents and a little bit of surface rust. The headlight cover ring (or whatever it's called) is gone though. I doubt it'll be too hard to find a repro one though.

    After checking over the fender, I turned my attention to the inner wheel well. There look to be 4 main rust spots, but the rest is solid:

    After a quick hit with a wire wheel, it all looked a lot better. There are one or two pinholes, but otherwise it's solid, not including the above areas.

    While removing the fender, I found out that the front valence was just riveted on (like the rest of this damn car, lol), so that'll need to be replaced.

    Now that I knew the general state of the front quarter, I decided to cut out the rust on the rear arch and bring it back to bare metal to make sure nothing else was hiding underneath the paint. It also turns out that the inner wheel arch will need to be replaced; both due to the pictured rust, as well as the fact that someone hacked chunks out of it underneath and replaced with more aluminum and seam sealer.

    It looks MUCH better without all the putty on there now. I didn't bother stripping the bottom section, as that's rusted out and will be replaced anyway.

    There looks to be some holes from what I assume was a crude form of dent repair; should be easy enough to plug weld once I get the putty out of them.

    I can only assume that someone used a wayyyyy too coarse sanding disc here. No rust though, so that's nice.


    • #3

      I was able to remove the bent, rusted remains of the rear valence, and dug into the rear hatch panel.

      Rear hatch panel rust:

      The remains of the rear valence, complete with like 300 rivets:

      I'm not going to be able to get the tow hooks off for a bit, as they're well and truly stuck and I have no desire to break out a torch until I've dropped the furl tank.

      Someone's idea of a "patch" for the bumper indent.


      • #4
        Alright, with all that out of the way, my current plans are to continue stripping the car back to bare metal, and then pick up replacement floors and quarters (and eventually the other bits I'll need) and start welding them in.

        Funds likely won't allow for new metal for a few months, but there's still a LOT to strip off the car in the meantime.


        • #5
          holy **** dude what a project. I would have cried and ran at that much rust / bondo / rivets. good luck with the build!


          • #6
            Looks like you have a long road ahead getting that body back to road worthy. If it was me I'd have given up on it long before now, but you have plenty of time and money invested in it, so if you feel confident about getting it repaired and safe, keep going, that's a huge undertaking, and will be quite the accomplishment when done. *thumbsup*

            BTW, this in the picture below is normal. This is lead (or lead like product) that was used at the factory to smooth the seam between the roof and the B pillars.


            • #7
              Thanks guys!

              @ vvise - I've definitely been tempted to give up a couple times (I knew it would need new floors and probably rear wheel arches when I bought it, but nothing THIS bad), but at this point figure I'll keep going and get it done. It's just unfortunate that the worst of it was hidden by the location; it was sandwiched between another car and a fence while i was looking at it, so it was hard to get a detailed look at some underside bits.

              @ Six_Shooter - Yup, it's definitely going to be quite the odyssey, but at this point I don't want to give up (sunk cost fallacy and all that), and by the time it's done I will know that it is a completely rust-free car that is done right. I'm planning on getting into classic car restoration after college, so I figure that this will be a great learning experience for that. I'm "only" about 2200$ into it at the moment (purchase + uhaul + hood + other misc), so not TOO bad.

              I realized that about the lead a bit after originally posting that; looks like a light skim coat of filler will clean that up once I get to that stage.

              Speaking of metal, I was planning on getting replacement wheel arches and bumper indent repair panels and stitching the rest together from sheet metal, but just found out about the complete quarters available here, which look like they'll make life a lot simpler.
              I don't suppose anyone has any experience buying from there? Looks to be a decent price.
              Last edited by Noll; 07-11-2017, 12:21 AM.


              • #8
                Great thread, Noll. As the forum administer, I really appreciate the effort you put into posting your project. Hope we see the entire project to completion here.
                Eric Zondervan
                72 240Z
                54 Chevy 3100 pickup
                91 Nissan Figaro
                11 Sierra 4X4
                17 Nissan Juke Nismo
                18 Audi SQ5
                18 Polaris Switchback XCR 800
                17 Yamaha FZ-10
                65 Honda Moped


                • #9
                  Thanks, much appreciated .

                  I'll definitely be posting the whole thing here, can't promise it'll be fast though haha. Being in college with the car 300+ km from me (I'm in Barrie, it's in the Ottawa area) definitely slows things down a bit. I was hoping to find a place to rent this fall with somewhere to store it and work on it, but it doesn't look like that's in the cards.


                  • #10
                    Noll, Here's the thread I was telling you about when we talked at Zfest today... yesterday?... a bunch of hours ago... lol

                    It's the same car for sure, I didn't realize that the car was in Ottawa when it was originally posted. Comparing your picture to ones in that thread you can see it's the same car. lol

                    I always wondered what happened to that car, and now we know. Too bad, it could have been kinda cool.


                    • #11
                      Oh, that's cool to know! Interesting chain of events that led it to sit in my parent's field.

                      Shame it sat rusting away for so long; while I'm sure it COULD be restored now if someone really wanted to (well, anything can with enough $ haha), but being a regular '72 240z (other than the conversion stuff), I doubt that it ever will. I can probably get it registered in my name if anyone were to want the VIN tags or something, although I'm sure there would be some legal hurdles with that haha.
                      Last edited by Noll; 07-24-2017, 03:41 AM.


                      • #12
                        Was visiting family this past weekend and decided to have a properly look through the glovebox, as the last time I had done so i was just skimming through looking for ownership docs.

                        I found this, which I found interesting. Anyone ever heard of it? I had no clue anyone ever made a ski-rack for the S30 cars, and a google search didn't bring anything up about the brand.

                        I also decided to take some better pictures of the D/S rust damage, as the pics I had of it weren't amazing.


                        • #13
                          Ski rack paper work - very cool!!
                          Rust - very ugly!!


                          • #14
                            You are brave man sir, I would have parted that one. One thing you will have to watch out for is body/frame sag, looks like your transmission tunnel is what is keeping the body from sagging, your best bet would be to remove all the weight from the car, engine, suspension, interior.
                            Then bolt the front cross member back in as well as the transmission mount and the front differential mount then replace one rocker at a time then one floor pan at a time. The last thing you want after your welding is done is to hang the doors on the car and they won't close because the car sagged during repair.


                            • #15
                              colinc - Yeah, I'd never heard about it before, thought it was interesting.

                              grannyknot - I'll give it my best shot, and worst case I'll pick up a clean shell and swap everything over. Yep, that was the plan; luckily the body seems to be ok for now (the doors look like they'd line up fine if the latches weren't horribly adjusted as they currently are). Was thinking I'd do inner rocker, outer rocker, floor/subframe, repeat on the other side, then move onto the rear wheel arches and rear quarters.

                              It'll take me a bit to get the $ I need to buy all the new metal bits that I need, so for now I may be turning my attention to my '82 Lada Niva, which is a lot closer to completion; just needs some misc patches/floor repair, brakes, and for me to get the clutch unstuck:

                              EDIT: Plus, once the Niva is done, I can properly rotisserie the 260z in the half of the garage it was in, as my family wants to have at least half of their garage back haha.
                              Last edited by Noll; 09-27-2017, 10:00 PM.