Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
4/19/07 8:57 p.m.
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We approached Balanced Performance about Z car engines and also talked to long time Z car builder and racer, John Williams, who won the ARRC ITS championship in a Z car. John runs a Z car only shop in the Balanced Performance complex. That fact combined with Sunbelt Performance engine builders also being local made for quite a brain trust for all things Z car in the Atlanta area.

There are all kinds of ways to build a Z car engine. From stock all the way up to a 3.1-liter, from carburetted to fuel injected, and from normally aspirated to turbo charged, there are a lot of factory and aftermarket parts available.

After discussing all the options, we decided we wanted to keep the car fairly close to original. We also liked the way the original L24 revved, (versus the torquier, but not-so-great revving 2.8-liter) from later 280Zs and we didn't want to spend a fortune on what was essentially a street car.

We wanted a carefully constructed, nearly stock 240Z engine with a bit more power. The folks at Balanced Performance and Sunbelt told us that with a careful build and bit more compression with a decent cam. We could up the stock 240Z's 147 horsepower by nearly 50 ponies and have complete drivability at a reasonable cost. That sounded good to us.

Before we got started we dynoed our old engine and got 135 horsepower at the wheels, which is about right for a stock 240Z engine with a header and decent exhaust.

John Williams convinced us to install a five-speed transmission from an early eighties 280ZX. He felt that while everything was apart, this modification would be low cost (well under $1000) and would really improve the drivability of the car. One of the cool things about playing with a Z car is how all the different configurations the cars came in easily adapt to the earlier cars.

We also installed a Nissan Competition limited slip that we found in one of our parts cars, as well as a new ACT street clutch and a new exhaust system from Motorsport Auto. Classic Datsun had all the pieces we needed to upgrade our differential bushings and switch to the later style mustache bar.

While we had the engine out we cleaned up the engine compartment with some goodies from Classic Datsun, including new hoses and original air cleaner paint.

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