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300ZX (Z31) Forums Dedicated to 84-89 ZCars otherwize known as the Z31's

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Old 08-12-2017, 11:43 AM   #1
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New here, hello all.

Hey all, I am in the process of acquiring a 1985 300zx turbo. This will be the first nissan I have ever owned. I have always wanted one of these to play around with and mess with, and now the time has come.

I am not new to cars, had 95 eagle talon turbo years ago that was fun to tinker with.

The 85 z31 that I am going to be getting is sadly an automatic. The car is mint showroom condition though inside and out and completely stock. One of the main questions I had was this: Of course people have traded out a manual tranny for the auto from a donor parts car (i have never taken on a job that big), and don't know if I am capable of doing that.

But my next main question is: if I leave it an automatic, will it be fine once I start modifying the car as far as power from the engine to the tranny wise? Also for you guys with automatic turbos out there, did you replace the torque converter to a better more high quality one?

Thanks for the input and glad to get your guys advice on stuff in future.
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Old 08-12-2017, 12:21 PM   #2
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an auto tranny is actually better with a turbo because once you push go pedal it stays on boost until you run out of rpm Hard to say how durable the auto tranny is - some say they are fine. converting to stick you need a donor car to get all the parts you need otherwise you haunting junk yards for weeks and always forget something.

Get your battery load tested. Be sure you have clean, tight corrosion free terminals on both ends of your battery cables. Be sure the ground (negative) cable goes to a bolt into the frame before going to the starter. grounding through the starter is not a reliable connection. Z's don't like low voltage. causes the electronics to act funny. it is possible to have enough amps to crank but not enough voltage to run the electronics. If you have one size fit all cheapo clamp on terminals they are a problem waiting to happen. Usually on a rainy night around Oh Dark Thirty.

Clean the connectors for the maf or afm, ecu and tps. Deoxit by CAIG is probably the best connector cleaner on the market. spray with CorrosionX after cleaning and before putting together this will help prevent any further corrosion. DON'T USE DIELECTRIC GREASE.


Replace outer tie rod ends, and ball joints. replace the bushings with poly (don't forget to lube them as directed unless you like squeaky things). New shocks. Get new boots for power steering. all those things will make you think you are driving a different car. doing them piece meal is a waste you won't see a great improvement until you do the complete job. You need to get the car realigned after messing with the front. Have your tires in good shape and rebalance. Rear bushings nice too but more work and you won't notice as great an improvement. Rear shocks also because if the fronts are gone so are the rears. if car squats when you jump on the gas the rears are gone. If you have the electro adjustable shocks they are DEFINITELY GONE.

If you are doing a turbo car shocks (electro adjust I think may be only on the turbos) then you need the adapter plates to fit modern shocks to the car in the rear. Easiest way is find an n/a at the junkyard and take the mounting plates. They may be available thru NAPA (listed) but I had the n/a plates.

put in a boost controller you can go up to 10psi. I run my 86 on regular gas. plug off the phony safety valve on the front right of the engine plenum with a 1 inch pipe plug.
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Old 08-12-2017, 01:09 PM   #3
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I don't think I would even want to attempt a tranny swap. And I am also not looking to gain some crazy numbers for HP, but doing the simple things first as far as I will prob replace the whole suspension, brakes, and make sure its running and purring like a kitten before tinkering with engine.

Even then, the obvious full exhaust system and a FMIC with a boost controller and then see where I am at. It is going to be my project/weekend car and won't be my daily driver. But getting up around 300HP doesn't seem impossible. I dunno if that is possible with stock turbo, and I am fine with upping that and the fuel system in the future if I have to.

But getting some good a$$ sounding speakers and a smooth ride (new suspension) is top priority.
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Old 08-12-2017, 04:05 PM   #4
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my buddy has an identical 86 z31 to mine. he dynos at 300 but did a lot of work to get there. I put in a boost controlller and mine dynos at 240. blow off many a youngster in a Honda with a six inch tailpipe. do the suspension you will be amazed at the change in driveability. Also might consider 17 in rims with low profile tires. made mine go around corners even better. boost controller only cost like 40 bucks plus a day of tinkering. Magnacore wires nice. I replaced the crappy Nissan injector connectors with ones out of junk Volvos.

timing belt a must if you haven't done it yet
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Old 08-13-2017, 01:59 PM   #5
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Yes, I think its always wise to make sure the car is running perfectly fine before starting to break it...lol i mean modify it.

But with the automatic, you think it should be fine when i start increasing the power? Would really like the input of someone who has modified an automatic.
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Old 08-13-2017, 04:30 PM   #6
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start a post which specifically asks the question about auto tranny reliability. More likely to get a response to that question.
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Old 08-18-2017, 06:52 AM   #7
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I was a Datsun/Nissan tech late 76 to 87. I remember many a S130 turbo came in with burnt clutches ,kinda the course with racing a turbo auto though .that trans still had a 2nd brake band the tougher trans ... It comes down to what parts are available and how $$
a lot of trans problems comes down to luck of the draw, some had a broken parts all thru it but no or minor damage to the gear set ,others 1 small piece goes thru the planetarys and kablooy

Last edited by 86tcoupe; 08-18-2017 at 06:58 AM.
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Old 08-19-2017, 04:52 AM   #8
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I guess I really don't care if its auto or manual. I just want a z31 turbo that i can mess with and build up....and probably break hahahaha
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