The jobs that had to be done before we could go back for certification was to fit rear belts, convert the front belts to stalk buckles, fix the horn, and raise the front ride height. And some of those jobs more or less fixed themselves, and we’ll soon see.
The easy one was the horn. I hooked them up to the battery directly and they honked just fine…in fact they’re Fiamm El Grande Twin electric air horns and are obscenely loud.
The answer was quickly found at the steering wheel end. For the horn to work, this copper tang has to contact the back of the steering wheel boss, and pressing the button merely completes the circuit. The design of the Nardi boss kit was slightly different to the stock one, and this wasn’t touching the boss by about an mm or so. Bending forward the tang so that it touched the boss brought the horn to life straight away!
The next step was the front seat belt buckles. Originally I had bought seat belt kits with the longest stalk buckles available, but they turned out to be too short. So I swapped them for fabric mounted buckles, which had a longer reach…but the engineer said that those were unsafe, since the fabric could get caught in the seat folding mechanism or simply abrade away over time by rubbing against the seat rails, etc. Fair point.
So the plan was to drill new mounting holes for the buckles further forward on the tunnel, but when I measured it….hmmm. Well to cut a long story short, it turns out that the original seat belt kit I ordered with stalk buckles was mis-boxed with the wrong parts. I ordered a new set and they fit perfectly.
And I didn’t have to redrill the tunnel either.
The good luck continued when I had a go at fitting the rear belts though. I had bought these: motorsport harness plates, which I was going to rivet in place under the floorpan as mounts for the new rear belts. The floorpan would have to be drilled to accept the seat belt bolts of course.
But then….wow. Under all the trim, the car already has seat belt mounts!
There were mounts in the base of the backrest for the inner buckles…
All factory style reinforcement underneath too…
So for perhaps the first time in the whole project, something turned out to be easier than expected….which is very refreshing to say the least. I’m not sure why the Hakosuka has seat belt mounts in the back: maybe they were a dealer option, maybe they were required for one of the few export markets for the GC10 (South Africa and some Northern European countries as far as I know)…or maybe Nissan was simply future-proofing the car against expected safety regulations that didn’t come until many years later. Who knows…but I am not complaining!
The last job was to remove the front suspension. I needed the car to have 10cm of ground clearance at the front, and when it was tested, it only had 7.5cm. So the front suspension needed to go up a whole inch, and rather than try to mix and match various aftermarket springs (‘can’t just waltz into an Aussie suspension shop and ask for GC10 parts!) I decided to go the extra step and convert the front struts to coilover, so that the height would be adjustable.
Surprisingly for an old car, all the major bolts came off without complaint and there was just a stubborn swaybar bolt that refused to cooperate. The struts are now in the custody of my old friend Dave Falson at East Coast Suspensions. The spring pans will be cut off, threaded sleeves welded in, and racing springs installed on adjustable perches. Dave also recommended shortening the strut tubes so that a Z32 300ZX Koni insert can be fitted. He’s done this for me before, the Z32 shocks have stiffer valving for the heavy V6 ZX and the shorter body means more travel when lowered. Hopefully the struts will be ready by the weekend.
One of the reasons the car rode and handled so badly at first was because the front suspension was resting on its bumpstops. These are a really oldschool design, and you can see in the image two pics above that it just acts as a snubber for the lower control arm. For the ride height that the Hako now sits at, these bumpstops are too long, and given that they are almost 40 years old their material has more in common with granite than soft rubber. These will be ditched, and modern squashy bumpstops (which mount on the shock itself) will be fitted, which should free up more upward travel.
The seat belts and the horn were a pleasant surprise, and now all we have to do is wait for my friends at East Coast Suspensions to wave their magic wand over the front struts and we’ll be ready for another go at certification.