When we left things at the last instalment, we only had a few little things to do, and the major part was waiting for the front suspension to come back. Well….it’s come back.
But first a few little things. One of the cool funky oldschool things that came with the car was a pair of 80s vintage Pioneer TS-X9 pod speakers. For the Hakosuka speakers like this are very popular in Japan, simply because the parcel shelf is just a few inches above the fuel tank and so there isn’t room for conventional basket speakers.
They are two-way splits, but don’t be that impressed, the speakers are pretty small and only sound “okay”. But there’s lots of space inside those enclosures for I think, a modern pair of 5 in splits. That’s a mod for later. But the great shock was that these heavy metal bodied speakers were attached to the parcel shelf….with tape.
There is as you can see a provision for it to be bolted down with a 6mm bolt but it wasn’t used. So in a collision, the 3-4kg cast metal speakers would split your head like a melon before heading through the windscreen with barely abated speed 🙂 Gosh, life must be cheap in Japan! So, I made a bridge of thick metal so that I could bolt the speaker down from underneath.
They’re still 80’s as all hell but now much less lethal!
You might also remember that the Hako was only just below the official noise limit, and the engineer himself suggested fitting air filters over the Weber horns, which would have a flow-on effect of muffling the exhaust slightly. And while I was worried that filters would uglify the engine bay, I don’t think it looks too bad at all…
Now for the suspension! My friends at East Coast Suspensions had cut off the stock spring perches, fitted a shorter, firmer Koni Sport shock intended for a Z31 300ZX, welded on a threaded collar, and fitted a 250 pound spring and height adjustable collars.
The quite clever thing is that they found that an oem strut top mount from a 1991 Australian GM sedan called the Commodore was a bolt in fit for the Hakosuka.
It’s a stock-style rubber isolated mount, which will be kinder on the near 4 decade old bodyshell and being GM, a brand new one was dirt cheap. It was also offset for additional castor and camber. And while I really like the idea of this, I think it’s a bit too thick, you can see that the red spring hat is over two inches below the strut top and this eats into valuable shock travel. We shall see, but I suspect that I may have to swap the GM tops for Cusco camber tops, which are less than half as thick. This will retain shock travel if I want to run a low ride height.
But I have to admit….it does bolt up perfectly like it was designed for the car. If you look closely you can see that the strut is mounted inwards and back for more aggressive geometry (yay for GM).
But before I could finish up with the suspension, I wanted to renew some of the crusty old rubber suspension bushes….which were on the verge of falling apart.
Here’s a completed corner (except for that loose swaybar link!) with new urethane bushes for the sway bar, new rubber bushes for the radius rod, and new grade-8 hi tensile bolts throughout.
And I think you will agree….when we present the car for certification again, a lack of ground clearance (at the front anyway) should not be an issue….behold the Hakosuka in Safari Rally Mode! I think that the clearance all the way under the car is over 10cm, except maybe one exhaust bracket which is a few mm under. Maybe I should over inflate the tyres on the day!
One easy last mod I wanted to do was to upgrade the coil. You guys will know that at low rpm and at idle the engine’s always been a little fluffy, and I thought that might have something to do with the coil, which looked like it was the original low output one that came with the points ignition. Given that the car now has bigger carbs and cam, the engine probably really needed a high output ignition to run well.
So I bought one of these:
It’s an MSD Blaster3 coil, which should provide a much bigger zap, and so I fitted some new NGK BP6ES-11 spark plugs, which have a 1.1mm gap instead of the 0.8mm gap ones which are recommended for the car.
They’re quite easy to install, too. And I have to say, it does discernably start more easily.
And seems to rev a little more crisply too, but we’ll see if it drives any different.
But if you think that it’s all going a little bit too easy….well the car had one last surprise 🙂
Just as I was putting the car back together, I reinstalled the air horns which I had removed to get access to the coil. And the car wouldn’t start. Unplug the horns….and the car will start. Oh dear….not electrical problems again. Anyway, the culprit was obvious once I took a close look at the wiring. The -ve terminal at the coil had two black wires attached to it. One went to the electronic distributor black box, as you would expect. The other black wire…went into a connector, which went into another connector…which went to the +ve feed for the air horns. Um….what?
When I got the car, the horns were disconnected, which is why the car ran. However, re-connecting the air horns means the car doesn’t start.
The conversion to electronic ignition was done by a prior owner in Japan, so I thought it would be best to retrace those steps, and I started with the excellent DIY instructions at the Atlantic Z Car Club site. Their excellent tech tips section had this diagram which clearly shows that when you convert the old Nissan points ignition to 280ZX electronic, there is only meant to be ONE black wire attached to the -ve coil terminal, not two.
So I disconnected that second black wire that went to the horns….and voila! We have horns, and the car starts (at the same time even!). Damn…this car really won’t let me go easy….but I am glad to say that everything is now in order, and I’ll give the engineer a call tomorrow and make an appointment for certification. Hopefully we get through this time!