Whitebird

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okayfine
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Whitebird

Postby okayfine » 02 Oct 2008 14:35

A certain Wolfman asked me to start a thread about my project car. I hadn't really thought about it previously, though I've read and paged through countless other project threads. I was going to save the roll out of this thread for the publication of DQ 9.3 (wherein my project is detailed), however it isn't that grand and certainly won't spoil many people's appetites if I lay it out here as it will be IMAX-expanded. So, here goes.

I sold my previous 510 (http://www.jetlink.net/~okayfine/JCdatsun.html) in May of 2007. I have come to discover that I like to build and tweek at least as much as I like to drive a 510, so once my blue KA510 got to a certain point, I felt like it was a good time to get what money out of it I could. The urge to sell was also fanned by BB list admin Derek selling his Coupe on eBay. After orchestrating the all-Coupe DQ issue 8.1, I really, really wanted to get in on the JDM action. In the end, the budget I'd set didn't allow me the ability to buy either of the two desireable Coupes that were available at the time. I stuffed my money in the bank and waited.

Up popped a white, stock 4-door Bluebird on eBay. I'd seen the car when it originally went up for auction on Yahoo.jp and sold then for ~$6000USD. Freshly imported, the sellers started out asking a significant premium for a stock car, be it a Bluebird or no. As we all know, there's only a very small market for bone-stockers, and what market there is doesn't command the prices a well-modified car will. The other part of the market for bone-stockers is made up of people like me who want a blank canvas and don't want to deal with OP hacks and dodgey mods. To make a long story slightly less long, after a couple failed eBay attempts at selling, the importers and I worked out a deal.

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Whitebird started out as a 1969 Bluebird 1300 Deluxe. Bluebird denotes it was a JDM car, right-hand-drive. 1300 gives away the engine size, a nice, robust L13. Deluxe means a few different things, most notably the style of fender mirror (flat panel versus SSS bullet), the differential ratio (4.375). One or the other also dictated the transmission type (three-speed manual with three-on-the-tree shifting), and braking arangement (four-wheel drums). Other rare features of this car include the taillight garnish panel.

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The car itself presented very well. The body was straight and it had been repainted before it left Japan. That's not to say the body was rust free, despite the sellers saying exactly that. Bottom line - the car lived in Japan most of its life, it has rust. Still, no cancer, and no rust-through concerns. The drivetrain and suspension were original and many components were from the Nissan factory. Lots of deteriorated rubber in the suspension, but it drove perfectly well on the way home and the few months that I drove it before beginning the tear down. The interior was immaculate, with everything stock and free of rips or other damage. The carpet had some odd fading, but a little clothing dye took care of that.

So, at this point I'd fulfilled my desire for something JDM, something RHD. No, it wasn't a Coupe, but maybe next time. I still had the beginnings of something cool and rare, but where to take it? Having driven it around town for a few months, it definitely needed something more. Stock was boring to drive, no fun at all (and this wasn't helped by the lo-po L13 nor the three-second-shifts steering-column mounted shifter. I needed a plan.

Thankfully I'd developed a plan even before I actually traded cash for the car. The car was too stock to modify greatly (ala my blue KA510) but a well-chosen set of modifications seemed like it would suit it perfectly. The basic theme was "period JDM" - things that (for the most part) could have been done to it back in the day.
Because when you spend a silly amount of money on a silly, trivial thing that will help you not one jot, you are demonstrating that you have a soul and a heart and that you are the sort of person who has no time for Which? magazine. – Jeremy Clarkson

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Wheels

Postby okayfine » 02 Oct 2008 14:43

The first thing I did was change out the wheels. The tires were OLD and cracked. As I had moderate performance plans for the car, I needed something more than a 145/80/13. The 195/60/14s had served me well on my blue KA510, better visuals, still decent choice of tires, not too much weight, cheap, and most importantly it still allowed the car to handle without surrendering to out-right grip. Call it the "Dance Of The Dime" if you want, but IMO large, wide, high-grip rubber takes some of the fun out of the car.

JDM Formula One rims were bolted in place. They seem like Panasport copies, and though I'm more of a fan of Watanabes, the price was right. 14x6, Yokohama EVS100s. Rollin'.

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Browsing eBay, I found a listing for a single center cap for a '79 200SX. An email to BB list Chad, the Nissan parts guy got me four of these to keep the overall theme of originality:

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Because when you spend a silly amount of money on a silly, trivial thing that will help you not one jot, you are demonstrating that you have a soul and a heart and that you are the sort of person who has no time for Which? magazine. – Jeremy Clarkson

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defdes
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Re: Whitebird

Postby defdes » 02 Oct 2008 14:44

Great projects...I love the blue KA too, nice touch on the valve cover.
So this will be a tear down and restore to it's existing specs, or will you go deep?

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jason
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Re: Whitebird

Postby jason » 02 Oct 2008 14:54

Awesome stuff Julian, I like the fact that you've a factory 4.375 R160 open diff there. Are you sure the Formula 1's that you have are 14x6? I have a similiar set, but, in polished aluminium and gold spoked, but, I'm quite sure that they are 14x5.5's ... I also have the "Formula 1" centre caps in chrome and blue, but, missing one badge on one.
Jason

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Exterior

Postby okayfine » 02 Oct 2008 15:02

Continuing on the exterior theme, mirrors were the next thing to be changed out. The Deluxe panel mirrors are fine, and I probably would have kept them (and avoided the expense of the NOS SSS pieces I ended up buying), but I could not adjust them enough to make them useful. Their limit of adjustment seems to have been made with '60s Japanese males in mind. In any case, the purchase of NOS SSS mirrors made that irrelevant, and themselves dictated a certain change in direction of the project.

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I started to think about converting the car to SSS badging. But I didn't want to just slap on some SSS badges and call it good, there's no difference between that and some 318Ci joker adding an ///M to his trunk lid. No, if I was going the SSS route, I was going whole-hog.

So I imported this grill:

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The rare 1969 SSS Coupe cast grill. The headlight surrounds are made from cast pot metal and each piece weighs about as much as an entire PL510 grill. The center grill is also different from any other year. All together it is one of the pieces that really make the car. But, one of the surrounds was busted! Well, a little add-on metal work brought the damage to 5-foot status, which is fine for me.

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Qwik510 provided one of my other favorite pieces for the car, the "Do It In A Datsun" license plate frame.

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I also added the 1600SSS badge to the beaver panel. The underlined Bluebird badge on the trunk lid was another addition, but it didn't last long. It's slightly wrong for the car in that the underlined badge is a '71+ thing, but that's not why I put the kaibosh on it.

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I ended up removing the Bluebird trunk and fender badges in order to replace them with the proper pieces. I'd come to call the car "Whitebird" due to it being a Bluebird with white paint, however I had the means to get something truely unique made for this car. Something keeping with the originality theme but at the same time really making the car stand out. My third (of four) most favorite things for this car, the Whitebird badges:

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I had drawn up the Bluebird script in my illustration program and early on had played with the shapes to create the missing letters of the Bluebird "font." The "W" was the hardest to create.
Last edited by okayfine on 17 Mar 2009 13:52, edited 1 time in total.
Because when you spend a silly amount of money on a silly, trivial thing that will help you not one jot, you are demonstrating that you have a soul and a heart and that you are the sort of person who has no time for Which? magazine. – Jeremy Clarkson

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Interior

Postby okayfine » 02 Oct 2008 15:21

As mentioned, the interior was in unbelievably good condition.

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Rear-seat ashtray placement is unique:

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However, as with most aspects of the car, the incredible originality wasn't always pulse-quickening. I settled on about four choice modifications for the interior of the car, starting with the most important thing - the seats.

I'm a self-described seat snob. I love good seats and can barely stand bad seats (2000 Toyota Tacoma bench seat, I'm staring in your specific direction). All my cars have had seats other than stock. I tend to favor the high-backed, winged seats ala Recaro Sport, but that certainly wouldn't fit the theme of this car. Given the originality (there's that word again), I needed something that looked good, felt good, but that would fit in with the interior of the car. Recovering a choosen seat was an option, but every car project has a budget and this one is no different.

$400 later, I picked up this mint pair of E30 BMW 325is seats. The leather (I guess it's leather, but not as we know it in today's interiors) graining and pattern match the rest of the interior so well, I won't be recovering them. Most people wouldn't know they weren't the stock seats, and this suits me just fine.

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The stock steering wheel was also pulled. Having looked at umpteen Yahoo.jp auctions for Coupes and just general Bluebird drooling, the Nardi steering wheel seemed like defacto factory equipment. So, I got this piece off eBay from Japan, a 14" black/black Nardi wheel:

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With the drivetrain details to be detailed below, one of the things I had to make room for (literally, no tranny tunnel hole) was the shifter for the 5-speed transmission. Again, the theme dictated the appearance of the shifter lever and boot. I topped the shift lever with a Hurst cue ball shifter with three-speed engraved pattern to pay tribute to the original three-on-the-tree transmission.

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Lastly (as I don't consider the addition of seat belts a modification, though the car came with none), I added the statement piece for the interior. The last of my most favorite bits, I replaced the cherry '69 instrument cluster (that I never liked and even replaced with individual gauges in my blue KA510 which was also a '69) with an imported, disasssembled, detailed, reasssembled 1969 SSS instrument clussster.

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This helps make the case for the SSS rebadging as well as gives me some more useful gauges versus idiot lights. It also adds the very useful tachometer. And most importantly (say it with me), it keeps the originality of the car intact. I could have made another gauge cluster with Autometer stuff, or I could have slapped on a tach to the steering column. But, c'mon, would you?
Because when you spend a silly amount of money on a silly, trivial thing that will help you not one jot, you are demonstrating that you have a soul and a heart and that you are the sort of person who has no time for Which? magazine. – Jeremy Clarkson

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Suspension and Brakes

Postby okayfine » 02 Oct 2008 15:32

I built my KA510 as a typical 510 go-cart. Low and stiff, it worked well for that, but I've changed my driving habits since then and I didn't see doing the same thing for Whitebird. Rear suspension got a slotted rear crossmember, Savage washers, Tokico blue shocks, and cut D50 springs to give me ~150in/lb wheel rate. No pictures of this because it's pretty old-hat.

Front suspenion was much the same - GC coilovers with 150in/lb springs on stock struts with Tokico blue inserts. I acquired a pair of progressive-rate springs that I will be playing with once the car is up and running and I have a baseline as to the suitabiility of the 150in/lb straight rate springs. The progressives are spec'ed for a VW AII GTI, but the rates obtained from Koni put it in the usable spectrum for my car. We shall see. It's a 12" long spring, hence the 12" straight rate spring below.

Brakes were another matter. Given how I figured I would drive this car once I finished it, I knew I didn't need four-wheel discs. I also didn't need huge front brakes (ala 11 inch Z31 rotors and Wilwood calipers of the blue car). As mentioned, the Whitebird came with four-wheel drums:

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And, after successfully sourcing four new aluminum drums, I decided to keep the four-drum setup. I wasn't going to take the car on the track and my canyon driving is milder than it used to be. I expect to stop, but not out-brake Super Mario. Of course, I won't be going as fast either.

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This is the front wheel (big "D" center cap right side up in this shot):
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Last edited by okayfine on 03 Oct 2008 07:54, edited 1 time in total.
Because when you spend a silly amount of money on a silly, trivial thing that will help you not one jot, you are demonstrating that you have a soul and a heart and that you are the sort of person who has no time for Which? magazine. – Jeremy Clarkson

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Re: Whitebird

Postby hang_510 » 02 Oct 2008 15:37

its come along nicely.

i like the whitebird badges! :mrgreen:

motor upgrade details, waiting for the DQ article???



the buyer of the blue KA was on here, but havent heard from him since...
byron wrote:I'd be all over that like a fat kid on a smartie.

okayfine wrote:Sense doesn't always have everything to do with it, and I speak from experience.

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Engine

Postby okayfine » 02 Oct 2008 15:44

So, how to update the engine of Whitebird without tossing all that originality out the window? Well, I really couldn't think of a good way, or at least a way that wasn't significantly better than what I decided on.

Modern engines are great, parts are more readily available, they are better engineered, they last longer, etc. And, with Whitebird being a Japanese car and being imported from Japan, well, it needed a Japanese engine. So, as anyone has probably guessed, I went with the SR20DE.

The SR requires a reversed crossmember which wasn't difficult (and years easier than the oil pan I made for my KA510), and I built mount towers to use the S13 hydro mounts. I cut and sectioned a stock transmission crossmember to fit the 5-speed. Driveline was shortened as appropriate. The SR has mostly been an installation without fuss. Of course, the easy part is bolting it in.

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Being RHD, the lovely Autech SR header doesn't require the rework to fit as it does for a LHD 510. I still had to cut the flange from the header to clear the idler arm, but I was going to do that anyway (it's HUGE) to make way for a v-band flange.

How does all that fit with the theme of the car? Well, I'm not doing an EFI SR. It will be carb-fed. And, given all the other work to the car, what kind of carbs make the most sense (especially given a certain carb-centric web page...)? The SR will be fed by a pair of Datsun Roadster SUs.

Of course, that requires a manifold. HKS made a few SR/Weber manifolds, but even those are rare and spendy. No one makes an SR SU manifold, for obvious reasons. Still, in for a penny, in for a pound:

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Having gotten this far, I'd like to redesign the manifold. But that won't happen. It's taken a while to get this far and I'd rather keep this project moving. The placement of the carbs requires a much shorter brake master cylinder (and you thought that being RHD would solve all your problems) so I found a '87 VW Jetta piece that is ~4-1/2 from base to end (versus the 7" for the stock Datsun piece). I'll also have to relocate the battery to the trunk, which is something I didn't want to do. Alas.

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:arrow: So that's about the current state of the car. Things are probably 70% completed at this time. I hope for a rebirth before the end of the year. I'll update this thread as things get accomplished. If I've skipped steps you're interested in, please ask.
Because when you spend a silly amount of money on a silly, trivial thing that will help you not one jot, you are demonstrating that you have a soul and a heart and that you are the sort of person who has no time for Which? magazine. – Jeremy Clarkson

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okayfine
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Re: Whitebird

Postby okayfine » 02 Oct 2008 15:46

defdes wrote:Great projects...I love the blue KA too, nice touch on the valve cover.
So this will be a tear down and restore to it's existing specs, or will you go deep?


A mix of both, as you can see. Trying to keep it appearing original to a non-510er. I don't want to spoil the originality, but at the same time bone-stock was boring.
Because when you spend a silly amount of money on a silly, trivial thing that will help you not one jot, you are demonstrating that you have a soul and a heart and that you are the sort of person who has no time for Which? magazine. – Jeremy Clarkson

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Re: Whitebird

Postby okayfine » 02 Oct 2008 15:47

jason wrote:Awesome stuff Julian, I like the fact that you've a factory 4.375 R160 open diff there. Are you sure the Formula 1's that you have are 14x6? I have a similiar set, but, in polished aluminium and gold spoked, but, I'm quite sure that they are 14x5.5's ... I also have the "Formula 1" centre caps in chrome and blue, but, missing one badge on one.


I'm not sure, but they look it based on the tires. I'll check next time they're off. I know the front and rear offsets are different (unfortunately), and I had to swap them to keep the rear fender lips from cutting the tires. I could roll the lips, but I'm bad with body work and want to stay away from stuff like that as much as I can.
Because when you spend a silly amount of money on a silly, trivial thing that will help you not one jot, you are demonstrating that you have a soul and a heart and that you are the sort of person who has no time for Which? magazine. – Jeremy Clarkson

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Re: Whitebird

Postby jason » 02 Oct 2008 15:50

I like the SR20de also with the SU's! Why not something a little more L though, perhaps a LZ22? That would look almost invisible as a swap ...
Jason

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Re: Whitebird

Postby okayfine » 02 Oct 2008 15:50

hang_510 wrote:its come along nicely.

i like the whitebird badges! :mrgreen:

motor upgrade details, waiting for the DQ article???

the buyer of the blue KA was on here, but havent heard from him since...


There haven't been many motor details yet. I'm just into dealing with the intake manifold. The distributor issue is packed away in a box somewhere under my work bench.

My old blue KA510 was sold to N_V_S, and I was hoping to keep an eye on the car through the510realm, but he seems to have moved on.
Because when you spend a silly amount of money on a silly, trivial thing that will help you not one jot, you are demonstrating that you have a soul and a heart and that you are the sort of person who has no time for Which? magazine. – Jeremy Clarkson

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okayfine
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Re: Whitebird

Postby okayfine » 02 Oct 2008 15:55

jason wrote:I like the SR20de also with the SU's! Why not something a little more L though, perhaps a LZ22? That would look almost invisible as a swap ...


I agree. If the car had come with even a warmed L16, I might have kept it going (or at least delayed this huge project until I killed it). Part of the reasoning for the SR SU is because no one's done it (though I have seen pictures of an FJ SU, in a Roadster no less). I also think I'll enjoy the higher redline of the SR (and the 4.375 diff will help out the bottom end).

In looking at the whole project, an L-series-based engine would have made some sense, and it most definitely would have gotten this project on the road already. If the SR SU is all I hope it to be, I won't be disappointed, but I don't have anyone to ask what it's like.

Still, it's kinda fun walking around here in no-man's land.
Because when you spend a silly amount of money on a silly, trivial thing that will help you not one jot, you are demonstrating that you have a soul and a heart and that you are the sort of person who has no time for Which? magazine. – Jeremy Clarkson

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Re: Whitebird

Postby jason » 02 Oct 2008 16:06

Well, I like the project and the look. Keep us updated please!
Jason


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