Liams 1985 Nissan Gazelle S12 FJ20

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So, thought I better get myself a classic Japanese car awhile back, because new german daily driver cars are boring me lately. 


Was looking at old Toyotas and Datsuns etc but I decided it had to be a 70's or 80's 2 door coupe of some kind in the end. Pop up head lights would be a bonus.


Got thinking about my S12 RX Silvia CA18ET notch back I owned back in the early noughties and thought hmm, that was a pretty cool, cheap fun car.


Anyway started looking around in Australia and realised these things just are not about. Luckily I got a lead on a car that was not even advertised and found this :


Original one lady owner Nissan Gazelle S12 ,










The main reason I bought this particular one, other than the fact its so clean is because it has a R180 IRS disk brake rear end and they are quite rare here, most of these sold new in Australia came with drum brake live axle rear set ups and I was not too keen on that.


It has factory AC that still works, power steer etc. Really original car, factory head unit still fitted and all that stuff! Pretty hard to find in this kind of condition these days, I mean it is 30 years old!


When I got it, seat covers and window shades had been fitted its whole life until now, so the interior has survived really well.






Only downside to the whole deal is that its a CA20E. Automatic. Yuck I know. But at least it's been cared for and never thrashed.


The Automatic can jog on though, I plan a manual conversion very shortly.





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First order of the day was to fix a few minor things wrong with it and get a roadworthy, get it registered asap etc.


Club reg FTW!






Bought some wheels on the cheap for it,


D hole 15 x 8 steelies, 0 offset rear + 10 front, with 195/50/15 tyres. 






Had to roll the rear guard lips, just folded though and not pumped








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Its sitting on super low Lovells springs at the moment, the fronts need to come down some more obviously. I have more suspension parts coming soon to sort this out. Stay tuned.


The eagle eyed will notice I removed the mud flaps and 80's neon side stripe graphic as well.



Started collecting pieces to begin the manual conversion. Do you know how hard it is to find manual parts for these things here?! Luckily I got a manual pedal box from a fellow forum member, it's still in NZ at mums place so will have to grab it or get it sent over soon haha.

I want to keep the CA20e for now as it runs well, plus the AC and power steer are a luxury I don't want to give up!
Will head to pick a part and get a CA20 manual box from a R31 pintara, they are still semi common in the junk yards and I can use all the bits in my budget conversion until the next step.
Also currently looking for a FJ20, they are about but also very rare in complete condition with all the mounts, bits and pieces to fit a S12. I also want brackets to mount the AC, PS etc. Probably dreaming as most of that stuff gets binned when they got stuck in Datsun 1600's etc.
See how I go on my hunt. I guess that's half the fun building old cars eh? I don't know if I could go SR20 though, even though they are common as and so cheap to get parts for...
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So I bought one of these (And no, its not the old L series)





I had to drive nearly 4 hours to go get it though...
Anyway, its a complete running motor apparently. It was in a Stanza coupe most of its previous life until now. Its obviously from a DR30 originally though judging by the intake manifold length.
Has a 280ZX 71B close ratio gearbox attached to the FJ bell housing 
ECU and loom is Microtech MTX-8 (pretty old now I know) with a hand controller to tune it
Bigger injectors of some kind
Spare DR30 Turbo inlet manifold, cam cover and turbo flywheel / clutch setup (bigger diameter)
Headers to suit a 510 1600 (probably won't use them, they are pretty ratty but the exhaust flange is good to make a start on a new set)
Engine mounts to suit a Stanza (Dont really need these but the rubber mounts are pretty trick looking pieces)
Just bought a gasket set for it today. I plan on going through it properly and collecting bits along the way.
Having trouble finding S12 FJ20 mounts - Obviously. I might have to make some although I have read somewhere the CA20 passengers side is the same as FJ20.
I plan on using this on a daily basis, so I want to get the AC and powersteering brackets sorted. Going to keep this one an NA screamer, some individual throttle bodies would be nice if finances allow!


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So I have been pretty busy doing work on this as much as possible!


Knocked up a set of mounts to fit the FJ20 into the CA20 cross member, as they dont actually bolt up like people say they do. The cross members are definitely different, although only very slightly but enough to cause headaches when trying to fit the engine properly and level / square. 


These mounts sit the FJ sump level with the CA20 cross member but still allow me to just close the original bonnet without having to use an RS-X Bonnet bulge. Pretty happy it clears, will show later how close everything is and I had to do a few things a bit different as you will see.






Cleaned the engine bay up, came out quite good actually under all the 30 years worth of grubbyness. I got the steering rack rebuilt as it was leaking a bit around the seals. An ideal time to do so while I am in there - no pesky engine in the way!




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Here's the 280ZX close ratio gearbox, its got the FJ bell housing on the front. Pretty cool how all this stuff is so interchangeable! I gave it a quick once over and had a look inside. Seems all ok, no chipped syncros etc and should be good to go.




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Onto the more exciting stuff. Got the AC mounted and the power steer pump etc. Pretty much dummied up the whole lot and dropped it in one go.


I had a few problems with the DR30 inlet manifold taking up a lot of room in the S12 engine bay. People said they fit ok - they dont... So I had to remove it and re think the situation.




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You can see the DR30 inlet is quite a bit too big here in the first pic :



I managed to find a S12 inlet manifold though for a really good price, pretty stoked as these are pretty hard to come by.


This gives me heaps more room, like the way Nissan intended it! I am just in the process of assembling the new manifold as we speak. I have test fitted it though and it looks heaps better already, plus the bonnet closes without having to modify anything or get a super rare RS-X style bonnet bulge.


Once the engine is up and running I plan on painting the cam cover the proper wrinkle dark red colour and a few other little bits and pieces obviously!



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Oh yeah, check this out. 


SR20 clutch fan fits perfectly onto the FJ water pump and lots of clearance behind the CA20 radiator. 


Im keen to use as many Nissan / Datsun parts that I have lying about in the shed. ha-ha


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Bought some 15 inch SSR Longchamps for this about 4 months ago out of Japan.

Trailed them up, pretty good fitment



I then gave them to a wheel restoration place to polish up and restore as the anodized finish had gone a bit cloudy on them etc.

Long story short. I started getting pretty nervous when the wheel resto shop was not returning any of my phone calls to see how they were getting on. One day I went in to see what the fuck was happening. Apparently not much at all, which I found pretty annoying after having them for 6 weeks by this stage...

I have given them to someone else much more reputable now, should have them back in the next week or two.

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Fitted my Nissan S12 Turbo body kit that I had imported ages ago. Looks good having some 80's aero on there now.


Was good to take it to the Classic Japan car show here in Melbourne recently but it was running like crap that day especially. 


I've had a lot of trouble getting the carbs running right since the conversion, they were always running super rich after trying everything. I even took it to someone else who supposedly dyno tuned it but he just pissed me around and gave it back to me running exactly the same...

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Which leads me to the next chapter.

Twin carbs are nice and everything but the lack of performance that I have been used to kind of always bugged me. I had pretty much everything to turbo it in the shed so...


Im still just mocking everything up, moving things about. I only need to fit the intercooler next and then I can start on all the pipework.


Still trying to work out what ECU to use. Ive got a microtech sitting in the shed setup for a FJ20 turbo that will get it running asap for no cost but im keen to get a new Link Monsoon ECU if funds allow



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