Bolts, Datsuns & Red Motors - Mick's Workshop 441

By: Mick McCrudden

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micks workshop micks workshop

In Morley's absence, young Mick gets all involved in bolts, while our 240Z owners chip in


Mick's Workshop 

Bolts 'n' threads

It’s funny how it’s often the really simple things that can trip you up over a long project, such as the seemingly harmless nut and bolt.

Just to confuse things, there are multiple types of threads out there, such as UNC, UNF, metric and even proprietary threads from the days when manufacturers were making everything down to their own bolts.

With a big project, I’ll often buy new set of bolts, but also get the originals cleaned up and plated so there’s a good choice to work from when you get to reassembly. The last thing you want is to be held up a day, halfway through a critical task, because you’re missing a bolt.

Oh, and get to know your local bolt specialist – the local hardware store are of minimal use in this environment, while a specialist is worth their weight in gold. Remember sometimes it isn’t just a matter of getting the correct thread and length, but the correct material for the job and the stresses or loads involved.

Now here’s a little trick you might want to try. You know how some people count rosaries or worry beads? I used to keep my hands occupied threading nuts and bolts without looking at them. Sounds odd? It’s a trick my grandfather taught me and is invaluable for those surprisingly common situations when you’re working in a tight spot and you can either see a bolt, or turn a nut on to it, but not both at the same time!

The other great time-saver is having a decent bench grinder and wire wheel on hand. If you nick or damage the end of the thread on a bolt – which is easy to do – you can, with a few minutes work, regrind the end, clean it up and keep going.

| Mick's Tips: Nuts & bolts

(Ed’s note: Dave Morley is on a break.)


Make it easy

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We’re in winter and guess what? This is the time of year when our batteries will start to croak. A battery tender is worth its weight in gold (buy a good-quality one), and if you’re not using one all the time, at least put the battery on a charge the night before you go for a run in your Sunday toy. A fit and happy battery means an quicker and cleaner start and is a whole lot easier on the engine.

| Mick's Tips: Maintaining your car battery through winter



240Z Fan

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240Z is still turning heads 50 years on

I read with interest the article Japanese Value Guide in UC edition 439. This is of particular interest to me as I have owned a 240Z since new.

The fact these beauties are increasing in value is of little consequence to me, as I will never part with my awesome Z (pictured).

My Z has played an integral part of my life from the time I bought it. During the seventies it was my only transport, but also served me faithfully in sprints, hill climbs and motorkhanas.

But I digress. 

The reason I am writing is to talk about the pricing in the 240-260Z sub article in the Value Guide.

You mention the price of a new 1971 Datsun 240Z was $5000. My car is a 1971 model and the price was $5230, a number that is firmly imprinted on my brain. The difference of $230 may seem insignificant, but to a 21-year-old just out of his apprenticeship it was appreciable, as was the purchase price.

The most expensive Premier Holden at the time was in the $3000s and, as you say, the Z was in the same ballpark as a XY GT!

The other point I wish to address is that you say it had no radio. Oh yes it did. They were fitted with a Hitachi push button AM radio with an auto channel seeking feature and electric aerial. Not bad for 1971. 

As there are so few steering wheels left it’s going to be hard for you to confirm my assertion that they were wood, not plasti-wood. My Z still has the original wheel.

I hope I haven’t been too critical, as I love your mag.

My Z had the mother of all restorations a few years back. It took five years. Still looks original but has significant mechanical updates bringing it into line with modern sports car performance. Nothing needs to be changed with the shape, it’s near perfect. What a head-turner it was in the early seventies.....and still is. The Datsun 510 1600 and 240Z were significantly responsible for a number of modern day features we now take for granted, but were quite special at that time, for example alloy head, full synchromesh gearbox, rear independent suspension, disc brakes, overhead cam, etcetera. And don’t forget the self-seeking radio!

Brian James

SOME GREAT info there, Brian and it’s so rare to come across an original owner! Ed Guido says we need to have a chat with you for a story. Something you’ve highlighted is the vagaries of tracking the exact spec and history of 50-year-old cars, particularly when you’re talking of a period where there was a fair bit of ‘wild west’ going on when it came to specs and pricing across states and dealers. You’re right – we sometimes forget how influential some of those Japanese models really were.


More 240Z & Other Stuff

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Original dealer ad for the Datsun 240Z

Your report on valuations of Japanese cars raised some issues on timing regarding the Datsun 240Z. It said:

"Announced late 1969, and Australia saw its first cars a year later." I have the production sheet for the Fairlady and Z cars from 1960 to 1977. The first Zs were the HS30 model and in 1969 there were 438 built. At least one 1969 model hit Australia in 1970.(maybe a few others?) - mine!

I bought a red Datsun 240Z, VIN HS3000091, Registration NID242 on 29/6/95 from a car yard in Sale, Victoria.

That is, vehicle number 91 off the production line in 1969. As I recall, there were a number of differences between the ’69 model and the ’70 model.

The ’69 had: 1. Perspex fairings over the headlights; 2. A front spoiler ‘bib’; 3. Chrome 240Z badges behind the rear side windows over the circular ‘air-vent’; 4. A pair of rearview mirrors mounted on the very front of the front mudguards; 5. A hinged hatch-lid on a small storage area under the back seat. (I’m a bit hazy on the exact location, but it wasn’t in later models as I recall); 6. Possibly the badging on the boot-lid was different.

No doubt there were other variations, but that’s all that springs to mind at this time.

Prior to my ownership, 260Z mag wheels had been fitted.

I had bought the car to have it converted to a replica Ferrari - a Corsa 250 GTO - but when I found out its early build date, I scrapped that plan and bought a second vehicle for that project. By this time, we had 12 cars in our garage, including BMWs, Ferraris, Mustang, Porsches and an F250 Pickup.

My wife and I competed in Targa Tasmania from the first event in 1992 for 12 years. She, driving a BWW initially and then a Porsche 356C. I drove a Mustang for three years then a ‘65 911 Porsche. The number plates for the event were HIS and  HERS which brought a few laughs. Preparing two cars for Targa Tas each year took considerable time and money so the 240Z/Corsa 250 GTO project never got off the ground.

My wife ordered a sell-up of cars after we moved off our rural property and I sold the ‘69 240Z in 2012 to a Brisbane guy who ran a panel shop and was going to restore it. The move from the rural property to our current location meant a new garage capable of storing five cars, plus the carport. Thank god for Shannon’s ‘stable’ insurance.

As an aside, we, my wife (Kerith) and I, continued Targa Rallying in Tasmania in our Porsches and competed in the inaugural Targa event in Newfoundland in 2002. Kerith has also navigated in Targa Tas and Classic Adelaide for Klaus Bischoff (Director of Porsche Museum in Germany) in classic Porsches brought out for those events from the Museum.

More recent adventures were driving an MGB GT from Beijing to London (2010) and then to finalise driving around the world, in 2013, we drove the same car across Canada to Newfoundland and then back to California via Route 66.

The combined distance 46,000km! Each trip was three months.

A parting shot: we organised the first Classic Car Show in Melbourne at Caulfield Racecourse in the mid-1990s, in conjunction with your magazine as a co-sponsor. It was called the The Unique Car Show. Mobil and Mercedes were co-sponsors.

A bit of rambling history there…

Peter Buckingham

THANKS, PETER. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of a ramble when it comes to cars and we should get in touch to unwrap one or two of those stories.


And another thing!

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You can’t argue with these drawings

I always enjoy reading your magazine and hope to continue doing so for years to come. However, the occasional error does raise an eyebrow and call into question the knowledge of the ‘expert’ providing the advice. The words in your Datsun 240-260Z buyer guide (April 30) that ‘Z Car steering in common with most Japanese recirculating ball systems was vague and got worse’ will have left many former and current owners looking under the bonnet and wondering what they missed, given that all Zeds came with a rack and pinion. Best wishes to all on the good ship UC.

John McCulloch

THANKS FOR the heads-up. The crew will be mortified that they missed that one – someone has got their specs sheets mixed up.


Ashtrays & banter

Love the banter and all the trivia in the column.

Just in response to Richard Mahoneys peeves.....I agree with a lot if it, but the foot operated high beam....hardly new tech, I used to love it in the old Falcons (along with the three-quarter vents) but I suppose they won’t give us ashtrays anymore so probably no need for the vents anymore either!

Neil Harrison


Dastardly Dimmer Switches

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Twin headlights started appearing on most 1958 American built cars and this Ford Skyliner is optioned with twin rotating spotlights for squirrel spotting

I observe with much interest the discussion in recent issues of Unique Cars with respect to floor mounted headlight dimmer switches.

The concept of changing headlight beams while keeping both hands on the steering wheel is a sound one.

However I can totally empathise with the experience shared by Paul Hamilton (UC 434) with respect to headlights going out at highway speed on a dark night.

It should be noted, one of our highly respected Australian heavy vehicle manufacturers based in Victoria, for many years, in several of their model lines, mounted the headlight dimmer switch on the floor, and, by design, was required to be actuated by the driver’s heel. One might speculate, that, on this occasion, Mr Hamilton may have been the victim of this design as I am aware of many similar occurrences, where headlights have gone out at night and catastrophic crashes have resulted.

This manufacturer now uses a multifunction steering column mounted combination switch for the control of park/tail lights, headlights HI/LO beam, windscreen wipers/washers, horn, and turn signals.

Over several decades working as a practicing heavy vehicle electrician I have had reason to modify many headlight control systems to avoid the perils of floor-mounted headlight dimmer switches, which, by design and their placement either as on the floor type or through the floor type, are subject to the ingress of gravel particles, dirt, dust and despite the manufacturers best efforts to prevent it, inevitably moisture ingress. Moisture reacts on the dissimilar metal combination at the wiring loom / dimmer switch connection which causes severe corrosion resulting in an open circuit situation, and in more severe cases causes the terminals to separate from the switch assembly resulting in a headlights-out situation.

The gravel/dirt/dust combined with moisture eventually turns into a concrete like substance which causes the floor mount dimmer switch to become inoperative, which at best prevents beam selection, at worst, will prevents any and all headlight operation, guaranteed to prevail at the most inappropriate time, that is at highway speed at night.

Modification actions range from the simple relocation of the existing dimmer switch and associated wiring looms from the floor to a convenient position on the dash/instrument panel to a more safety orientated sophisticated system of change over relays for HI/LO beam selection, and standard relays for load switching, the system actuated by a push / push dimmer switch incorporated in the handle of the turn signal switch, resulting in a system that defaults to LO beam in the event of a dimmer switch failure.

Emergency lighting systems have been developed by myself and no doubt many other professionals in the field in order to safely allow a vehicle to come to a halt, or continue at reduced speed until repairs have been effected.

Emergency lighting systems range from powering up the inner LO beams, which appears to have found favour with long distance passenger coach operators (four-headlight systems) to independently powering up the bull lights on heavy trucks. 

Emergency lighting systems similar to those described here may not meet the relevant vehicle standards.

However when used in a sensible manner, it has the potential to prevent a major crash and save lives.

I would most sincerely urge the readers of this fine family publication, should the headlight system installed to their vehicle need attention, repair and or upgrading to please consider the forgoing as well as the most serious implications with respect to the safety of themselves, their passengers as well as other road users in the event of headlights going out at highway speed at night.

Only the best quality wiring, connectors, switchgear, relays etcetera must be used, the cost of same must always be a very secondary consideration.

Circuit design must be proven sound, if in any doubt, please present same to a professional Automotive Electrician for assessment.

Wiring must be very carefully installed so that it is protected from road grime and abrasion, secured correctly to avoid physical damage for the prevention short or open circuits.

Hopefully these observations will prove to be of interest to the team and the readers of Unique Cars. As always, enjoy receiving Unique Cars, many thanks for a very informative, interesting and entertaining magazine, features and editorial content well done every issue.

Cheers and thanks for the opportunity to contribute to current items of debate.

Mac Carter
Townsville Truck Electrics

MAC, THAT’S absolute gold – many thanks. It’s a timely warning that if you’re doing a bit of a refresh on the old jalopy, checking out the critical electrical systems should be on your list – including that floor-mounted dimmer switch!


VH Commodore lining

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Re the letter in the current edition 439, from John, about the insulation in the VH Commodore, I can report the following.

In 1982, I owned a 1982 VH SLX Commodore, with the 3.3l engine, 4 speed manual transmission & air conditioning.

There was no under bonnet sound deadening / insulation.

Hope this helps your reader.

Tony Stone

WELL DONE, that man.


Red motors are back!

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Bring me that red motor by the door mate, its time for an upgrade

I have been reading a lot of comments in relation to red motors in EJ Holdens for some time and notice that, over time the facts become a little distorted especially by newer generations that have been "told" things that are not quite correct and they take it as verbatim. I was around in the day and will add my two bob’s worth.

The EJ Holden was only in production around about a year and had the last of the old side plate grey motors, they were never offered new with a 149 or 179ci motors as that was the big news with the coming EH. GM-H probably did install a red or two motors in E’s for testing maybe but where are the facts?

My brother worked at Preston Motors in South. Melbourne and still remembers that as you walked in to the spare parts door to the left were two brand new 138ci grey motors, not re-built not change-over but brand new ex-factory, this was back in 1967!

Now you have to ask the question why would GM-H put red engines in the EJ when they still had loads of them in stock?

Many people fitted reds in the earlier Holdens, especially when the greys wore out, they were simple to fit when they came available in the later 1960s. I worked for Sydney Atkinsons Motors in Perth in the early 1970s.

It was a GM dealer and installed motors like the 173s in standard form to LC Toranas and in GTR form (ie WW Stromberg and headers etc) when they ran out of 161s. Also, they fitted 202s in HG’s when they ran out of 186s.

So the only red engines in EJs were more than likely installed by their owners.

As for the comment on XP Ford Falcons having both 13-inch and 14-inch wheels l can factually state that the 14 was only available on the XP Fairmont, as they were an imported wheel from the USA and were fitted purely to clear the standard unventilated disc brake and caliper to the Fairmont. They were a four-stud wheel, The next model Falcon XR had 14-inch in five-stud.

As an aside a friend of mine worked for the Ford Motor Co and remembers the first XK Falcon came with the 144ci motor until about the last three months of manufacture in mid 1962. It did come with a Pursuit 170ci

motor as well, but this was not advertised as Ford was trying to get rid of the last of the XKs before the XL series.

James Govett

GREAT INSIGHT, James, thanks. There’s no doubt there are owner-fitted red motors in EJs. And we’ve had some compelling testimony that there may have been a factory-fitted example or two getting around out there. It’s a seductive thought, even if the evidence is up for debate.



Safety first

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We take safety for granted these days, but would you believe it was only in 1991 and on the EB Falcon that the big family car from Ford got a three-point rear centre belt? ABS was also an EB first but, typically, it was an extra-cost option back then. How things have changed, eh?

(From Dave Morley’s wonderful book Great Aussie Car Fails, published by Hardie Grant.)


Write to Mick c/ Unique Cars magazine, Locked Bag 12, Oakleigh, Vic 3166


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