While Miguel was casually sanding down parts of the body to see if we could find a paint match, he stumbled upon some brown on the door. I immediately asked him to go over the door with an easy sand with my fingers crossed. Low and behold, the original "VIP'S" livery! I have to say, it is quite amazing to see the original livery in the flesh, and it makes paint matching that much easier!
Due to a new job, updates have been quite slim and I apologize for that. As the wallet slims, Miguel has made some promising strides in the restoration. Since dropping the VIP'S Z at Miguel's shop, it has received a tremendous amount of work. Thus far, the car has undergone a full paint strip and sandblasting, much needed body work from the many years of racing, custom fitting of new body parts and reinforcements to withstand the stresses of racing.
On April 3, 2015 I took another trip down south to Miguel's to begin the selection of paint and review the work thus far. I arrived happy to find that the car had been completely sandblasted and the body work was well on its way.
The rear fenders needed a considerable amount of work, given that they had been damaged over the years and replaced with later Series II fenders. I had Miguel patch up the Series II fender vents, as the car will have the correct early Series I vented hatch. Here is a glimpse of what is to come... I have to admit that it was very exciting to see the old C-Production flares back on the car for the first time in probably 30 years!
There is something special about seeing a vintage car in the mid-state of restoration. The exposted bare metal gives you a real taste of just how much of tin cans these cars really were! The roll bar was built by Steve Epperly's father when Loren first received the car in late 1976. The corner gussets really go to show how much detail was really put into ensuring this car was as rigid as possible.
Miguel's paint matching guy ended up presenting us with what he eye-matched based off the original VIP'S livery door. While they were excellent matches, I was hoping for a creme and brown that were a tad lighter. The paint guy will be mixing paint a few shades lighter. TheLamborghini "70's-looking" orange shown in the photo will be the color of the borders the VIP'S designs, the light grey will serve as the engine bay and underbody color, and the dark great as the interior.
After I returned home and in more recent weeks, Miguel has continued to repair the rear of the car. Unfortunately, the rear has turned out to be a larger undertaking than initially expected. Of course, that can't be a huge surprise given that this is a vintage car restoration right? The original rear valance was removed to find that the rear body frame was pushed in about an inch.
Through Miguel's ingenious work, he was able to realign everything so that the rear valance looked as though it was never removed! In order to avoid cracks in the paint, all the metal on the car is being shaped to as near-perfect as possible before skin layers of filler are applied.
Here you can see an inner fender lip being created from scratch with the purpose of reinforcing previously cut fenders. Miguel will be adding this 90 degree inward lip to improve rigidity. We believe this will lessen the stress on this area which commonly results in cracked paint. You can see from this photo that the lip is being welded to the inside fender.
You can see from this photo that the lip is being welded to the inside fender.
And the result?
Other body panels being stripped and prepped for paint! A Series I hatch, engine bay lids, and 280Z valance pieces that the car raced with.
A few more shots of other body panels being prepped: C-Production flared front fenders, rear flares and a 432-style wing which the car ran with back in the day.
Now it may just be me being OCD, but details make-eth the restoration! The details are also the most enjoyable part of the process as well. Here you can see the finished product of a 1970 driver side door with body work that matches the original "VIP'S" door. Everything from the quick release latch to metal lightening. Of course, I wanted to keep the original door as a memento.
Customs by Miguel came highly recommended by Les Cannaday at Classic Datsun Motorsports. After meeting Miguel for the first time I knew immediately why, he was a straight shooter. Miguel charges and honest wage for his work and is truly a master of his craft. Best of all, you can see the passion in his eyes. It is not all the time that you meet a body man who takes the time to understand the scope of a project and what end outcome the customer is aiming for.
Les and I arrived at Miguel's shop around 4:30 PM to drop off the Z car. Miguel's shop turned out to be very small, but seemingly a very affective operation.
Miguel was no rookie to race car restoration. This trick old Datsun 710 race car was in a mid-project phase, having the rear passenger quarter panel repaired from road racing damage. This was an older restoration and Les asked Miguel to make it "new," but not "too new." Hopefully we will see it out at the races again soon!
Les, Miguel, and I (right to left) began the inspection of the body and parts. The great thing about Les is that is not only a true expert when it comes to Datsuns, but really takes the time to dive deep into a project by giving it his full attention. Here you see the three of us discussing how the fender will be fitted to the body.
We diligently and carefully unloaded all the part including C-Production front fiberglass fenders and rear flares. Always nice to see fresh parts!
Until we meet again...