The 'Stealth' Z - Part I
The Purpose of this page is to present the work of Steve Webb, as performed on his Datsun 280Z. Steve has built the ultimate Turbocharged L28 and herein shares his vast experience with us.
This series of articles has been published in the Z Club Of Texas's Newsletter - however they are spread over a two year period and contained within 11 different months. With Bob's help we have attempted to pull them all together here to make it easier for the interested parties and in the hopes that this information will reach a broader audience.
This article is written in ten Parts, each linked to the next part.
Part One is Presented Below:
Although it seems many people have heard of the 'Stealth' car, or have heard me called 'Stealth' (gee, thanks 'Mad' Mike), I will give a short introduction. My name is Steve Webb, now known mostly as 'Stealth' Webb. I bought my first Z in '86 it was a '71 240Z that the rust monster had attacked pretty well. While that project was slowly underway, I bought a '73 240Z in '87. It was in much better shape - I learned a lot from the first one. The 5 year evolution of my '73, which became the 'Stealth' Z, is outlined below.
When I purchased it, the car was pretty much stock but needed shocks, ball joints, etc. It was Mercedes Red with black on the hood 'power bulge' and black around the lower 8" of the rocker panels. I started to autocross the car almost immediately. My first addition was a set of front and rear sway bars. What an amazing difference they made! The next change was a set of lowered springs and adjustable shocks. I was unstoppable now. Well, Warren Kline made a consistent habit of beating me at most every autocross (although you couldn't ask for a greater competitor or friend in the sport). His advantage (not counting driving skill) was sticky autocross tires. My 4+ year old Eagle GT street tires just weren't up to the job and the cheap steel lotted wheels looked just that, cheap. Time to upgrade!
I chose 15x7" black mesh Enkie wheels. At the time, they were the largest thing that would fit under a stock Z. It took 3 months to special order them and another 6 months before I could afford the tires! But, boy oh boy, when I mounted them on the car, I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. For the next year I autocrossed the car on a semi-regular basis while still using it for daily (primary) transportation. With the car looking the part, on the road I was either challenged to a race or complimented at every other stoplight. I ate up the compliments but seldom won a stoplight drag. Herein lies the very basic of male traits and the beginning of my saga - I hate to lose!
The easiest and fastest way to horsepower is cubic inches. Easy, I'll just drop in an L28 engine out of a 280Z and pick up 20 HP and tons of torque. It's really amazing how quickly a car can start to feel 'slow' again. I needed more horsepower (it's a guy thing ladies). Well, I'll just pull this 280 engine out and balance it, port the heads, 'maybe a good cam'. The group 'The Fix' (you have to be a Generation X) said it best: "One thing leads to another". As I searched for power, the Z stood silent, still,... abandoned. As the months passed and I was absent from the autocross scene, Warren would politely ask at the Z meetings "When are you going to be done with your engine?" After a year had passed, it became "When are you going to be done with your imaginary stealth engine?!" And finally, after the second year of being Z-less, "When is the Stealth going to be done?!". My answer (for years) "Soon, I'm almost finished." After much soul searching, I had decided to go all out. If I was going to do it, I was going to do it right. I had figured 250HP was the minimum that would be acceptable. But to get that out of a normally aspirated (N/A) engine would be expensive and not very driveable.
The 'Stealth' Z - Part I continued...