370z - From nothing to something (Part 1) -
Some of our followers would know how much we like a challenge of taking a damaged car, restore it and then customize it. This is what RT Performance Auto Centre is all about, a variety of car related opportunities, skills and ideas presented and implemented to a vehicle. Our last Nissan-themed write-up “From Nothing to Something” described the work we did on a damaged 350z and since that project we were on a hunt for another suitable Nissan car. Fortunately, we came across a great example of a Nissan 370z with front end damage and rear quarter panel damage. This car had only 9k miles on the clock, was top of the range, fully loaded model and has had a service history record from Nissan dealer. So, a week later it appeared on a recovery truck outside our new body shop premises in Wembley.
After closer look at this 370z, it was obvious the car was in outstanding condition, aside from damaged areas of course. Airbags didn’t deploy and none of glass was cracked. This also gave us a good indication there was no heavy structural damage. In fact, only the rear quarter was dented and front crash bollard on the right side was bent half way, luckily only until the first set of spot welds. Alloy wheels were damaged on their edge and some plastic trims were cracked in the engine bay. Obviously, the bonnet, wings and front bumper needed replacing but none of the radiators leaked nor there was any damage to the engine and its related parts. All of this meant a trip to a local Nissan dealership with an extensive list of parts. There are not so many 370z on the street of UK and used body panels are quite scares but this didn’t matter to us because we wanted to customise our 370z with a nice body kit, giving it some exclusivity. We were too lucky to get hold of a used set of headlights in great condition, otherwise it would mean spending thousands with the main dealer.
As with any repair process, RT stuff began by protecting the interior from dirt and dust and by removing body panels, trims, lights, etc., that were in a way. With long term projects it is important everything is marked and put in a right place, so assembly later is smooth and effortless. Next in line was to pull the rear quarter. The damage there was not too great and bent metal took its original shape in no time. A little filler work afterwards shaped up the surface nicely. At the same time the boot spoiler holes and wiper blade holes were flushed. At RT we like smoothed look of the back, we believe it gives any car more presence and style. Soon, the rear end was ready for a layer of wash primer. This primer is used on bare repairs to prevent any rust occurrence in the future. Although the trunk lid on 370z is made of aluminium, a wash primed could not harm anyway.
The more challenging task was to get the front end aligned correctly. Accurate measurements are vital here as well as precise pulling technique. Too much or too little and the whole project can end up with poor results. We have ordered all necessary Nissan OEM chassis parts to replace the damaged ones on the driver’s side. Once the chassis was in correct position, damaged panels were drilled out and new panels welded in place. This process is interrupted by constant test-fitting of various body panels, ensuring perfect alignment throughout. Although this area of chassis is not too visible from engine bay, at RT Performance we follow high quality standards, so new panels were sprayed in the same colour as the opposite side. This is done by mixing the right amount of black, green and grey paint.
Earlier on, Amuse style body kit got delivered to our London body shop together with a carbon fibre bonnet and custom vented front wings. The kit looked the deal but the decision was made to cut out side vents on front and rear bumpers to keep the vented style throughout. These also help reduce the inside pressure if the wheel arch at high speeds. Throughout explained stages, we test fitted the Amuse style body kit when needed and now it was the right time to test fit all parts together. At this point we found there were few areas that needed modifying to achieve a perfect fit. This normally means more cutting, filling and sanding… This is a common occurrence with aftermarket FRP body panels, which takes days to get things close to factory-like fitment.
Whilst the kit was being improved, the body of the car was covered in primer coat where needed.