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View Full Version : Z31 300zx vs MkII MR2



Chris
11-24-2007, 02:17 AM
I'm in college, and I like my sport/sporty cars. I'm not terribly mechanically inclined as many of you can probably tell; I've got a lot to learn in regards to cars and driving them. But nonetheless if something needs to be done to keep my cars running with the help of my dad I'll get out and do it.

I own a Z31, beautiful on the outside and the engine bay looks clean. I got lucky enough to pick it up for 2800 from my uncle who rewired it after a fuel line split and caught the engine on fire. It's got its small problems, but overall it's a reliable car. At 160k the thing that are breaking are probably not all that uncommon, which is fine. On a Celica I wouldn't be totally surprised if the alternator, waterpump, or some other random piece died at this age. As long as the block wasn't knocking I'd consider this completely normal, especially for a sports car.
The problem is, it's a Nissan. The engine design is very much layered, and unfortunately it's layered in the a way that makes every single repair a weekend battle. The alternator was at the bottom of the engine with almost unreachable bolts.
The waterpump is now needing replaced, which should be no big deal. it's a $33 dollar part. Yet on the Z31 it requires removal of the fan and fan shroud (no big deal), timing belt covers (eh, not huge), and the harmonic balancer (wtf?). I probably wouldn't be so worried one of the most respected Z31 enthusiasts online called it a "weekend job" for anyone who's never done it. It couples in with my dad citing this as the hardest car he's ever tried to work on.

It's good training I'm sure, and I'm honestly not afraid of working on a car as long as it doesn't initially require engine/transmission removal on purchase. The problem is that when a small problem comes up, depending on scheduling and weather the car sits for a month until my dad and I can find the time to give it it's needed attention. It's not fun, and for $100 a month I'm not terribly satisfied except when I do get to drive it around town. I do love the car, it's just the way its designed is killing me. It is in no way shape or form fun to work on. Every damn bolt in the car is a battle because of space, angle, size, so and so forth.

I've started looking into the MKII Mr2. I love the styling of the car and the unique mid engine aspect. It makes it an interesting car to drive, as well as a great little sports car. The NA version, the only version I can afford and want as a college student seems to be the best choice. A turbo car has to be cared for whereas an NA seems to be able to take a little bit more abuse. But one of the biggest things that I'm worried about is working on it. I've seen the pictures of the engine bay, it looks cramped but I've been told they aren't as bad as the 300zx series. Is this true for anyone whose had any experience at all with either? Or better, how does working on the 5SFE mr2 compare to the 5SFE Celica?
I've found a couple perfect ones, there's one in colorado with ~120k miles for 3400. It's red, t-tops and looks to be in good condition. If I sold the Z I could afford it. I know the Mr2 is worth selling the Z for car wise, but what I'm asking c-tech is that assuming I get a good condition car is it gonna be just as bad to work on? Or did Toyota carry over some of the same things as they did the Celica engine design wise? Or more so, parts placement.

Sorry for the long read, I'm tired and I've been putting off making this thread/venting or awhile. I also always feel the need to overexplain myself in my writing, but journalisms helping me on that front.
If it seems as if I'm being a pussy bitch in regards to having to fix the Z all the time let me know, in nice words please (sarcasm).

Cavanagh
11-24-2007, 11:15 PM
This seems to be the biggest problem with 300z owners. Its all about the way they crammed a bigger engine than the bay seems to be. I Personally would sell it for a MKII MR2, but if you really, really, like your Z, i would just keep it and have a Nissan tech work on it so you don't have to deal with the crammed engine bay. If you prefer doing the work yourself, i would probably get the MR2. I have never owned an MR2 nor Z, so im going off what i have heard from people who have owned either or both. An N/A will take more abuse and be better on gas and reliability but i hear there more difficult to work on compared to a front engine. 5sfe celica or Camry in that matter. I think it would be 10x easier than working on the z though. Just my 2 cents.

19celica90
11-24-2007, 11:36 PM
ive worked on an NA mr2, it was pretty difficult. Its nice if u have to work on the intake manifold or valve cover, but anything to do with exhaust is kinda hard. Having to hang over the rear end to work on it is a beyotch. id suppose itd be alot easier to just have the car on a lift to work on, but not many of us have personal car lifts in our garages. Ive never worked on a 300zx, but id have to say id rather work on a mr2 than a 300

T-spoon
11-24-2007, 11:42 PM
Other than the angle you have to bend to get over the engine bay, it's not actually that bad for the MR2. The NA will be a lot less crowded than the turbo so comparing it to the z.. I'd say it would be pretty easy. There are a couple differences from the celica (big one being the alternator is on the bottom instead of top) but in most ways identical. It even sits the same way in the car, just in the back.

Chris
11-25-2007, 12:17 AM
How hard is the alternator to get to? That's one of the Z's biggest problems, while the part itself can be a pain in the ass it's also all the stuff you have to take off to get to said part. That's why it becomes a weekend job.



This seems to be the biggest problem with 300z owners. Its all about the way they crammed a bigger engine than the bay seems to be. I Personally would sell it for a MKII MR2, but if you really, really, like your Z, i would just keep it and have a Nissan tech work on it so you don't have to deal with the crammed engine bay. If you prefer doing the work yourself, i would probably get the MR2. I have never owned an MR2 nor Z, so im going off what i have heard from people who have owned either or both. An N/A will take more abuse and be better on gas and reliability but i hear there more difficult to work on compared to a front engine. 5sfe celica or Camry in that matter. I think it would be 10x easier than working on the z though. Just my 2 cents.

I do love the car, but honestly I 'm a Toyota fanboi at heart. I've never driven an MR2, but I've heard great things.
The biggest issue with selling it is the work my uncle did on it. He did a great job, and he's very proud of it. And therein lies the problem with me selling it. I don't think it'd sever family ties by any means, but they wouldn't be completely happy. They sort of put the car on a pedestal, I could tell when I was talking to the family after they found out I was thinking about buying it. I was really planning on offering the car back to him, which wouldn't net me the 4500 I was hoping for out of the Z, but at least it wouldn't be a complete slap in the face for him. And with that 2800 plus a couple hundred in savings I still might be able to find a decent condition MR2.
The sad fact is though, as a college student I need a car that will not give me problems 90% of the time. And it seems with the Z that every time my dad and I work to fix something another thing pops up, or the problem never completely goes away. It's not fun to go cruising when you constantly have to keep an eye on the voltmeter or oil gauge.
What really scares me about working on the Z is that if the motor does happen to go (it is in good condition but still) then I'll have nothing but a pretty shell that I could maybe get 1k for. Swapping out a motor in that car does not appeal to me at all, though I'm not entirely sure if MR2s are any better in that sense. I'll a bit happier if replacing stuff like the alternator and water pump aren't weekend jobs in either one of these cars.

Chris
11-25-2007, 08:06 PM
Any MKII owners feel free to jump in, your advice would especially be appreciated.

85gtsblackman
11-26-2007, 12:51 AM
let me get this strait

u wanna go from a nissan....they suck to work on , i pretty much made my dad buy a subaru after his xterra took me weeks to fix

to a mr2 which has a fwd layout whitch sucks to work on but its crammed in the rear


ever think of getting something esier to work on, hell a mk3 supra is easier to work on than the 2 cars u mentioned

get some sort of rwd toyota or a subaru

Chris
11-26-2007, 03:37 AM
Heh, I'm only working with 4500 at most here, and that's barely enough to really get a good condition Supra turbo.
I also don't seem as interested in the Supra after driving the 300zx, it feels like it'd be the same thing made by a different company.

hobbie2k
11-26-2007, 05:30 AM
I'd personally just hold onto the Z. If it works well and you have a grasp of what it needs it'll be far less of a pain than anything else you'll find, even if it's hard to work on.

If you go off an get another car, you'll have no idea what you're getting into. And even if the MR2 is easier to work on (which I'm not confident will be entirely the case), it may require far more work than the Z.

I say stick with what you know.

celicaGT90_05
11-26-2007, 06:10 AM
let me get this strait

u wanna go from a nissan....they suck to work on , i pretty much made my dad buy a subaru after his xterra took me weeks to fix

to a mr2 which has a fwd layout whitch sucks to work on but its crammed in the rear


ever think of getting something esier to work on, hell a mk3 supra is easier to work on than the 2 cars u mentioned

get some sort of rwd toyota or a subaru

I find my fwd car easy to work on. You are way biast to rwd arent you?

T-spoon
11-26-2007, 06:42 AM
5SFE is easier to work on than a 7MGTE IMO, I don't care what car it's in.

Chris
11-26-2007, 06:57 AM
I'd personally just hold onto the Z. If it works well and you have a grasp of what it needs it'll be far less of a pain than anything else you'll find, even if it's hard to work on.

If you go off an get another car, you'll have no idea what you're getting into. And even if the MR2 is easier to work on (which I'm not confident will be entirely the case), it may require far more work than the Z.

I say stick with what you know.


Heh, the more I know about the Z seems to scare me. I guess that's one reason I was considering the MR2, it has the 5SFE, which I know.

I guess I figured if I did a pretty thorough search of the MR2 I could at least get a feel in what condition its in, and what to expect. And with the Z falling apart bit by bit at least the MR2 would be a bit easier to repair, at least in my mind. I wanted to see if anyone disagreed with that assumption. But, I see your point. At least the Z does run. Mostly.

85gtsblackman
11-26-2007, 11:47 AM
I find my fwd car easy to work on. You are way biast to rwd arent you?

somewhat

my 3rd gen and my truck i can work on faster than my camry, celica stx, celica gt vert,tiburon, and caviler/sunturd that i had

after going from fwd to rwd to awd ive decided i like rwd the most

i would have told him to go get a 3rd gen but no one likes em or knows anything about em so i didnt include that

subaru's awd unlike toyota, is laid out like rwd, if its n/s its really smimple to work on.

oh btw, look all sorts of room and space and its as hard to take apart as a briggs

http://i127.photobucket.com/albums/p158/Joe_1985/IMG_0020.jpghttp://i127.photobucket.com/albums/p158/Joe_1985/IMG_0019.jpg

even better
http://i127.photobucket.com/albums/p158/Joe_1985/029.jpg
http://i127.photobucket.com/albums/p158/Joe_1985/030.jpg

Cavanagh
11-26-2007, 05:35 PM
Now that i think of it, why not just sell or keep the Z, and just drive the celica?

Chris
11-26-2007, 06:55 PM
Now that i think of it, why not just sell or keep the Z, and just drive the celica?

I do drive the Celica, the Z right now is just sitting because it can't go for more than 30 minutes without really overheating, and the problems only going to get worse. I'm trying to weigh the pros and cons of keeping it there or selling it to get an MR2 against one another. And the biggest part of that is knowing how hard the MR2 is to work on in the end; I figure since I know the 5SFE I can get a good idea on my initial test whether the car is acting as it should. I also tend to think the 5SFE will be a bit more reliable.

I take it that first picture is of the Subaru?

85gtsblackman
11-26-2007, 07:48 PM
no 1st is the 3rd gen 2nd is the truck

no scoob pics yet

tuner4life
11-27-2007, 01:05 AM
I used to own a 1985 300zx N/A 5 speed. It was one of the most fun cars I've ever had!!. As for working on it... I didnt find it too difficult most of the time. I replaced the timing belt, water pump, front main seal, thermostat, and radiator hoses, and I was done in a saturday. It was a ton easier than doing the same exact thing on my moms 2000 nissan quest, (which uses virtually the same motor ,timing belt and water pump wise, its just bored .3liters bigger and turned sideways). RWD is byfar the easiest platform to work on and in my opinion the most fun to drive also. I also had the ongoing alternator problem. I replaced it with 4 different junkyard alternators before just getting a new one... I had the alternator down to a science. You just need asian sized arms :laugh:

My advice is to go ahead and do the repairs to the z31. If anything, it will be a good learning experience. But it would be well worth it to have a sweet rwd sports car especially a z31 :bigthumbu

Chris
11-27-2007, 05:02 AM
I used to own a 1985 300zx N/A 5 speed. It was one of the most fun cars I've ever had!!. As for working on it... I didnt find it too difficult most of the time. I replaced the timing belt, water pump, front main seal, thermostat, and radiator hoses, and I was done in a saturday. It was a ton easier than doing the same exact thing on my moms 2000 nissan quest, (which uses virtually the same motor ,timing belt and water pump wise, its just bored .3liters bigger and turned sideways). RWD is byfar the easiest platform to work on and in my opinion the most fun to drive also. I also had the ongoing alternator problem. I replaced it with 4 different junkyard alternators before just getting a new one... I had the alternator down to a science. You just need asian sized arms :laugh:

My advice is to go ahead and do the repairs to the z31. If anything, it will be a good learning experience. But it would be well worth it to have a sweet rwd sports car especially a z31 :bigthumbu


In that case, what'd your oil pressure usually hang at? Mine fluxates range with 5-10 psi on both ends.

I really don't know how you did all that work in one day. Mines been nothing but a pain in the ass as far as maintence. It's also one of those cars that's never "fixed." I replaced my alternator with one of that parts car that had 130k miles on it, its doing alright so far. So far.

Yeah, it's a fun car to own, no doubt. As for driving it, well, the RWD is the true star of the car, the motor isn't too special. Part of the reason the MR2 has been appealing to me is the RWD plus mid engine so it'll be like riding on rails. Though I guess the Z31 could get pretty close to that with newer shocks and better tires.

Maybe I'm putting too much pressure on myself over this, it's just two cars.

celicaGT90_05
11-27-2007, 05:12 AM
quite honestly, your water pump doesnt sound harder than the 5SFE since it is ran by the timing belt and getting to there requires removal of a motor mount. Still, I dont think the celica is a hard car to work on. I'd LOVE to get an MR-2 but thats a no go for now. You should go ahead and fix the zx because before you sell it youd want to anyway, and after that would be the time to decide what you want to do.

Chris
11-27-2007, 05:24 AM
Oh yeah, I'm definitely planning on fixing the pump before I sell the car.

85gtsblackman
11-27-2007, 08:23 AM
how much was the car originally

tuner4life
11-27-2007, 02:45 PM
when it was first started in the cold my oil press would sometimes reach as high as 70 psi until it warmed up, then it would drop down to between 30 and 50 depending on rmp and acceleration. It was perfectly normal for it to fluctuate psi especially in city driving. The higher you rev the more oil pressure.

Mine was also "never fixed" but when it did run good, I had nothing but fun!! :)

Chris
11-27-2007, 04:22 PM
how much was the car originally


2800.


when it was first started in the cold my oil press would sometimes reach as high as 70 psi until it warmed up, then it would drop down to between 30 and 50 depending on rmp and acceleration. It was perfectly normal for it to fluctuate psi especially in city driving. The higher you rev the more oil pressure.

Mine was also "never fixed" but when it did run good, I had nothing but fun!! :)

Sounds like mine. It'll go down as low as 19 or 20 on idle, but I don't think thats a huge deal.

Yeah, mines off the road more than not. When I get two weeks with it I feel lucky, but it is fun when I do get to do it. More because of the head turning in town though. I don't like to race it too much, it's got crappy tires on stock suspension and it's only got about 16 seconds of fury in that motor, but it does have some get up and go.




One time when I was racing this semi for pinks; I knew I was gonna loose so I had to push off my t-tops in the middle of the race to save weight. But I got bored with that kinda stuff so I went over to Japan with no language knowledge whatsoever and learned how to drift in a Nissan powered Mustang.

85gtsblackman
11-28-2007, 11:30 PM
i think u should give the nissian some downtime, drive the celica and just fix everything at once orrrrrr just fix a bunsch of major stuff, in time frames.

Chris
11-29-2007, 05:48 AM
It's gonna have downtime either way. It's averaging 30 mph winds outside with 40 degree temps and we don't have access to a heated garage.
I think I've made my choice, as much as I like the Nissan if it keeps doing small stuff like this its just gonna sit with me. But I guess we'll see.

celicaGT90_05
11-29-2007, 06:21 AM
honestly, I dont think an MR-2 will give you as many problems, the 5SFE is a pretty good motor from a day to day basis

Luni
11-29-2007, 05:10 PM
Ive been working on MR2s for 6 years so Im kinda the wrong person to ask, cause im used to working on my car, Ive done everything to an NA MR2, mine, one with a 3rd gen in it, etc. It isnt any harder than working on a DSM (which can be a bitch too).

They really arent that bad, especially if you just learn out the tricks of getting to things. I would say Id bet money theyre easier to work on than most Z cars easily.

If your nissan is already a turbo, Id say keep it and fix it. If it isnt a turbo, Id rather have an NA MR2. They are reliable as hell and theyre fun to drive.

Chris
11-29-2007, 05:36 PM
Nah, its not a turbo. That's best done by an engine swap, but the idea of that in the Z scares me.

That's what I've gathered about MR2s, that their tight spaced. And that isn't so much the issue, i'm a pretty small guy. The Z has enough space, its just that you have to take off 5 different unrelated parts to get to another part to replace it. It gets quite old after awhile.

celicaGT90_05
11-29-2007, 06:44 PM
I am 6'4 and I am pretty crammed in my ranger, but you get use to it after a while and you hardly notice it til you drive something else for a while. My uncle asked me how I fit in my celica til he sat in it and realized it had a lot more room than he figured. I also drove a pontiac solstice which, I guess you could say are pretty tight spaced cars, but I still fit in it fine

Cavanagh
11-29-2007, 07:29 PM
i think u should give the nissian some downtime, drive the celica and just fix everything at once orrrrrr just fix a bunsch of major stuff, in time frames.
Amen. :bigthumbu

Swap that bitch Chris!

Chris
11-30-2007, 07:38 AM
Maybe. My dad and I are gonna try to fix the pump and replace the thermostat this weekend, I guess we'll go from there. I'll probably throw it up on autotrader or craigslist and see how much interest there is. Prices on autotrader for Z31's seem to range from just under 4000 to almost 8000. Hard to find the Z31s though, they're buried under all the Z32's for sale. :lolhittin

Chris
12-06-2007, 06:17 PM
Well, the water pump is fixed. Just need to do the oil pressure sending unit, try and fix the door locks, clean up the interior a bit.

There's a dark blue MKII MR2 in Oklahoma City with 136k going for 4950. Given the price they'd probably sell the Z at I'm thinking of calling them up and trying to make a deal, but with the broken locks and the spot in the carpet on the back I have a feeling they're probably gonna say no. Bleh.

Chris
12-14-2007, 05:03 AM
Timing belt snapped today. VG30 is an interference motor. Rolling chassis ftw?