Cooling Down Project Z

 by Mike Satterfield

When we found our Datsun 240Z out in the desert of Nevada it has been maintained most of its life with parts sourced from local junkyards. The previous owner would often have a hard time finding early Datsun parts and often substituted later model Z parts (and a few odd-ball BMW/Ford parts) on the car. One of the items that were on the car that was just not right was a late model Datsun Z radiator, and while it did bolt up it was far too large for the car. In fact, the lower tank stuck out about 3 inches below the front valance, leaving us to be extra careful with speed bumps.

So we gave our friends over at Champion Cooling in Lake Elsinore a call and we quickly received their bolt in the aluminum radiator shipped from their stockest Jegs. We could not be happier with the fit and finish of the new radiator and the little details really make it pop. If you are not too mechanically inclined you might think that this type of install should be best done at a shop, but honestly, it only took about an hour to replace the radiator ourselves.

The OEM Radiator was from a 260Z (we think) but was far too large for the car. 
As you can see the lower tank is hanging out from under the front valance and is the first thing that would bottom out. Roman and I both had visions of taking a dip too hard and ripping a massive hole in the bottom of the tank. 
Remove the upper and lower radiator hoses with a screwdriver. Be sure to have a drain pan that is large enough to capture your radiator fluid, and make sure that it is clean so you can reuse it.   
After removing the hose clamps and hoses, Roman loosens the four bolts that hold the radiator to the core support. There are two on each side. Lift the radiator out and be careful not to damage the radiator or the fan. 
Side by side the new smaller profile radiator it also weighs about half as much as the OEM unit.
Drop the new radiator in place and be careful not to damage the fan or radiator. We added some blue painters tape to protect the top tank from any scratches that might happen by accident. 
Tighten all four bolts and get ready to put your hoses back on. 

One of the cool little details about the Champion Cooling radiator is that the top tank is angled to mount flush against the radiator support. a flat top tank would have been easier to make, but the attention to the aesthetics really making it functional and beautiful.  
Attach the hoses
The welding is art in and of itself.  
Refill the tank using the same fluid, firing it up to get all the air out of the system before topping it off and putting on the cap.
The new radiator held the same amount as the oversized 260Z radiator.