Intercooled Turbo 280Z Install!
This is a set of pages showing how I installed an '82 280ZX turbo
engine with an intercooler into a '77 280Z. This has been done by quite
a few people but the other ones I've seen didn't seem
optimal. The customer didn't have the budget for an aftermarket
fuel management system or to convert it to a 300ZX hot wire system
(which we have found works really well) but he did want an intercooler
installed so we could turn up the boost. Many systems I've seen installed with an intercooler use 3rd
party EFI systems but draw the air for the engine using an air filter
installed directly to the turbo which is drawing VERY hot air into the
system from underneath the exhaust manifold with IMHO defeats much of
the cooling an intercooler is supposed to provide!
There is limited room under the hood and in front of the radiator
and even more limited room along the drivers side of the radiator
support but I was determined to get everything to fit, including the
huge '82 ZX turbo airflow (AF) meter with the engine drawing cold air
from the front of the car while keeping the factory A/C and an oil
cooler installed as well!
The first thing I wanted to do was clean up the messy looking
factory intake manifold. I decided to use the early 75 280Z non-EGR
manifold and clean off all the garbage on the top. Below is a shot of
the manifold cleaned up with an aftermarket fuel rail installed.
Next step was to clean up the engine, install some fresh rod
bearings in it as well as doing some paint and detail work.
It had some broken exhaust studs etc but for a 20 year old
engine, it seemed to be in very good shape. After this work and
installing the prepped intake, it was time to drop it back into the car
for a test fitting of all the plumbing. Below is a shot of the engine
dropped into the bay (with an old grungy valve cover for now).
It soon became obvious there was not enough room in a stock
engine bay for the 280ZX turbo AF meter and the intercooler plumbing,
especially if I was going to get the air filter in front of the
radiator. I decided the intercooler plumbing would best fit through the
upper part of drivers side of the radiator support and use the lower
part for the air intake. I figured out that I needed 2 1/4" intercooler
plumbing and a 3" intake pipe to allow for later turbo upgrades the
owner suggested he may be doing and 3" is the size of the 280ZX turbo AF
First order of business was finding a home for the AF meter which
would allow it to breath through this lower hole. I decided to cut out
the front corner of the inner fender well and build up an area for the
meter to sit into. These shots show the area that was cut out, to be
later filled with sheet metal and the approximate location of the AF
meter. This kind of work is not for the timid!
I then began opening up the upper hole in the radiator support for the
I am planning on addressing the rust and engine bay paint later but
wanted to deal with all the modifications and welding first.
The intercooler kit the customer supplied was a VERY basic
kit that included a spearco intercooler, a few mandrel U-bends and a
couple of pieces of hose. No mounts or anything like that, everything
would have to be fabricated from scratch. I figured a good next step
would be to fab up the intercooler mounts and nail it in place. Below
are some shots of the intercooler "kit", the lower cooler mount I fab'd
up and the cooler mounted in place for fitting purposes.
Below is a shot of the finished mount for the oil cooler which
will be below the intercooler and the air filter.