Any time a car crosses into ‘classic’ territory, owners are understandably fearful of theft. Older cars are already a natural target for car thieves, with their dated or nonexistent security systems. Not to mention, the parts market for vintage cars also increases their vulnerability as it is easy for thieves to quickly chop up a car into its composite parts and sell them off for a large profit. Unfortunately, a 240Z, 260Z, or 280Z is no exception to this — heartbreaking stories of stolen cars come up from time to time in the Z community. While it is always nice to see how supportive the community is in trying to help others recover their Z, the best approach is to theft-proof your beloved car as much as possible, and this guide will give you a few suggestions of how to do that.
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Keep it in your garage!
This one should go without saying. If you keep your car parked outside, you certainly set yourself up with a bit more risk of having your Z stolen. Of course, this is not theft proof — plenty of cars have actually been stolen from garages but this is unlikely. Understandably, not everyone will have access to a locked garage year-round, and if you are determined to own a Z regardless, there are other anti-theft alternatives you can take. Not to mention, you’ll want to secure your Z a bit more for when you’re not parked at home, so read on for some more anti-theft measures you can take.
Install a kill switch
Installing a kill switch is a worthwhile precaution if you’re serious about securing your Z. This is a weekend job that can make your car very difficult for a would-be-thief to hop into and drive away with, even if he had your keys! Once you have the actual wiring set up, you can get creative with where you put the actual switch to make things a bit more secure. Some people are very clever with this — arguably one of the best setups I’ve ever seen is a Datsun 510 owner who wired a kill switch that would only turn ‘on’ when the air conditioning vent was positioned at just the right angle. The next question is what exactly your kill switch should disengage. On a 240Z or 260Z, your best options are the starter or the battery itself as the fuel pump is mechanical. Of course, these can be hotwired, but it is an added deterrent. For a 280Z, it’s best to wire your kill switch to the electronic fuel pump as it will be less obvious to a thief. The starter will crank but the engine is unlikely to start up or it it does, it won’t go far.
Pull the distributor rotor
Here’s the simplest theft deterrent you implement without spending a cent. Whenever you park your Z, simply pop the hood, unsnap the distributor cap fasteners and pull the distributor rotor (pictured to the right) straight up and out of the distributor. The engine will crank forever but never actually fire up. There is no way your engine could get started without a replacement rotor, and fortunately it’s now in your pocket. Like anything else here, this is not a foolproof anti-theft approach, but it should give you a bit more peace of mind when you walk away from your Z, especially in a sketchy area.
There are a few extra tools you can invest in to add some additional security. Like anything else, these will mostly serve as additional deterrents that scare away lazy thieves. The first one to consider is The Club, an old-school approach to anti-theft that will make it impossible to steer the vehicle until the club is removed. The newest version of The Club utilizes a twin-hook design that makes it more durable than its predecessors. The Club, when bought on Amazon, actually guarantees up to $500 against your insurance deductible in most states! The club is a solid deterrent to your average thief looking for an easy car to steal.
Another helpful (albeit more aggressive) option is the Dealkoo Wheel Lock Clamp. That’s right, ‘the boot’! This wheel lock clamp is made out of strong material that is resistant to cutting and sawing and should stop your wheels dead in their place. The wheel lock clamp only takes approximately 30 seconds to install and should certainly help intimidate thieves into considering another target. Again, these won’t fully secure your car in place. No anti-theft device is perfect and a clever enough thief with enough time and the right tools can defeat any of these devices. The goal here is to make your car look unappealing to thieves and give you a bit more peace of mind when you walk away from your parked car.
Installing a GPS tracker in your car is an often overlooked option that provides probably the best security and peace of mind of anything listed here. Today, there are enough solid options in this area that you should absolutely consider a GPS tracker. Although a lot of approaches listed here deter thieves or make things difficult for a determined thief, any car can be simply towed away quickly, never to be seen again. Your best safeguard against something like this is having constant GPS tracking of your vehicle.
The best option that I have found personally, is the SpyTec GL300. This is a device I have used for a few years now and it has served its purpose flawlessly. The device runs on its own battery and I simply recharge it every two weeks and re-stash it in my 240Z. The reporting website can actually tell you the current battery life and you can set up alerts for when the battery level begins to get low.
The GL300 is a great option for tracking your classic car because you don’t have to wire it up to anything within the car. If you’d like to avoid charging outside of the car, you can purchase a cigarette lighter Mini-USB port charger and charge it whenever you drive. The GL300 also offers a fantastic price point at $50 for the tracking unit itself, and a $25 monthly charge for tracking services. Setting up the device takes only a few minutes before you will begin receiving up-to-date location tracking through their website. The website is very well designed, although this service could really use a mobile iPhone/Android app. On top of showing exactly where in the world your car is at any given moment, the website also allows you to set up ‘geofences’, and will alert you when your tracker exits that designated geographic area. Overall, I find this to be the best approach and the only one that protects from that day (which I hope never happens for any of us) when you walk out to your parking spot to find your Z is nowhere to be found.
Security system (or a fake “security system”)
Installing a modern security system into a classic Z car (or any classic car) is no easy task, but that does not mean it cannot be done. A modern security system like the Viper 350 can certainly be installed into a Z car, but it would involve a lot of careful following of wiring diagrams and wire splicing. Still, others have reported success with this and that they feel safer after having installed one.
Even then, you still have some… alternative options. Like most approaches described here, the overall goal is to deter thieves from targeting your vehicle despite the fact that it’s a beautiful classic car. Simply mimicking the signs of an actual security system could pay dividends in deterring thieves. For example, you could purchase Viper Warning Stickers that typically come with an actual Viper security system like the one described above. Another approach that many others swear by is simply dropping a solar-powered anti-theft LED light such as this one on your dashboard that will flash periodically, making passersby think your car might actually be equipped with a security system. Cheesy, I know, but if it reduces the chance your beloved Z is stolen, it just might be worth it.
All of the methods listed above just attempt to protect your car from ever being physically taken from you, but insurance keeps you covered financially. In that event, your best bet is to look towards classic car insurance. The issue with purchasing regular insurance for a classic car is that you will often not get the kind of valuation your car truly deserves. If you instead keep yourself covered with a classic car insurance company like Hagerty, you will actually get the true valuation of your vehicle in the event it is stolen from you. Not to mention, classic car insurance will generally be cheaper than regular insurance, just be sure that the regulations are not too restrictive for the way you plan to drive your classic Z.