Hooniverse Weekend Edition – A 1978 Datsun 280-Z vs a 1979 Datsun 280-ZX

For years, the name Datsun meant a quality Japanese product that was just a bit sportier than Toyota. Datsun was the company that brought affordable sports cars to these shores that were dependable, and quite stylish. The Datsun 1500 and 2000 Sportscars offered all the zest you would get from the British brands, without leaking oil, or questionable electrics. The 510 Sedan was often compared to the BMW 2002 Sports Sedan, and was campaigned with relative success within the SCCA. But it was the Datsun “Z” car that made the enthusiast take notice. Here was an attractive two-seat sports car that had styling unlike almost any other, with six-cylinder power, and an affordable price tag. Emission regulations, and bumper standards took their toll on performance and styling, but the “Z” car seemed to handle itbetter than most of the other Sports Cars of the day. Here are two Datsun “Z” cars that are vying for your attention, and they are the 1978 280-Z which was the last year for the original body style, and a 1979 280-ZX which was the first year that Datsun tried turning the “Z” car into a personal GT car. Which one would you choose?

To keep up with emission standards in the US, Nissan introduced the 280-Z in 1975, equipped with the L28 inline six cylinder engine that features the Bosch L-Jetronic Fuel Injection System. Power was within one horsepower of the original L24 engine introduced in the original 240-Z, but the torque numbers went up substantially, making this version of the Z seem quick. According to the listing:

When it comes to collectable Datsuns, this is the Holy Grail. Never again will you see a 1 owner, 100% rust free Datsun with only 39,000 Original Miles and only having seen mild restoration with this combination of options. The owner personally went to the dealership and selected each option you see on this great 1978 Datsun 280Z.

The combination of options includes a 4 speed manual transmission, which is now known to be virtually bullet proof, air conditioning, ivory and black interior, and no power steering. Over the years the car was enjoyed and driven, and did see some weathering. Today this great Datsun has had one repaint in the factory metallic blue. The seats were recovered and appear to have never been sat in. The carpets were replaced within the last year. This Datsun shows as an excellent driver and with a small amount of tinkering will make a wonderful show car.

Even with only 39,000 original miles on the odometer, time does take its toll on machinery. The owner wanted to make sure that this 280Z still ran just as she did the day it came from the dealership, so all of the running gear was overhauled. The engine was rebuilt from top to bottom; to ensure that with the first twist of the key she fires up each and every time. The transmission was fully gone through and all seals were replaced: it shifts in and out of all gears very smoothly. All of the work was done within the last 300 miles, so mechanically this car is brand new.

The car does come with a racing strut tower brace and headlight covers. They are in the luggage compartment and can easily be put on by the new owner if they appreciate the look of these additions.

Currently, this bidding has stalled at $6,300, and will you look at this… no reserve! The top bid on this Datsun will take home the car of his or her dreams, but is it a Datsun of your dreams? See the listing here, and tell me if it is…

The 1979 280-ZX was a complete redesign, retaining only the L28 inline-6 engine and other driveline components from the 280-Z. The 280ZX’s body was redesigned with aerodynamics in mind. By closing in the open grille of the first generation Z-Car and through other improvements taken from wind-tunnel testing, the drag coefficient was reduced, as well as the lift coefficient. Overall, the new body design gave better fuel economy and high-speed stability, which was one of the known issues from the first generation “Z” car. According to the listing:

The Nissan 280ZX, also known as the Datsun 280ZX, was a sports coupe produced from 1978 to 1983. It was the second generation Z-car, starting with 240, then 260 and replacing the Datsun 280Z in late 1978. The 280ZX was the first time where the “By Nissan” subscript was badged alongside the Datsun logo, along with the Nissan trucks. The 280ZX was Motor Trends Import Car of the Year for 1979.

With only 58,120 miles on the odometer, the car you see here is in awesome original condition. Of course it has to be sold as “miles exempt” in most states but when you drive this car you know and feel miles are accurate. Mostly because it runs and drives so well and feels tight. The custom paint was a dealer only option that became a trend all through the eighties. This fine Z is loaded with power windows, dual power mirrors, cloth high back bucket seats, full gauges, air conditioning, in-dash tachometer, intermittent wipers, and a hidden Alpine CD changer with custom dash mounted controls. The motor compartment was nicely detailed and appears to be totally stock. It is a 2.8 liter, fuel injected, in-line 6 cylinder with good torque and excellent throttle response. With the smooth shifting 5-Speed transmission, this car is a blast to drive. The original alloy wheels are in great shape. The tires are new and the car is fully serviced and ready to drive and enjoy. When it was new a Ming exterior body, interior, and under body rust protector was applied. We still have copies of the original papers that came with it for that.

Yes, this was the first year that the Z-car started to become the Datsun Monte Carlo, but when was the last time you saw a Monte Carlo with a 5-Speed Manual? That alone should make this 2-seater desirable, shouldn’t it? The top bid so far is $5,100, with an unmet reserve. Take a look at the listing, and tell me what you think.

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