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Affordable Project? 1976 Datsun 280Z

In some instances as car models age, sort of like people, they become larger, heavier, and technologically more adept. A case in point is this 1976 Datsun 280Z. It still looks basically like the original Z car incarnation, the 240 which was introduced in 1970, but there’s a bit more to it. Let’s look in detail at this Datsun two-seater; it’s located in Silver Springs, Nevada and available, here on craigslist for $7,000. Thanks to Matt H. for this tip!

Datsun’s first Z car was introduced in America in late ’69 as a ’70 model. Designated as the 240Z, it was succeeded by the 260Z in 1974 and then the 280Z in 1975. It continued through 1978 and then morphed into the 280ZX. Let’s compare:

  • 240Z (1970-1973) – 163 inches in length, 2,300 lbs., 2.4-liter engine
  • 260Z (1974) – 163 inches in length (175 for 2+2), 2,425 lbs. (2,645 for 2+2), 2.6-liter engine
  • 280Z (1975-1978) – 173 inches in length (185 for 2+2), 2,692 lbs. (2,875 for 2+2), 2.8-liter engine

According to Zhome.com, the increased size and weight of the Z car didn’t work against itself as 1976, with its 59K copies (both standard and 2+2 body styles), was its best sales year.

This example has been sitting for a spell. The seller dismantled it, repainted it in what was considered a rush job, and is now in the process of reassembling it for sale since he’s decided to move. The seller adds that the rushed paint job isn’t great but the listing images aren’t that discernable – it actually looks pretty good. One very unusual feature is the sunroof, it was one of those glass flip-up types that were all the rage in the early ’80s but it has been replaced with a sliding canvas affair. Hopefully, it’s leak-free. Considered to be rust-free, this Datsun “needs to be finished” but it sounds like that task will be up to the next owner.

Power is provided by a 170 net HP, 2.8 liter, in-line, six-cylinder engine working through a four-speed manual transmission. It is stated that “The gas is old and needs to be drained and the car hasn’t been started in years“. Being partially covered in plastic, it’s not evident if the engine is complete or not.

Moving on to the interior, we are advised, “It has all new weatherstripping, carpet, dash, seat upholstery, etc.“. What can be seen presents pretty well, it’s just not complete as door panels and trim are missing and it appears as if the work just stopped and the tools were dropped to lie where they are. It’s a work in progress but should present itself well when completed. The question to consider is what’s there and what’s missing?

The odometer reflects a reading of 2,304 so it’s likely been once around and that means the integrity of the mechanicals of this non-running Datsun aren’t really known. All-in-all, this seems like a solid start to a worthwhile project and will ultimately make for a nicely restored example of a very popular ’70s Japanese sports car. What do you think, priced right or not quite?


  1. Mark_K Member

    I had a ’76 280 Z and had a friend with a ’71 240 Z. The 10″ difference in length was all due to the crash bumpers. I know from experience that the major body panels are interchangeable. The weight difference could be partly due to the heavier fuel injection system, bumpers, and additional noise insulation.

    Like 11
  2. Ike Onick

    “If I leave the rags on the hood, potential buyers will think I am waxing the car”

    Like 7
  3. Ralph

    Looks worth saving. But that sun roof mess is a deal breaker. Over the last 45 yrs. I have installed close to 1,000 of them, all of the different kinds and brands. Some are great, some not so much. This one: not so much. YMMV

    Like 11
  4. MrBZ

    Hmmmm…….that sunroof is pathetic, but my brother does own a body shop…

    Like 4
  5. Rodney - GSM

    Yes, but was it owned by an unnamed NBA player family member…?

    Like 10
  6. Terrry

    The two-seat 280Z looked much better than the 2+2. These cars were solid as long as they weren’t driven in road-salted areas of the country, then they rusted like crazy.

    Like 3
    • Gary Rhodes

      My uncle had a Turbo Z when I was a kid, I can’t remember the year. He and my aunt lived ten miles north of Charleston WVa. Both front fenders rotted out in less than two years. Repairs were done under warranty and he traded it in shortly thereafter. It did run really well

      Like 0
  7. wuzjeepnowsaab

    The guy’s done a good job of storing it and looks like he was going through the right steps to get it on the road. The price for it isn’t outrageous and I’m sure it could be bought for less.

    Like 2
  8. Vern p

    They make great humidifiers, If there’s any humidity in the air, the steel in thses cars will absorb it. Too bad really as these are rally cool little cars.
    My son has a 280 ZX and the beautiful black paint with the T-Tops and the mint condition interior just lured him in to buying this car.
    Sadly, being new to classics and the lowness of the car on the ground, he didn’t see what lay below. 4K to make it legal and pass inspection.

    Like 1
  9. Steve Clinton

    Is it THAT difficult to remove junk off the hood when taking photos?

    Like 3
  10. Simonas Jakunskas

    How much for the car?

    Like 0

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