California Edition? 1981 Datsun 280ZX

The Z car is recognized all over the world, and despite low-ish values for the later cars, there’s a dedicated following for seemingly every generation. This 1981 Datsun 280ZX appears to have been found in a desolate workshop, with concrete walls and another Z car sitting next to it. The car in question has some unusual custom touches, most likely made by a California dealer when it was new to convince some sucker that he was buying a limited production model. Truth be told, it’s hard to tell exactly what you’re working with given the dark confines of the garage, but you can check out the listing here on Facebook Marketplace where it’s listed for $3,500.

The car is basically a rolling billboard for 1980s styling enhancements that go beyond just the interior. The rear end sports an aftermarket rear spoiler, and a custom “heckblende” panel that sits between the rear taillights. It also looks like it has the remnants of a body kit with a rear apron beneath the bumper, and the photos from the side show that the 280ZX also has side skirts that appear to wrap around to a front air dam. I get that it looks cheesy now, but if this Z car was sporting those custom touches back in the early 80s, it was likely a showstopper if you were a fan of Japanese sports cars.

Nowadays, it just looks tired, especially since you can still find plenty of project-grade S130 cars for sale in every corner of the internet. We just sold a few of these off of the north Georgia property I’ve featured here on Barn Finds in the past, and one buyer has now purchased three fairly rough cars for a business he runs that parts them out. There’s a huge market of enthusiasts hungry for OEM parts, but I haven’t seen the requisite uptick in perfectly restored cars going up for sale. This custom interior has all the markings of being a dealer-installed “upgrade,” but it looks quite extensive, with the custom striping going down the seat centers and the embroidered headrests. The front seats sport the same pattern.

The Datsun rides on later Z car wheels, which would seemingly indicate it’s been in the car of a Datsun / Nissan fan. A set of slightly larger wheels would be a gamechanger, as they would help fill out the enhanced wheel wells, courtesy of the fender flares from the aforementioned body kit. No word on engine health, but the inline is still present under the hood – though that wiring and engine cover parts sitting strewn about over the driver’s side fender isn’t a good sign. The seller says to “bring starting fluid and a battery,” but that seems optimistic; I would concentrate on having a winch and trailer. The Datsun does have the digital gauge cluster, a desirable OEM upgrade. With that in mind, is this 280ZX worth saving?

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  1. JCA

    Wow. Body rust in unusual spots is never a good sign. And who throws greasy axels on cloth seats? Looks like a parts car destined for the junkyard. And as for the 80’s, I would have thought this car looked cheesy then as I do now. If you tacked stuff on your car for looks instead of speed, handling or braking, you were pretty much a poser

    Like 4
  2. Daniel Wright

    We are missing the elephant in the room here Is that contact paper on the dash? Seriously WHAT THE #@$#@$#@?

    Like 3
  3. sir_mike

    California Mustang yes….this no

    Like 4
  4. Mark C

    I quite like S130 Datsuns. My dad had one when I was in high school, but unlike this car, it wasn’t a 2+2, nor did it have any weird add-ons. This car looks like parts.

    Like 1
  5. Steve Clinton

    Evidently, the owner was just too lazy to take the garbage off the car to take the photos.

    Like 3
  6. douglas hunt

    back when i was maybe 26 i had a 1980 Z car, mine was a two seater and i cant remember if it was a Z or ZX [shame on me]
    i had a header and Ansa exhaust, 15″ enkie wheels, it was really fast on the interstate, had lots of fun in that car, alas traded it away like so many others i should have kept……..

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