Live Auctions

Digital Dash & Window Louvers: ’83 280ZX


Not too many details are offered on this sweet 1983 Datsun 280ZX, but I don’t need much more than the photos to convince myself that I want it. Digital dash cluster, a low-mileage straight six, manual transmission and the must-have rear window louvers make this Z-Car one to own for yours truly. Check out this claimed original-paint specimen here on craigslist for $8,873.


I’ve never given these malaise-era Z’s much attention, but I guess the old saying of “absence makes the heart grow fonder” is at play here since I can’t recall the last time I saw one of these vehicles in such great shape. The period-correct details push this one into the “Buy” column for me, thanks to the aforementioned louvers, gold-tipped blade-style wheels and jet-black original paint.


The interior on Z-Cars of this era is usually a huge let down, thanks to years of being available as a cheap sports car for new drivers. Thankfully, this one has clearly been loved, with a clean beige cockpit, uncracked seating and dash surfaces, the original headunit and equalizer combo, and lots more to smile about. The digital dash cluster is a must-have, in my opinion, along with three pedals and a turbocharger.


The 80s love-fest continues with the delightful tail light panel that features the full garnish treatment, with the classic “Turbo” script across the center and 280 ZX in huge letters. This Datsun hails from an era where you wanted everyone to know what you were driving, malaise-era horsepower numbers be damned. You looked good and everyone behind you in traffic as going to know about it. Now, who wants to own this preserved Z?




    Take away the rear seats And this is my dream car!

  2. gene

    I had the same exact car a long time ego. Well built and lots of fun to drive.
    Doing street racing in East New York it would outrace 5.0 mustang GT, Iroc , and trans am. Seeing the faces of the owners of those cars was priceless.
    It was even faster than a Lotus Espirit , until his turbo kicked in , in third gear.
    But I expected that much.
    The good old days…….

    I enjoyed my first wife to be in the back quiet often.
    The good old days………………

  3. Mr. TKD

    This one hits all of the right notes with one exception: it’s a 2+2. The interesting thing is those two seats in the back are probably a big part of the reason it is in such good shape. No one wanted these. While it’s not my preferred body style, I’d gladly snap up this Arizona car for cruising.

  4. PaulbZ3

    Looks like this has t-tops too. I don’t see an OEM EQ but I do see a SW (subwoofer?) button on the radio. I’m sure the OEM radio is still there by virtue of it being expensive and a PITA to retrofit any after market unit. Nice car for cruise nights…

    • Maxwell

      Hi PaulbZ3 Datsun did not offer an EQ option on the 280zx. The radio shown is the stock OEM. Very cool looking with metal finish.

  5. Dolphin Member

    Altho I don’t prefer Z cars made after model year 1970, I can see the appeal of this as a cruiser, especially being a Turbo.

    I have never owned one but I imagine it should perform well. IIRC Paul Newman did quite well in SCCA racing in a 2-seater version of these, altho it would have been far from stock.

  6. nessy

    I think this Malaise word is getting old here just like the patina word. As for the 280ZX Turbos which were built from 81 to 83, I love them! I have an all original 81 Turbo ZX in my garage, the first year and it only came with an automatic which was faster than the 5 speed. My showroom new Datsun only has 21k original winter free miles and still has it’s original paint. The Turbo 280ZX was a rocket. They outran just about anything on the road at the time and still fly strong today. They are stunning in the two tone paint option.

    • racer99

      Also had a 2 seater/automatic black and gold version of this car loaded with turbo, T-tops, leather, etc., etc., after having a 240Z and 260Z. Absolutely beautiful car that grabbed me and wouldn’t let go after seeing it in the dealer’s used car section back in ’84. As with most vehicle heavy lust affairs, this one wasn’t as good after living with it a while. Nice cruiser and bullet fast in as straight line once the turbo came on board but the turbo/automatic drive-train wasn’t well sorted for daily use and the handling didn’t really inspire any dare-devil moves. Traded it for a new pickup in ’87 — missed seeing it in my garage but didn’t miss driving it. Saw one of the 2+2s in an auction about 6 months ago out of MS with a little of 100K and it sold for $650 — I passed.

    • Maxwell

      I could not agree with you more! I have a two-tone 81 Turbo in silver/black and I love it! Every time I drive it, I get comments and thumbs up from other drivers. Do let me know if you ever wish to sell your Z.

      • nessy

        Maxwell, did you say you have an 81 Turbo in silver and black two tone? Is the black on the body with the silver on the hood? If so, that color combo was only offered overseas or in Canada in very limited numbers. The next year they reversed the colors with the silver on the body and the black on the hood which was more common. Could you post a photo? I will never sell my blue and silver Z. Thanks.

  7. Coventrycat71

    I want my MTV!

  8. Jeffro

    A friend of mine in high school drove his moms. I always liked the look if these cars. And I like the way his mom looked to.

    Like 1
  9. 68 custom

    I know the non turbo Z cars of this era are bullet proof so I am guessing that if well maintained this one would be a great car. the back seat however look like a form of torture.

  10. j d

    Cool unmolested find near me! Original turbo car which is hard to find!

  11. Jeff V

    Had a ’82 ZX as a young entrepreneur in south Florida in the 80’s, dropped one of the T-tops outside a strip club in Boynton beach at bar-time, ah memories! Replaced the clutch in a swampy area around the St. Johns river, ah memories! Actually drove from WPB to Cocoa beach with a goat in the passenger seat, ah memories! This car was indestructible, just luved the straight 6. Many encounters with the state troopers, all cool!

    • Jeffro

      Ok yeah…the goat story! You can’t just throw that out there and not elaborate. That would be a story I’d want details on. And everyone is smiling while reading this cause they are thinking the same thing!

  12. bob

    had a 79 ZX 2 seater. easily one of the best cars i ever owned. ran great on the highway at high speed.

  13. David Miraglia

    I’ll take it. Best Japanese sports car ever.

  14. rich voss

    This car has all the stuff I didn’t want on mine. Bought a new ’80 ZX “stripped-down” model off the showroom floor “for cheap” as no one was interested in it. No power doors, windows, no air, alloy wheels (but not the fancy ones), certainly no back window louvers (who wants to clean snow off that thing). I believe in what Colin Chapman said, in effect, that weight is the enemy (as are power robbing accessories). A woman friend of mine went with and she got the price down even further ! Metallic Silver with a black interior. Surprised many a ‘Vette with that car. The Windy City Z Club had to have a special meeting and vote to allow me to join, as I was the first ZX guy to approach them for membership. And to the guy that mentioned Paul Newman, yes, we got to meet him and talk a lot about racing “Z’s” up at good old Road America. Real class. Real gentleman (until you got him on that racetrack !).

  15. Tex260Z

    Turbo would be nice, but I’ll stick with my super low mileage original 260Z five speed. Changed the wheels, carby’s, exhaust, seats, and fitted electronic ignition.

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