Cosmetic Resto Candidate: 1982 Datsun 280ZX Turbo

One of the few things I loved about my departed Subaru XT6 project was that it came with headlight washers. For whatever reason, I just dig the idea of a washer system in miniature, and reserved just for the headlamps. Don’t judge me! Anyhow, this 1982 Datsun 280ZX Turbo is yet another Japanese car that came with headlight washers in the raging 80s, but it’s cool for so many other reasons. Check it out here on eBay with a Buy-It-Now of $5,500.

While there are generations of the famous Z car to avoid, I think it’s safe to say any model with a turbocharger and slicer wheels are worth owning. Of course, the later cars got the big, heavy bumpers and were hamstrung by emissions and fuel economy regulations, but the turbocharged at least added some legit performance to the still-attractive body. The classic Z car lines never get old, even if the chrome bumper era was long gone by this point.

Though the interior is tired, it’s the best color combination out there of white over red – and it has the manual gearbox. The seller says it was garage stored up until about five years ago which I take to mean it now sits outside – a bummer, for sure, and I wonder if that has to do with the seats looking so tired. It’s unusual to see a passenger-side seat get so torn up, and they really need to be re-done for the interior to pop like it should. Fortunately, the carpets and door panels appear sound.

The previous owner “…did the turbo five years ago,” according to the seller, which could mean full replacement or a rebuild – he doesn’t say. The car apparently runs quite well and the seller just added 300 miles this week, but he does emphasize that it’s far from perfect and is either a car you can enjoy as-is or take all the way with full restoration. With under 85,000 miles, there’s plenty of life left in a car like this, and I think a smart cosmetic restoration would do it wonders in the long-run.


  1. kakerlak

    I always wanted to like these, but could never get past the look. It’s like they perverted the clan, elegant lines of the original Z. I hate the longer roof line with the subtle crease past the door posts. The first gen 300ZX that followed was better, even, in that it fully committed to the angular look and tightened up the body lines in the process. Still, the original 240Z is the prettiest.

    Like 5
    • aboyandhisdog Tom Member

      I agree, Nissan/Datsun took a beautiful car in the 240 and really stepped in it when they went to the 260 and the 280. Contrast this with the 911 over time, which IMO has mostly stayed a good looking car – with the exception of some of the over-the-top whale tails and whatnot.

      Like 1
  2. Mr. TKD

    I was a teenager when these hit the market, so this was an aspirational vehicle. This color combo also brings to mind a 1990 300ZX I almost purchased in 1993 — but that’s another story for another time.

  3. Arthell64 Member

    I always thought this model looked much better then the earlier models. I wanted one of these when they were new but the insurance was too expensive.

    Like 2
  4. SamM

    I had one of these back in the 90s. Fun car, if a bit slow. The problem was, of course, RUST. The bottom mounting points for the front fenders were long gone. when you got to 35 mph,, the fenders would do a gull-wing imitation. fixed it with duct tape. I loaned it to a friend, who got it towed and impounded but forgot to tell me until the storage bill was thousands more than the car was worth.
    I saw one this and thought ” Maybe ,,,,” till I saw the floor rust, and the hood rusted out,, aaaannnd. nope. Coulda been fun. maybe.

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