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EVZ: 1975 Datsun 280Z EV

Ahhhhh.. now we’re talkin’, a 1975 Datsun 280Z! Finally, a nice, normal car from Scotty G! This normal 280Z (hee hee, wringing hands) is on Craigslist with an asking price of $13,995! Wow, it must really be a nice, original car for that price!..

Hey, isn’t the cord for the block heater usually hanging out of the grille? Ok, enough of that. While this is a nice, normal Datsun 280Z, at least body and interior-wise, it’s also a nice, abnormal 1975 Datsun 280Z EV! 

This car was built 10 long years ago so it must have withstood the test of time. It’s a fantastic, professional conversion done by a company called Operation Z, but they no long do EV conversions and it was their shop vehicle.

1975 was the first year for the 280Z in the US market and this originally would have had Nissan’s L28E, 2.8L inline-six with fuel-injection and around 150 hp, but now it has a FB4001a Series Wound DC motor with up to 100 hp at 144 volts, which this car has. As it is now, this car has a top speed of 94 mph and a range of between 25 and 45 miles. The other six batteries, for a total of twelve 12-volt batteries, are in the trunk. I know what you’re thinking, all of that weight in there, come on!! Well, the original L28E engine weighed about 450 pounds, and the 12 batteries weigh around 450 pounds, you see where I’m going here.. And the batteries are evenly spread out between the front and the back of the car. This thing has to corner like it’s on rails.

The interior looks great and it looks stock, including the floor shifter. But, this was converted to a clutchless 4-speed from the regular third-pedal-needed setup. The owner/builder was going to convert it back but never did. This EVZ even has AC, and since it’s located in the Los Angeles, California area, that’s probably a nice touch. This isn’t a car that most folks will have any interest in, and that’s perfectly fine. Not everyone likes everything (other than me!) and that’s what makes this such a great website, it’s a wide variety of finds for a wide variety of readers in a wide variety of countries around the globe. I would probably have a regular 280Z, but this one would sure draw a current.. I mean, a crowd!


  1. JamestownMike

    Another “barn find”??……..NOT! Come on guys!

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  2. David

    That’s what I appreciate about this site, you never know what you’ll see!

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  3. Mr. TKD

    How much to put in a LS in it?

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  4. SortedCorty.com

    Nice looking car and the execution seems clean – a lot of these small-shop-built EVs are prepared without a thought to aesthetics. Only things I would be concerned about are the old batteries and old converter. Batteries are probably worn out and converter tech has come a long way in 10 yrs.

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    • DAN

      never anything cheap when it comes to EV
      cool ya, cheap NO:(

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    • Flman

      And battery technology has moved ahead light years in ten years with lithium batteries instead of lead acid ones. Would be much more impressive if it were a conversion using what’s available today. Like what the Wheeler Dealer guys did with the Maserati Biturbo body. Their finished product had 140 hp and more than double that figure in torque and could eek out almost 200 miles per charge.

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  5. Fred W.

    45 mile range on a good day….hmmmmm…

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  6. angliagt

    That thing must weigh (more than) a ton.
    Too bad they took a smog exempt vehicle out of
    the market.They should have picked a ’76+.

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  7. Bob S

    This golf cart no longer fits golf clubs. Looks well done. I’d suggest not crashing in this. Merry Christmas Barn Finds Devotees.

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  8. grant

    Hmm. Cool technology. Uncool they did this to a nice Z. Again going against my usual anti sbc swap ethos, this would be a perfect candidate if the price came down a bit. Probably lose the boy racer body kit too. Merry Christmas all!

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  9. DRV

    As I remember the stock motor was not good starting in ’76 and many were converted to something else including my brother’s to a 350 Chevy from zero miles on the original engine.

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    • Chuck

      I had a ’77. Bought it new and put over 100K on it without a single problem. It was the fourth one I’d owned. Actually wish I still had it. Its a shame they ruined an otherwise great classic here.

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  10. Bob S

    @DRV I had a 78 fuel injected 280-Z and it was a fantastic engine. Very tractable, great fuel economy. Totally reliable.

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  11. james boyd

    I saw a 280Z in a Car Craft sleeper shoot-out. Had a turbo charged inline six with nitrous, Dont remember the e.t. but it was hitting 130 in the 1/4 mile.

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  12. dave kimmins

    I guess I am a little late to see this site but what the heck. I worked at Operation Z and this in my build. To all of you that are saying I should have not used a 1975 Z because it is a smog-exempt vehicle. Well, I used what was given to me to do the conversion. The car was given to the owner of the shop Joe, for a parts car. Only because the body was so dented up from having the garage fall on top of it in the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Pick-a part did not even want it so the shop ended up with it. The Z was not the first car I have built but was my first EV build. Joe asked me to do the conversion and would pay me to do it. It took 7 months from pulling the motor to getting it back from the paint shop. I wanted Lil batteries for it, but at the time of the build, a pack with the voltage of 144v 150 amp was going for 32,000. and an AC motor would have cost 4,500. Money Joe did not have to make that investment. So I had to use a DC motor and a lead pack with a voltage of 144v 500 amps costing 2,450.00  Because of the 12 lead batteries weighing in at 1175 lbs I had to have more amps. Remember it is a DC motor not an AC motor like the Tesla. So I need amps to move the car not just volts. In the end, the car weighs in close to 30000 with the stock car being 29000+. I moved everything around so I could get a 50/50 split and all the weight as low to the ground as I could. Yes driving it in curves was like driving on rails, you would be out of the seat before the tires would break and the lunch would hurt your neck if you did not push your head into the back of the seat. I took it to Friday nights at Bobs Bigboy in Burbank for over 3 years and would be happy to race anyone in the parking lot. Once the fast car guys would see how it launched without spinning the back tires, only one guy in his 1979 Dodge Charger with a 440 Hemi pushing 600 hp said he could beat me. LOL, I was at the end of the parking lot before his tires stop spinning. From then on, one else wants to try, this was in 2006/7. In 2010 one of the shop costumes got himself a new Model S. The Z was faster off the line than the S but it would get me when I had to shift to 2nd. The lead pack started showing its age around 2012 and was in need of a new pack or an upgrade to the new li-ion pack but they still cost over 20,000 so the car when nowhere till and buyer from Colorado bought it. With no clutch the trans was hooked up to the motor 0 to 40 was 1.5 sec, with a 2-sec shift to second was the only time the Model S would catch and pass the Z making the 0-60 time around 4.2-4 sec. I never told Joe this but I took it to Irwindale speedway one weekend in 2007 on a trailer. With a full pack and it ran the 1/8-mile drag strip in 5.1 sec at 92 miles an hour, and was told to go home and not come back. They said it was a record for the track but because the car was not legal to go that fast it would not be counted and they could not give me the run ticket.  Although Operation Z no longer builds EVs, I will in my part-time.You can still get in touch with me through Joe at Operation Z, just ask for Dave.

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