Inside Story: 1979 DATSUN 280ZX


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One doesn’t normally start off with a picture of the interior of a car, but this ZX is so nice inside it looks like it might really have only 19,000 miles instead of a more likely 119,000 miles. It looks especially nice considering it was sitting in a barn for a decade. The 280ZX was heavier and more plush so it wasn’t nearly as much fun as the original 24 ounce Datsun. The ZX was more of a “personal luxury” car than a sports car. This one has the less common 5 speed that made rowing through the gears much more fun. It appears to be 100% original down to the original radiator and gas caps, although I don’t know how that could be proven. It is said to run and drive like a new car. All the accessories work including the power antenna, cruise control, power windows and mirrors. Given the electromechanical technology of the 1970s, that is pretty amazing. The ad claims it is a “Collectors Edition” but those were 1980 models and 2 tone, most black and gold. Also, it would have graphics just ahead of the door on the front fenders as well as a dash plaque.


That’s not a missing knob on the right but the stereo fader stick, the latest trick technology of the time. This really does look pristine except for the dust along the bottom or perhaps that’s where the detailer missed applying the Armor-all. The chrome trim on the plastic always wore off very quickly. It’s amazing to see it still intact. That’s an ash try in the middle. Remember ash trays?

inside rear

The interior is nice even from the rear. Look at all the luggage space the hatch provides.


They didn’t detail the engine and it looks like a 120,000 mile engine, don’t you think? The new plug wires really stand out. Everything appears original and unmolested.

left front

The outside looks pretty nice as well with all the original wheels and trim. This picture makes it look showroom fresh. By 1978 the bumpers and grown into ungainly “rubber baby bumpers” thanks to US safety regulations and gave the ZX quite a snout.

right front

The right side looks really nice as well. The owner describes his ZX as mint, but he admits to faded spots in the paint, small dents in the roof and the “usual rust in the lower rockers”. Pictures of the rust would have been out of character for this ad on Craigslist. It’s across the river from Portland in Vancouver, Washington with an asking price of $8,000. If this ZX had fewer miles, would the price seem more reasonable? Without knowing how bad the rust is, of course, it’s impossible to know what this might really be worth. Would you baby this and try to keep it pristine or would you just enjoy the ride and let it age naturally? I look forward to reading the comments and seeing what the “Z” experts think.

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Charles

    If the car has 119K it seems that there will be more wear on the seats, the knobs, steering wheel, and such. The car certainly has some issues for a 19K car, but than Japanese cars of this era were prone to rust, so it may not be unusual. I won’t make a call on the mileage unless I can see the car in person.

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    • Doc

      No rock chips on the hood and front bumpers and all else that was fore mentioned makes this a low mileage car. pedal or carpet wear kinda hard to tell from the picture. but looks OK
      So, who is gonna go check it out?

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  2. Squad41

    120,000 mile engine? No, it looks like a 37 year old engine. Based on the wear items, (Door handles, steering wheel, shift knob, and cloth seats) this is probably legit. Documentation would help, for sure.

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  3. jim s

    asking price is now $7500. miles shown are 12793, looks like it has more then that but less then 112793, hard to tell without paperwork. would need to do a PI looking at how bad the rust is and for some idea on how many miles are on this. then make a offer. it has an inline 6 and manual so i would have fun daily driving this. nice find

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  4. JW454

    Detailed pictures of what’s good but no pictures of what needs attention. Typical. Expect lots of rust. Maybe, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

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  5. Mr. TKD

    I have always wanted a Z. This looks like a relatively painless entry point. Great find!

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  6. Dave

    I had an ’80 280ZX in high school. Fun car! Mine rusted out, the underbody got bad, fast. Too bad, everything else was in pretty good shape.

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  7. Keith

    Owned a ’78 280z, loved it! Bought one of the special edition zx’ s, black/gold with T-tops and a digital dash… What a terrible automobile! If you ever owned a “real” z and want to relive that fun, quick, Sportscar, don’t believe that a ZX will fill the void… it won’t.

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  8. joe

    wow. Even the prices on the 280zx’s are out of hand now, too. I guess my desire to own another in the near future so not be happening.
    I’ve owned a 78,83,84,& 87. Bought my first zx for 500 and sold it a year later after I bought my 87 z31. Loved them all. These l28 engines were great. Wouldn’t be surprised if that’s 220 or even 320 thousand miles. All of my 280s had over 200k eventually and never had any engine failure.

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