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Nissan Under the Skin! 1980 Spartan

It would be easy to pass off the Spartan as a kit car but that would not be true. It was a handmade luxury touring automobile with Nissan engineering and sheet metal instead of fiberglass. Only 80 are said to have been made and – in 1980 – they sold for $125,000 new (more than $435,000 in today’s inflated currency). This 1980 example has only 40,000 miles and looks to have been pampered all its life. Located in Pineville, North Carolina, this rarity is available here on craigslist for $25,000. Once again, Pat L. comes through with a cool tip!

The Spartan (I or II, depending on sources) is often lumped into the same neo-classic kit car category as the Excalibur, Gazelle, Tiffany, or the Zimmer. But the Spartan didn’t rely on Volkswagen engineering for its mechanical characteristics. Besides not having a plastic body, the Spartan was based on either the Nissan 280ZX or 300ZX, one of the top sports cars from Japan. So, the engine sits upfront, the wheels are driven from the rear, and the Spartan has plush 2+2 seating.

Founded by Ron Sparks in California in the late 1970s, the company is said to have built no more than seven dozen cars before closing down in the early 1990s. Because of their price, scarcity, and proximity to Hollywood, most of the original owners of the Spartans were celebrities like Eddie Murphy, Tony Curtis, and Joan Collins. The seller’s car is said to be the second one built (#2!)

Since these cars turn up so seldom for sale, it’s hard to make a comparison to other examples. It looks to be in beautiful condition, never having seen rain according to the seller (but since the photos show it under a tent, that’s not entirely accurate). With their enormous original price tag, these works of art had to be some of the most luxurious produced in the day and it looks like it. And yet it has a drivetrain that most Nissan dealers should be able to work on if they dare! At one-fifth of its original purchase price, you, too, can share “the lifestyles of the rich and famous” (nod to Robin Leach)!


  1. Tony Primo

    Hand made body, off the shelf trailer tail lights!

    Like 35
    • Raymond L Saunders

      Go smoke ur primo Goomba..

    • Michael Garner

      Yeah, looks like one of those repair kits for as boat trailer for sure.

      Like 5
  2. Steve Clinton

    I always considered these ostentatious cars were built for the ‘Look at me!’ crowd.

    Like 8
    • SMS

      When my daughter was 12 this is the type of car she wanted. By the time she was 15 she had outgrown it.

      Like 11
    • Frank Sumatra

      I can’t imagine why?

      Like 4
    • Milt

      that, and Las Vegas Pimps

      Like 5
    • Al

      There may be a reason for “look at me” cars.

      I’m interested in any car I can get into and drive, most I can not. When you are 6’7″ it’s tough finding a vehicle you can get into and drive.

      My current vehicle is 9 years old because I cannot get into most vehicles built today.

      I haven’t tried a Bentley, but I could at time of purchase get into a Porsche Panamera, Porsche Cayenne, Mercedes S Class, Mercedes ML and a Rolls Royce Wraith. But I can’t get into some of these (Model changes included) today.

      Like 9
      • Steve Clinton

        We own a Ford Edge, not necessarily because I like them, but at 71 years of age, I can get in and out of one.
        My daughter’s better half owns a 2021 Dodge Charger, which I got in and out of…once. My daughter owns a new Subaru Forester Sport, and even though it’s a small compact wagon, it is also easy to enter and exit.

        Like 3
  3. Ed H

    Where’s the Nissan body? I would rather have that.

    Like 9
  4. 370zpp 370zpp Member

    If you removed both bumpers and re-worked the taillights, this thing would look totally different.

    Like 4
    • Ike Onick

      As long as I had the tools out I would keep taking stuff off until I got to the Nissan body.

      Like 11
  5. Ike Onick

    “Nissan Under the Skin!” And Ugly Down to the Bone!

    Like 4
  6. Evan

    I can’t believe 80 buyers fell for this nonsense.

    Like 4
    • Jack M.

      Recreational drug use was common at the time.

      Like 17
  7. P161911

    That’s 81 too many

    Like 4
  8. SMS

    I must admit I am not without sin. I have wanted, and still want a first gen Excalibur.

    Like 5
  9. Mutt

    Never seen one before.
    Never want to see one again.

    Like 10
  10. PaulG

    Comparing this to a Zimmer is really an insult…to the Zimmer!

    Like 9
  11. nlpnt

    I’m surprised to learn they even sold one dozen at that price new. That was Rolls or Ferrari money.

    Like 4
    • douglas hunt

      80’s, when the speculators ruined the Ferrari market….prob could have gotten a 308 for 125k , but the upper models and the vintage cars had already blown thru that level….but yea, I would def rather had the 308

      Like 1
  12. angliagt angliagt Member

    Not what I envision when I hear the words “Boat tail”.

    Like 2
    • SMS

      Think “Boat Tail” is a typo. Meant to be “Borat Tail”

      Like 7
  13. Greg Gustafson

    Can you say “Mud Fence”* boys and girls?
    *As in, uglier than a…

    Like 1
  14. Michael Berkemeier

    Front looks like a dune buggy, back looks like one of those little sparkly Opel GT looking cars on that ride at the carnival. This thing is awful! Who would’ve ever been dumb enough to spend even 1/10th of that much money on one of these abortions?

    Like 2
  15. sterling

    i like the car! yes tail lights not right but the over all look is good. over priced new yes and now maybe over priced also.

    Like 1
  16. Howie

    The ad is gone now.

    Like 2
    • Ike Onick


  17. Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac Diva Member

    Why would someone spend all that time designing a swooping, curvaceous automobile, only to hack it off at the rear with a sharp edge and no style at all? And what is with those taillights??? Even ’59 Cadillac taillights would look better.

    Like 2
  18. chrlsful

    needs B “lookit me red” too?
    Were all those built (xcaliber… zimmer) and this “late ’70s – early ’90s” when wages and comodies were a closer match? More throw away cash then.
    All seem way off copies (the cord 812 Berline copy is 3/4 size but a near match) taking hints and themes (thats Y they are so garish) rather than doing justice as an end-to-end whole design. (“We should add this, oh yeah, and definatly this, what about that? Yeah, sure.”).

  19. jwy

    It’s an abomination.

  20. jwaltb

    It’s an abomination.

  21. Kenn

    I would like to buy it and take to the cruise-in and then everyone would come over to “look at me”, since no one else there would bring a car to show off. According to Steve Clinton.

  22. john

    While we all are owning up to our particular true feelings here, I too am an outlier because I am very fond of the metallic red Pacer with the cool Navaho print on the seats. The above automobile is too much attention for me at my age. Still I like to see it for the automobile as art…

    Like 1
  23. John Ferguson

    Nice Munstermobile…hilarious car.

  24. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member


  25. Mike


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