No Reserve Original Owner: 1978 Datsun 280Z

From the old-school California blue plates to the detrius of life piled around it, this garage-find photo of a one-owner 1978 Datsun 280Z offers hope there are still classics waiting to be discovered. This example is said to be a one-owner car that simply fell into neglect as the owner’s life got in the way, and now it’s here on eBay with no rust and no reserve. 

With the ugly-but-necessary US-spec bumpers still shining brightly, this unmolested Z-car isn’t perfect, but it is quite honest. The body shows a few dings and dents, likely the result of years in the garage and used as a storage bench. Most important, however, is the rust-free condition of this 280Z, along with the desirable manual transmission. Also, the seller notes this car was ordered with so-called “Deluxe Z” wheels.

The dash is cracked but not so bad that it’s offensive; it’s great to see the manual transmission between the seats. The driver’s seat was re-upholstered in a different pattern than the passenger-side; that seat remains original. Carpets look clean in the limited photos of the interior, and the 280Z comes with its original tool kit and Marume AM/FM cassette player. Other options include A/C and a rear window defogger.

Underneath, this Z is just as solid as you’d expect a California car to be. The seller has listed it with no reserve, and with bidding under $5,000 at the moment, this could be a relative bargain for the next owner. Z cars are not uncommon, but finding an original owner vehicle that hasn’t been modified or fallen victim to the tin worm is a find worth bidding on.

Fast Finds


  1. irocrob

    I like the original 240Z far better but this looks like a good honest car. They sure rusted bad here in Canada.

  2. Beaudog

    Great looking find. I had a ’77 for a few years, one of the most fun cars to drive I ever owned and never had a lick of trouble with it. One night I parked it at the pub I was working at and came out at 2:30 to find it gone…

    The cop who showed up to take the report told me I’d never see it again because of the value of the parts when it’s broken down. Sadly, he was right. Still miss that car.

  3. ron

    I would jerk that jetronic nonsense off and put a coupla su’s on it, a header, and wear it out. I own an ’81 zx turbo-automatic; over 30 yrs. now. all original. not near as nimble as this car; and nowhere near as fun. pretty hard to find a car like this with a/c, too.

    • Mike H. Mike H

      I agree that fuel injection is an attractive feature, both due to the corn gas and overall reliability. I’m not as much into constantly tuning my cars as I once was. . . At my age I prefer to drive them, and they don’t need to be fast, just reliable and predictable.

  4. Dave Member

    I had a ’78 myself, and jetronic or not, it was a pretty solid car. Easy to work on and fast enough.

  5. Steve R

    This is the same seller that has the 1966 Chevelle SS that was listed here a few days ago. He was also seller of the red one owner 1968 California Special from a few weeks ago. He has a knack for finding good cars.

    Steve R

  6. Mr. Moe

    I bought a brand new 1974 260Z just before finishing court reporting school after I got out of the military. Loved that car. Ice blue color. Ran like crazy and got good gas mileage. Traded it three years later for a 1977 yellow, limited production “Zap Z” 280. The 280 had a better AC, but the 260Z was definitely faster. Both were 4 speeds and a hoot to drive. Been thinking about finding another 240 or 260 and dropping in a small block V8, beefing up the suspension and drive train. A company out of California did that for a few years and called it a “Scarab.” It was a real “sleeper” on the street.

  7. Rustytech Member

    Not the raw sports car the 240 was, but a least it has the third pedal. This looks like a sound car, and would be a fun drive. You don’t find them up here in the north east anymore.

  8. Pete

    I had a 77 280Z it came with steel rims and hubcaps. So the deluxe wheels are kind of a rare feature. I ended up switching to ET slot mags on mine because I couldn’t keep hubcaps on it. Might have had a lot to do with the way I drove it like I stole it. I also ran it on MayPop tires cause I was poor back then as an 18 year old. I do recall racing a 78 corvette with off the line one night real late and she hung pretty good against that V-8 then the guy I was racing picked up his police patrolmans cap off the passenger seat and held it up for me to see as we were flying down the road and saying that is enough. What a sore loser. I was ready to run him up to 100MPH but he wasn’t having none of that.

    • boxdin

      MayPop tires….LOL

  9. Jubjub

    Yeah, decent car but those are ’79-80 ZX wheels. The 280Z alloy was a funkier and much less common “god’s eye” design. The Black Pearl and the yellow ones had them.

  10. Doug Towsley

    Have had a few Z cars and 510s. I am a big fan of Datsuns. I currently have a 1974 260Z as a donor car for my kit car project, If interested get the book on V8 swaps from JTR Some good tech in there. After the necessary mods note the SBC weighs only 40 pounds difference between the stock motor. Beef up the frame, and plenty of suspension and brake upgrades out there.
    Some good tech at this website as well

  11. bog

    Nice to see an original. Still like the 240’s and 260’s bumpers and handling better. Was a member of the “Windy City Z Club” back in the day. The board had to vote to let me and my new 280ZX in (rough crowd). Mine was silver with black interior like this one. Fast & quick. Mine never overheated nor got “vapor-lock” like theirs did on hot Summer days driving up to or back from Road America. Was fun to meet Paul Newman when he raced his up there, that’s for sure !

  12. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Wow! 59 bids. Sold for $ 7,051.00.

  13. RBQ

    I bought a ’71 240Z from my brother the late 1970’s. It had just over 100,000 miles on the odometer. I drove this little jewel another 150,000 miles with only 1 problem. The bushing on the distributor shaft wore out and the points drifted. Replaced the bushing and was good to go again.
    Sold it for $1500.

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