Only Two Owners: 1983 Datsun 280ZX

The 280ZX was an evolution of the 280Z which began as the 240Z in 1970. The popular Japanese sports car gave the imports from Europe a run for their money, and the automobile would help position Nissan as a contender in the U.S. On its home turf, the Z cars were known as the Fairlady Z, but here they were the Datsun until 1986 when Nissan finally dropped that moniker. This 1983 ZX looks to be in excellent condition and has had just two owners to put 65,000 miles on it across 38 years. Located in Cottage Grove, Oregon, this sharp sports car is available here on craigslist for $21,000. Kudos to Matt H. for turning us on to this car!

From the inception of the cars in 1970, they would evolve in the U.S. as follows: 240Z (1970-73), 260Z (1974-75), 280 Z (1976-77), 280ZX (1978-83), and then other incarnations under the Nissan brand after that. Technically, it’s the Nissan 130 but the market destination dictated whether it would be called the Datsun 280ZX or Nissan Fairlady Z. The 280ZX was named Motor Trend’s Import Car of the Year for 1979, and In 1984, the 280ZX was replaced by the Nissan 300ZX. The numerical part of the car’s name was driven by the displacement of the engine, i.e., 2.4-liters, 2.8-liters, etc.

The seller refers to his ’83 ZX as being one of the cleanest and original examples on the market. And it would be hard to disagree with him given how well it presents in the photos provided. We’re told it always stays in the garage when not used and we surmise that the seller is its second owner. The burnt orange paint looks flawless and there are no signs of dents or rust. It’s said to run and drive like new and should be a blast to put it through maneuvers with the car’s 5-speed manual transmission.

This is also a well-equipped car, so the buyer will not go wanting for conveniences. Power windows, power mirrors, power door locks, factory air conditioning – they’re all there. This one comes with slotted louvers over the back window which should help keep the passenger compartment comfortable during the hot summer months. And it has T-tops, too! This car would have been one of about 55,000 imported in 1983.

Hagerty projects the resale value of an ’83 280ZX in excellent condition to be about $24,000, so the seller has priced his as about 10% below that. This looks like a sharp one if you’ve been wanting to put one of these Japanese sports cars in your garage. And it would be more reliable than a British car from the 1960s and 1970s.


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  1. Raymond Smith

    The 280ZX entered production in 1979. The information in wikipedia is incorrect. If you look up the history of the 280ZX in Motortrend you will get the correct information. We had a 1978 280Z and I assure you it was the body style prior to the ZX style.

    Like 8
    • bobk

      Agreed. I had a ’79 280zx.

      Like 3
  2. SebastianX1/9

    Absolutely perfect color. Beautiful.

    Like 3
  3. JBD

    Good Find! One of the best new Japan built sports cars. After driving old ragged out muscle cars, these cars drove like a dream. It is no wonder that Japan could build a car where T-Toos didn’t leak, starts every time and good for 200k where most American cars needed rebuilt twice!

    Like 4
    • JoeNYWF64

      Didn’t all Z cars up to have fenders that rusted quickly up until at least ’83, like on dodge aspens & plymouth volares?
      My friend’s ’68 nova isnt a sports car, but it has orig 250 strait 6 – starts everytime – original ignition coil – over 200k miles – no timing belt OR chain! – original powerglide trans too. Pts & condenser – can’t be simpler.
      Rides better over rough roads than modern cars thanks to hi profile rubber. Handles decent with radials too. Optional factory quick ratio steering 3 turns lock to lock.

      Like 1
      • douglas hunt

        mine had both fenders rusted off, plus the spare tire box was GONE, along with the passenger side frame box section. For $800 i didn’t complain, as i had a neighbor kid i grew up with worked for the local dealership and he got me the box section and two front fenders, while another buddy who’s family was in the roofing and sheetmetal business was checking it one day while i stopped at their shop, within 20 minutes his brother had a flanged box made up that dropped in the missing tire well hole and when my brother welded up the frame box section he welded in the spare tire box

  4. Dale S

    1974 was the only year for the 260Z. 1975 to 1978 were the years for the 280Z. Years 1979 to 1983 for the 280ZX.

    Like 5
  5. Girth

    Goodyear Eagle GT ‘s ?? I have some from 84 on rollers . Thought I had the last inflated set.

    Like 3
  6. douglas hunt

    I had a 1980 280zx, bought cheap with rust issues, but i was able to repair it.
    i put 15″ enkie wheels on it, and a complete header back/ansa exhaust.
    lots of fun in that car and it was decently fast too…..

    Like 2
  7. Gary

    I had this same car and it drove like a large luxury car. It was also very fast

    Like 1
  8. Steve S

    I had a 82 Datsun 280zx that was black and gray two tone with a 5 speed manual transmission with the 2.8 inline 6 cylinder engine. It had 41k miles on it when I bought it and the rod bearings went out at 61k miles and the clutch started slipping when the bearings went out.

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