Rust-Free Z Car: 1976 Datsun 280Z

This 1976 Datsun 280Z basically appears to be a solid car that the new owner could drive and enjoy as it is. However, I’m pretty sure that they will probably want to undertake some restoration work fairly quickly to return it to its best. If you fancy taking on this Datsun, you will find it located in Tucson, Arizona, and listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding is currently sitting at $4,250, although the reserve hasn’t been met.

Given the propensity that some of these cars had for rusting, finding a 280Z of this vintage with no rust is always a bonus. Of course, the Arizona climate is going to help matters there. One other positive aspect to consider is the fact that since this car rolled off the production line, there have been some pretty major advancements in rust prevention technology. Therefore, if it is currently rust-free, the technology now exists to keep it that way. While the Arizona sun may have helped prevent corrosion, it hasn’t been kind to some of the plastic. I noticed that the bumper ends on the front are missing, which is not uncommon, as these can become brittle with age. The paint looks a little bit tired, but I could definitely live with it for a little while as it is.

Oh dear. I mentioned Arizona sun and plastic in the last paragraph, and that was really only touching the tip of the iceberg. It has inflicted some pretty major damage inside the 280Z. What is quite surprising is that while it looks like a case of starting from scratch in the front of the vehicle, it looks like all of the upholstery that sits under that enormous rear window has actually survived quite well. The item that really caught my eye was the steering wheel. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen one deteriorate quite so badly. The interior will be able to be brought back, but it will take some patience, as it will need to be completely dismantled to do it.

The news under the hood of the 280Z is much better than for the interior. The owner doesn’t make outrageous claims about the mileage, and the 105,000 miles that he claims seems quite feasible. The L28 engine looks quite clean and tidy, and this is hooked to a 4-speed manual transmission. The car is also fitted with air conditioning, and while the system seems to be complete, it doesn’t blow cold. The owner states that the Datsun runs and drives well, with no leaks or mechanical issues.

The Datsun 280Z is a nice little car that offers reasonable levels of performance, combined with really sure-footed handling. This looks like a solid example that is going to require some work, mainly on the interior, to make it really shine. There is potential there, and it will be interesting to see if someone identifies that potential and ends up buying the car. I really hope so.


  1. 86_Vette_Convertible

    This is another one of those buy-and-drive cars from what I’m seeing. If this is the type car you want, it would be a good candidate for restoration.

    Like 1
  2. Howard A Member

    Well, it looks half way decent from here, but up close, I bet this thing is really rough. Looks like plenty of headaches for the new owner. May as well spend $10g’s right off the bat and get a decent one. They’re not exactly rare.

    Like 2
  3. Steve Pharr

    Buy the best one you can afford ……..
    Finding nice replacement interior parts can be harder than fixing rust

  4. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    If you were to drive this around New England, no one would care what the inside looks like. They would be amazed that they are looking at one that hasn’t rusted out.

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