Sold As a Pair: Datsun Z-Car Projects

Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

Even farmers can feel the need for speed. This pair of Datsun Z-cars have been gathering dust in Washington State barn for close to a decade, but now they must find a new home. Sold only as a pair and listed without any specific model information, it appears to be a naturally-aspirated 280Z and a later turbocharged 280ZX, both of which were said to be running when they went into storage. Find the pair here on eBay listed with no reserve. 

280Z’s featured a larger version of car’s venerable inline six from previous generations, bored out to 2.8 liters and now also featuring Bosch fuel injection. It’s difficult to tell what sort of condition this earlier car is in, and whether it’s a manual or automatic. The body, while quite dusty, appears free of major damage and corrosion, but it’s difficult to armchair quarterback this one based on the photos. It does feature an aftermarket sunroof, which should be inspected for rust.

The later car is a turbocharged 280ZX, identifiable based on the scoop in the hood. This one we can see is paired with a manual transmission, and combined with the respectable increase in power after turbocharging, it would make a decent fair-weather driver and/or weekend warrior. Dishing out 180 b.h.p. and 203 lb.-ft. of torque, these numbers must have seemed downright impressive in the early days of the malaise era. Again, photos don’t tell us much, but the missing headlights give this Z the impression of being a parts car and not saved for restoration.

The interior is surprisingly clean on this car. Perhaps the doors were kept shut and the windows rolled up despite the otherwise dank surroundings? Given both cars appear mostly complete, snagging this pair for a low price seems like a worthwhile risk for any potential bidders as it looks like they could be good candidates for modest restoration or for parting out. For a Z car enthusiast, taking both cars home could mean restoring one to keep and selling the other to recoup some expenses if they turn out to be runners. Would you roll the dice?

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  1. Rx7turboII

    Not just the turbocharged cars got the hood scoop. the hood scoop was standard in all 1982 and 1983 models no matter if it was turbocharged or not. How did you deduce that it was turbocharged? I can’t see the valve cover on the later model with t-tops so it’s impossible to tell if it’s turbo charged or not unless you can either see the valve cover that says turbo on it or the dash with the boost gauge or the wheels with the swastika design or any of that. None of that is present so I don’t know how you would know it is a turbo.

  2. Trey

    The zx is not a turbo. 1981 turbos did have this hood but from the engine bay there is no turbo valve cover, J pipe or pop off valve on the manifold. This is likely a 1982 or 1983 model which all had this hood standard, not just the turbos.

  3. Jeffro

    Great. Two pieces of junk for the price of one.

    • Rx7turboII

      2 pieces of junk that are worth a boat load when parted out. Just the iron cross rims on the early Z are worth a few hundred…they are worth saving and making money on. Bringing them back to life is not where the money’s at.

  4. stumptowngeo

    I had a turbocharged ’82 and miss it. I do know that the ones with a turbo including had the black valve cover vs all the non turbo’s having the standard aluminum valve covers. Also, on the ZX’s, i dont know why, but it is a very rare occasion to find one with a turbo and a stick. 99+% of the turbo’s were automatics. That was the only thing i didnt like about mine. Since this one has a stick and the standard aluminum valve cover, it’s a non turbo.

  5. sparkster

    I remember years ago looking for a 280zx turbo with a stick. I couldn’t find a one. Nothing. It seems like it would be a boring Z with an automatic

    • David

      Pretty sure Turbo + manual only available in 83. I believe the story was they didn’t have a manual transmission strong enough until then.

  6. Milt

    Horrible cell phone pictures. Why on earth did they include the super blurry, shaky, unintelligible motor(?) picture in the auction? Do these people even look at what they took? Why does this seem like the new norm? Just shrug and post I guess….

  7. DRV

    Only a decade of storage? Looks like 3 decades….

  8. Dave

    Back in the early 90s, when it seems like the only band was Soundgarden, I had a ’78 Z, and all-in-all, it was a respectable little beast. No turbo to speak of, but fun to drive and handled well. But in the end, Missouri rust won out….


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