Two for Two: 280Z Projects

280Z Project Pair

Too bad this little ’77 280Z didn’t get a spot inside the shed it’s parked next to – that might have prevented it from sinking into the mud and becoming a parts car! Fortunately, it is the worse of two project-grade 280Zs posted here on craigslist in Mississippi for $2,500. The red 280 is an automatic-equipped car with a bad timing chain but the desirable 5-slot wheels. It’s partner car is a much cleaner black manual-transmission model with the engine removed and inside the seller’s shop. As far as “twofers” go, this seems like a decent deal if you can make one good car out of the pair, and frankly, if the black car is as rust-free as the seller says it is, I think you’re safe from any major surprises here. But I’d definitely want to know why the engine in the black car was removed and what’s happened to it since then. Anyone else think it’s a fair price for two 280z’s? Thanks to Barn Finds reader Olaf E. for the find!


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  1. Doc

    The black car, if it is almost rust free is worth the money alone, with or without the engine. The red car in the dirt may would only be for a parts car, honestly. Quite a deal for any Z lovers ! Also these cars are so easy to work on. I used to wind my ’76 out to 90 in 2nd gear and the engine lasted forever but I did blow the trans……

  2. Peter


    While I appreciate your Z-Car Enthusiasm (which I share):

    “I used to wind my ’76 out to 90 in 2nd gear and the engine lasted forever but I did blow the trans……”

    I’m afraid I’d like to ask you for final drive ratio and RPM, on that one….

    Is it possible you’re Canadian, and talking kph, NOT mph?

    I mean, there were AT LEAST 2 more gears to go, right? :-)


    • Doc

      Peter, The car was a 4 speed which had nicer ratios then the 5 speed. I’m in Delaware in “miles per hour”. Don’t underestimate that Z motor !!! If you stayed in it in 2nd and third the motor had a 2nd life and gave up more RPM’s !!! Those drives were in 1983 to 1985 so I don’t recall the RPM’s and the rear was stock.

  3. Jonathan

    Why is there dirt piled in front of the wheels of the red car? It almost looks like holes were dug for the wheels of this car and then it was rolled into those holes for the photo.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Good catch. Now that I look at the photo, that does look odd. I would keep looking if I were in the market for one of these, but maybe someone in the area could work a good deal.

  4. Randy R

    giving the zx turbo wheels and the 240z steering wheel on the black one this car has been played with in its past and leaves me to wonder what is under the paint especially the drivers rear 1/4 looks a little funny , as I have had several clean ones in my shop that once we tore into them found them to be much worse off then we originally thought

  5. Doug Towsley

    One should inspect these carefully, but on the surface of things, seems like a good deal. I love Datsuns and had a lot of them (mostly 510s) I had 2 Z cars as donors for my kit car projects. One i still have is a 74 260Z (No emissions testing for pre 75 in my area) and bought a 78 or 79 280Z cheap as a donor for the other kit car (Fiberfab Jamaican). I was amazed when i downsized to just one kit car and put up the Jamaican with the 280Z with title as a package deal. I had TONS of interest in the Z, the kit car package, not so much. Several offers just for the Z at full price and I keep the kit car. (????) So still some deals out there, but there is high demand for Z cars. For the non purists, see :
    “Some Datsun Z owners very much disapprove of putting a V-8 into a Z car, but most have never even driven a V-8 Z. They feel that a V-8 conversion is cheating, an unfair way to increase horsepower. They may even make claims that the Z engine can be modified to produce as much power as a Chevrolet V-8. They are right, but only if the Z engine is so modified that it is virtually undriveable on the street, and they are comparing it to a stock, low performance V-8.”
    Also, spend some time on this website: Some excellent reading material and tech. I know that guy on another forum. I am using his tech materials on my build. Anyone who is pondering a Z car project can learn a LOT on here.

  6. Doug Towsley

    Another excellent tech and performance forum for Z car owners no matter what your predilection towards upgrades and power trains.
    Before you build, start a build book with chapters of what you want to do and plan your build. I am a big fan of learning from others and adapting to my own needs rather than reinventing the wheel myself.
    Time and money are not limitless. Resources like this are an amazing gift. See:

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