V8 Power! 1975 Datsun 280Z

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There’s not too much remarkable about a 1975 Datsun 280Z. We have covered Z cars many times here on Barn Finds and it seems that the earlier variants, like the 240Z, are where the real interest lies. Don’t get me wrong, a 46-year-old 280Z is going to garner attention but there is a decided hierarchy of favorability with Z cars. Nevertheless, this particular ’75 example is harboring a surprise and it is certainly worthy of further investigation. Located in San Diego, California and available, here on Facebook Marketplace is this 1975 Datsun 280Z.

Introduced in 1975, the 280Z replaced the previous year’s 260Z, the biggest difference being the substitution of a 170 HP, 2.8 liter, in-line, six-cylinder engine for the ’74s smaller 2.6. Transmission choices included a four-speed manual or a three-speed automatic. As with so many cars of the era, the 280Z gained some weight, much brought about by the inclusion of Federally mandated five-MPH bumpers. Still composed, the 280Z tipped the scales at a bit over 2,800 lbs. where the original 240Z was a svelte 2,300. Is the extra weight really an issue? Not in this case, this 280Z should probably be renamed a 570Z because that’s what it’s packing, a Chevrolet 5.7 liter (350 CI) V8, spinning a Turbo-Hydramatic automatic transmission. How’s it run? According to the seller, “Chevy 350 Engine and transmission to make it run great!” I bet! What are the engine’s particulars, and how was the swap accomplished? No indication, a further inquiry will be necessary.

The exterior has a classic ’70s Z car bearing.  The seller references it as being in good condition, but as is often the case with Facebook Marketplace listings, the images are few and not comprehensive in presentation while the text description is minimal – way too much so for a ride of this nature. The car doesn’t appear to have suffered any crash damage, though the rear bumper is missing. The hood is ajar too, but perhaps that is all it is, just not closed properly. The Ansen Sprint style wheels are perfect for this generation Datsun and the finish appears to still have some depth; good chrome too. As a final note, it appears that the trim and door handles have been shaved – the windshield wipers have been 86’d too.

There is one good image of the interior and it reveals a pretty standard environment with a replacement steering wheel and a stock looking gear selector lever – whether it is the original Datsun lever or one boosted from something else to actuate the Chevy transmission, is not clear. The presentation is clean but shows typical signs of wear, though nothing excessive – and that includes the dash pad too, no visible cracks.

This Datsun has had quite the upgrade! So much so, that more detail is really warranted, there’s just not enough here to showcase the conversion. Depending on how well the swap has been performed, as well as general road handling and braking characteristics, this 280Z  could be a lot of fun with unsuspecting competition, don’t you think?

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  1. Steve R

    Small block Chevy conversions were very common in the late-70’s and early-80’s. There were several companies that made kits that included frame mounts for the engine and headers. Supposedly the weight difference was less than 100lbs if the small block used an aluminum intake and headers. Unfortunately, most succumbed to California’s emissions testing regime of the 80’s and 90’s, before there was a testing exemption for 1975 and earlier models.

    Steve R

    Like 3
  2. Skorzeny

    I kinda like it, except for the stupidity of the automatic and the absolute stupidity of shave door handles. Why? Sure it will find a new home.

    Like 2
  3. Mark in WNC

    Didn’t realize .CA would allow dumb-ass red necks to reside there.

    Like 4
    • Blyndgesser

      I guess you’ve never been to Bakersfield…

      Like 4
  4. 370zpp 370zppMember

    But, about those wipers . . ?

    Like 3
  5. Steve

    If they could get a sbc in a mg. I would think it would pretty easy in a Z

    Like 0
  6. TimS

    In the early 90s I stuffed a 350 with th350 in my 73 240z. I was missing having a V8 muscle car like my Nova I had sold years before. I liked the odd project and it made for good stories. Even with an alum intake and headers it was unbalanced forward but made a fun stoplight to stoplight car. It was prone to collapsing the crush sleeve in the rear end and had I kept the car I was planning on a Jaguar independent rear end. Ohhh to be a dumb kid again…

    Like 5
  7. Allen Schlegel

    Why would someone with a desirable Z present it for sale with hood not closed and dust covered interior and arm rests ? Not much confidence in this one.

    Like 0
    • Stilbo

      The hood is probably partially open due to the carburetor and air cleaner interfering with it closing completely.
      At least they didn’t cut a hole in the hood.
      Actually, surprised they didn’t.

      Like 2
  8. Kenn

    A modified air cleaner would solve the hood closing problem. But I, too, wonder about the wipers. Why in the world would they be off? Door handles being removed is old school, but so what? Looks good to me.

    Like 0
  9. Jakespeed

    Wasn’t there a kit called the “Scarab Z” that was a small block Chevy installation kit? I’m pretty sure that I used to see these in Hot Rod Magazine in the late 1970s through the mid 1980s. http://datsunforum.com/the-scarab-legend-the-original-hybrid-datsun-z/

    Like 2

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