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1975 Datsun 280Z

5388 Views 20 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  Ronin Z
I came across a Silver 1975 280z the other day, for sale. The owner wants 4500. I can probably get him down a bit, but the car has 129K on the clock. He says the engine was completely rebuilt at 100K, so it actually only has 29K or so. This, of course, is pending him producing documentation on the work done.

Question is, anyone have any experience with these cars? Anything I should look out for? Any known issues? Are parts expensive if I need to replace stuff?

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Jason's brother over at racemrc owns a green one. Not sure of the year.
Not sure, but isn't it a 260 if built in 1975? Not that it matters with a rebuilt engine. I hear they all have carb problems along with suspension, rust, weather stripping, etc. As you can see, I don't think it's worth it. That is, of course, you plan on stripping it and turning it into something else...
Yeah, I don't know for certain that it's a 260 (could be a 240), but it shouldn't be a 280
Another potential S30 owner. Good deal!

First, 260's were only made in 74 in the US. 1975 was the first year of the 280Z.

The biggest thing you want to look for is RUST! I don't know where you're located but unless it's sunny CA, AZ, or some other hot arid climate, you need to make sure the car is worth spending money on.

Almost everything else is secondary, except making sure it hasn't been wrecked. Look for body panels that don't lineup, poor repairs, fiberglass (bring a magnet.)

Look for rust in the following places:
Most importantly - the frame rails. If these are toast then the rest is usually not worth trying to save. Surface rust is no bid deal - rust from the inside out is what you want to look for.
Underneath the battery tray.
Underneath the hatch, especially in the corners of the lip where the hatch rests.
On the hatch itself, underneath the edge.
In the spare tire well.
The quarter panels.
Underneath the seats and the carpet. Don't be afraid to pull it up! If you are, you might regret it.

Some rust in these areas is common - just be aware that you'll need to take care of it ASAP and factor it into what the car is worth to you.

In my opinion, if the body is straight, clean, mostly clear of rust, you will be in good shape even if the engine is toast, the suspension is toast, etc. Everything else is easy to work on, easy to replace, but if you buy a car with rust in critical areas, that is a nightmare.

If it is running well and feels ok, expect to go over the brakes, suspension, fuel injection and spark systems before you can really drive it with confidence. Make sure to get his maintenance records - common things to replace/upgrade:

Brake lines, rear wheel cylinders, ujoints, ball joints, tie rod ends, struts, suspension bushings, clutch slave cylinder. See when the last time he replaced his plugs, wires, cap and rotor was, as well as his clutch, tires, diff fluid, transmission fluid.

Datsun made extremely reliable and fun cars, once you own it and work out whatever issues it has, I think you'll be happy!
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Originally posted by Forrest@Nov 4 2004, 03:26 PM
First, 260's were only made in 74 in the US. 1975 was the first year of the 280Z.

Wow, I knew they were a short run, but I never knew that short!
Forrest - Thanks for the info man, I'll be lookin for that stuff. The body is totally clean. Not even a door ding, in 30-somethin years. I'm thinkin the guy was a bit neurotic about it, like most of us on here are.

Clutch has been recently replaced, as well as a list of other parts. The wheels are aftermarket, and he doesnt have the OEM's, so theres no point in tryin to make the numbers match up on this one.

I just want a nice car that I can commute to and from work in, and save the 350z some miles/clutchwear/gas.

Its a 2-seater, with 4 on the floor tranny. I'm gonna make the decision Saturday when I meet up with the guy and do a complete inspection of the car.

Thanks for the replies all!
(dual) Carbureted Z's did have some issues....but there are lots of aftermarket carb/intake combos available.

These older Z's are a lot of fun to drive...if you like seat of your pants type entertainment.

'78 was the 1st year if fuel inj. & last year of the 280 body style. I had a '79 280 zx I got for free, fixed & drove for 2 yrs....How can you go wrong with a cheap, fun beater?......
Lion, I'm not sure about overseas models, but here, all 280Z's had fuel injection, including the 75 280Z. Some of the carb junkies at the time removed them and put on dual or triple carb setups, but stock was EFI.

Let us know how the meeting went Jetpilot! Don't be surprised if the 280Z gets you even more attention than your 350Z. :)
I'll defer to you on that. Z guy who told me, well...

the injection is a better way to go...till you toast a relay.
I actually keep a couple spare relays with my fuses in the glovebox. I'm running EFI that I built myself, though, not stock. :)
Originally posted by Forrest@Nov 5 2004, 11:41 AM
Let us know how the meeting went Jetpilot! Don't be surprised if the 280Z gets you even more attention than your 350Z. :)

Meeting's on for tomorrow. Should be a go, I'm just bringing my father as a second-opinion. He knows the older cars alot better than I do. If it checks out, and I can get him to around $4000, I'll buy.

Thats a reasonable price for the car right? Edumnds showed $3900 est. for the car.

Spoke with the owner yesterday, met with him and saw all the documentation. The car has two issues I'm concerned with. There is a thump coming from the rear end when hitting bumps. Could probably be a bad shock or somthing.

Also, the throttle lags when you take your foot off the gas. The pedal itself comes out, but the RPM's stay where they previously were for a few seconds before coming down. Could be a throttle cable jamming?

I told the guy I needed more of a daily driver car, and I couldnt make sense of buyin it, but he then offered to drop the price another grand! He went from asking 4500, to asking 3500. I think I have to buy it for that price, but I have no where to put it. Can a car like that be left outdoors?

Hey, 3500 is a much more reasonable price. Are you sure the throttle problem is not anything simple like the carpet rubbing on the pedal? It could be a problem with the cable but I've seen more of the former. :)

You can leave it outside but it wouldn't hurt to cover it. I garage both of mine.

Honestly, if you want a daily driver be aware that it will probably need a few months of tinkering to get there. Just want you to know what you're getting into.

As for the bump in the rear, several possible candidates - yes, possibly a bad strut, or a bushing (look at the mustache bar bushings), or a loose nut on the mustache bar, a broken diff mount, bad u-joint, and maybe even a wheel bearing. This is what I'm talking about - I've replaced every one of those things I just mentioned on my first Z...just takes a little time to see what's worn. On the bright side - it's EASY to do all this stuff on a first gen. Just get a good jack, some jack stands, and make SURE to get a factory service manual.

Good luck
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All 280s were fuel injected as stated.

Reliable- absolutely. The inline six is bulletproof. My 1971 240Z has 243,000 original miles, and we have other club members with 280Zs with 360,000 and 420,000 miles on original engines.

The throttle staying open briefly you mentioned was symptomatic of early attempts at controlling emissions. I recall having driven many cars that did that "back in the day."

The thump in the back is either the mustache bar as previously mentioned, or possibly the diff mount. No big deal either way.

These are great cars, easy to maintain, with parts generally available from several sources at not too unreasonsable prices.

I've had my 240Z since 1987.
What is the conclusion to this gripping tale of intrigue and possible car sales?
Aww that's disappointing. After reading all this, I want the car for myself!
Yeah, I know, I think about this every time I get in my Sentra beater.

The fact of the matter is the 280z was in too good condition to be left outside in the elements.

If I had space for the car, I would have bought it at the final price of $3500, drove it a bit, and waited for someone to offer me somethin for it. A car like that in a condition like it was in will be worth something someday.. I just didn't have the heart to leave it on the streets of Queens..
1975 280z

There are many car part stores out there that carry z parts: for generl parts check out autozone or o'rielly's. Check online with or Go to your search engine and type 280zcar parts and a list will pop up.
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