Junkyard Find: 1980 Datsun 280ZX

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

Nissan sold the 280ZX version of the famed Z-Car here for the 1979 through 1983 model years, right up to the end of the Datsun era and the start of the “Name Is Nissan” period we’re in today. These cars don’t have the maniacal following of their 240Z/ 260Z/ 280Z predecessors but sold well when new, so I find the 280ZX to be reasonably easy to find in the big California car graveyards I frequent. Here’s a well-equipped ’80 in Alpine White paint, showing off its T-tops in a San Francisco Bay Area yard a few years back.

I’ve documented the demise of a dozen Z-Cars since 2007, including a 1980 Black Gold 280ZX and the incredibly rare 1980 Black Red 280ZX.

Some used-car lot tried to sell this car for $1,499. Classic. T-top. Fun!!!

This little patch of body rust on the hood is the only corroded spot I could find on this car’s body.

Just barely over 150,000 miles on the odometer. California junkyards have a lot of 40-year-old cars like this.

The double fuel gauge was one of the nicest features Nissan put on high-end cars around this time.

The 2.8-liter straight-six engine in this car made 132 horsepower. List price for the 1980 280ZX coupe was $9,899; the 1980 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 (essentially the same car as the ’79 Z28 Jeff Spicoli crashes in Fast Times at Ridgemont High) cost $7,121 and had 190 horsepower… but that Camaro didn’t have the tiny-phonograph-based Nissan Voice Annunciator box.

The Jatco three-speed automatic added 295 bucks (about $1,055 today) more to the ZX’s price tag.

My reference books are silent on the cost of this T-top roof, but it couldn’t have been cheap.

This car could have been put back on the road easily enough, but there’s a glut of nicer 280ZXs in California.

You can’t talk about the 1980 Datsun 280ZX without showing the legendary Black Gold TV commercial.

It’s ready to conquer a new decade, with an open cockpit to the sky. The ultimate definition of Awesome!

In Japan, this car (known as the Fairlady Z) had much better TV commercials. Zed Zone!.

For links to nearly 2,300 additional Junkyard Finds, visit the Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Justice_Gustine Justice_Gustine on Feb 08, 2022

    A dashboard gadget I liked was the diagnostic countdown that checked several things like coolant battery and washer fluids, summing up with "OK". It looked like a nixie tube with several layers of images.

  • Wodehouse Wodehouse on Feb 09, 2022

    Madonna feeling like she's "going to lose my mind" with a can of spray paint.

  • Leonard Ostrander We own a 2017 Buick Envision built in China. It has been very reliable and meets our needs perfectly. Of course Henry Ford was a fervent anti-semite and staunch nazi sympathizer so that rules out Ford products.
  • Ravenuer I would not.
  • V8fairy Absolutely no, for the same reasons I would not have bought a German car in the late 1930's, and I am glad to see a number of other posters here share my moral scruples. Like EBFlex I try to avoid Chinese made goods as much as possible. The quality may also be iffy, but that is not my primary concern
  • Tsarcasm No, Japan only. Life costs by Rank:#1 - House (150k+)#2 - Education (30k+)#3 - Automobile (30k+) why waste hard earned money in inferior crap => Korean, Chinese, and American cars are trash. a toyota or honda will last twice as long.
  • Tassos In the 90s we hired a former PhD student and friend of mine, who 'worked' at GM "Research" labs, to come work for us as a 'temp' lecturer and get paid extra. He had no objection from GM, came during the day (around 2 PM), two hours drive round trip, plus the 1.5 hour lecture, twice weekly. (basically he goofed off two entire afternoons out of the five) He told me they gave him a different model new car every month, everything (even gas) paid. Instead of him paying parking, I told him to give me the cars and I drove them for those 90 mins, did my shopping etc. Almost ALL sucked, except the Eldo coupe with the Northstar. That was a nice engine with plenty of power (by 90s standards). One time they gave him the accursed Caddy Catera, which was as fun driving as having sex with a fish, AND to make it worse, the driver's door handle broke and my friend told me GM had to pay an arm and a leg to fix it, needed to replace almost the whole damned door!