Junkyard Find: 1980 Datsun 280ZX

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.

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I See You: Next Nissan Z, Frontier Make Brief Appearances

Nissan’s new 4-year plan, despite aiming for efficiency and value, doesn’t leave sporty driving in the dustbin of history. Sports cars still exist as one of the automaker’s core products, and the very long awaited next-generation Z will be among that global cohort.

On the volume side of things, the brand’s compact and midsize crossovers are due for a rejuvenation, along with Nissan’s midsize pickup, which last gained a new body during the Bush administration.

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Junkyard Find: 2003 Nissan 350Z Coupe

These days, I find many discarded Nissan Z-Cars from the 280Z through 300ZX eras, with the occasional 240Z or 260Z thrown in to add variety. 350Zs, though, have retained sufficient value to evade the high-inventory-turnover self-service yards where I get most of my Junkyard Finds… until now. Just as BMW Z3s and Mazda RX-8s began showing up in these yards a couple of years back, the 350Z’s time in the U-Wrench-It yards has come.

Here’s the first (but not the last) of the 350Zs to appear in my local U-Pull-&-Pay yard in Denver.

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Junkyard Find: 1981 Datsun 280ZX 2+2

The Datsun 280ZX was sold in the United States for the 1979 through 1983 model years, and many a line of cocaine was sniffed inside these cars during their heyday as affordable sports cars. The 280ZX still shows up regularly in California wrecking yards, but most of them go unphotographed as I continue seeking out the really rare stuff. However, since I’ve never included a 280ZX in this series, and this one in the San Francisco Bay Area was an especially ugly rare 2+2 version, I decided to photograph it.

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Last Rides Premium Selects: "Naru"

I wonder how many of the Best and Brightest have been watching, waiting for this column to descend once again upon a subject automobile that has had a truly mystical device bestowed upon it by its creator. I’m talking about the equipment that blew the expression right off your neighbor’s face when showing off your new purchase in the driveway. A true novelty lost to time. Something that probably should be capitalized on currently by automakers in an updated form in this age of “let’s fill this humorless pod full of unusable gadgetry so it doesn’t look like a rolling flip-phone.”

I’m talking, of course, about a little thing called voice warning.

You see kids, something magical happens when that speaker chimes in to apprise you of things you probably already knew about. And while we’re on the subject of cars so equipped, why not focus on something with … soul?

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Junkyard Find: 1973 Datsun 240Z

I see endless Z31 300ZXs in junkyards, and I usually don’t pay much attention to them ( unless we’re talking about a rare 50th Anniversary Edition with BodySonic butt-vibrating seat speakers with super-futuristic digital dash, of course). Even 280Zs and 280ZXs are plentiful in self-service wrecking yards, so I don’t photograph many of them. However, an optioned-to-the-hilt 240Z, complete with automatic transmission, sunroof, and Malaise Era brown paint is worth shooting, so here we go!

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Junkyard Find: 1984 Nissan 300ZX Turbo 50th Anniversary Edition

After the Malaise Era of 1973 through 1983, we had the Turbo Era. I’m going to say the Turbo Era lasted from 1984 through about 1992, and it was followed by the Everybody Finally Has Electronic Fuel Injection And It’s About Damn Time Era. The real star of the Turbo Era was, of course, the Mitsubishi Starion, which was so incredibly turbo-centric that it had the word “TURBO” stitched into the seat belts. The Nissan 300ZX Turbo didn’t register much lower on the Turbo Awesomeness-O-Meter, however, and now I feel vaguely ashamed that I’ve ignored so many of these things in so many junkyards over the years. Today we will honor one of the stars of the Turbo Era!

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And the Winner Is…

The third annual Gator-O-Rama 24 Hours of LeMons endurance race is in the books, and a 29-year-old Datsun just beat out 80 or so competitors— most of them less than half the Datsun’s age— to bring home the Win On Laps trophy for Team Z-Wrecks.

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  • ToolGuy The other day I attempted to check the engine oil in one of my old embarrassing vehicles and I guess the red shop towel I used wasn't genuine Snap-on (lots of counterfeits floating around) plus my driveway isn't completely level and long story short, the engine seized 3 minutes later.No more used cars for me, and nothing but dealer service from here on in (the journalists were right).
  • Doughboy Wow, Merc knocks it out of the park with their naming convention… again. /s
  • Doughboy I’ve seen car bras before, but never car beards. ZZ Top would be proud.
  • Bkojote Allright, actual person who knows trucks here, the article gets it a bit wrong.First off, the Maverick is not at all comparable to a Tacoma just because they're both Hybrids. Or lemme be blunt, the butch-est non-hybrid Maverick Tremor is suitable for 2/10 difficulty trails, a Trailhunter is for about 5/10 or maybe 6/10, just about the upper end of any stock vehicle you're buying from the factory. Aside from a Sasquatch Bronco or Rubicon Jeep Wrangler you're looking at something you're towing back if you want more capability (or perhaps something you /wish/ you were towing back.)Now, where the real world difference should play out is on the trail, where a lot of low speed crawling usually saps efficiency, especially when loaded to the gills. Real world MPG from a 4Runner is about 12-13mpg, So if this loaded-with-overlander-catalog Trailhunter is still pulling in the 20's - or even 18-19, that's a massive improvement.
  • Lou_BC "That’s expensive for a midsize pickup" All of the "offroad" midsize trucks fall in that 65k USD range. The ZR2 is probably the cheapest ( without Bison option).