Datsun 280zx

Home  \  Asian Imports  \  Datsun 280zx

I have a few questions about the 280zx.

First of all I really like this car, as well as the 240z, but I don't know that much about them, and I can't seem to find stats on them, because the sites I go to have only newer cars.

Anyways, on my way to school I drive past a place that has impounded cars for sale, and there is a 1982 Datsun 280zx sitting there. I went to check it out today, the blue paint is faded, so it needs a new paint job. Passenger window is broken. Its a manual transmission. The interior looks decent, no major messed up stuff, just the usual stuff you can expect from a car that old. I asked the guy what he wants for it, he said he doesn't know if it runs yet, says when he makes the key, and if it runs it'll go for about $600 bucks.

I am debating if I should buy it or not, assuming it will run. The problem is it has 218k miles on it, and I don't know if it would be worth buying it, because I don't want this to be just a car to drive for a few months before it dies, I want to make it look better by painting it, get some better rims, and maybe some more work on it. So I want it to last me say, lets give it about 2 years max, because my parents said when I graduate/turn 18 I can buy a good/new car, and theres a bank account that they add money to monthly specifically for that. I know driving style matters on how long the car lasts, well I wont be driving like a grandma, but I'm not TOO crazy either. I asked the guys there how long they usually last, he said it all depends, says he's seen em push 500k miles, and also seen some die at 75k.

What kind of gas mileage would it get?
This googled page has an '82 for sale, and seller says over 30 mpg.

What engine does it have in it? All I know is its a 6 cylinder. What is the 280zx's permormance like? Is it any good? Anyone know its hp/torque? 0-60 times, or 1/4 mile? How is the handling?

One more thing, the spedometer only goes to 80mph...does this mean that is the car's top speed? Because thats really slow. If it can go faster, would it be possible to get a different speedometer that would show the speed accurately? Is it possible to find parts for this car easily, or do you have to look hard? Would things like intakes, exhausts, etc. made for newer cars also be able to fit?

I know I asked a lot of questions, but I really need some help...


posted by  Vlad

I just had a bit of a look around and couldn't find any specs either. With a car that old, your fuel efficiency will depend on how well it's aged. The spec they gave you might be what it ran when it was all shiny and new with no worn parts and stuff, but does it still do that now .... who knows.

Sorry I can't be of more help. Just keep google-ing and you'll find something eventually.

Good luck :thumbs:

posted by  windsonian

I was looking into a 280zx a few months back.

I'm not sure about the 1982, but the 1983 has a 2.8L inline 6 named the L28E. 0-60 in 9.4 and quarter mile in 16.7. It produces about 130-140 hp.

The handling is very good because of the cars light weight. Finding parts for repair or for extra performance would not be very difficult. 80mph is not the top speed. I estimate the top speed at 100-120. You could easily buy a new speedometer from another car or brand new with fancy colors or whatever floats your boat. :thumbs:

posted by  abless

Thanks for the help guys. If anyone knows any more, please help. its not that fast with a 16.7 quarter mile, and 130ish hp. Would it be fairly easy and cheap to increase performance so its at least faster than most of the civics out there? I would really much rather drive something like this, even tho its so old, just because its different, and there are soooooo many civics out there. But I don't want all the dudes in the civics going "your 20+ year old POS can't beat my civic, na na na na na :fu: "

Does any one know how much this thing weighs? I would guess its pretty light, cuz its small and a 2 seater, but maybe they made things heavy back then.

Where would I go about looking for parts for either fixing or upgrading it? What about regular maintenence stuff like oil/filter, and stuff like that. Does any parts store have what I need? They don't make them any more, so are parts readily available? Where?

abless, when you were looking into one, did you get to drive it? Is it fun to drive?

And, lastly, do you guys think it would be worth getting this car? If it lasts me another 50k miles, and I can sell it again for maybe same price (cuz I'm gonna fix it up a bit and painting it), I would get it. Like I said, I want this car to be something fun to work on and drive for maybe about a year or a bit more, when I can get something.

If I do get it, what do you guys think I could do to it with a budget of $2000? 600 goes for the car, so 1400 left.

This of course is all assuming the car will run...if it doesn't, I think I will look for another one of these, because I don't have a lot of money, and I really like how these look, and once again I want to be different and not get a civic or something similar. Maybe there is a better car I should be looking at instead? Any ideas?

Edit: forgot something, what kind of gas mileage would one usually expect from a car with a 2.8L 6 cylinder? And its RWD isn't it?

posted by  Vlad

Alright, I've had some luck.

Check this site out:

Apparently the 280zx weighs 2,825 pounds, which is gonna be over 3,000 with me in it lol. Has 135 horses (the non turbo, which I think the one I'm looking at is).

A little math...and it is 20.93 pounds per horse power. (Using just the car's weigth.

Lets see...a 2005 Civic Si is 160hp and the 2 door coupe weighs 2449 pounds. Specs/

That turns out to be 15.31 pounds per horse power...looks like the 280zx is owned...

To get that fast, I would need to get 185hp in the 280zx. How difficult would this be, and how much would it cost? Would a turbocharger be a good option

To those who have driven both cars, the 280zx and a civic Si, which is the funner car? I still lean towards the 280zx, even though its slower, because its something you don't see as often, and stands out from the crowd of civics.

I really like the Z's, so maybe I should look for a 240z if I want a fast car?

Its 15.70 pounds per horsepower.

posted by  Vlad

HP on a 280zx is 135. If/when I get a 280zx, I will most likely do an engine swap. It may be a little costly, but I would like to get a newer more efficient I6. I was thinking a 2JZ-GE, the normally aspirated (non-turbo) Toyota Supra 4th generation engine. If you don't want to spend that kind of money (~$2000-4000) you could clean, fix, and tune it to make it faster. I don't know where to find parts, but I imagine it would not be a difficult task for a popularly tuned 280zx. For repairs you could find parts in the junkyard on old cars. You could easily make it faster than a Civic with $1000. Maybe you could find a L28ET (1983 280zx turbo) and swap it.

Weight: 3125. Ouch. The 1970 240z made 150 hp and weighed only 2,320 lbs.

No. I only saw one for sale and looked online. I found kits to do a V8 swap, but realized I wanted better fuel economy. I stronly recommend you open the link at the bottom of my post and read about them. Very detailed descriptions of all the Datsun/Nissan Z cars. 240z, 280zx, 300zx.

It depends on how much money you have available and how much money you want to invest in it. You could get it painted, fix everything broken, and tune it a little for probably no more than $1,500. I, however, would find a 240z, do an engine swap, upgrade suspension, tires, brakes, maybe even get a new 6 speed transmission. Z cars have a lot of potential. Like I said, you could just find a 280zx Turbo engine, or just the turbo/intercooling. The more aftermarket parts you put on it, the longer you might have it, in that, you would be replacing 20 something year-old parts with brand new better ones, thus extending the life (mileage) of your car.

Yes, I believe you can get the car up and running with $1,400.

If you can, I would recommend you buy a 240z.

20-24 mpg. Yes, it is RWD.

Here is something I came across:

posted by  abless

Yes. You could find an aftermarket turbo or get one off a 280zx turbo. Or find a 280zx turbo engine.

I have driven neither, but I believe the 280zx would be much more fun. Rwd is quite different than fwd. Not to mention the torque or an I6. Althought the Civic may make a little more horsepower, I suspect the 280zx makes more torque.

I would.

posted by  abless

Thanks for all the help.

I just realized my budget opened up to about $5,000. I asked my parents if I could buy this car if I sold the escort we were gonna sell anyways (thats where the 2,000 came from). They said yeah, but they think I deserve a better car (they think 218k is too many miles). So they said I can get a car for up to 5k.

I think I will look for one with less miles, and either a turbo 280zx, or a 240z.

My parents were worried about the gas mileage on a 6 cylinder...I think if it was 25ish I'd be alright. Now that brings me to the next point. Does adding permormance parts generally give a car better or worse mileage? And does the turbo make it eat more gas? People have told me various stuff about this, some say turbo cuts gas mileage in half others say it doubles I dunno.

What do I do to make it faster for 1k? Or do you mean that the way to make it faster is to swap the engine? Keep in mind I wouldn't be able to do that, so I would have to pay to have it swapped.

I think I'll go with a 240z if I can.

Here's what a quick search turned up:

5 240z's within 100 miles of me, each more or less within my budget.

Edit: Noticed my link doesnt work. Here's a really cheap one though: az/do-basic

only 75,000 miles. Says it needs a fuel pump. I don't know what that it expensive? How hard is it to put in? The only other problem is the dude is in Arizona, I'm in north CA. would it be possible to drive it over here, even though it needs the new fuel pump?

posted by  Vlad

this message is for Vlad. i would highly recommend buying that 1982 280zx. i have a 1979 myself and wouldnt trade it for the world. its got an inline 6 engine. i also found out that the engine is also the building block of the skyline. which anyone knows is the best tuner in the world, hands inline 6 is pushing 200 horses, and all i've done is taken the engine apart, cleaned it and upgraded injection, ignition , and its breathing. now, the car is heavy as sin, right at 3000 but mine can do 0-60 in around 8 and has beaten every civic, integra and supra in my town. which is a lot. i generally find that if i keep it under 3000 rpms in 4th i can get about 32 mpg. thats only running it at 70. but i have also done 132mph in the car and it just eats the gas. i think thats about all the information you requested. you can email me at if you have any more questions or any that i didnt answer. i cant tell you how much i love my 280 and you're right, you dont see many on the road today and i strongly believe with a few mild adjustments you can eat the integra's for breakfast and civic's for dinner. go get 'em.


edit:RWD is so much more fun to drive than FWD...the civic's drive likfe fast go-karts. and abless is right, the 280 makes a ton of torque. mine is an automatic with the slapstick shifter and i can take off just as fast as any stick lovin civic out there. if you go with a Z car, get the late 80's 300ZX, when that car came turbo, i think you got a really light car and hp in the upper 200's if im not mistaken. if you want something thats gonna be fast right out of the box, the 300zx is a monster.

posted by  Jazz280Zx

some parts may help and some will make it worse. forced induction will give you worse gas mileage. things like cold air intake, light weight pulleys, little things like that shouldnt make it worse, on my celica it seemed to make it better.

posted by  dsmracersv98

Your Message