Convertible Conversion: 1982 Datsun S130 280ZX 5-Speed – SOLD!

by | Oct 2021 | Craigslist ClassiFINDS, Sports Car Saturday

October 29, 2021 Update – We confirmed the seller of this “Classifind” deleted their listing, so we’re now able to call this one “SOLD!” While this one got away, please reach out either by email or call us directly if you’d like to be informed when we come across something similar.

On past occasions we’ve featured S130 vintage Datsun 280ZXs, it has always been on Malaise Monday. The reason is simple: this vintage of Z Car was hardly the performance sports car hatchback of the original 240Z.  However, the convertible conversion and five-speed manual of this copper-over-tan 280ZX originally listed on Craigslist in October 2021 in East Brunswick, New Jersey qualifies it to be featured on Sports Car Saturday. The seller’s brief description combined with only four pictures had us search for more information on who carried out these conversions.  Ironically enough, we came across more information on this very car when it was last sold in late 2017.  At the time, the car only featured 33,000 and had a $14,000 asking price. So unique was this car that the car enthusiast website Jalopnik even featured at the time here in Rob Emslie’s “Nice Price or Crack Pipe” feature from December 2017.

Offered at $14,000, comparing that price against the Hagerty Insurance Online Valuation Tool confirms the private seller has their unique 280ZX ragtop priced nine hundred dollars less than this guide’s #3 “Good” estimate of $14,900.  As a second data point, the  Collector Car Market Review Online Tool reveals the seller’s ask falls between this guide’s #2 “Very Good” estimate of $12,800 and its #1 “Excellent” appraisal of $19,100.

First launched in 1970 as the 240Z and then later replaced by updated 260Z and 280Z variants, by 1978 Nissan elected to perform a complete redesign of its iconic sports car.  Nissan elected to call the new version the 280ZX and with it retained only the L28 inline-six engine and other driveline components from the 280Z. Nissan offered both two-seat and four-seat (2+2) designs. Compared to the more overtly sporting earlier models, the 280ZX was a much softer, heavier car, with less focus on driving and more on driver comfort and refinement.  Softer suspension, better sound insulation, more comfortable seats, and ample equipment including high-end audio systems defined the new ZX. In the spirit of the times, emissions controls and aerodynamics were markedly improved over the first generation Z-cars, while weight was down somewhat as long as the buyer did not pick much from the very long options list.  The exterior design was evolutionary, less rounded, and with better-integrated safety bumpers. Many parts, including the rear axle and the power steering, came from the Datsun 810 luxury sedan.  Most of the design effort went into an entirely different and much more modern interior.  The 280ZX became a grand tourer rather than a sports car, particularly in the plush Grand Luxury versions.

However, by 1982 Nissan hoped to get back some performance street credentials by giving the 280ZX a mid-cycle facelift in 1982 that included revised NACA ducting in the hood, new alloy wheels (fourteen-inch six-spoke alloys for non-turbo models, and fifteen-inch four-spoke alloys for turbo models), a revised B-pillar garnish, new pin-stripe style tail-lights, and rubber bumper over-riders replaced the earlier model’s chrome and rubber items. The bumpers were now also body-colored and wrapped around further. Interior changes were minor but included new seat trim styling. The 1982 model also was the first to offer the popular voice warning system, which warned the driver when the headlights were left on after the vehicle was turned off if the parking brake was on while the vehicle was in motion, and many others.  This facelifted model has since come to be called the “Series II” 280ZX.  While the naturally aspirated 1982 and 1983 Datsun 280ZX boasted a 0-60 mph time of 9.1 seconds (1.2 seconds slower than the Corvette of the same year), opting for the Turbo version dropped that time down by a more respectable two seconds.

A quick search on YouTube yielded a video of this very car taken at a car show in 2019:

The current odometer reading provided by the seller now reads 37,600, which hints at the fact they added approximately one thousand miles annually each of the four years they have owned it. Some of the documentation provided by the 2017 seller and second owner hint that this car had it’s top chopped when new. While it may be only the base model, the convertible top more than makes up for it and over than the odd and bulky header top assembly, the overall fit and finish appear to be of good quality that has held up well.

Here’s the seller’s description:

“One of a kind
Convertible, classic
Trophy winner, low original miles
Cash only, in person
No email
Calls only

Show or go: what would you do with this unique 1982 Datsun 280ZX convertible?  Comment below and let us know!


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