Midas Makeover: 1983 Nissan 280ZX 2+2 – Sold?

by | Oct 2022 | Craigslist ClassiFINDS, Malaise Monday

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November 28, 2022, Update – We just confirmed the listing for this “Classifind” expired, so with no replacement found we’re assuming this ride “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.

October 22, 2022 Update – We just confirmed that the seller of this Datsun 280ZX lowered their asking price from $10,500 to $9,000.

Of all the cars produced lived through the Malaise Era (1972-1984), the Datsun Z car epitomizes consumers changing tastes through the 1970s.  What started as the capable lightweight 240Z sports car in 1970 morphed into the bloated 280ZX Grand Tourer by 1983.  Sprinkle in a back seat equipped 2+2 model largely equipped with an automatic transmission, and you have what was once listed in October 2022 on Craigslist in Seattle, Washington, this restored 1983 Datsun 280ZX 2+2.  In addition to reupholstering the leather interior, a former owner replaced the original badges with gold versions when the car received a repaint.

Currently offered for $9,000 (the original ask was $10,500), Classic.com, the analytics and search engine for the collector car market, confirms the ask is at the low end of the one-year rolling average of this guide’s summary for all other 1983 Datsun 280ZX models.  By clicking on the green dots in the graph below, you can navigate to each comparable car sold as a way to help you evaluate the price of the 280ZX featured here:

As a second data point, the  Collector Car Market Review Online Tool reveals the seller’s ask falls between this guide’s #3 “Good” estimate of $9,250 and its #2 “Excellent” appraisal of $15,200 before factoring in adjustments for the T-Tops (+10%) and automatic transmission (-15%).

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 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 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 the entirely different and 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.

The Xenon ZCar YouTube Channel features this vintage 1983 280ZX commercial featuring a very young Steve Wozniak (of Apple fame) pitching how much he prefers his 280ZX over his other named sports car:

Early eighties, Disco-Era non-turbocharged Z-cars do not have the performance of either earlier or later models. Still, if you prefer an automatic and have small children,  this is the entry-level, RADwood- and Malaise-era-eligible Z-car you can enjoy reliably without breaking the bank to buy it.  Besides having to source a replacement windshield, we recommend inspecting the lower rocker panels and what’s hidden under the carpeted dashboard cover.

Here’s the seller’s description:

“Hi! I’ve decided to sell my 1983 Datsun 280ZX. 


This car is not 100% original, but it was lovingly and tastefully updated by the previous owner and turns heads everywhere it goes. I can’t tell you how many compliments I get on this car. It has new tires and other new stuff that I don’t recall, but I have recent receipts for everything. The previous owner gave it new upholstery and paint and updated all of the original badges with gold-toned ones. It even has a gold-tipped exhaust pipe. This is truly a one-of-a-kind 280ZX. And don’t forget… T-tops!

The car is in great shape, both cosmetically and mechanically. It has a 3-speed automatic transmission and low miles for its age. Currently registered with Collector Vehicle plates. I’ve taken it on road trips to Spokane and Oregon with no issues. Would easily take it on a long road trip tomorrow without hesitation. I’ve been using it as a daily driver for the past 6-months. There is one small area with some visible rust (see photos) but no other trouble areas that I am aware of. The only known issue needing attention sooner than later is a 4-inch crack in the windshield below where the passenger-side wiper blade rests. Also, the heat and defrost both work, but the AC doesn’t.

The engine came from a 1981 280ZX and was pulled from the original car at around 115k miles. I have the speedometer/odometer gauge from the original vehicle – documenting the mileage – which I will include with the sale (as well as the original stereo). I also have all of the repair & maintenance documentation from the previous owner dating back to 2010-ish, which I will gladly include as well. Based on the dates of these documents, I’ve concluded that he drove it very little during the first 18 months following the engine replacement – I’m guessing between 1k to 3k miles max – before it was sold to me with an odometer reading of almost 118k miles. Therefore, it appears that the current engine and the current body were coincidentally very close to each other in mileage at the time of the swap. So any discrepancy between the two is probably only 2k miles or less.

I love this car and driving it, but I am selling it so I can purchase a more practical and modern daily driver. I’m more than willing to answer any questions you may have, so get in touch and let’s chat. Thanks!- Derrick -“

Show or go: What would you do with this restored 1983 Datsun 280ZX?  Please comment below and let us know!

1 Comment
  1. Midas Makeover: 1983 Nissan 280ZX 2+2 – Sold?

    “Bloated” is right. I had a ’73 240Z and a ’91 300ZX… both great cars and avoided the bloat!


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