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Nissan Datsun Z Cars History 1969-2017 Part III (280ZX)

Updated on May 12, 2016

The Datsun Nissan 280ZX 1979-1983

The second generation Z car was the 280zx which was sold from 1979 to 1983. The 280zx was redesigned to be a luxurious, fuel efficient sports car. The engines offered were the L28E and the L28ET. The L28E was an improved version of the fuel injected 2.8 liter L28 engine used in the 280z. The L28ET was a modified version of the L28E with a Turbo charger which improved the performance and speed of the 280ZX. The new interior options offered were leather, power windows, power mirrors, improved car stereos, digital dash and other electronic features. One of the three most popular options were the two tone paint jobs, the aluminum wheels and T-bar roof which was available in the 80-83 models. The T-bar roof allowed the driver to remove 2 glass panels over the driver and passenger sides and enjoy the sunshine and wind. The X designation in the ZX stood for luxury, not experimental. The Z-car transitioned from being a no frills sport car like the 240Z to a more of a touring sports car like the 280zx. Sales of the 280zx were great; over 350,000 were sold from 1979-1983. Because of its improvements and popularity, the 280zx was Motor trends 1979's "Import Car of the Year". Also for the first time ever, the 280ZX now displayed the Nissan name alongside the Datsun name. Thankfully to mostly the Z-cars, Nissan was starting to gain popularity in the United States.

280ZX 2+2 Models

Just like the previous 260z and 280z 2+2 models, The 280zx 2+2 models provide a rear seat. This provided room for two additional passengers or if you folded the seats down you could have additional space for luggage or other cargo. To identify the 2+2 model, just notice that the body was 8 inches longer and the quarter panel windows come down to a point.

280ZX Racing

The racing world took note of the new 280zx. By removing all the interior luxury features, upgrading the suspension and installing a more powerful engine/ transmission the 280zx was a formidable race machine. Paul Newman exclusively raced the Bob Sharp 280zx, his race car won numerous races.

Paul Newman PSA

Special Edition 280ZX

In 1979 Nissan offered the 280ZXR to the public as a SCCA IMSA race ready 280ZX. The 280ZXR was painted silver with a blue and black stripe that ran along the sides and a "Whale Tail" spoiler. Only 1009 ZXR's were sold to the public and only a few are still road worthy today.

During the 1980 Super Bowl, Nissan played their commercial for its 10th Anniversity Edition 280zx. This comericial ad featured a 70's fashionably dressed couple two tone Black and Gold 280zx. A total of 3000 of these 10th Anniversary Editions were made and sold in the United States. These 280ZX's were painted in two tone paint schemes, 2500 were black and gold and 500 were Black and Red. They were included all the luxury features offered at the time and each were numbered accordingly from 1-3000.

Black Gold


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