Back in the 1930’s, Nissan Motors was formed by a merger between Japanese automakers DAT and Jitsuyo. At the time, Nissan stuck with the Datsun brand established by DAT. The first Z-car, sold in America as the Datsun 240Z hit our shores in 1969 and was an immediate hit, leading to a nine-year production run including the 260Z and 280Z iterations. In 1978, the Datsun 280ZX kicked off generation-two and came with a “By Nissan” badge. Nissan had fully redesigned the 280ZX and used it as a platform to transition from Datsun to Nissan branding worldwide. By 1984, the Datsun name was gone, replaced with Nissan logos across the board.
The 1983 coupe up for auction here was the final model year for this generation and features handling dynamics that come with a 2800-pound, 50/50 weight distributed sports car. Born during the lamented 70’s oil crisis, the 280ZX benefits from extensive wind tunnel testing to improve efficiency. It also received added sound insulation, more comfortable seats and premium extras, versus the outgoing model, to push it into the grand touring arena.
A five-speed manual and fully independent suspension complimented the 145-horse, 2.8-liter inline-6-cylinder power plant for plenty of canyon carving fun. At the time, Paul Newman was honing his racing creds in a 280ZX and recording TV ads about the importance of seat belts in his racecar, and the street model. In today’s heavily computerized car world, the 280ZX is a refreshing throwback to simple, analog driving, especially in the all-original example up for auction today.