Curbside Outtake: Mitsubishi 3000GT and Datsun 280ZX 2+2 – Two Veterans Of The Great Japanese Sports Era

The original Datsun 240Z kicked off the great Japanese Sports Car Era in 1971. Yes, there was the Datsun 1600/2000 roadster, but its numbers were tiny compared to the overwhelming success of the Z car, which unleashed a raft of competitors, including from Mitsubishi. Here’s a couple of survivors from that era, which ended some time ago. Hopefully the parts its owners might be wanting are still available.

The 280ZX was of course the successor to the first generation Z car. It was a rather bloated one at that, bigger, heavier and softer, and not uncommonly referred to as a Japanese Camaro (or such). Yes, it was clearly targeted at the American buyers who wanted a stylish but mellow cruiser, very much not like the sharp-edged original 240Z.  The extended body 2+2 only enhanced that look, image and reputation. Tom Klockau wrote a CC on the 280ZX and titled it “The Cutlass Supreme Brougham Z?“. Yes.

Not surprisingly, it won Motor Trend’s Import Car Of The Year 1984.

These have become rare on the streets, hereabouts. Doesn’t seem like they have much of a following, although I’m sure there are a few pristine ones stashed away in some garages for those wanting to relive the early eighties.

This one seems to have lost its water tightness, not a good thing in Eugene’s wet winters.

A pleasant surprise: it’s a stick shift! Under the long hood was of course Nissan’s long-running L-series SOHC inline six, making 145 hp, if I have my numbers right. There was a Turbo version, which admittedly was a pretty quick car for the times, but they weren’t all that common.

The Mitsubishi 3000GT, known as the GTO in Japan, and also sold as the Dodge Stealth, replaced the Starion (and Dodge Conquest).  It was based on the FWD Sigma/Diamante platform, and retained its transverse 3 liter V6. Of course turbo and AWD versions were also part of the program, but that’s not what we have here.

And this one has an automatic too.

The good old days, when big spoilers ruled the land. The 3000GT badging is a bit duplicative, eh?

I know; there’s still Japanese sports cars to be had, but it’s back to what it was like in the sixties, when Datsun was selling its roadster here: you have to really want one; and even then, you’d better hurry because before long they may all be gone. Is it possible to imagine a world without a Miata?


Related CC reading:

Curbside Classic: 1983 Datsun 280ZX – The Cutlass Supreme Brougham Z?

Curbside Classics: 1991-99 Mitsubishi 3000GT and 1991-96 Dodge Stealth – The King of Diamonds

CC Capsule: 1991 Mitsubishi GTO (Z16A) – Peak Mitsubishi

Curbside Classic: 1971 Datsun 240Z – Revolutions Don’t Come Often

Curbside Classic: 1983 Mitsubishi Starion – Or Is It Stallion? Did I Finally Solve The Mystery Of Its Name?