CC Capsule: 1983 Datsun 280ZX – Mission Creep Comes To The Z Car

280 zx

One of the few things that I remember from high school was taking a business writing class, where I had to compose a letter about a defective car. Of course, I remember the subject of my false correspondence: a Datsun 260Z.


So many years later, I cannot faithfully recall the details of the poor Datsun’s make-believe malfunction, but I was becoming aware of the car’s real-life failings. It was obvious to me, if not to the average consumer, that the 260 moniker was a tacit admission that a bigger engine was needed to overcome the primitive emissions-control equipment of the time. That first generation Z car eventually grew to be a 280Z before the next generation appeared as the fuel-injected 280ZX.


Unlike most late ’70s Detroit iron, the 280ZX grew in size, now offering enough space to add a second row of seats, which this facelifted car does not appear to have, judging by the rear windows. Still, even this two-seater could not escape the trends of times, as the ride was softened to appeal to a wider audience. I can also remember when I graduated from college, my dad had his eyes on a ZX that he thought would be perfect for me. I finally dissuaded him once he looked up the fuel mileage and got an insurance quote (the car had a salvage title). I wound up with a Pontiac J2000 after Mom refused to co-sign for the Honda Civic I really wanted.


This particular car’s interior appears to have held up well for being 31 years old. Sharp-eyed readers will note the automatic transmission and digital dash, rather appropriate choices given the Z’s “lounge lizard” posture and one can very easily imagine the addition of buttons on the upholstery to complete the next step to Brougham status. Thankfully, Nissan realized that priorities had begun to change by the time the first 300ZX came around in 1984, or else we would have seen Zs with Landau roofs.



Related reading: 1983 Datsun 280ZX: The Cutlass Supreme Brougham Z?