The Datsun 280Z is the Best of the Z-cars
In the late 1960s, Datsun released the 240Z to the public. This moment changed the way that American drivers looked at Japanese imports. Prior to the 240Z, Japanese cars were small, economical, and boring. The 240Z brought sleek design, speed, and excitement. The 260Z was equally as good with a few updates, but the real winner was the Datsun 280Z.
Third Time is a Charm
The Datsun 280Z made its debut in 1979, but this was not the model year that took the world by storm. It is remarkable to consider that a 1979 280Z could be purchased for under $10,000, and over 86,000 bought one. The sales and the changes earned the car the “Import Car of the Year” award from Motor Trend.
T-Tops Bring Some Excitement
While the 1979 model was fabulous, it was the 1980 and 1981 models that really amazed drivers. The 1980 models saw the introduction of the T-top which drew the attention of drivers who wanted their hair to blow in the wind and about half of the Datsun 280ZX models had them. The Z car also came with the option of luxurious leather seats. As the Z-car reached the decade milestone, an Anniversary Edition was designed in black with gold wheels and accents.
Turbos and Added Horsepower
But, the best news was yet to come, Still in 1981, Datsun put a turbo in the 280Z. This helped reduce vapor lock and horsepower issues. The turbo Datsun 280ZX had 180 horsepower, while the regular engine had 145 horsepower. The turbo version only had an automatic transmission, which was common was turbos. In 1981, the Datsun 280ZX turbo was actually about half-a-second faster than the Corvette in the quartermile.
While the Datsun Z-cars dominated the sports car market in the 1970s and 1980s with over 500,000 sold, more excitement arrived in 1984 when the Datsun became the Nissan and the car received a complete update. With a longer hood and sleepy pop-up headlights, the 300Z was practically unrecognizable when compared to the hot Datsun 280Z. Again, in 1990, the car received a major update, which included the option of a convertible, which harkened back to the original roadster design from Datsun in early 1960s.