It’s crossed auction blocks at $38 million, topped dozens of click-baity website listicles for most beautiful car ever made, and was, statistically, on the childhood bedroom walls of 46% of the people reading this (I’m convinced most of you had Volvos or Citroens. Or a Chevy Corsica). Only 36 were made. Today, for less than the price of a new Civic, is the 37th. Sort of. Find this 1978 Datsun 280z Ferrari 250 GTO replica in Houston, TX for $17,000 via craigslist.
Twin fender strakes and the correct number of air inlets and lights make this well-proportioned build moderately convincing at first glance. Then the errors sink in. It starts with the full stable of prancing horse stickers, wire wheels that belong on a G-body with hydraulics, and poor hood fitment. The fuel cap placement and exhaust spacing are wrong, as are the badge locations and front grill trim. However, the people you’re trying to impress won’t notice these things. Besides the vast majority of red examples, at least two chassis were finished in silver. If the builder really wanted the world to associate Ferrari with this car (and judging by the rear window decal, he does), it should be red. Speaking of decals, what’s up with the crooked sticker on the Grant wood steering wheel?
Starting with the Datsun 280z guarantees similar proportions, except the wheelbase is shorter by four inches. You won’t find a dry-sump V12 under the hood, but instead, two hues of overapray and the L28 inline-six mated to a 5-speed manual transmission. The seller just replaced the struts, sway bars, and tie rods, but couldn’t be bothered to lower it a few inches. Shame.
Not only is $17,000 amazingly close to the original 250 GTO’s $18,000 MSRP, but it also continues the numerical sequence of expensive, LSX-swapped 280zs we’ve featured lately: One for $15,000, and one for $16,000. Now that we’ve brought it up, an LS1 swap is your best bet for meeting or exceeding the GTO’s 300 horsepower figure. Drop the decals and badges (yes, even the cutesy GTO badge from the American GTO), fix the previously mentioned aesthetic grievances, and this becomes a great performer with vintage racecar looks to match. If it was $7,000. At $17,000, it’s just an expensive looker… arguably without the looks. Still, it’s cheaper by a few decimal places than the real thing. For a hopeless Ferrariphile, that’s enough.
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PhiLOL actually likes the tuna here, but abhors structural rust. Save the manuals.