5k: Not the EZ Way: 1978 Datsun 280Z 2+2 Turbo Diesel?

We love a good engine swap as much as the next guy and nothing piques our interest as much as an engine swap that at first glance appears to be a downgrade…but…what about shoving a diesel into a Datsun Z car…is that going too far?  Find this 1978 Datsun 280Z 2+2 Turbo Diesel for sale in Estacada, OR currently bidding on ebay for $2,200 with a 2 days to go.

In 1978 the Datsun Z was starting to get heavy with luxury features and slower with emissions requirements, but it was always faster than a Mercedes diesel…at least until now.  The seller of this Z has removed the 2.8 liter gasoline inline 6 and replaced it with another inline 6; a diesel engine from a Datsun Gloria/Skyline/Maxima (or International Scout!).

The LD28T engine was never available in the US market with a turbocharger, but this seller has turbocharged and intercooled this engine for maximum efficiency.  According to the seller’s EcoModder account he has gotten around 35 mpg on average; probably double the stock L28E mileage. The body on this 2+2 is definitely rough but looks salvageable for someone interested enough in the idea of an oil-burning Zed.

A stock 1978 Datsun 280Z isn’t a quick car to begin with, so we assume the compression ignition turbo engine will be a similarly miserable driving experience albeit with the addition of getting your hands stinky when you fill up.  If anything the low end turbo performance should be an improvement over the stock engine and might make this thing quicker.  All we know is that someone put in the time/money and now its time for someone else to enjoy it.  No better time spent than than the previous owner’s…

See a better diesel engine swap? email us here: tips@dailyturismo.com