You know the saying: “A good
man S30 is hard to find.” You want one that’s strong and dependable without issues or a past, and one that can play nicely with the kids – but isn’t too much of a snooze. Am I right, ladies?! They’re either too uncouth, trashy, or diesel-y, or way out of your league. Except for McDreamy here and his steely blue, uh, paint job. Find this 1975 Datsun 280z in Auburn, CA for $8,000 via craigslist.
The 280z carried over the 240z’s basic shape, plus electronic fuel injection and a bump in displacement reflected in its revised model name (how novel! Someone tell the Germans). It carried its extra weight well, in the form of beefier sway bars, a stronger differential, and sound deadening. Except for the heavy bumpers that stick out like love handles, and thankfully weren’t available on this first-year 280z. Along with its year-old paint job and otherwise untouched classic profile, it’s instantly likable. Just like Patrick Dempsey.
Ample parts commonality between model years makes for an all-you-can-eat buffet of familial customization. Porsche owners do the same thing, but at two or three times the cost of these Z-cars. This one has an attractive combination, both mechanically and visually, borrowing the wheels, engine block, clutch, 5-speed manual transmission, and differential from a 280ZX. The result is a more powerful, durable, and tractable engine/transmission combination than earlier carbureted, 4-speed 240s, with an overall package a few hundred pounds lighter than a 280ZX.
For $8,000, you get a completely rust-free, damage-free Z with bunch of recent steering-related maintenance and sound mechanical components. The aftermarket steering wheel is a little tacky, but it allows a great view of the deeply recessed gauges that Nissan insist be continued in perpetuity inside Altimas and Maximas. Just like the subtle ducktail spoiler that S13 fanboys insist be continued in perpetuity on their 240SX drift toys. Hey, it’s okay to dream a little.
See a cheaper S-chassis in good shape? Email us at email@example.com.