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1978 Datsun 280Z news, pictures, specifications, and information

The Nissan/Datsun 280 ZX was produced from 1979 through 1983 as a three-door hatchback sport coupe. In the American market, the 280ZX was sold as a Datsun and in other markets it was badged as a Nissan.

It was built as a replacement for the 280Z, a complete redesign keeping only the L28 engine and a few other mechanical components. It sat atop of the Nissan 510's platform and suspension comprised of McPherson struts in the front and an independent rear trailing arm. To improve performance, a turbocharger was offered as optional equipment beginning in 1981. The L28ET engine and turbocharger increased horsepower to an impressive 180. The gearbox was a 3-speed automatic unit. Adding to the performance, a Borg-Warner T-5 5-speed manual gearbox became available in 1982 and 1983.

After production of the 280 ZX, Nissan/Datsun began offering the 300ZX as its replacement.

By Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2006
Hatchback Coupe
 
1978 was the last year of the first generation Datsun 'Z' cars. The original owner purchased it new in 1978 with a sticker price of $8,837. The car has 45,425 original miles. It is an unrestored car that has been painted in its original color with a limited-edition paint. This was the first time a Japanese car was painted black.

AACA awards include a First Junior, Senior, First Grand National, and Senior Grand National plus nine preservation awards. ZCCA (Z Car Club of America) awards include a First in Stock Class, 2007 Concours de Graylyn (Winston-Salem, NC) First in Class.
Introduced in 1975 as the successor of the 260Z, the Datsun 280Z was the final version of the 1st generation Z sports car. At the end of the 1978 model year, the 1st generation Z was discontinued and replaced by the 1979 280ZX.

Unique to North America, the 280Z nameplate was sold as the Fairlady Z in Japan.

Powered by the 170 HP OHC Inline 6 L28 engine, the L28 was an electronically fuel injected engine utilized by the 280Z. The L28 was very similar to the naturally-aspirated L26 and L24 which had preceded it.

Available with either a 4 or 5-speed manual or a 3 speed automatic transmission, the 280Z featured rear independent suspension. The vehicle also featured 14' alloy wheels, rack-and-pinion steering and a large array of dashboard gauges.

The 280Z was available in two various body styles, either the 2-seat coupe or the 2+2 4-seater. The 4-seater was a longer model and slightly wider than the standard 280Z, though it shared similar performance characteristics.

In October, 1969, the 1970 240z was introduced to the U.S. by Yutaka Katayama, president of Nissan Motors USA operations. The man widely known as 'Mr. K.', introduced the early 1970 model with a chrome '240' badge emblazoned on the B-pillar quarter panel. The following year the B-pillar side badges were restyled with the letter Z in white.

It was powered by a 2.4 liter straight-6 cylinder with 2 sidedraft S.U. Carbs, which had the ability to produce 150 horsepower. The 240z was only available to the U.S. with a manual 4-speed transmission.

In 1971 the transmission and rear differential was improved, as well as the crankshaft redesigned. It was now available in 3-speed automatic transmission that was produced by Jatco.

To lower the compression ration from 9.0 to 8.8:1, the combustion chamber shape was altered to lower the emissions and power band the following year. Automatic seatbelts were installed, along with the rear window defroster lines changed from vertical to horizontal in 1972.

In 1973 different manifolds and cylinders were installed to lower emissions, along with flat top Hitachi SU carbs.

Tinted Glass 3-point adjustable seat belts were installed, along with collapsible steering columns, reclining seats, and intermittent windshield wipers as standard equipment.

The 260z was introduced in 1974 and offered an increase stoke of 79mm with an increase of engine displacement to 2.6 liters along with a jump in horsepower from 129 to 139.

Lengthening the overall length of the 260z by 12.2 inches, and adding 200 more pounds to the vehicle weight, the 2+2 body style now offered quarter windows which opened.

Until midyear of 1975, the 260z continued to be produced. By enlarging the front and rear bumpers of the 260z to meet Federal regulations, a total of 130 lbs was added to the weight of the vehicle.

Halfway through 1975, the 280Z was introduced to the market. Replacing the SU carbs on all models with Bosch's L-Jetronic field injection, and the 3mm bore increase raised engine displacement to the 2.8 litre was designed to withstand tougher emission codes.

Producing 149 horsepower, the 280z was only sold in the U.S. All models in California were required to have a catalutic converter in the exhaust system.

Because of its relatively low price when compared to other foreign sports cars of the time, the vehicle became hugely popular in the American market.

During the 1970's, the Z was very successful in racing and is credited as a catalyst for the current import performance parts industry. Sports Car International named this vehicle number two on the list of Top Sports Cars of the 1970's in 2004.

Datsun offered a special edition 'Black Pearl' 280Z in 1978 with all options standard. Around 850-1500 vehicle were produced and were offered in black pearl paint with a unique stripe-kit.

By Jessica Donaldson
The 240Z was not a new idea. Sturdy engineering, excellent performance, low price, attractive styling, and average interior had been achieved by many manufacturers prior to the Z-car. The reason the 240Z car was so great was because it capitalized on all these criteria and perfected the concept of a low-cost, reliable, sports car. Mr. Yutaka Katayama is considered the 'Father of the Z Car' and is responsible for the design and creation of this legendary vehicle. As recognition of his contributions to the automotive world, in 1998 he was inducted into the Automobile Hall of Fame.

The Datsun 240Z was introduced in 1969 as a 1970 model. The engine was a derivation of the Datsun 1600. The Datsun 1600 engine was a copy of the 1960's six-cylinder Mercedes-Benz 220 engine, but with two less cylinders. By adding two extra cylinders in the 240Z the cylinder count was back to six. With 151 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque the vehicle could propel from zero-to-sixty in eight seconds. The independent suspension and the rack-and-pinion steering added to its quick response, performance, and handling. The front disc brakes brought the car to a stop from high speeds in just seconds. With a price tag of just over $3,500, it cost much less than anything else on the market. Due to demand, a year later Kelly Blue Book rated the value of a used 240Z at $4,000.

The 240Z dominated the SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) C-class production category for 10 years ranging from 1970 through 1979. In 1970 and 1971 John Morton, driving for Brock Racing Enterprises, was the first to claim victory in SCCA C-Class production racing using a 240Z. Bob Sharp claimed his first win in that category in 1972 and again in 1973 and 1975. Walt Maas continued the streak in 1974. The Z-car competed in the IMSA (International Motor Sports Association) where it captured many victories, including the IMSA GTU title. In 1982, Devendorf and his Electromotive racing team win Datsun's first ever IMSA GTO championship.

In 1985, Paul Newman set 10 track records in a 280ZX Turbo.

In 1994, a race-modified Z car won the 24 Hors of Daytona and the 12 Hours at Sebring. It also captured the GTS Class at the 24 Hours of LeMans, making it the only car ever to accomplish such a record within the same year.

In 1974, the engine displacement was increased to 2.6 liters and the vehicle was dubbed the 260Z. This brought an end to the 240Z series which had sold 116,712 examples during its life-span. The United States emissions regulations were increasing every year. Thus, the 260Z had less horsepower than its predecessor and was rated at 139.

The 260Z was available in 2+2 configuration. With the fold-down rear seats, the 260Z offered a higher level of practicality over the 240Z. During its first and only model year, 63,963 examples were produced giving it the all-time Z-car sales record to date.

In 1975 the displacement was increased to 2.8 liters and the vehicle dubbed the 280Z. A Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection system was included which helped bring increase the horsepower to 149.

In 1977, the horsepower rating was 170. A five-speed overdrive transmission was now offered, giving the vehicle better performance and fuel economy. The sales of the Z car once again hit a record high, with 67,331 units sold.

In 1979, the second generation of the Z-car was introduced as the 280ZX. It was more refined and luxurious than the previous Z's. The formula was correct and it was named Motor Trends 'Import Car of the Year'. A new all-time sales record was achieved with 86,007 units being sold.

In 1980, over 500,000 cumulative American Z-cars had been sold. It had reached the half-million sales mark faster than any other sport car. A new T-bar roof option was now being offered.

To add to the appeal and performance of the 280ZX, a turbocharged engine became available in 1981. Sales continued to remain strong through 1983.

In 1984 the third generation of the Z-car was introduced and was dubbed the 300ZX. It featured distinct styling and a new 3.0 liter V6 engine. The normal-aspirated engine produced 160 horsepower, while the turbocharged version offers 200 horsepower.

In 1989, the American automotive economy was continuing to evolve. Minivan's and sport utility vehicles were gaining in popularity. In response, Nissan introduced the fourth-generation Z-car in 1990. The new 300ZX featured improvements both mechanically and aesthetically. Under the hood sat an all-new DOHC 3.0-liter engine with a horsepower rating of 222. A twin-turbocharged version of the engine was available and brought the total horsepower output to 300. The body of the vehicle had been improved giving it a more aggressive stance.

Motor Trend awarded the Z00ZXTT 'Import Car of the Year' and 'One of the Top Ten Performance Cars'. Automobile Magazine honored the car with 'Design of the Year' and was added to its 'All Stars' list. Not to be outdone, Road & Track named the car 'One of the Ten Best Cars in the World'. Car and driver named it 'One of the Ten Best Cars'.

During the 1990 model year the one-million sales mark was achieved making it the all-time best selling sports car. The car continued to receive great reviews and awards by Magazines and publications. The year 1995 marked the 25th Anniversary of the Z-car. To commemorate this occasion, a limited edition was produced with the help of Steve Millen Sport Cars.

In 1996, the production of the Z-car ceased in North America. Decreasing Sales figures, and increased smog regulations and production costs were to blame. The price of the twin-turbo 300ZX was priced at $45,000, a cost that was to expensive for most consumers. Production of the Z-car continued in Japan until 1999, although it had undergone a major redesign in 1998.

In August of 2002, Nissan introduced the 350Z. This six-gear, two-seater was the fifth generation of the Z-car. Offered in five trim packages that included Base, Enthusiast, Performance, Touring, and Track Editions, the vehicle was an instant success. Base price was around $26,000 with the fully-loaded Track option costing over $34,000. Aesthetic and performance upgrades were available through Nismo, Nissan's motorsport and performance division.

In 2004, a roadster option was offered. The roadster was available in two trim packages which included the Enthusiast and Touring editions.

A special 35th Anniversary model was released in 2005 featuring twice the output of the original 1969 model.

Sales figures, race results, and satisfied customers have proven this to be one of the best sports vehicles ever produced.

By Daniel Vaughan | Jan 2007
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