1981 Datsun 280ZX: This Totally ’80s Coupe With Factory Colors Is a ‘Collector’s Dream’

The Datsun name hasn’t been around for a while now, but Nissan recently made a bold move and tried to bring it back with its Z model. To rival Toyota’s Supra in sportiness, Nissan is bringing 400 horsepower to its newest ride. In many ways, its Z version gives off memories of one of the earlier models produced under the Datsun name, which was the 280ZX. 

So, how did Nissan get from the Datsun sports cars of the 80s to the Z version we see today? According to MotorTrend, it began a few years before the 280ZX came out. 

Where did the Nissan Z come from?

A 1981 Datsun 280ZX profile from a sales brochure
The 1981 Datsun 280ZX | National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images

The 2023 Nissan Z is on its way, replacing the 370Z model, which was on the market for around 10 years. Seeing how this is the sixth generation of the vehicle, you must wonder how we got to this point. Where did the Z version come from? 

It really all began with the 240Z, which actually was produced under the Datsun brand name. After four years, the 240Z retired and was replaced with the 260Z in 1974. The first generation lasted nine years and sold a whopping 520,000 units worldwide. The second generation came with the 280ZX model, which Datsun switched gears with. Instead of making a sports-type car, they tried to make it more of a touring model. In 1981, the Turbo version hit the market, which became a hot collectible years later. 

In 1984, the 300ZX became the first vehicle produced in the third generation. It was also when Nissan began to phase out the Datsun name, which they eliminated in 1985. There were a few more models that were produced after that. In the fifth generation, Nissan released its 240Z model. Nissan made more changes to get back to its roots and produced the 350Z. The sixth generation kicked off with the 370Z model, and it stayed in production since 2008 until Nissan decided to drop all the numbers and announce the upcoming Z model. 

The specs of the 1981 Datsun 280ZX

According to duPont Registry, this particular model has only 39,000 miles for a vehicle that’s about 40 years old. It’s in excellent shape as well. Released from a private collection, it’s ready for a new owner to take care of it. Powering the Datsun is a 2.8-liter Inline-six motor combined with a five-speed manual transmission. 

With the Datsun 280ZX Coupe, you’ll get air conditioning, power steering, power brakes, and cruise control. You’ll also get power windows, an AM/FM radio with a cassette player, and removable glass T-tops. 

This coupe has the Golden Mist Metallic paint color option with a tan interior in near-perfect condition. The owner took meticulous care of it inside and out, and it really shows. If you’re looking for a nice blast from the past, the 1981 Datsun 280ZX two-door hatchback-style coupe is definitely a gem to get your hands on. 

What other 80s cars are for sale?

Recently, the DeLorean DMC-12 made the news when word came out that it might be coming back. While you wait for it to arrive, you could get a 1981 version for $79,900 on the collector’s market. The idea of this coupe-style vehicle came from an ex-executive of General Motors, John Zachary DeLorean. It was popular in its day due to the uniqueness of the styling and the gull-wing doors, which gave it a futuristic outlook and why it was chosen for the smash hit movie Back to the Future

The 1980 Jeep CJ-5 Golden Eagle Theme is a pretty good deal for Jeep fans with an overbored 304ci V8 engine combined with a four-speed manual gearbox for only $64,900. The odometer shows just over 300 miles, but the actual mileage for the chassis is unknown due to the maintenance and mechanical changes it went through. 

Another vintage vehicle up for sale is the 1987 Land Rover Defender 110. The price isn’t listed, but you can easily call to find out. This particular model was customized with a roof rack, rear ladder, and fold-up steps at all the doors. Plus, it has the Safari Snorkel air intake pipe. 

As for the 1981 Datsun 280ZX, it really is one of the best vehicles you can get from the 80s. The one currently being sold on the duPont Registry is in excellent condition with low miles and near showroom floor looks. Any car collector would consider this a dream to have. 

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