1976 Datsun 280Z Reviews

1976 Datsun 280Z 2.8 from North America

Model year1976
Year of manufacture1976
First year of ownership2005
Most recent year of ownership2007
Engine and transmission 2.8 Manual
Performance marks 9 / 10
Reliability marks 7 / 10
Comfort marks 6 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 10 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.0 / 10
Distance when acquired117000 miles
Most recent distance120000 miles

Summary:

No other car like it..

Faults:

I got this car when I was 15 as a first car for $850. My dad and I rebuilt it for the past 2.5 years into a fantastic show Z. But there have been a lot of things that have gone wrong. some my fault and some not.

The biggest thing was I blew the entire motor because of a fuel leak. the starter also cracked when this happened. so I have a brand new rebuilt engine and a new performance starter. all the carpet and vinyl has been replaced due to being worn so badly. the paint was completely done because it was almost all worn off. the brakes were rusted so I put on a complete disc brake conversion. I got 17" Cobra R rims for it, but they were too big so and the car was raised a few inches so I got some Eibach suspension to put it on the ground. the muffler had a hole in it so I decided to replace the whole thing with monza headers going into a 2.5" exhaust into a glass pack into a flowmaster. it sounds fantastic. There's a very small crack in the windshield, but I'm not worried about that. the dash already had a cap on it so I don't know what kind of shape that is in. new seats because the old ones were so worn. new fuel lines because the all leaked. new injectors because a few failed so I replaced them all. new distributor and wires. a new 5 speed transmission from a ZX for better fuel economy. all the rust was removed. fiberglass bumpers. the clutch was starting to fault so I got a Centerforce stage 2 clutch. all the chrome has been replaced because it was all worn off. and finally, a complete 5 speaker sound system with a 10" sub.

General Comments:

This car is FANTASTIC. There are no other words to describe it. this is my baby and I will die with this thing. if you have never owned a Datsun, I HIGHLY recommend it. you will never be disappointed. all the performance parts are very cheap and all replacement parts are very reasonable. almost everything can be found on Ebay or various other websites. eventually there will be a 351w in this baby, but until then, the 2.8 is fast enough. this thing handles on rails and can take off just as fast as a 350z, especially if you put a little time into the engine. it doesn't take much to make this thing a rocket with being only a shade over 2000 lbs.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 17th September, 2007

4th Feb 2008, 01:31

Umm...you're a bit wrong on the weight there, buddy, but having owned a Z I agree with the comment on Datsun.

Never had a car like it, probably never will again, so reliable and easy to work on. (The few problems I DID have with my 35 year old car were easy to fix... I actually lent the one I had to people who had newer cars taht broke down constantly)

The '70 240z weighed in at around 2300lb, but by 1976 they were just under 3000lb, not 2000lb.

You're thinking of the Datsun 210. (they were puddle jumpers)

20th Jun 2009, 14:44

That may be the case, but they still had "Cockpit illumination worthy of a Starship" that was a very cool commercial...

24th Jul 2010, 03:41

This debate is as old as time itself. The 280z isn't as heavy a dog as a lot of people think it is when compared to its 240z older brother.

The 280z weighs in around 2550 or 2600 IIRC... Hell, even the bigger 280ZX isn't much over 2600 lbs.

3000 lbs was the emissions testing weight.

Strip a 280z of its hideous (and heavy) park bench bumpers, and you'll pretty much bring it down to the weight of a 240z. Barring the added weight of the EFI, and slightly beefier underpinnings.

1976 Datsun 280Z 2.8 OHC from North America

Model year1976
Year of manufacture1975
First year of ownership2005
Most recent year of ownership2007
Engine and transmission 2.8 OHC Manual
Performance marks 8 / 10
Reliability marks 8 / 10
Comfort marks 9 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 7 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.0 / 10
Distance when acquired83000 miles
Most recent distance87000 miles

Summary:

Just AWESOME, Fast, Easy to repair, and Chicks dig it!

Faults:

Alternator Quit.

Radiator Cracked, practically overheated the car.

There've been some other minor quirks (bad fan clutch, electrical things) but nothing that has severely hampered the car's driveability.

Numerous replaced hoses (vacuum hoses, heater hoses, radiator hoses)

The fuel injectors are leaking, and I think the fuel pressure regulator is about to go out too.

The cylinder head also probably needs a good rebuild, with leaking valve stem seals.

U-joints are going south too.

General Comments:

This car is strong.

I'm a young kid who picked a Datsun Z car as his first car, and so for one thing, I can tell you that there are occasions where I drive my car HARD, and the 280z can take it!

Time and time again I marvel at just how resilient the 2.8 L powerplant at the front of this car really is. For most cars of this vintage, approaching 100,000 miles is like a funeral march, but not with the Z!

Of the other Z owners I know, not one has a car below 120,000 (One, in fact, has over 350k on his!)

The absolute best part is, when something goes wrong, it's pretty simple to diagnose with the right informational tools (service manuals, online forums, etc.) and replacement parts are easily available from places like Checker/Kragen and Autozone... did I mention there are performance modifications available by the boatload?

Nissan also still has lots of replacement parts, if special order situations arise.

Anyway, I'm very pleased, and I don't plan on getting rid of this car EVER!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 23rd May, 2007

14th May 2009, 11:33

I can't agree with you more on the Z car.

24th Jul 2010, 03:27

Update from original poster:

Hey again guys, here I am just over 3 years after this was written, and my Z has got over 103,000 miles on the clock and is still ticking!

That's not to say we haven't had our share of adventures along the way, but things are going rather swimmingly.

I've had to replace the brake booster.

Shortly after this initial review was written, I replaced the pressure regulator, fuel injectors, fuel filter, and temperature sensor.

Also replaced front brake hoses (will do rears soon).

Clutch slave cylinder.

Fan clutch (again).

Starter.

Ignition coil (upgraded to a Super Stock coil).

Couple more vacuum/heater hoses.

Dirty chassis grounds.

Burnt-out headlight.

All I can say that after 20,000 total miles of youngster driving, the clutch and brakes are in need of some serious love; other than that (knock on wood), the car is still holding up remarkably well.

I removed the 'park bench' style bumpers, which has lightened the handling of it significantly... but also made me realize that I'll be in the market for new tires soon too.

All in all, I'm still very pleased with this car. I finally did a valve adjustment (which also was pretty easy), and what a tremendous difference that made too!

I still stand by my original (if not naive) assessment of this car. Fun, easy to maintain, looks good, and definitely an eye-catcher (if not a conversation piece). You wouldn't believe how many people walk up to me and start telling me their life story because their brother/uncle/dad had a Z when they were growing up.

Oh, and my girlfriend thinks my car is sexy. B-)

Average review marks: 8.3 / 10, based on 6 reviews