1978 Datsun 280Z Reviews

1978 Datsun 280Z 2.8L I-6 from North America

Model year1978
Year of manufacture1977
First year of ownership1996
Most recent year of ownership1998
Engine and transmission 2.8L I-6 Automatic
Performance marks 10 / 10
Reliability marks 7 / 10
Comfort marks 6 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 2 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
6.3 / 10
Distance when acquired100500 miles
Most recent distance140000 miles
Previous carNA NA

Summary:

Not the fastest, not the most comfortable, but if you want to "feel" the road again, buy a Z

Faults:

I drove this car from North Carolina to Massachusetts in under 10 hours. I don't think I ever dipped below 100mph. A day later it wouldn't start and I noticed the crankshaft pulley had snapped. After that I just ran into more problems that were probably caused from beating an 18 yr old car to death for 10 straight hours. I sold this car to a friend who had had the under carriage rot out while it sat for a year. This car held up great in NC, but couldnt deal with the winters/salt of MA.

General Comments:

There's a reason Z cars are sought after by auto-crossers. These cars can handle, and 170 HP in a 2800lb car will push it pretty well, get it up over 220 hp and you've got a serious machine. My car didn't have power steering or power brakes and I swear the road has never felt the same since I lost it. You really feel like you're driving, and keeping it under he speed limit becomes a problem! The one issue I have with this car is that there is only one place supplying parts for this car, and they are REALLY expensive. $500 for a 4 core radiator?

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 4th January, 2006

10th Aug 2008, 19:20

All '77 280Zs came standard with power brakes but were not available with power steering.

1st Sep 2009, 19:55

I'm not sure what you mean about parts being expensive; most parts are available for next to nothing.

23rd Jul 2010, 23:01

And aside from the rust, nothing really goes wrong...

It is now a 32 year old vehicle to be fair.

1978 Datsun 280Z L28E gas inline-6 SOHC/EFI from North America

Model year1978
Year of manufacture1978
First year of ownership2003
Most recent year of ownership2003
Engine and transmission L28E gas inline-6 SOHC/EFI Manual
Performance marks 10 / 10
Reliability marks 10 / 10
Comfort marks 7 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 10 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
9.3 / 10
Distance when acquired301500 miles
Most recent distance336400 miles
Previous carDatsun 240Z

Summary:

One of the best automobiles ever made, bar none!

Faults:

Clutch slave cylinder blew out upon purchase from the junkyard.

Replaced clutch master cylinder 1 month later.

The dashboard was badly cracked (I have fixed this with a dash cap)

Factory A/C works, but compressor idler bearing makes noise during operation.

Driver lower door hinge roller is badly worn.

Passenger door hinge roller is seized.

Passenger door latch needs to be rebuilt.

Low compression in #3 cylinder (makes it run rough at idle, does not affect power much)

Paint was very bad. (Since been repainted)

Rear lower differential mount is torn. (makes clunking noise upon shifting and acceleration)

Suspension bushings are dry and rotted (car still handles excellently)

Could use new shocks front and rear.

All rubber parts need to be replaced. (have since replaced all weatherstripping)

Needs new carpeting (due to water leaks from above mentioned rotten weatherstripping)

Front rotors warped at (3) 15,000 miles, I replaced them. (I drive really hard)

Original radiator finally clogged and started leaking. (replaced with modine unit)

Tire blowout took out one of the original wheels, have since found decent replacements.

Cheap parts store replacement slave cylinder blew out right before I left on deployment.

Stock 4-speed made for bad fuel mileage and lots of RPM on the highway. Have since replaced with a 280-ZX 5-speed.

Heater core and water valve need replacement.

General Comments:

It seems like this car has a lot of problems, but it's really very reliable.

I use it for daily transportation, and I drive it really hard.

I would confidently drive it across the country, to a drag race, and drive it back if I had the time, with no doubts of it's ability to make the trip.

I don't think any new car would hold up as well.

The car will surprise many people with it's initial acceleration, the I-6 has tons of torque.

The gearing with the overdrive transmission makes it a great highway companion, getting 25mpg@90mph. (2500rpm@90mph in 5th)

The car is extremely easy to work on, all of the modifications/repairs I have done myself with hand tools.

The seats, despite how they look, are as comfortable as an old pair of jeans.

A Great, low-cost classic that you can drive daily, though you should be at least a moderately good mechanic if you want to own one, as these cars are 27 years old at their youngest!

These cars tend to be very reliable, most problems stem from age and neglect, once fixed these cars are just as reliable as a new car, and just as drivable.

Great performance potential!

Though dealers don't make most replacement parts for these cars anymore, the after market makes many of them.

Also, many people overlook the enormous parts interchangeability these cars share with just about every Datsun/Nissan built throughout the 70's and 80's.

Many improvements can be made simply by substituting parts from a newer Nissan product, such as slave cylinders, master cylinders, transmissions, differentials, half shafts/axles, etc.

The L-series engine family is famous in competition and tough, many performance parts are made for them and shops still exist that know how to make them run strong.

Finally, you can make a REALLY fast car by swapping in a Chevy V-8! (The kit is inexpensive and allows "bolt-in" installation!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 20th September, 2005

21st Sep 2005, 13:52

Correction to the review: for "current year of ownership", that would be 2005. I still own this car, and plan on keeping it until it is a big pile of rust!

20th Apr 2007, 22:43

I am the original owner of a 1978 bronze 280Z. It has less than 87,000 miles. The only thing I've had to replace is the front struts this year. Now I need a master cylinder with four bolt holes. Anyone know where and how I can find one?

16th Dec 2007, 03:28

I'm restoring my 78 280Z, it's a fun car to drive. I have 175,000 on it and the vehicle has never let me down, a testament to Nissan engineer's planning and workmanship back in 70's Japan. While a lot of people ohh and ahh over the early 240Z, the final 77-78 years of the 280Z remain the best of the 240-280Z line. Why? The most ponies under the hood coupled with a five-speed manual transmission packaged in a lightweight body. The only way to fly.

16th Jan 2013, 10:44

100% agree with your comments. I just bought a '78 280 and it was running great. I took it into the shop and found a number of problems -- with the steering, brakes, and vacuum. The engineering is so strong, the car ran fine, even with these issues.

Average review marks: 8.0 / 10, based on 6 reviews