1983 was the final model year for the second-generation Nissan Z car, or, as the model was called in America at the time, the Datsun 280ZX. And while this particular example still has a lot going for it, the car, which recently landed in the YouTube-famous shop of The Car Wizard, might’ve reached the end of the line, at least as far as its current owner is concerned.
We’ll start this tale with a brief Nissan Z car history, so we can put this example in context. Produced between 1978 and 1983, the S130-codenamed 280ZX we have here was an important upgrade compared to the original Z car, the S30 the Japanese automaker had built between 1969 and 1978 (this went through the 240Z, 260Z, and 280Z iterations).
And while the newcomer kept its predecessor’s engines, it introduced an all-new chassis that would be passed along to its 300ZX successor for the latter’s original Z31 form built between 1983 and 1989—the Z32 (second-gen 300ZX) that would solider on through the year 2000 was an all-new offering. Note that the Z33 (350Z), in production between 2002 and 2009, was also a clean-sheet design, with its chassis being revamped for the Z33 (370Z) that ran from 2009 to 2020 and once again for the now-out Z34 (2023 Nissan Z).
The financial side of saving an old automobile and who is The Car Wizard?
Nowadays, a Nissan 280ZX in good condition should sell for around $20,000. However, the one sitting before us needs some serious attention before reaching that kind of status.
Even so, as YouTuber The Car Wizard—his real name is David Long—explains, this looks like a rather solid car, so it could be worth fixing.
When the mechanic founded his Kansas-based Omega Auto Clinic in 2009, he was naturally focused on fixing cars. However, his current affairs are also about making the repair stories public, with the shop having hosted many celebrities’ cars over the years. A recent example involves the scam that was America’s cheapest Plymouth Superbird, bought by another famous YouTuber, namely Tyler Hoover from Hoovies Garage.
Nevertheless, the current owner brought the 280ZX into David’s shop with a difficult goal: bringing the sportscar back on the road on a minimal budget. It’s worth mentioning the machine features the L28E 2.8L N/A straight-six. This received new piston and head upgrades for the 1981-1983 model years, which bumped the power from 133 to 143 hp.
That might not sound like much, but, given the relatively lightweight nature of the machine, it does offer respectable driving dynamics—how about this 240Z SEMA build, a crazy proposal with just 300 hp?
Sitting for too long, even a year, can cause serious issues to a car
While the owner of the Datsun initially thought the vehicle had only been sitting for some months, David found decayed gasoline in the tank. In his view, the state of the fuel means the car had been unattended for about two or three years.
The said neglect saw the ruined gas causing damage to the entire fuel system. So while The Car Wizard has replaced the tank and the engine can run smoothly, it doesn’t do so on a regular basis.
So far, the owner has put around $1,000 into the project and it appears he’s only willing to make one extra step, allowing The Car Wizard to replace the injectors.
From that point on, the 1983 Datsun 280ZX will return to the customer’s garage and while a further investment is always possible, selling the car looks like a more plausible outcome.
Truth be told, the JDM delight, which still packs its factory wheels, would need a respray, but not after a few rust spots around the windshield are fixed.
As for the cabin, the dash is cracked and there are some other aesthetic issues, but it looks like overall the interior is in decent shape—for one, the targa tops don’t seem to be leaking.
With 183,000 miles on the odometer, this ’83 280ZX could still enjoy some time on the blacktop, and here’s to hoping it gets it one way or another.