At $18,500, Could You T-Top This 1982 Datsun 280ZX?

Photo: Craigslist
Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

The X in today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe 280ZX stands for X-sports car, as the model is more a GT than a corner crusher like its immediate predecessor. Some people do like their cars to be a bit softer, but will this classic coupe’s price put you between a rock and a hard place?

Did you ever stop to think why it was that ‘Three Strikes’ became the universal determinant of negative action? There’s the Three Strikes in baseball, the Three Strikes law that could put you away for good, and of course the popular Three Strikes segment on the long-running game show, The Price is Right.

Last Friday’s 2005 Subaru Legacy GT wagon had a lot going for it, but it also had three strikes. Those three major issues were a dead cylinder, a noisy transmission, and a hail damaged body. Any one of those individually could have been taken as a reasonable challenge. But at $3,000, all three strikes together killed the car’s chances, resulting in a 73-percent Crack Pipe loss


When you buy a car with issue’s you’re obviously going to spend less initially owing to those foibles. That’s just how the world works. The question is whether in fixing those flaws you can eventually get out of the deal more than you put into it. Or maybe you should have just spent a little more at the outset and bought the best example you could find.


This 1982 Datsun 280ZX is just such an example. You’ll see lots of S130s out on the market, most of those however are generally presented as rode hard and put away wet. These models have not developed the same cachet as have their S30 predecessors, and for good reason. They lack the earlier cars’ good looks, but the primary demerits are in the suspension and relatedly, the handling.

The S130 eschewed the earlier chassis’ Chapman Strut and wishbone rear suspension for a cheaper and less capable semi-trailing arm setup adapted from the 810 Bluebird. The car also grew in all dimensions as Datsun (Nissan) repositioned the model from sports car to Grand Tourer. Later additions would bring the sexy back, but the S130—fairly or unfairly—is considered to be one of the more lackluster models in the Z car pantheon.


That’s seemingly not the case with the seller of this two-tone Chocolate over Orange Mist Metallic coupe. This car has apparently been babied its entire life and its presentation bears that out. The car comes with just 74,000 miles on the clock and with louvers on the back window glass. Those help the interior keep its youthful appearance and let’s be honest, look absolutely bad ass. I like the fact that the wiper seems to work underneath the slats.


The paint is in decent shape, the car apparently having been garaged most of its life and rarely ever driven in the wet. Everything in it and on it is old or almost so. The seller says that the belts and hoses were replaced four or five years ago, while the battery has only two years under its belt.


The beige interior seems wholly intact with no cracks in the dash, a slew of working gauges, and decent leather on the seats. Time has been less kind the suede inserts, however.

The factory radio in in residence and that has a home stereo vibe that only ‘80s dashboards can pull off. Even the voice alerts (the door is ajar!) are working.


Mechanically, the 145 horsepower SOHC L28 is said to work without issue, as does the five speed manual.

On the downside, the ad notes an as yet untraceable leak in the A/C which requires an annual recharge. This is a Freon system so I guess you’d need to become besties with the refrigeration guy to keep that tradition alive. Factory wheels are shod with GoodYear Eagle ST tires.


The title is clean and there’s no evidence of leaking from the t-tops. The current owner claims that ‘It is with mixed feelings that I am considering selling this vehicle, I am getting older and this vehicle is getting increasing hard for me to ingress and egress. It is time to pass this car on to someone else who will care for it and appreciate it as I have.’


To make that pass an interception, you’ll need to come up with $18,500. Quite amazingly, the seller notes that the NADA listing for the car is $22,200. See, that’s why I don’t read NADA.


You’re reading this, and it’s now time to put what you learned to work. What do you think about this well preserved S130 and that $18,500 price? Does that seem like a fair deal? Or, does that price put this ZX out of reach?

You decide!


Seattle, WA Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to FauxShizzle for the hookup!

Help me out with NPOCP. Click here to send a me a fixed-price tip, and remember to include your Kinja handle.

Share This Story

About the author

Rob Emslie

Rob Emslie is a contributing writer for Jalopnik. He has too many cars, and not enough time to work on them all.