Let's play a word association game. I'm going to say a few words, and you tell me the first thing that comes to your head. Here we go: Four-speaker stereo system. Velour seats. Stirring coal. Lighted instrument panel. If you thought "Rolls-Royce Phantom," you're close. It's the 1979 Datsun 280ZX.

Okay, so 1979 was a different time. Stagflation was still rampant. Jimmy Carter was President. Good Times was going off the air.

America, in short, was tragically confused.

So when the Datsun 280ZX debuted, inviting you to sit in its tackily decorated vulgalour upholstery, with its four-speaker sound system and a transmission throw that even an ad couldn't make look good (seriously, it looks painful just this once, imagine it in traffic), it was easy to think "oh yeah, I'd love to sit in the warm glow of instrument panel lights."

There was a reason why they called the Datsun 280ZX "Black Gold."

It was the same era that thought disco, and then the destruction of disco, was a good idea. When a nation looked at the next decade, full of Space Shuttles and Reagan, and thought "yes, I'd like some cocaine, please, for all of that."


It was an era when velour seats were a selling point.

Don't get me wrong, I think the 280ZX is a fine car, and one that has aged particularly well compared to a lot of its contemporaries.


But its selling points, like so much in 1979, were just a bit off.

Those automatic windows are still pretty neat, though.


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