ransom
ransom SuperDork
10/10/12 10:46 a.m.

I've never paid much attention to them, regarding them as the worst iteration of a neat but not-exactly-my-flavor platform...

But I have a friend who's bored with her Prizm and wants something sporty. She's mostly reconciled with old-car reliability, but as she's started poking about, she sent me a link to a 280ZX, and I realized that I don't know whether an '80 Z is just bloated compared to earlier Z cars, a smog plumbing nightmare, a reasonably-livable "classic", or what...

Anybody able to shed some light on what goes wrong or right with these things and whether they make a decent intro to old-car ownership?

cutter67
cutter67 New Reader
10/10/12 11:05 a.m.

they are not bad cars they are different than the z. they are more comfortable, rot is the issue with cars as with any z stay away from the 2+2 they are just hard sells. i like the first year 1979 with the non power steering this came with a rack the power was a recircidulating ball. as you move up in years they added more useless options like "bitching betty" what is great about any Z is the aftermarket support. you can buy anything for it from Black Dragon and they will help you with it

to answer your question are they a car for someone just getting into a classic car. i think yes they are as long as it has no rot. the injection system is easy to work on as is the motor in general compared to a lot of other things out there

belteshazzar
belteshazzar UltraDork
10/10/12 11:53 a.m.

probably a good choice for the circumstances.

cwh
cwh PowerDork
10/10/12 12:04 p.m.

I have had 2. No rust on mine, Florida cars. Suspension is soft for a performance car, but great for long drives. L28 is bullet proof. 5 speed trannys are quite good, easy maintenance. Gas mileage is mediocre. Not fast, but spirited. I would buy another if I could get the right one. Turbos were available, but rare with a 5 speed. Low boost, no intercooler, not that much more power than NA. Easily corrected. Good Girly car. (Runs and hides)

racerdave600
racerdave600 Dork
10/10/12 12:05 p.m.

I had an '83 that my parents bought new for a while, and it was a decent car. For her it might be prefect. It's easier to drive than the previous 240/260/280 versions in that it has power steering and more modern accessories, but it's still not like a new car. Much of the old car stuff will still bolt on performance wise, and I do know someone that converted his to the pervious suspension geometry and converted the steering rack. That wasn't easy if I recall though.

Mechanically they are very simple and easy to work on, but some of the soft stuff in the interior is getting hard to find, such as complete dash pads, but covers are available. Some of the AC parts are also getting difficult to find.

I still have a relative that has another '83 that's been his DD since new. It has 230k miles on it or so now and is in excellent shape. If you keep them up, they are pretty reliable.

If you ever decide to race it, they were faster as race cars then the previous versions, mainly due to much better aero.

Oh, and as stated, watch out for rust. They rust everywhere the 240's do, such as around the windshield, the battery box, hatch...well, everywhere really. Check it for rust first, everything else second.

Copper280z
Copper280z New Reader
10/10/12 12:08 p.m.

The 280zx(s130) chassis is quite a bit different than the Z(s30). It keeps the front strut, but the rear is semi-trailing arms. The front is closer to a 510 than an s30 IIRC.

It is more of a grand touring type car than the sports car the s30 was. They are a bit heavier(300ish pounds sounds about right, maybe a bit less).

Drivetrains are directly interchangeable with the s30, same engine, similar transmission, same diff. The drivetrains are very tough, it takes a ton of abuse to kill an L28. The electronics are well, old, and will likely be the biggest reliability concern. They are pretty easy to troubleshoot, but the connectors corrode and can give intermittent problems.

If it's a nice example that's been decently cared for, I'd consider it.

Curmudgeon
Curmudgeon MegaDork
10/10/12 1:03 p.m.

If it had T tops, run don't walk away. They were like all T tops of the era, leak prone. Weatherstrips are unobtanium. OTOH, a slicktop would be nice.

IMHO, the convertible conversions look pretty nice.

cutter67
cutter67 New Reader
10/10/12 1:07 p.m.
Curmudgeon wrote: If it had T tops, run don't walk away. They were like all T tops of the era, leak prone. Weatherstrips are unobtanium. OTOH, a slicktop would be nice. IMHO, the convertible conversions look pretty nice.

HOLY E36 M3 that was my car sold it to a guy in New York City the kit was done in Cali. i cant believe it. i love this site

evildky
evildky Dork
10/10/12 1:11 p.m.

I think the S130 is an overlooked jem. They are very dependable, and easy to service. If you can find a 2 seat manual trans turbo model, this will be the most desirable, and will hold it's value the best, they really have bottomed. The biggest issue is rust, if you're fortunate to live south of the rust belt this isn't an issue for you but for us int he rust belt, the floor pans, frame rails, rear quarters and rockers are all rust prone areas, as well as the battery tray. Mechanically they all have issues wiht the wiring getting brittle, the turbo's are worse, not a big deal just replace the offending connectors, standard bosch injector clips. Turbo distributors, ignotors and afm's are all known to fail after 30 years of use and can be expensive and tough to find, at least compared to other datsun parts, if you're used to BMW's they are cheap and hard to find ;)

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH PowerDork
10/10/12 1:15 p.m.

"Bitching Betty" Hahaha my mom has a cousin in Jamaica who had one with that option when it was new, back then everyone thought it was really cool

Curmudgeon
Curmudgeon MegaDork
10/10/12 1:58 p.m.

'Bitching Betty'. I remember when that was the shizznit; everyone I knew with a Ford that had the talking module thought it was cool- for a while. Then they wanted to know how to turn the damn thing off. I think the regular dinging module could be plugged in, don't know for sure.

When I worked for the Toyota dealership circa 1992, I had a guy bring in a RHD (JDM yO) Supra. The module in that one spoke Japanese.

cutter67
cutter67 New Reader
10/10/12 2:39 p.m.

this is what "Betty" looks like with her clothes off. She is a small record player

cwh
cwh PowerDork
10/10/12 3:22 p.m.

As far as durability goes, my '79 died at 315,000 miles when my wife t-boned a truck. I cried.

KATYB
KATYB Dork
10/10/12 3:41 p.m.

guy who worked for me had one and i ended up taking it out once. fun to drive (his was a lightly modded na) felt quiet quick, doubting it was as quick as it felt. thats all i have to add. and no 280zx not girly. miatas on the other hand.

belteshazzar
belteshazzar UltraDork
10/10/12 3:43 p.m.

i bought one with an odometer that had quit turning at 440k miles. you could drop a baby through the holes in the floor, but it ran good.

NOHOME
NOHOME Dork
10/10/12 4:53 p.m.

Problem with this board is that a lot of answers are geography dependent, and no way of knowing where people are located.

If it is going to be an only car, and winter is a factor in the area, then Hell NO, don't do it.

If you are at least in the south where you wont die when the car fails on the side of the road or goes in a ditch, then maybe we can consider.

We had a 240Z and to say rust was a factor is an understatement. They were not particularly climate controlled to the extent that you would want in northern driving conditions.

racerdave600
racerdave600 Dork
10/10/12 5:51 p.m.

I can confirm that they do rust in the south. My '83 was starting to rust in most of the usual places, and it lived it's entire life in Alabama. In fact, all but two of it's years were in a garage. Mine was a slick top, and I wouldn't have a T-top version. Having driven both, there is a difference in weather tightness and there is a bit of chassis difference.

Funny story, I remember the first time I heard "Betty". My parents bought the car new while I was away at college. On a trip home, I borrowed it for something, and was on my way home one night on the interstate. Anyway, she comes on at about 1am (and I'm sure I was hung over), and says "fuel is low". WTF Who knew it even talked?

When I got the car years later, the first thing i did was give "Betty" a voice-ectomy.

Travis_K
Travis_K SuperDork
10/10/12 10:18 p.m.

They rust even in California, so for sure be careful of that. I drove one once and it was fun, it was $4500, had been painted about 5 times, and had rust bubbles in really bad places (like the roof) so I wasn't interested in actually buying it lol.

psteav
psteav HalfDork
10/11/12 12:49 p.m.
racerdave600 wrote: When I got the car years later, the first thing i did was give "Betty" a voice-ectomy.

Happened to my friend in his '84 as well. A week after he got it, he was driving alone, late at night, in a rainstorm, and she complained about the fuel being low. He claims he almost E36 M3 himself.

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