The Grand Father of the Nissan Z series: Datsun 280z

It's like journeying through time, exploring the blood, sweat, and tears that have gone into making legends like the Datsun 280z

Table of Contents

Datsun 280z in yellow

Packed with power, luxury, elegance, and reliability, the Datsun 280z, also known as the Nissan Fairlady S30, was introduced in 1978. The 280z was the planned child of Nissan, two steps ahead of its siblings, the Datsun 240z and 260z. The Datsun 280z was known as Nissan Fairlady in Japan, whereas, in the global markets, it was launched as Datsun 280z. The hype for such sports cars has always been a part of the car guy’s enthusiasm, and the Datsun 280z came with every characteristic embedded in its soul.

Datsun 280z back

If you’re keen on what’s cookin’ in the Nissan Z series, don’t forget to dive into The Nissan Z 2023: Newfangled Retro-spectra article. It’s got all the juicy deets you need.

All praise to the Eldest on the Road: Datsun 280z’s Legacy

Datsun 280z in black

The original Z platform wasn’t just a beauty. Still, it had all the ingredients needed for track fun: a curb weight of roughly 2,500 lbs., a reliable straight-six engine, an independent rear suspension, and surprisingly decent aftermarket support. There was also the fact that Datsun sold hundreds of thousands of these cars in the 1970s, which meant supply was strong, prices were still reasonable at the time, and if it were put into a wall, It wouldn’t be erasing an irreplaceable piece of history. The 280 also came with a fuel-injected motor to give you the original experience of a sports car, making every road feel like a racetrack, and each turn makes you drift. Despite the extra weight of the 280z, the drivability was superior to the 240z but similar to the 260z, but it can be overshadowed since the 280z weighs more than both the 240z and 260z.

Bloodline of the Z series: History and Trims

Datsun 240z in silver

The Nissan S30, sold in Japan as the Nissan Fairlady Z and in other markets as the Datsun 240Z, then later as the 260Z and 280Z, is a grand tourer produced by Nissan from 1969 until 1978. The S30 was conceived by Yutaka Katayama, the President of Nissan Motor Corporation U.S.A., and designed by a team led by Yoshihiko Matsuo, the head of Nissan’s Sports Car Styling Studio. It is the first car in Nissan’s Z series of sports cars.

Datsun 260z in blue
Datsun 280z in an airplane hanger

The 280z, as compared to its other trims, is better looking and, of course, more powerful; when a beast of a car is producing 170 horsepower at 5600 rpm, what more can you ask of it? The 280z was equipped with offsetting increased weight from added luxury features and an enlarged bumper that enhanced the car’s look from the outside. While the 240z and 260z focused more on power and speed, the 280z came with a powerful engine and a luxury sports look. I would even say the Datsun 280z was the hyper-sports car of the late 1970’s. Being the very first cars of the Nissan Z series, these cars set the foundation of the future sports cars for Nissan.

The Roar coming from under the hood: Performance

2.8L L28E inline-six engine

The Datsun 280Z, powered by a robust 2.8L L28E inline-six engine, was a performance marvel of its time. With 170 horsepower at 5600 rpm, it offered a thrilling driving experience. The availability of both 4-speed and 5-speed manual transmissions and a 3-speed automatic transmission allowed drivers to choose their preferred level of control and engagement. Although it took 9.4 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph, which is not quicker than the 240z, the 280Z made up for it with a respectable top speed of 120 mph, ensuring exciting highway performance. This combination of power and handling made the Datsun 280Z a standout choice for enthusiasts, delivering a balance of speed and agility that defined the driving experience of this iconic sports car.

Nissan OHC engine

The Datsun 280z has a front, engine, and rear-wheel drive. It gives the best racing car experience, and you wouldn’t want to start the car without hearing that aggressive yet calm roar of the engine that soothes the ears. Many drivers complained of the stiff steering of the 240z; of course, the 280z came with a power steering that helped with the car’s maneuverability. The overall driving experience of the car was much better than the other trims.

The fuel average of the car was not satisfying! It’s a sports car. The Datsun 280z covers 19.5 miles per gallon. Considering the weight, the power, and all the car’s features, I think this fuel average isn’t so bad for a sports car. The car brakes were rated as “excellent” if it had to be stopped in panic. It required 130 ft to contain from 60 mph and 221 ft if the car moved at 80 mph.

The Shining Star in the Night-time: Exterior and Interior

Side look Datsun 280Z

The Datsun 280Z comes with a set of 6.0-inch-wide alloy wheels; if you prefer standard, there are 5.5-inch steel rims available too. It’s equipped with practical features like a rear-window wiper washer, raised white-letter Bridgestone tires for better grip on the road, and cloth upholstery for comfortable seating.

 Datsun 280Z black rear

The car also includes power steering for easy maneuvering, power windows for added convenience, and a central warning system to inform you about important things like windshield washer fluid levels. Plus, it has a four-speaker stereo system to entertain you and cruise control for a relaxed driving experience.

 Datsun 280Z interior

Inside, the Datsun 280Z offers thoughtful details like door map pockets for storing small items and an electrically adjustable passenger-side mirror.

 Datsun 280Z full black

The car boasts a unique power-window control: one button operates the window normally, while the other acts like a trigger, allowing you to open or close the window with just one touch, a feature even luxury brands like Cadillac might envy. However, the location of the control buttons on the door might be inconvenient during sharp turns.

 Datsun 280Z restored back

Nevertheless, the interior is designed with practicality and comfort in mind, making your driving experience enjoyable and hassle-free.


The Datsun 280z, the luxury trim among its siblings, was quite expensive when launched in the late 1970s. The Datsun 280z was found at a staggering price of $6284, while after some time, the price rose to $6784. Even now, the car holds just as much value as before. Now you can buy the Datsun 280z at $25000-$32000, which is expensive as the new Acura Integra is launched at $31000.

Datsun 280z: A Money Spinner or A Driver’s Dream? : Verdict

 Datsun 280Z in black

“When Datsun introduced its 1979 model to the press, the meeting joked that these cars would be competing head-on with Buick and BMW by Christmas—not because of a massive overhaul in the Japanese company’s marketing philosophy, but rather because of the plummeting value of the dollar relative to that of the yen. But driving the new 280ZX coupe suggests that Nissan has been anticipating exactly this repositioning in the market all along and has already dialed in the appropriate correction.


We can not ignore that the Datsun 280z is a sports car and should be treated as one. Such vehicles are not made for daily use unless you want to avoid rush hour in the morning on your way to the office. The Datsun 280z is a powerful beast and a beautiful car that will take you on an adventure every time you go for a ride.

 Datsun 280Z on road in japan

Suppose you’re curious about Japanese car brands, their history of pushing the envelope, and their unwavering commitment to quality. In that case, you must check out our article, Exploring. It’s like journeying through time, exploring the blood, sweat, and tears that have gone into making legends like the Datsun 280z. These cars are like a high-five to the world of automobiles!




Is the Datsun 280Z considered a collectible car?

Yes, the Datsun 280Z is highly regarded as a collectible car, known for its historical significance, sleek design, and performance. Its limited production and enduring popularity among enthusiasts contribute to its collectible status.

What makes the Datsun 280Z stand out in terms of performance?

The Datsun 280Z boasts a robust 2.8L L28E inline-six engine, delivering 170 horsepower and a thrilling driving experience. With both 4-speed and 5-speed manual transmissions, it offers enthusiasts a choice in control and engagement, making it a standout choice for those seeking a balance of speed and agility.

How does the Datsun 280Z compare to other models in the Nissan Z series?

As the eldest in the Nissan Z series, the Datsun 280Z combines power, luxury, and a unique sports look. While its siblings, the 240Z and 260Z, focused more on power and speed, the 280Z offers a powerful engine, luxury features, and a distinctive sports appearance, setting the foundation for future sports cars by Nissan.

Written by: TAZ

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