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280z or which way to go?

Old 05-14-2016, 12:49 PM
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280z or which way to go?

This is my first and, although new to the forum, I am not new to sports cars. I have owned 6 Mazda Rx7s and 2 370zs. I still have an 84 Mazda GSL-SE that I am trying to restore (goes to my son) and a 15 base model 370Z. I, like another poster, am heading into retirement (not my choice but that is a long story), and I want a car I can drive and build and have fun with. Maybe do some rally races and so forth. My choices are: 85 Mazda Rx7 SE, last generation 300Zx, 350Z, or a 280Z. I am not looking to restore a car for shows and so forth. I want to drive it and modify it along the way.

Mazda pros: Cheap to buy and all but the engine are easy to work on
cons: motors cost $5 to $6K for rebuilds and that is only the block,
no other parts. Fuel injection, mass amounts of solenoids, and
mass amounts of wires and other plumbing make the 13b no
fun to mess with. Plus, it takes a lot of work, including
turbos, to get them to run anywhere near today's cars

240 and 260Zs in good running condition are way too expensive

300ZX is cool but needs expensive work to get it to run fast other that the
TT models which are expensive

For some reason, the 280Z can be had at prices in the ball park. The 350Z does not appear to have held its value and is in comparison, the cheapest to buy right now. But I have always wanted a 280Z and it appears to be less expensive to rebuild or buy rebuilt L28s than the Mazda rotary. Am I on the right track?

What can I expect to pay for a fairly rust free 280Z that will need paint, interior, be running but probably needs an engine rebuild. I am teaching myself suspension work and plan to do all that myself. I have a friend who paints cars so that won't have to be farmed out either. Thanks for the help. Yeah, this really is my dream car.
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Old 05-14-2016, 01:06 PM
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Welcome to the forum!

I suspect I'm the "other poster" who retired and built the show car. I can say this after building the show car, I'm glad I did it but ... I completely get where you are coming from as well. I don't drive my car as much as I'd like as it's so pristine, I cringe at the thought of leaving it unattended where it can get molested. So, I've been having thoughts more along your thinking about a second project.

If the 280Z is really your dream car, I think you're on the right path. Heck, if you want to keep up with modern cars, small block V8 drop-ins have been very popular. I know of folks who have put LS motors from wrecked Corvettes or Camaros in Z cars with great success.

As far as price goes, while I can't really pin it down prices vary by location and of course condition, I'd think a budget starting point would be anywhere from $2000 up to $3000 for the condition you describe.

Hagerty insurance has a car price evaluation tool which is free to use. It covers four levels of condition from Concours Best of Show (Level 1) to barely running driver that needs a bit of work (Level 4).


I'd personally look for someone who is abandoning a project that's been torn down (you get a real good look at the body) or a car with a blown up motor if you're considering a swap. In these cases, you may get an even better deal.

Last edited by beg3yrs; 05-14-2016 at 01:08 PM.
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Old 05-15-2016, 08:17 AM
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nothing wrong with the 280zx (s130). Liked my 83 a lot and would still be here if I didn't have a wife unit. They are relatively inexpensive and easy to work on. if you can find one and put a turbo engine in it pretty fast little rascal. You don't mention the Z31 (early 300zx as opposed to the Z32.) pretty easy to work on. find a turbo motor they go pretty fast. my buddy dynos at around 300HP but he is super crazy. I've got my boost up to 10 psi and surprise a lot of people.
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Old 05-16-2016, 07:10 AM
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Thanks. I am swayed by the cheap price of the 350Z, really nice cars, and I don't want to mess with Sonya, my 370Z. I would like a car to build and drive, not beat on, but maybe autocross and just have fun driving. A 280Z for $3K? Even without the drive train, that would be awesome. The red RX7 for $5K has a lot of rust and needs body work. Engine is from a 91 and that is not the same engine as an 85. Thanks for the advice. I want to stay with the Datsun straight six. I always loved that motor. Although not the same, my dad had a Datsun 810 with a six and a five speed gear box and I loved driving that car. Beg3hyears, did you post pics of your car? There is no finer body line than these cars. I'm a retiring teacher and these "modern" kids ask me why not a Corvette (I wear a Datsun Racing team jacket). I tell them I would climb over a field of brand new Corvettes to look at Datsun Z's, and I would. Classic.
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Old 05-16-2016, 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Inspector71 View Post
Beg3hyears, did you post pics of your car? There is no finer body line than these cars. I'm a retiring teacher and these "modern" kids ask me why not a Corvette (I wear a Datsun Racing team jacket). I tell them I would climb over a field of brand new Corvettes to look at Datsun Z's, and I would. Classic.
If you just want to see a couple of pictures, check out this particular post on my "Retirement" thread: https://www.zdriver.com/forums/240z-...e8/#post342709

If you are bored, read the whole thing. I tried to document the complete journey of taking a basket case and making it something special.

BTW, take a look at recent eBay sales of the Z series. Some nice cars have recently sold right in your price range. That's a pretty good indication of where the market is today.
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Old 06-26-2017, 11:56 AM
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Help needed !! I have someone selling a 1984 300zx single turbo, i have a 280z with no motor. The 300zx motor has 115xxx miles but wont pass smog, selling whole car for 1500, the tranny and rear end i was planning on swappin as well. The question is, as far as motor and tranny go will they swap into my 280z fairly easy ? Or will there be welding or anything special involved ?
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Old 06-26-2017, 11:59 AM
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Help neededd

1984 300zx single turbo for sale 1500, runs but wont pass smog, was planning on buying then swapping into my 280z, will it swap fairly easy ? Or will there be set backs
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