Featured on AutoHunter, the online auction platform driven by ClassicCars.com, is this 1981 Datsun 280ZX Turbo.

Datsun/Nissan completely altered the sports car market in 1970 with the launch of the 240Z. Overnight, there was a new standard of excellence in the affordable sports car world. In period magazine comparison tests, the Z rated so much higher than its competitors – cars such as the Fiat 124 Coupe, Alfa Romeo GTV, MGB GT, Porsche 914, and Triumph GT6 – that testers felt it was almost unfair to compare these cars with the 240Z. The Datsun 240Z was just that good. Having owned a 240Z, as well as many of the other cars it was tested against, I agree with them as the 240Z punched way above its pay grade.

Datsun followed up the 240Z with the 260Z and 280Z, adding features such as four-wheel disc brakes, a five-speed transmission and, for the 280Z, fuel injection. These features put the Z in competition with the Porsche 924, Alfa Romeo Alfetta GT and, again, the car virtually destroyed them by offering more for less. In addition, the Z offered levels of reliability that competitors simply could not begin to approach.

In 1979, Datsun changed the game again with the launch of the S130-series Z, the 280ZX. While the new car had very similar styling to the original Z, it was an entirely new model. Instead of being a focused sports car, it became more of a luxury GT due to requests from American buyers for more luxury options. While the 280ZX did this well, in many ways the Z lost its edge in performance, and the softer more comfortable ZX was seen as more of a boulevard cruiser than a sports car.

Then, Datsun changed it up again in 1981 when it added a turbocharger to the 280ZX. Once again, the performance was back and this time the Z car was compared to such cars as the Porsche 924 Turbo, Alfa Romeo GTV 6, and Chevrolet Corvette, where it yet again trounced the competition – and at a considerably lower price point.

Our AutoHunter Spotlight is one of these legendary Datsuns, a one-owner 1981 280ZX Turbo with 84,000 miles from new. It is finished in the factory original Diamond Mist Metallic (code 663) over a Medium Blue velour (code K) interior. This 280ZX is offered with service records, promotional literature, owner’s and service manuals, original purchase documentation, spare keys, clean CARFAX report, and clear title.

This car features chrome trim, removable T-tops, factory 15-inch cast aluminum wheels, power windows, and air conditioning.

The interior of this 280ZX Turbo is completely original and in good original condition with minor wear, tinted windows, factory AM/FM/cassette stereo, digital quartz clock, carpeted floor mats, and cargo area parcel retention straps that are still intact.

The 280ZX has full instrumentation including an odometer shows 84,510 miles, which is in line with the most recent CARFAX report. It features a federally mandated 85-mph speedometer, 7,000-rpm tachometer, and gauges for coolant temperature, fuel level, oil pressure, voltage, and turbo boost pressure.

Under the hood is the car’s original L28ET turbocharged 2.8-liter I6 engine that, when new, was rated at 180 horsepower and 202 lb-ft of torque. It is equipped with an automatic transmission, like every single 1981 280ZX turbo, yet the 280ZX turbo could cover 0-60 in 7.4 seconds. If that does not seem fast in 2024, consider that the Porsche 924 Turbo took 7.7 seconds, the 1981 Corvette took 7.8 seconds, and even the much costlier and more exotic 1981 Ferrari 308 GTSi took 7.8 seconds – all with manual gearboxes.

It is getting harder and harder to find a good example of a 280ZX, let alone a turbo model, and if you have always considered adding one of these cars to your collection, this car looks like it could be a worthy candidate for your consideration. Don’t worry about the cost to ship it home either as this is a car I would fly to pick up and drive home, especially with summer around the corner.

The auction for this 1981 Datsun 280ZX Turbo ends Thursday, May 23, 2024 at 11:45 a.m. (PDT)

Visit the AutoHunter listing for more information and photo gallery

Previous article2025 Mazda CX-70 Review: What’s in a name? For this two-row CX-90, everything
Next articlePRA issues update on refuelling classics with hidden filler necks


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here