New project: Datsun 280ZX

Ben Tyrie

So back in August ’10 I sold my MR2 Turbo to a sound German bloke. He and a mate flew over from Germany, bought the car and then drove it back!
The decision was a bit last minute but I was feeling a change and after walking around Beauliea autojumble, my attention turned to older, more rusty stuff.

Once the MR2 was gone I got on the hunt for my next project. I knew I wanted a Datsun (always loved Zeds) , so the challenge would be finding something that would fit my requirements. Ideally I would have loved to have gone all out and plump for a 240z/260z but these command a premium due to their classic heritage and I wanted to use this next car as a learning project with the intention of cutting and welding bits myself. Somehow, hacking up a classic Zed seems a bit sacrilegious.

The 280zx has everything I want then:
• Older, classic Zed styling
• Plenty of spares out there
• Club knowledge and assistance
• Much cheaper to source than it’s predecessors

I got on with searching for a 280……..I ended up with two!

The first was a 5 speed manual T-top 2+2 in blue. It was a runner but with no tax or MOT, mainly due to the serious lack of metal in many places – rust really had got the better of the car!

I bought it anyway….

After retrieving the first 280zx from Slough I was finally able to spend a couple hours with it before Christmas to see what I have let myself in for.

Obviously we are looking at the usual rust on sills and floor – from what I’ve found, all of the floor on both driver’s and passenger side would have to be chopped out and replaced. Also the sills on both sides would need to be replaced….

This picture was taken from the driver’s rear wheel arch, looking forward at the sill.
Here’s the drivers floor – yes that’s the ground! The rust goes all the way to the rear seats on this side. I was able to poke my fingers through the rust all the way to the area in the previous photo...
Now this is the part that is really the nail in the coffin – the front structural parts that are practically non-existent!
Pretty sure you don’t need to be an expert to see that this part is structural and fairly important/difficult to repair. In case you can’t see it, it’s the beam that goes across the front of the car and is pretty much the chassis!

So it looks like I am parting out the engine/gearbox/diff/anything else salvageable and calling it a day with this shell.  A shame as I quite like the look it has about it……..

Datsun 280zx Datsun 280zx