One of the hundreds of decisions faced by those looking to restore a Datsun 280Z is what to do about bumpers. Starting in ’75, Datsun had to meet new US crash-test rules with the result that 280Z bumpers weigh more than I do and are twice as ugly. To make matters worse, all the rubber parts for these gems are hard-to-find and expensive. After the nearly $1,000 in rubber parts and another $600 or so in chrome repair, you’re still left with a set of bumpers that look like something off a ‘70s-vintage Cadillac.
I presume this is why you see so many 280Zs either fitted with body kits that replace the bumpers or retro-fitted with the smaller-style bumpers from earlier Datsun 240Z and 260Z models. Not only are these solutions much less expensive and better looking, there are a wide range of manufacturers with various adapters and other options to fit your needs and style.
As for us, we’ve decided to refurbish the smaller-style bumpers that came with our 1974 Datsun 260Z parts car. Though we haven’t installed them yet (more on this later), it appears that we should be able to adapt the 260Z bumpers and shock mounts to our 280Z with some minor modifications. I’ll fully document how this works out when we get to it.
Clearly this solution isn’t the best or only way to deal with your Datsun 280Z bumpers. Purists would say we aren’t doing an authentic restoration because we’re not using original parts, blah, blah, blah. For us it came down to this: We can’t see spending so much money to restore bumpers that we don’t like in the first place. When a solution that looks better is also less expensive, it’s hard to argue. We’ll see if I still feel the same way after we get them installed.