We looked over our 280Z pretty carefully before buying it, so we had a pretty good idea of what we were dealing with, but a more careful inspection in the garage on jack stands gave us a better picture:
- The car’s completely original. It still has the Datsun L28 block with N42 head, original bumpers with overrider bars, all-original interior, dash, lighting and etc. and no evidence any young whipper-snapper has worked their bone-headed magic on it. Phew!
- Our motor was seized. The starter wouldn’t turn the motor over after charging the battery and you couldn’t turn the motor by hand. The rest of the drive train looks serviceable but we’ll go through it anyway. All the suspension bushings look every bit of their 34 years.
- The body of the car was in above average shape for a 34-year-old Datsun. There’s maybe 6-10 small rust patches showing in the places you’d expect: valance, bottom corners of the door frames, side of one headlight rim, etc . It’s pretty clear the car has been restored at least once before and they did a decent job. The Datsun and 280Z emblems can probably be refurbished. The driver’s side door handle is hanging halfway off and will need to be replaced.
- The bumpers are straight but the chrome and rubber are in pretty bad shape. One bumper end on the front and one on the back have obviously been replaced and are still pliable. The rest of the bumper rubber is brittle and falling apart. We have overrider bars on the front and the back that are in decent shape (though hideously ugly :-). They appear to be the type installed at Datsun dealerships back in the day.
- The frame rails, as I’ve come to learn is common with 280Zs, are toast. One has obviously been driven up on a rock. Probably the same one that bashed in our lower center valance. Both frame rails are rusted through in several places. These will have to be replaced, along with the valance.
- The interior is surprisingly nice. The door panels are relatively new and installed correctly. The carpets have been replaced sometime along the way and will work fine for a daily driver. The seats are OK but weathered with several rips. The dash is terrible, with deep cracks in many places.