I found a set of '80 280-zx alums at the junkyard.
It seems as if there is some type of factory finish or coating that is peeling off. Can this finish/coating be removed? Can the wheels be made to look good?
They want $100 for the set.
I would recommend you consider having the wheels bead blasted with plastic media. Should do the job without adversely affecting the the wheels themselves. Shouldn't cost you very much either. Just don't use anything but a plastic media. No sand! Check your yellow pages for either sand blasting (look for those that also do media) or coating removal services. Good luck!
The yellow/gold coating your talking about can be removed fairly easy, or simply repainted. I own two sets of these rims and paided $10 a wheel for all of them. Most junkyards charge a standard fee for aluminum wheels based on the recycling value of the alloy.