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Hi everyone, this is my first post, so bear with me. Right now I have a highly modified 99 acura integra that because of a dispute with my parents, I wont be able to take back to school next semester. I have always had a fascination with Zs, my dad had an old carbed 260 and for my first car I mainly looked at early 90s 300z's before my parents forced me to buy new.
Currently, I am looking to buy a 280zx, probably 80-82. What should I look for when buying one of these cars? I need the car to function as a short distance daily driver on weekdays, and something I can work on during the weekend. Should I get a turbo or n/a? Are the engines the same in the two cars, or did datsun use lower C.R. in the turbo? I know about the rust problem that plagues Zs in my area of the country, but other than that, what should I keep a heads up for mechanically and physically when inspecting used Zs? Sorry for the long post, any help given is greatly appreciated!
 

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For a 280ZX i would go with an '82 or '83. The brakes for these years were improved over the earlier ones, and i think they tweaked the fuel injection, as well as other minor improvements. These years come in both turbo, and n/a versions. For reliability and short distance driving, go with the n/a version. Turbo's are fast, and easy to make waaayyyy fast, sacrificing reliability of course. The two engines are different. The turbo uses a different cylinder head and pistons which lower the compression ratio. As far as what to look, for my biggest problem has always been rust, but it sounds like you have that covered.
 

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I own a 82zxt Turbo the runs great very fast and the mods you can get seem endless some cheap and some cost lots of $$$$$$ look at rust rear fender walls
struts in rear are the worst and any mods someone else did ! An aotomatic is faster but i like the 5 speed
 

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In my opinion, I would go with an n/a over a turbo for long term reliability. but turbo's are fun, I had one.

If you want a turbo, I would lean towards an 82 over and 83, an 83 has hydrolic valve lifters and are not cheap or easy to fix/work on.

T-Tops are great and my favorite feature, available from 80 to 83 on the 280zx's.

If you can get one with an R200 dif already then that is one less upgrade to do later, do a search to get a description on identifying the R200 dif.

Common Rust spots on 280zx's: front strut towers, rocker panels, front half of frame rails and kick panels, rear fender and inner fender wells ( especially just behind the door jam )

These cars have very strong and tough engines, so there should be hardly no oil leaks and no smoke or lack of power, if there is then that may be a sign of a week or pourly treated Z. minor oil leakage is normal - mainly from the oil pan gasket or rear main seal, I can't remember the last well maintained 280zx I have seen that leaked from the head gasket, valve cover or front seals. ( then again the rear of the valve cover is a common leak too )

I like mine and you will like any one you buy too, take your time and get one that is in the best shape you can afford.

later

Ryan
 
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