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I'm embarking on the journey of getting a new project car (also daily because I can only afford one car). I'm looking into an 83 280ZX. It's got 70,422 miles and the owners asking $4200. Red exterior, black interior digital dash, and five-speed. Minor paint chips around the door frame but otherwise good exterior. The Interior looks good in the pictures. What are some things I should know before test-driving or buying a 240zx?
 

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I'm embarking on the journey of getting a new project car (also daily because I can only afford one car). I'm looking into an 83 240ZX. It's got 70,422 miles and the owners asking $4200. Red exterior, black interior digital dash, and five-speed. Minor paint chips around the door frame but otherwise good exterior. The Interior looks good in the pictures. What are some things I should know before test-driving or buying a 240zx?
First, either there is a typo or you'er confused about the car. An '83 is a 280ZX, not a 240. I'm sure it's a typo.

If the car is as clean as you say AND has no rust problems, I think that's a good value. I assume that:

  • It runs smoothly and well
  • No visible blue exhaust smoke, especially at startup
  • Clutch operates well and transmission shifts smoothly.
  • Interior is good.
The engines in these are very strong and 70K miles is nothing to worry about. Their real weakness is rust, especially on the underbody, door rocker panels, and the frame. It's a good idea to have a mechanic look it over for major fluid leaks and rust.

Open the rear hatch and look for rust spots. Check the lower fenders, and get it in the air. Where does the car come from? Some areas are famous for rust, some not.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
First, either there is a typo or you'er confused about the car. An '83 is a 280ZX, not a 240. I'm sure it's a typo.

If the car is as clean as you say AND has no rust problems, I think that's a good value. I assume that:

  • It runs smoothly and well
  • No visible blue exhaust smoke, especially at startup
  • Clutch operates well and transmission shifts smoothly.
  • Interior is good.
The engines in these are very strong and 70K miles is nothing to worry about. Their real weakness is rust, especially on the underbody, door rocker panels, and the frame. It's a good idea to have a mechanic look it over for major fluid leaks and rust.

Open the rear hatch and look for rust spots. Check the lower fenders, and get it in the air. Where does the car come from? Some areas are famous for rust, some not.
Thanks for the feedback, it was a typo. Any other big to knows for 280s?
 

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If you are intending to restore it parts are difficult to find and unless you are a gear head it can be a difficult car to work on. I am not a gear head and have been working on my 82 280 zx turbo (which I have owned for 35 years) for about 16 months. The car was in very good shape when I started and is getting in much better shape every month. I have spent about $8,000 and hundreds of hours working on it. Some interior parts I have had to custom make and little odds and ends can be hard to find. When I am done the car won’t be magazine material, but will be street envy. The price sounds fair to me and you will enjoy the ride.
 

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This is from the viewpoint of someone who has worked on cars on and off for 50 years - but I think that in general the 240-260-280-280ZX series of cars are among the easiest to work on. There is room next to the motor, the systems aren't that complex, and most of the mechanical stuff is very straight forward. Used car parts are available for most needs on that series of cars.

Another plus is that shop manuals are available online and they actually give you helpful info, unlike too many of today's manuals which are written for trained shop techs.
 

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There are more fun cars for $40k. You can buy the last of the air cooled 911s for $35-45,000 with 40,000 mi on the clock and documented service records.

I prefer 1st gen Zs thru 78 but they aren't worth 40k.
 
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