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Datsun 280 ZXT and Toyota Celica Supra: Two underrated Japanese athletes

Jooß, Uli
Datsun 280 ZXT and Toyota Celica Supra
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Sports coupés, which are clearly identified as female by their names, come primarily from Japan. The name of the first Datsun 240 was Z from 1969 just like its two successors 260 Z and 280 Z in Japan Fairlady.

Nothing is impossible, My Fair Lady

The then Nissan President Katsuji Kawamata enjoyed the musical' My Fair Lady 'and the melodies by Frederick Loewe. The oldtimers among the youngtimer readers may remember and spontaneously sing along: It is so green when Spain's blossoms are in bloom. 'The Z series also blossomed into a global top seller. Toyota proved with the Celica that nothing is impossible - and did too a girl to the worldwide successful model, who from 1970 to 2005 in no less than seven different body clothes turned the men's heads first and then the counter-steering arms.

Now two lavishly motorized representatives of both model series from the middle generation meet Are we facing a proper kid's war or even a coupé judo duel on the deserted area of ​​the old gasworks in Zurich-Schlieren? On the mat there is a golden Datsun 280 ZXT Coupé with 140 PS, built in 1980, and a silver, 170 PS strong Toyota Celica Supra Coupé, Year of construction 1983. Both inspires 2.8 liter in-line six-cylinder engine.

Almost completely disappeared from the streets

The duel there is no sign of the red sun - luckily. Because the two Japanese are simply too rare and too different for that. Too seldom, because the Datsun 280 ZXT and Toyota Celica Supra are now exotic and are more noticeable in traffic than a purple Mercedes SL Pagoda. Passers-by and drivers are amazed. Your inner monologue, written on the amazed faces, could be: 'It's crazy what drove around with us in the past.' Maybe also: 'Great that someone like that survived.'

Too different, because the body design of the two coupés roughly corresponds to that of Serena Williams and Martina Hingis. So it is just a matter of personal taste whether you choose the plump sensualDatsun 280 ZXT or the edgy, supercooled Toyota Celica Supra with its pop-up headlights, which were then considered extremely sporty.

Datsun 280 ZXT bears the basic features of the Fairlady

First we take care of the Datsun 280 ZXT and recognize the basic features of the Fairlady Z from 1969, whose body authorship by the German designer Albrecht Graf Goertz is controversial to this day. Goertz worked for Nissan from 1963 to 1965 and created the sober Silvia notchback coupé. He was also involved in a sports car project with Yamaha, which Toyota took over and implemented as the 2000 GT. According to Nissan, it had no direct influence on the body design of the 240 Z from 1969.

Be that as it may - the forward sloping bonnet with the side cavities for the round headlights and the fastback rear end have been preserved, but they work the Datsun 280 ZXT is less harmonious than its two predecessors 240 Z (only as a two-seater) and 260Z (as a two-seater and as 2 + 2), even a bit old-fashioned. The main reason for this is the long front and rear overhangs. In addition, there is a deeply drawn down fastback which, combined with a shy hip swing, makes the coupé look a bit heavy in the rear area.

After all: even when the Datsun ZXT 280 is at a standstill, it looks as if it is accelerating and hissing away. This is exactly how the Z driver feels when he sits behind the plastic steering wheel with the Z emblem on the comfortable sports seats. First question: Where, please, are you going to Daytona, Sebring or the East African Safari?

Datsun 280 ZXT is convertible and coupé in one

At least the seating position in the Toyota Celica Supra is immediately reminiscent of the sporting successes of the first Datsun Z 240. Embedded deep in the body, the driver maintains casual contact with the driver's door and the center console. He looks at a lot of light brown plastic that looks fresh even after 26 years and at the golden bulge of the bonnet. The front of the Datsun 280 ZXT, on the other hand, is lost in nothing. Then the Z-Pilot discovers no fewer than seven round instruments, including three displays placed in the middle of the plastic dashboard, pointing diagonally towards the driver, which provide information on battery strength, time and even oil pressure and oil temperature. So a hot machine that needs to be carefully warmed up before we hit the 6,500 rpm peaks?

Far from it, the Datsun 280 ZXT six is ​​a strong but sedate fellow who likes to do without high speeds. A three-speed automatic supports him in this. So we cruise with a babbling engine and not too hard suspension always following the invisible nose. We quickly learn to avoid hasty changes of direction that the heavy-looking coupé hits like aTourist from Japan reacts after visiting the Oktoberfest.

Two removable roof halves, which can be found in the trunk of the Datsun 280 ZXT, make a leisurely trip in the Z a perfect pleasure: the coupé becomes a convertible. The frameless doors are decisive for the almost authentic fresh air feeling. They allow unobstructed side views and make getting in and out easier. The popular T-Roof version was named Datsun 280 ZXT and weighs 1,330 kilograms - 20 kilograms more than the coupé.

Great equipment in the Toyota Celica

The eight centimeters longer Toyota Celica Supra, on the other hand, is almost a lightweight: The coupé weighs two centimeters less despite the larger glass surfaces. Likewise, the angular Toyota looks more light-footed, agile, sensible and. from the point of view of the time - probably more modern than the quirky, sporty Datsun. The driving impressions in the Toyota Celica Supra largely correspond to the requirements of the design. Compared to the Datsun 280 ZXT, you sit much higher, almost like a limousine. Thanks to the large window areas, the interior appears more spacious with the same vehicle width. Even back then, the driver's seat offered everything a sports driver's heart and buttocks could desire: the side bulges of the backrest and the thigh support are adjustable; Air cushions serve as lumbar support, which are filled with a hand pump, as when measuring blood pressure. And, typically Toyota: Everything still works flawlessly today.

The DOHC engine in the Toyota Celica Supra sounds less powerful and bass-heavy than in the Datsun 280 ZXT, but it is more hungry for the gas and turns one to four easily over the 6,000 rpm mark. Compared to the Datsun, the Toyota looks much more agile and manageable without sacrificing driving comfort. The easy-to-use gearbox, whose shift lever is conveniently placed protrudes from a chic synthetic leather bag, also helps ensure that driving in the big Toyota Celica Supra is still in a good mood today.

Nevertheless, the important question is, Which Japanese athletes are most likely to impress the fair sex, a clear answer: in the Dastun 280 ZXT. His large, faithful eyes shine with devotion, and in the cozy cockpit you get closer when the driver explains the three instruments facing him to his copilot.

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