Datsun 280 ZX: Faithful soul

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Datsun 280 ZX in the service station
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Former and current Nissan workshops that were already associated with the Japanese brand when the cars were still D atsun have only fond memories of the 280 ZX. The biggest problem with these coup├ęs was rust, and in the long run only those who carefully looked after their car could get that under control. From a technical point of view, the Datsun 280 ZX was absolutely unproblematic and reliable - a true quality product.

Japanese with only a few weak points

'Sometimes the rack-and-pinion steering was leaky,' recalls Wolfgang Dengler, a former Datsun dealer in Stuttgart, after thinking about it for a long time. Karl Schmid from Leinfelden-Echterdingen, who still kept one or the other spare part, remembers the occasional formation of steam bubbles.

Everyone remembers the leaping fifth gear that Andreas Pietza from Bad Staffelstein brings to the conversation. The reason was a 32 mm nut loosening on the gear shaft, which should actually be self-locking. This Datsun 280 ZX deficiency was usually remedied at that time, for example with a small spot weld as an additional safeguard.

Should this error occur again today with the Datsun 280 ZX, the customer must reckon with costs of at least 800 euros, because the gearbox has to be partially dismantled. If, on the other hand, the five-speed gearbox needs to be overhauled because the bearings are worn out, expenses of a good 1,500 euros will be incurred - depending on the parts required and the workshop's hourly rates.

Robust in-line six-cylinder

The in-line six-cylinder engine of the Datsun 280 ZX with a displacement of 2.8 Liters of comparatively modest power output of 140 hp clearly belongs to the robust variety. 'It's hard to get killed,' says Pietza - and trusts him to run 300,000 kilometers. Datsun fan Achim Weidling from Gelnhausen says that he once set out to slaughter an engine: 'I didn't succeed, only the oil consumption increased because I always asked for it when it was cold.'

It's no surprise that the maintenance work such as adjusting the valve clearance is not rocket science and rightturn out cheap. So can interested parties buy a Datsun 280 ZX without hesitation, and can they make ends meet on a minimal budget? Not necessarily. If a worn distributor shaft is diagnosed when checking the ignition, it is a little more expensive. And yet another problem can arise. Some Datsun 280 ZX have been out of service for a long time - when they are picked up again by their new owners, 'the water pump will leak,' says Claude Petitjean, Z specialist from Switzerland.

Part supply sometimes problematic

Or the cylinder head gasket gets caught, usually at a very specific point. 'You can see it on the side of the engine in the direction of travel on the right between the fourth and fifth cylinders,' adds the Swiss. At this point an oil hole runs from the block into the cylinder head, and this is where the leak is usually located.

One more word about engine overhaul. It doesn't always have to be a complete revision. Datsun 280 ZX expert Pietza always tries to make its customers the cheapest possible offer and does not act according to the motto: We'll make everything new to be on the safe side. Incidentally, the prices listed in the service table on the following page are mostly based on cheaper parts from the accessories in order to save costs. Original parts are often difficult to obtain. Unless you have secured a number of sources around the world over the years like Petitjean from Classic Car Performance. He only speaks of supply gaps in the case of individual sheet metal parts and the interior fittings.

Beware of the clicking differential

We have already talked about the gearbox of the Datsun 280 ZX. Another part of the driveline that can add to the expense is the differential. 'If the owners have switched gears for racing, there will be play between the bevel and crown gears over time,' notes Petitjean. Then a click can be heard when the accelerator pedal is briefly released and then accelerated again. The cost of a revision of the differential is around 1,300 euros. It becomes cheaper if the customer has a used part installed.

On the recirculating ball steering with servo assistance, which was initially mounted on the Datsun 280 ZX, the bearing of the reversing lever is often worn out. The repairs due will cost around 200 euros.

Hobby mechanics should know what they are doing

Parts of the Datsun 280 ZX chassis are particularly susceptible to wear the stabilizer rubbers, the front tension strut rubbers and the tie rod joints. Anyone who has this damage repaired in the workshop does not have to put huge sums on the table. It only becomes expensive when everything has to be done at once. Hobby mechanics may be able to do one or the otherSave euros, but should be aware of their capabilities.

For example, if you are considering changing the shock absorbers yourself, you should know that the Datsun 280 ZX has suspension struts, which is why spring compressors are required to change the shock absorber. If you are not familiar with it, this is better a job for the workshop.

Apropos springs. 'The springs on the rear axle have always been designed to be a bit weak, which is why after a while the rear of the car was lower than the front,' explains Pietza. If this bothers you, the only way out is a harder pen, which you can commission from companies specializing in springs. Petitjean in Switzerland can install a completely new chassis in the Datsun 280 ZX on request - with tighter shock absorbers, springs and stabilizers. These are parts from motorsport that are intended for the Datsun.

Checking the brake piston

The disc brakes usually also cause few problems - as long as the Datsun 280 ZX has not been idle for a long time was. In any case, it is advisable to invest 60 to 80 euros more when changing the brake pads to have the brake pistons checked and the brake calipers cleaned. If you don't know how old the brake fluid in your car's brake system is, you should have it changed to be on the safe side. 'But then, out of convenience, you shouldn't neglect to dismantle the rear wheels,' warns Pietza, otherwise the key will not be able to be properly attached to the tightly fitting venting nipples and they will tear them off.

The Datsun specialist from Franconia still believes in the 280 ZX - just like son Markus, who has long since followed in his father's footsteps.

Motor Klassik Service tip Datsun 280 ZX

If you always keep an eye on all operating fluids, warm up the engine before it calls up full power, and pay attention to regular maintenance, you will have no problems with the Datsun 280 ZX. If you want to learn more about the technology or want to lend a hand yourself, you can try to get a workshop manual on Ebay. Or, for example, he can order the Haynes repair manual in English from Amazon, title: Automotive Repair Manual, Datsun 280 ZX, with lots of maintenance tips.

Support in handling the Datsun 280 ZX is of course available from the clubs: www.z-zx-club.de , www. datsun-z-club.ch

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