Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Danville Street Sighting - 1980 Datsun 280ZX 10th Anniversary

Over a decade ago I saw a 10th Anniversary Datsun 280ZX at a car show. It was metallic gold and black and I instantly fell in love with it. It was the first time I ever really noticed that special edition of a car I previously never got that excited about. It wasn't until later that I realized the 10th Anniversary was also available in red.

I was a child of the '90s. So the Z-car of my youth was the Z32 Nissan 300ZX. The 1970s Datsun Zs were already classics that my dad loved and had always wanted to own. And the rest? Well, the S130 280ZX and Z31 300ZX were everyday cars at best and beaters at worst. My young mind had little interest in the second generation of Z. My neighbor had one that sat in the side yard and was rarely driven. A girl rear-ended my mom's car in one when I was in high school. It took me a while to come around, but that gold ZX at the car show changed my opinion.

By 1980 the Datsun Z had existed in the United States for 10 years. The 1979 280ZX was a hit with the car buying public so an anniversary edition was in order. A total of 3000 special edition cars were built, the vast majority painted "Black Gold". Only 500 of the 10th Anniversary cars were finished in "Black Red", the black and red combination seen here. Black Gold cars were made with tan interiors and gold wheel accents while the Black Red cars got burgundy interiors and black wheel accents. The cars received tinted targa roofs (a new item that year), leather seats, headlight washers and automatic air conditioning. Customers could choose an automatic or 5-speed manual transmission. All anniversary cars were individually numbered.

This Black Red car is a very solid looking driver condition 280ZX. It has the benefit of being one of the rarest and most collectible versions of its generation. The paint and decals are worn, yes. The black on the hood has been buffed to within an inch of its life around the power bulge but the red still displays pretty well. Decals are pushing 40 years old and the one exposed to the sun the most - the rear hatch - has fared the worst. They are available in reproduction but again one faces the question of sacrificing originality.
The interior on this car looks pretty clean and well taken care of. I'm bummed that it's missing the cool-looking Hitachi AM/FM stereo cassette deck, but the aftermarket CD player probably works a whole lot better. It looks to be a 5-speed car so that's good for the purists out there. As rare as they are, a well kept, low-mileage Anniversary edition goes for surprising money. The beauty of one that's a tiny bit rough around the edges is that you can throw it around now and then. Don't abuse it, just enjoy it as it's meant to be enjoyed. You can't do that with a garage queen.

Photographed August 2017

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