1 Mar 1979
Datsun dropped another bombshell when it unveiled the 280ZX in late 1978, but one that shook driving enthusiasts mostly.
The second generation Z-car seemed completely dictated by its biggest market, the US, reflected in its much larger size, higher kerb weight (1255kg), gaudy interior, lacklustre engine and soggy dynamics.
To help overcome the zip zapped by the post-’76 260Z’s anti-pollution gear and extra equipment, a new 103kW/202Nm 2.8-litre fuel-injected L28 engine was installed, but it didn’t help.
Comfort levels were high though, aided by a roomier body, power steering, air-conditioning, power windows, electric mirrors, a rear wiper and fancy audio system.
From February 1980 a “T-Bar” roof became available, creating a targa-style convertible effect but also adding bulk and reducing body strength.
It became standard from late 1981, coinciding with a minor facelift and (slightly) improved handling, steering and ride properties.
Overall though all sports car DNA vanished in this overwrought and cynical marketing-led package, especially when compared to the original 240Z’s true spiritual successor also released in early 1979, the brilliant rotary-engined Mazda RX-7.