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Lookong for 280Z - What is a good Price

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I am a 350z owner looking for an older project car. 


I came about a 1978 280Z locally and this one caught my eye. 


The Z has 150,000 miles, and everything is original.  It has been garaged from day one.  Interior is decent, dashed is cracked and the carpet is okay might need changing.  Test drove the car and seemed to run pretty strong.


I couldn't see any rust anywhere except surface rust on the fender.  There is one big dent on the door but nothing PDR can't fix.  I talked this guy down to 3500.  Is this a good price for a car in this condition. 


Any expert advice would be great!



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Great I will take a look further into it. Thanks for the advice. As the for battery tray it looks good to me. Hatch has very minor bubbling in paint. Also how do you pull the Oem carpet so I can check the driver side and passenger side underbody rust. I couldn't see it from under the body. Frame rails also look good.

Edited by rodizzle
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Yeah, 3500 isn't too bad assuming it's in good shape.  Cars like that are $1500 or so out here in New Mexico, BUT the question is IS IT WORTH IT to YOU. Southwestern cars usually don't have the rust, but have been well baked. then there's shipping. In the end, you're the one writing the check.  I'd expect you to do your homework. Look up on here about RUST. I know there's a ton of threads. I've written a few myself.  The Paint, will the car is 35 years old. You can't expect perfection. But you said there's bubbling, That could mean RUST UNDER the paint, which could mean a lot of sanding and stripping  before repaint, or maybe it's just a little spot to sand out and touch up The frame rails and floor pans are notorious.  In the end it's your money. just know that project cars are not CHEAP. You can expect to double your budget for repairs.  Look at the rubber, is it cracked?  replace.  look at the seats, Any tears, is the vinyl hard, or cracking, or is it still supple?  Vinyl replacement covers are a few hundred. Carpet? Depending on what you want, that could be up to $500 bucks.  I'm not trying to talk you out of it, I'm just trying to make sure you know what you're getting into.  Check out www.theZstore.com and www.arizonazcar.com for a lot of parts and costs.  There's a ton of other parts distributors like BlackDragon and others...   Take a look and make a list...  then see if your budget still holds true.

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Great advice, I understand that there are always underlying costs especially something this old.  I will keep this in mind! But I think I will be ready to put some money into it if I have too.  Like everyone just starting, I don't want to buy a car that is dying from rust cancer.  I am definitely reading every thread about rust right now!

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Use a screw driver poke the frame rail. I made mistake when bought mine. My Z's frame rail looked very good until I use the jack on it.

Baddogparts.com has fame rail for replacement incase you have a rusty frame rail. And to say, it is almost impossible not to have a rusty frame rail on those Z.

Edited by 9rider
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#1 reason people don't complete a project s paying too much for the donor car...



There are non-running, or poorly-running 280's selling for 1/6 that price in LA.


Depends on what your plans are for a project.


Stick in a set of seat covers, carpet kit, and buff the paint and drive it...


V8 conversion with all that entails.


One, running is a necessity, as they both will get all the same interior and exterior baubles...

But for the other, even an engine in the bay may be a detriment!


Define the project goals, before looking at prospective clients as possible donors.

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Here's something to consider:


yes, California/Texas/etc. cars will be rust-free. BUT, they are more likely to have been on the road for much longer than their Northeast counterpart. So while these cars are rust-free, they could have been daily drivers for many many years. Rust free, but clapped-out? No thanks. 


Where it snows, rust is like a cancer that can't be stopped until it devours through the structural integrity of a car chassis (prodding car frames with screwdrivers is standard operating procedure when buying used cars here). Naturally, rust should be avoided, but it's extremely difficult seeing that it affects almost every car.


You're more likely to find a nice example on the West coast, but what if you find a nice original car in the Northeast? That tells you that either that Northeast car was taken care of EXTREMELY well, or it was shipped to that location (figure the cost of shipping into the price). Keep that in mind when looking through Craigslist. I considered looking at the West coast, but there was too much uncertainty in buying and shipping a car sight-unseen. With a little patience, I was able to pick up my 1978 280Z for $3000 :D  (found her in Fair Haven, MA!)

Edited by MidnightCafe
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"Clapped Out?"


Mechanical integrity in steering and brakes apcan be had for $1,000 tops...


Which again goes to the "extent" of the project...if Willwoods are on the menu anyway, who cares if it's "clapped out"? They're going to go anyway!


Any Nissan Engine under 300,000 miles is likely fine, other than the water pump.


That about leaves ball joints and shocks...again "extent of the project"...


The "project" must be well defined before specific items can be considered.


There are always diamonds in the rough and barn finds... They are the exception, not the rule...


But with the population of Z's out there being so much Higher in CA, so are the possible diamonds and barn finds...


Someone one day will open a blue 48' HC Container in Perris CA and have to go change their pants...

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Well I decided to pick up this car.  It has pass threads on it build.


The current owner fixed all the kinks and it is running a rebuilt L28ET with IC, Wideband, and t3/t4 Turbo, and megasquirt.  All it needs hopefully is a full tune for base timing and then a dyno tune.


945122_4794539105129_1348109911_n[1] by rodknee_ty2003, on Flickr


375118_4794545305284_287224186_n[1] by rodknee_ty2003, on Flickr




It's a great starter car because it has everything under the hood I wanted anyway and body is pretty solid.  Excited to start the project, coming from a 350z classics are new to me!

Edited by rodizzle
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