The Nissan 280ZX was introduced for the 1979 model year in late 1978. The ZX was a complete redesign of the highly successful first generation of Z cars which included the 240Z, 260Z and 280Z. The 280ZX had a totally new body, but the engine and transmission were the same units that had evolved in the original Z cars. The engine had been tweaked for better power and fuel mileage. The 280ZX was somewhat heavier than its predecessor b more accessories and a little more creature comfort. Some purists decried the move from a pure sports car to a sports touring car, but the sales success of the ZX proved the Japanese designers correct in their assessment of the market.
In Japan, the ZX was marketed as the Fairlady", the same name as the predecessors, but for the United States and Australia, the sporty vehicle was branded as the Datsun 280ZX. The Datsun badge did bear the legend, "By Nissan". This was part of the move to make the transition in names from Datsun to Nissan for all of their vehicles worldwide.
The 280ZX received criticism of reduced performance from fans of the Z cars. The ZX actually had a higher net horsepower, but Nissan has opted for a higher final drive gear ratio to maximize the fuel mileage, while sacrificing a little of the straight line acceleration. The call for increased power was addressed by the addition of an optional turbocharger in 1982 models.
The redesign of the Z cars into the ZX did increase the overall performance in several critical areas. The change in the front grille opening, fenders, hood and front spoiler decreased the drag markedly. The overall shape of the vehicle, though a close copy of the original Z's long-hood-short-deck, reduced lift at speeds, which was a common complaint in the previous design. The ZX was a far superior car in actual performance and when the turbo was added, it was quicker in a straight line, too.
The Nissan 280ZX was produced for the 1979 through 1983 model years. It was replaced by a face lifted and V-6 powered 300 ZX for the 1984 model. During its reign the ZX was available as a coupe only, in both two-seat and 2+2 configurations. A removable T-top made the car into a "Targa" model. A high-end sound system was standard and leather seats were available. In all, the Nissan 280ZX was a smooth, fast and comfortable grand touring car.
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