Who’s gonna run this town? – Datsun 280Z
Photography by: Jasper Schwering Article by: G.D.S
Photography by: Jasper Schwering
Article by: G.D.S
Date Posted: February 16, 2023
The Datsun 280Z is a sports car that was produced by Nissan from 1975 to 1978. It is part of the Z car series, which started with the Datsun 240Z in October1969. In Japan the car was known as the Nissan Fairlady Z - the name was inspired by the popular Broadway musical "My Fair Lady", and it was chosen by Nissan as a way to give the car a more appealing and memorable name in the Japanese market. The 'Fairlady' name continued to be used for subsequent generations of the Z car in Japan, although outside of Japan it was simply referred to by the model number and Z.
The Japanese version of the 280Z was similar to the US-spec, but there were some differences. For example, the Japanese version had a different engine that produced slightly less power due to more strict emissions regulations in Japan. The Japanese model also had different exterior styling, with smaller bumpers and different lighting configurations to comply with Japanese regulations. In addition the Japanese version of the 280Z was available with some different options and features, such as a rear window wiper and a more advanced audio system.
The 280Z was well known for its sleek styling and handling capabilities, and it helped to establish the Z car series as a popular choice among sports car enthusiasts around the world. However, the concourse example featured is a very special no expense spared restomod built by Henri von Freyberg in Germany during covid as a labour of love.
Although the 280Z is a popular choice of car amongst collectors, make no mistake this example is truly a one of one that took Henri over14 months to get this stage and he has said he will continue to evolve with further improvements.
Available in a variety of colours such as Red, Orange, Yellow, Blue and Green in order to appeal to a wide range of buyers, Henri wanted a colour that represented his vision and put his own touch to a timeless classic.
To start the process the Henri sourced a 1977 'Burgundy Mist Metallic' donor car from New Jersey, USA and stripped it down to bare metal. After much deliberation Henri made the decision to transform the car to the very apt colour choice of Ferrari Grigio Medio 791.
From the start Henri had a distinct vision for how he wanted the car to look and was inspired by 70s race cars and chose this colour because its a Uni paint, which was common to use, it also perfectly fits the gap between Italian sports car and Mini's or MG from the UK.
In line with the 70s theme, Henri wanted his Datsun to have a Porsche Singer inspired vibe both externally and internally with a minimalist approach, although simplicity was key but making sure it stood out was vital.
The earliest 280Z models produced from 1975 to 1976 were powered by a 2.8 litre inline-six engine with a single overhead camshaft that produced 149 horsepower and 163 lb-ft of torque. This engine was commonly known as the L28 and featured a carburettor fuel system. it was available with a four-speed manual or three speed automatic transmission and had a top speed of around 120 mph with a respectable time of 0-60mph in 8 seconds.
In mid 1976, the 280Z received a revised engine with the same displacement, but with a new cylinder head design that included two overhead camshafts. This new engine, known as the L28E, produced slightly more power at 170 hoursepower and 163 lb-ft of torque, and featured an electronic fuel injection system.
Owner Henri decided to opt for the more desirable and powerful engine that came with a 5 speed gearbox to be able to get as much power as possible, but he didn't stop there. In order to increase the speed of the car he decided to remove the AC system, got rid of all the carpet, and the spare wheel to make the car as light as possible.
To help manage the increase in speed Henri needed to ensure the correct setup was factored and upgraded the gearbox from a 280ZX and a bigger break kit for the front wheels.
In addition to these main engine options, Datsun did release some special edition models of the 280Z that featured unique engines.
For example, the limited edition 280Z 2+2 "Black Pearl" model produced in 1978 featured a turbocharged version of the L28 engine that produced 180bhp and 203 lb-ft of torque.
The car featured a Black paint scheme with Red and Silver accents, as well as several unique interior and exterior features. Around 1200-1500 are thought to have been produced and given the rarity of the car.
Understandably it would make sense that this was not the choice of donor car for Henri's vision, we can only imagine the outrage it would have caused amongst the purists out there! With the additional weight reduction Henri's car is quicker than the "Black Pearl" but also maintains its original engine .
Some people are lucky enough to know early in life what they enjoy or where their passions lie, and since his childhood Henri had an avid interest for cars by spending many hours drawing them, and coming up with his own unique designs. This passion has led Henri to become a full time car designer and work in an industry he loves and more recently a whole new appreciation for classic cars in his own words "due to their honesty and clarity when it comes to technical parts (besides their iconic shapes)."
Henri's love for classic cars can be seen by this extraordinary build, and his bold move to take a timeless classic and in our opinion make it even better.
Like many car enthusiasts the building and modifications never stop and Henri states that upcoming changes will include adjustable coilovers and suspension to help improve agility and performance in comparison to the standard setup. Furthermore it will get a complete stainless steel exhaust system with a race header and classic muffler from Zstory.
Mechanically the fuel lines and the air intake manifold will be cleaned to achieve a sleeker engine bay, and as for the interior he intends to fit Datsun competition seats and refurbish the door panels.
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