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77 vs. 78 280z purchase...feedback needed


Buddjack

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Good evening,

I am the market to purchase a 280z. I owned a 78 back in the late 80's early 90's (High School & College), I had to sell it to finish college and now I am back in the hunt for another one...

I have two current options to purchase one and need your feedback...

First option, 77 with 95k miles, no frame rust, slight rust on passengar door, fuel door and in the hatch (I have not looked at the Z, this is the description from owner). Paint is fair and all stock. (5spd, Air, no leaks or smoke) apparently, the owner claims that the car was running well two weeks ago but went to start it this week and it is running rough...he believes it is the air flow meter. Current asking price is $3k, I have him down to $2k...not sure if it is worth the gamble.

Second option, 78 with 140k, car has been repainted, Eibach springs and KYB's, cold air intake, A/C, 5spd. No leaks or smoke but the frame rails had to be replaced/fixed...(I have not looked at this car either). The asking price is $6k and appears to be in better shape. I have concerns around the frame rails, he spent over $2k to repair them and has receipts.

I am open to your thoughts and feedback from folks who have maybe been in a similar situation. (Should I run from them both?)

Thanks

Buddjack

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My $0.02 is that you should get whichever will require less body/frame work.

The suspension upgrades on car #2 are worth about $400.00 in parts, + labor if you don't plan on doing it yourself. Suspension bushings will probably need replacement if they haven't been already but you don't mention that on either car.

If there have been more replacements on either car, you should list them so others can reply to their value. I've been working on a spreadsheet for how much such parts have cost me and I'm up to about $4,000 for a car that started out in good condition.

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Both have rust and it always goes beyond what has been identified/fixed.

On #1: rust on passenger door, hatch and fuel door but not on frame rails, battery tray and floor? Possible: yes, likely: not very.

On #2: frame rails fixed. Depends on how thorough the job was and what other problems there are. Again, not likely the rust was limited to just the frame rails but slitly more possible than the case above.

Either, get a good look at the underside of the cars before spending any money.

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If I were in the market for a 280Z - - I'd buy the best, low mileage, well cared for example I could find in the Western and Southwestern states. I'd gladly pay $12K+ for the right car. The right car would be one that is currently owned by its original owner, has less than 75K miles and is ready to drive across America.

Why?

Because any 280Z you start with - that is $2K or $6K - - - will need at least $6K worth of repairs or maintenance items PLUS a lot of personal time and hard work. After that it will need fresh bodywork and a decent paint job. By then you'll have way over $12K in it. Even then, it will not be as nice a car as you could have bought for $12K to begin with.

Take the $6K you have and take out a personal loan for the balance - Yes, you'd have a monthly payment for a while - but during that time you'd have a 280Z to drive and enjoy - rather than a project sitting in your garage sucking up three times the money you ever dreamed of spending..

There are still a lot of very nice 280Z's out there - and they are very reasonably priced at this point. Buy something that is ready to enjoy - skip the headaches at this point.

Just my opinion..

FWIW,

Carl B.

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Carl has a very good point, but only if the OP wants to end up with a perfect car. I used to own a perfect '66 Mustang, following good advice like this. It was a beautiful car, but it wasn't much fun because I was always terrified I'd scratch it.

When it came time to shop for a Z, I paid the money to get as close to the condition of car I wanted to drive as I could. In my case, it was probably a lot like your $6k option. And yes, I've had to put work into it, because the engine was the weak point. (It's hard to find EXACTLY what you want.) I suppose I'd modify Carl's advice to suggest you buy what you want to drive. For some people that's a rusty junker that "runs good." For some people that's a 12k+ perfect car. For others like me, it's something inbetween. But always let someone else eat the restoration expenses before you buy the car if possible.

Edited by FastWoman
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Listen to Carl and heed is advice.I wish I had found this site BEFORE purchasing my car, I would have saved alot of aggravation. First and foremost, see the car in person or have someone (possibly a member from this site) check it out. Ive told my horror story about buying mine sight unseen and will share it again if it saves someone what I've gone through.

I bought my car sight unseen on Ebay, communicated several time with the P.O. Was advertised as a rust free, unmolested car, a great example of a Z. With a paint job and new seat upholstery, it could be a show car.

I asked all the right questions, received all the right answers and sent the guy $4000 and paid a carrier another $1000 to ship from Oregon to Ohio. I figured with maybe a couple grand more, I would have a great car.

The car had rust inside the hatch, on the frame rail, the battery tray, the passenger floor, the rear quarter had bondo. The brakes squealed, the steering wheel shook violently at highway speeds, the heater and radio didnt work. The car had been painted with spray cans, the front end was shot, same with the brakes, etc. The original, unmolested car had a P90 head on it meaning the motor had been reworked.

I took the stupid road and have spent 3 + years on and off (as I have time and $$) working through the car. I have over $5,000 in it on top of the $5,000 spent to get it here. I still need about another $2,000 to $3,000 more to get it decent. In 3 years, I havent put more than 100 miles on it. As it sits, I am embarrassed to admit what I have in it but it was either do that or dump the car for the $2000 it was worth and take a bath on it. It should be very nice when finished, all new suspension, struts, springs, bushings, tie rods, ball joints, toyota brake upgrade up front, rebuilt rear brakes, Rewind wheels and Toyo tires. Lots of new parts on the motor, plugs, wires, A.F.M., injectors, belts, hoses, thermotime, etc, New interior including guages, radio, full dash cover, steering wheel, carpet, upholstery and dynomat. Exterior including body work and paint.

I am doing all the work myself and it has been a learn as I go for me. I rarely have time to do what I need, it will probaly be another year or two before I have it where I want it. I will have overspent on it by twice what I could probably get in return. It is a love/hate thing at best.

So once again, take Carl's advice, if you havent read up on him, he is probably one of the most knowledgeable Z guys on the planet.

My 2 cents...good luck.

Edited by MEZZZ
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All great information Carl is absolutely Right if you have the money buy the best all original car you can find ,Fastwoman has an excellent point sometimes a perfect car is no fun because of the fear of putting a chip in it ,The best i can add to this is if you are looking at cars that will need some work to bring up to excellent condition start with something that is as close to original as possible mechanically and Body /Paint . You know what you are starting with when buying an original paint car even if it needs to be stripped to bare metal , at least you know there is no lurking damage underneath .Also dont assume all southwest cars will be rust free I bought a Z from Arizona once that was the biggest rust bucket ever !!

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Thanks all, I have decided to contiue my search for Z (not ZX). I have been increasing interested in the 240's, any thoughts or feedback? Once I locate one, who can provide me direction on getting some to take a look at if it is outside my area. Thanks again for your feedback.

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Thanks all, I have decided to contiue my search for Z (not ZX). I have been increasing interested in the 240's, any thoughts or feedback? Once I locate one, who can provide me direction on getting some to take a look at if it is outside my area. Thanks again for your feedback.

Different people buy different cars for different reasons. The 240 is more collectible and probably easier to get running at some reasonable level. It's lighter and a bit more eager for twisty driving. The 280, once straightened out, has a very reliable and responsive powerplant and makes a much better daily driver. The fuel injection can be a bit tricky at first, but it's a pretty simple system once you get the hang of it. (Others may disagree.) I'm on my second 280Z. Couldn't be happier.

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The whole 240Z V 280Z debate can be found in numerous past threads . As an owner of both i must agree with Fast woman about the 280Z being the best as a Daily driver. The 280 is the most refined of the S30 series and great to turn the key and go eveytime anytime especially on the East Coast . The 240s with Carbs and point ignitions tend to need a bit of "finess" at times and take some time to warm up before driving . I would suggest you drive both and then make your own decision .

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Some great advice here. I will only add this: Know yourself and your limits. When I say limits, I mean time, money, and knowledge. I will talk these one at a time.

Time: Be honest with how much time you will realistically have to work on this car

Money: Know how much you can invest in the car every month. Establish a budget, and be realistic

Knowledge: Know what you can do and what you cannot do. Also be aware of how much space you have, and how much you will need? I knew I was not a body man, so I had to spend extra when I got my 240 to find one with as close to perfect body as I could afford. I can fix mechanical things, they do not scare me. Know what you can do and what tools you have to do them.

Good luck, and just be honest with yourself. In the end, you will be happier that way!

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I want to add this advice:

Whatever you buy. Make sure you see it in person first. Don't rtrust the seller or the pictures. In most cases they avoid the rust spots.

In rare circumstances you can get a Z expert to look at it for you, but you are taking a chance that it won't be what you had expected.

I shopped for cars in CA in 1999 expecting to find the rust-free cars everyone talked about. I came home empty-handed as they were all rusty junk. The worst and most expensive was at a used car showcase. All were advertised as rust-free and ready for paint. None-were. Most would have looked great in carefully shot pictures.

Then in 2002 I took a 2-week shopping-trip/vacation to Arizona and California exclusively to shop for Z's. Again I saw a lot of cars that were advertised as rust free.

Eventually I found one in LA that was in incredible shape. It looked great but at 11k$ was twice my planned budget. So I went to see a car that was 5k but needed some work. After looking at it I realized that I would have to invest a lot more than $6k to make it look as good as the 11k car.

I went back to the first car and bought it and shipped it home. Money so well spent.

Al

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  • 1 year later...

Sorry for the late reply on this but after many searches and time on the road. I purchased a 72 240z with 108k on it about a year ago. A two owner car from Oregon that had been in the same family for 20 years. Thanks again to you all for the advise and feedback. Great to have a site like this to help when it is needed. Happy New Year to you all.

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