280ZX S130 Model Year Differences

The Datsun 280ZX debuted to largely mixed reviews despite its positive sales records. Its transformation from a comparatively budget-priced sports car into more of a touring car through the introduction of more luxurious features and creature comforts was lamented by many enthusiasts, but largely embraced by the public as it became Motor Trend's 1979 Car of the Year and set a record for Z-car sales in its very first year of existence. 1979 also saw the release of a special edition, known as the 280ZX-R, on which Datsun introduced a high-downforce spoiler and characteristic ZX-R insignia, but the rest of the car remained the same.

1980 saw the addition of T-tops to the option packages available for the 280ZX, and also the release of 3,000 10th Anniversary vehicles, 2,500 of which were dressed in a special black-and-gold color scheme, and a scarce 500 were made available in a highly sought-after black-and-red ensemble. These featured a leather interior as well as color-coordinated wheel inserts and other premium features.


1981 saw the introduction of a turbo charged model, which ranked among the fastest production cars money could buy and far surpassed the speed of any Japanese imports available in the American market. Only Porsche made faster cars at the time. A single Garrett T3 turbocharger was added to the car, along with some minor changes to the compression ratios and fortification of key engine components, and the turbo model was only fitted with a 3-speed 3N71B automatic transmission from the factory. The 1981 280ZXT was heavily criticized for its handling; many found that the reduced spring rates made the car difficult to handle in the corners.


In 1982, both the naturally aspirated and turbo charged 280ZX received a series of alterations from Nissan. The antiquated recirculating ball steering gave way to a new rack-and-pinion system with power steering now coming standard on the vehicles. New Alloy wheels were introduced, and the pillar garnishes and hood scoops received a face-lift. The 280ZXT was now available with a 5-speed manual transmission and a revised suspension that corrected the handling issues critics harped on with the 1981 model.

Body Types

There were 4 different body types of the S130 Chassis. They are as follows:

  • Slick top 2 seater
  • Slick top 4 seater (2+2)
  • T-Top 2 Seater
  • T-Top 4 Seater (2+2)

From the windshield forward both Chassis were the same. The difference is there is and additional 7.8 inches added to the chassis from the doors back on the 2+2 models. Because of this the roof line and rear quarter windows are very different. The Rear Hatch is also Shorter in length because of the change in roof line.

Trim options

There were 2 main trim options available on the 280zx, Base and GL. The base model was exactly that, basic. It usually had manual windows, manual Climate control, Cloth seats and manual steering. You could add to the power steering and windows to the base model though. GL was the "Grand luxury model". It had all the power options like power windows and locks, and Upgraded interiors. Automatic climate control was an option on GL models. Power steering was standard on GL models.

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