This is one of the 1,009 examples of the 1979 Datsun 280ZXR that were built, and remarkably this car has covered just 15 miles since new as it was part of the St. Yves Collection.

The 280ZXR was a homologation special developed for SCCA competition and it’s remained largely under the radar in classic car circles. This example is the lowest mileage one we’ve ever seen, and it’s now coming up for sale.

Fast Facts – The Datsun 280ZXR

  • The Datsun 280 ZX-R was produced by Nissan Motors to homologate a new and relatively large rear wing for SCCA and IMSA competition. It was necessary to meet the qualification requirements for “Production Class” status, and as a result 1,009 examples of the model were made.
  • The ZXR was essentially a standard 280ZX coupe but came with a special decal package on a Silver Mist Metallic paint scheme and that aforementioned rear wing. The factory special edition cost an additional $399 USD for the new owner.
  • A 280ZXR Wing Kit was also offered by Nissan Motorsports via the Datsun Competition Parts Catalog. This wing was made of molded rubber, identical to the one used on SCCA and IMSA winning 280ZXs.
  • In 1979, Don Devendorf, driving for Electromotive Racing, won the IMSA GTU Championship in the under 2.5 liter class driving a Datsun 280ZX. Devendorf had helped to develop the wing with Datsun and it was highly effective – generating 370 lbs of downforce at 100 mph (161 km/h).

The Datsun 280ZXR

The Datsun 280ZXR was a limited-production version of the standard 280ZX. Nissan introduced it model primarily for homologation purposes, meaning it was produced to comply with racing regulations that require a certain number of production cars be built for sale to the general public in order for a version of that car to be eligible to race.

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Image DescriptionThat moulded rubber rear wing was the reason the Datsun 280ZXR was made, the car was developed to homologate it for Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) for Production Class competition, it would later also race in IMSA competition. It was said to generate 370 lbs of downforce at 100 mph (161 km/h).

The Datsun 280ZXR was developed to meet the homologation requirements of the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) for Production Class competition. It would also later be raced in IMSA competition where it would see significant success, with Don Devendorf winning the under 2.5 liter IMSA GTU Championship in a Datsun 280ZX.

The specific part that the Datsun 280ZXR was built to homologate was the high-downforce “whale-tail” type rear spoiler or wing. This wing was made from molded rubber and it was developed with help from racing driver Don Devendorf, the same man who would drive it to victory.

Far from being purely cosmetic the wing is said to generate 370 lbs of downforce at 100 mph (161 km/h), and on the race cars it was paired with a front air dam.

The road-going Datsun 280ZXR was fitted with the wing and a special deacal package that consisted of blue and black stripes down each side and on hood. The cars also received prominent “Datsun ZXR” logos on both front fenders.

There were no additional performance upgrades for these cars, it really was all about getting that rear wing homologated as soon as possible. Performance of the 280 ZXR was essentially identical to the standard 280 ZX, with 135 bhp from its 2.8 liter inline-six cylinder engine.

This engine featured a single overhead cam, two valves per cylinder, and it could reach approximately 120 mph (193 km/h). The body had been updated over the earlier Z cars and now offered between aerodynamics, a lower center of gravity, and it offered almost perfect 50/50 weight distribution.

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Image DescriptionPower is provided by the same 2.8 liter single overhead cam inline-six as the standard 280ZX, producing 135 bhp. It’s a fuel-injected engine, and it sends it power back through a 5-speed manual transmission in this particular example.

The Datsun 280ZX (the car the 280ZXR was based on) wasn’t immediately embraced by the automotive community at the time of its release in 1978. The car shared no body parts in common with the earlier Datsun Z cars and it was both bigger and heavier.

Over time the new 280ZX was bought in droves by the general public and sales boomed, perhaps vindicating the move that Datsun had made with the model to make it more of a comfortable grand tourer rather than a pure sports car. It was offered in both two-seater and 2+2 seating configurations, but as is usually the case, its the two-seaters that have held their value best in the eyes of collectors.

The 1979 Datsun 280ZXR Shown Here

The car you see here is one of the original 1,009 examples of the Datsun 280ZXR that were built for 1979, it may also be the lowest mileage surviing car – with just 15 miles on the odometer since it was new.

The reason for this low mileage is that the car was delivered new to St. Yves Motor Sales in Berkley, Massachusetts. It then became a permanent part of the St. Yves Collection, so it accumulated no more than delivery miles and even remains sitting on its original Bridgestone white letter steel-belted radials.

As you would expect from a 280ZXR, the car is finished in Silver Mist paintwork with its factory-applied tri-tone blue striping on the hood and sides. It also comes with a spare OEM stripe kit – which would likely be worth a fair amount on its own.

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Image DescriptionThe interior of the car is finished in all black, including black vinyl upholstered seats and door cards, a black dashboard and steering wheel, and black carpeting throughout.

Under the hood you’ll find the original fuel-injected 2.8 liter single overhead cam inline six-cylinder engine, which is mated to a 5-speed manual transmission sending power to the rear wheels. The car also has tinted glass, alloy wheels, bucket seats, an AM/FM radio, air conditioning, and of course, that rear spoiler.

This car is now due to roll across the auction block with Mecum at their Kissimmee sale in January as part of the St. Yves Collection – a collection which includes a number of other notable Datsuns from the period. If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here.

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Images courtesy of Mecum

Published by Ben Branch -