What is the best year to get a z car in? It's surprising how much this question is asked. First of all, there is no "best" year z car. They all have their pros and cons. The 240z is famous for its lightweight chassis, classic look, and performance. The 280z made the z car comfy, had beefier suspension and included the blessing of fuel injection. However, we do believe we have found a year that is as close to a perfect year as possible.
We think that the 1975 280z is the best year to buy a z car. Specifically, early 75. You may be asking, but why? That 280z car had massive bumpers, and didn't perform as well as the 240z thanks to the curse of smog laws. That is all true, however; the pros of this year outweigh any cons. We will go through each of these points in detail:
This is one of the best features of a 75. No Smog checks. Most people think they have to get a 240z to be smog exempt, but the truth is the cut off year for the 30 year old smog law (which is no longer happening) is in 1975. This means you can still have the benefits of a fuel injection l28 and be smog exempt without having to swap all the 280z stuff into a 240z chassis. (This is all according to Cali law, soon the other states will follow so this can apply to all us z cars soon).
It's common practice to swap the stronger r200 diff from a 280z car into 240z. The r200 diff is bullet proof and can handle v8 torque to turbo power. The 75 280z already comes with an r200. The 75 280z also has bigger strut tubes, companion flanges, and stub axles. All of these are common upgrades to 240z when the 75 already comes with all of this. Most of the time the 280z is also much cheaper than a 240z.
This is something that mostly depends on the owner of the car, however if you're looking for comfort the 75 doesn't disappoint. Because it's a 280z, the ac and heater actually work. Unlike the 240z center heater vents which point nowhere near the driver of passengers of the car, the 280z has adjustable center vents so it can be aimed at the people in the car. The defrost also works,which usually doesn't in early z cars. This is mostly due to better electronics. The 75 also shares its trunk space arrangement with the 240z. This is a plus because the 240z trunks are lower than late 280z. Late 280z cars lose trunk space and the use of the storage compartments because the trunk is lifted using cardboard.
NOTE: Make sure the 75 you get is an early model. Late model 75 280z cars trunks were raised. You can also tell this by looking at the gas tank of the car. Late model = Twinkie shaped gas tank , Early 75 = shoe shaped gas tank.
The 75 280z is a hybrid of the chassis. It got a 240z style trunk, but the thicker 280z sheet metal. This did add a bit of weight to the car. However, this can actually be a good thing if you are doing a motor swap or getting more power out of your z car. The 280z needs less reinforcement to be stiffer than a 240z.
This is one of the best things that came on this model. No longer would you have to pull the choke cable and wait until the car is warmed up. Fuel injection was the way of the future and the 75 had made a wise choice by ditching the carbs. This also helps if you are going to a turbo motor from a zx or building it off the this fuel injected l28. Because the car is set up for fuel injection already, you don't have to throw the ecu somewhere random, there is a place already for it. (this also means when switching to any other fuel injected motor swap you would also be able to put the ecu in the stock location in the z).
You also get the 5 speed in the 280z unlike the 4 speed in the 240z. This is great for highways. It's a common upgrade for 240z cars for this reason.
The gas tanks out of 75s are also common upgrades to 240z because 240z came with carbed gas tanks with no built in baffles inside the tank. The 75 280z gas tank (early model) was the same shape as a 240z tank but was made for fuel injection and had baffles built in.
THE BUMPERS! Although not everyone hates them, it's common to upgrade to the lighter, better looking 240z bumpers. There are kits out there to help with this conversion. However, it's not that bad. The swap is simple, saves weight, and is cheaper than getting a 240z and swapping all the 280z car upgrades to that. Another downside is weight. Although you can save weight by getting rid of the bumpers, the 280z cars are still a bit heavier than a 240z (not by much but it is heavier). This can be a good thing (if your doing a motor swap) or a bad thing depending on how you look at it.
With all the money you will be investing to upgrading your 240z with 280z parts, you might as well get a 75 280z. There are no benefits that the 240z have over a 280z. It's also common for 240z zcars to be more expensive than 280z cars. If you are on a budget then it's perfect. It comes with all the upgrades and it's easy to ditch the bumpers if you dont like them. This is our opinion, if you have any questions or anything you would like to add to this please let us know!