Pat Baxter’s 1977 280 Z
In the summer of 1977, I spotted this beautiful racing green 280Z with dark brown interior sitting at the Datsun dealer in Beaufort, SC. I was 16 at the time and absolutely loved Z’s. I talked my parents into going to look at the car that evening and they decided to buy it on the spot. For 35 years, they babied it, kept it covered and used it only for special occasions. In 2011, they gave it to me as my 50th birthday present.
When I got the car, it was bone stock. The interior and paint are most all original and in excellent shape…not a spec of rust. I’ve spent the last two years restoring and modifying the car to be a high performance street car that I occasionally take to track days to have a little fun. My intent was to change all the late 70’s junk they added to meet US emissions and safety bumper requirements and to modify it to be more of a Grand Touring car with some JDM styling. Cool looking, comfortable on long drives and really fun to drive on twisty mountain roads.
The engine has over 100,000 miles on it and has never been out of the car. I wanted more power, but didn’t want to rebuild the engine if it didn’t need it. I met John Tyler (see his Customer Ride story too) and he took me for a spin in his car. I was shocked by how much power he had…I was hooked!
I stopped by Rallye-Sport to talk to Jeff Winter, and was pleased to learn that I could get a lot more power without having to do a complete overhaul. Jeff was excited to work with me and more than happy to let me do as much of the work on the car as I wanted before bringing it to him. I pulled the old fuel injection system, intake and exhaust so I could clean, polish and/or paint everything in the engine compartment.
Jeff installed his own spec performance street cam, a 6:1 header and a set of triple Weber carburetors. I can’t believe how much difference this made in the power, performance, handling and sound of the car. His work transformed my mild mannered 280z into a fire breathing monster. I never thought an L28 engine could make this kind of power and sound this good.
I always dreamed of having a car like this with an awesome engine…now I do! Thanks Jeff!