Saturday, January 10, 2015

17k: Ferrari 250z: 1978 Datsun 280z, Ferrari 250 GTO replica

It's crossed auction blocks at $38 million, topped dozens of click-baity website listicles for most beautiful car ever made, and was, statistically, on the childhood bedroom walls of 46% of the people reading this (I'm convinced most of you had Volvos or Citroens. Or a Chevy Corsica). Only 36 were made. Today, for less than the price of a new Civic, is the 37th. Sort of. Find this 1978 Datsun 280z Ferrari 250 GTO replica in Houston, TX for $17,000 via craigslist.

Twin fender strakes and the correct number of air inlets and lights make this well-proportioned build moderately convincing at first glance. Then the errors sink in. It starts with the full stable of prancing horse stickers, wire wheels that belong on a G-body with hydraulics, and poor hood fitment. The fuel cap placement and exhaust spacing are wrong, as are the badge locations and front grill trim. However, the people you're trying to impress won't notice these things. Besides the vast majority of red examples, at least two chassis were finished in silver. If the builder really wanted the world to associate Ferrari with this car (and judging by the rear window decal, he does), it should be red. Speaking of decals, what's up with the crooked sticker on the Grant wood steering wheel?

Starting with the Datsun 280z guarantees similar proportions, except the wheelbase is shorter by four inches. You won't find a dry-sump V12 under the hood, but instead, two hues of overapray and the L28 inline-six mated to a 5-speed manual transmission. The seller just replaced the struts, sway bars, and tie rods, but couldn't be bothered to lower it a few inches. Shame.

Not only is $17,000 amazingly close to the original 250 GTO's $18,000 MSRP, but it also continues the numerical sequence of expensive, LSX-swapped 280zs we've featured lately: One for $15,000, and one for $16,000. Now that we've brought it up, an LS1 swap is your best bet for meeting or exceeding the GTO's 300 horsepower figure. Drop the decals and badges (yes, even the cutesy GTO badge from the American GTO), fix the previously mentioned aesthetic grievances, and this becomes a great performer with vintage racecar looks to match. If it was $7,000. At $17,000, it's just an expensive looker... arguably without the looks. Still, it's cheaper by a few decimal places than the real thing. For a hopeless Ferrariphile, that's enough.

See a cheaper way to channel Phil Hill? Email us at

PhiLOL actually likes the tuna here, but abhors structural rust. Save the manuals.


  1. If it weren't trying to be something else, this would be truly beautiful.

    1. Take the ferarri badges off and this would be nice. With them on you just look dishonest and no on will believe the authenticity of your watch, college degree, wife's (or your) breasts, etc.

  2. It would take very little work to make this look awesome. I would want to scruff it up and make it look like a barn find.

  3. I have absolutely no proof, but I believe there have been many more of these produced than about three dozen. These kits have been around for a long time (at least the 80s) and ZTrix still offers it. I've seen several of these at shows and get-togethers, most often paired with a Jags That Run kit.

    To tell you the truth, I'd rather have one of these than the real thing. I'd be scared to death that something would happen to an authentic car.

    1. BTW, I have a JTR V8 conversion manual for the Z. If anybody out there is interested in buying it, please leave a message here.

  4. I have model cars on my shelf and I have a model car that I can drive. Why is it that the ones on the shelf are understood to be honoring cars I love. And yet the only reason I could possibly want one I can drive must be that I am trying to "fool people"? Is it OK that I think it is beautiful and I can afford it?

  5. Not a bad looking kit car except for hood fit and shut lines !

  6. Quite honestly ? This vehicle looks seriously neglected, the seat covers have a horrible fit, ditto the door cards, the engine bay doesn't look like it's ever been detailed during it's entire existence and IMHO the wheels are grotesque !
    I do remember reading about these body kits as far back as the 80's and I always thought that they were somewhat attractive and was curious to see what "someone's" turned out like and now I know. As @JB1025 said "Not a bad looking kit car except for hood fit and shut lines !" and I'll add and not worth $17K either.



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