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Thread: NY Times article about a dude and his 280z

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    Registered User 280z's Avatar
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    Default NY Times article about a dude and his 280z

    have u guys seen this NYT article?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/05/au...les/05EGO.html

    A Trophy That Keeps Moving

    By RICHARD S. CHANG
    Published: April 2, 2009

    MORTON ASH rarely needs a reason to take his 1975 Datsun 280Z out for a drive, but a recent sunny afternoon provided an extra inducement.

    “I like to use it at least once a week,” he said. “You can’t let a car like this just sit.”

    Mr. Ash, a vice president for sales at Gould Paper, was standing inside the parking garage in Chelsea where he has kept the two-door sports car since he bought it new for around $6,300. After three decades of his careful stewardship, the silver 280Z has covered nearly 330,000 miles.

    Mr. Ash bent his tall frame into the driver seat and started the car. “Seat belts are a good idea,” he said dryly, and both driver and passenger complied. Mr. Ash then settled into the bucket seat and nosed the car forward, craning his neck to look down 10th Avenue.

    The afternoon’s destination was the Taconic Parkway, or close to it, via the West Side Highway along the Hudson River, to the Saw Mill River Parkway. Mr. Ash grew up in Rockland County and moved to Manhattan 45 years ago, and he still considers himself a country boy.

    While he could pass for a trim, fit man in his early 60’s, he insists on keeping his age to himself.

    “I love to look at nature,” he said, pointing his sharp chin in the direction of the glove box, where he used to keep a field guide for birds. In previous journeys up the Taconic, Mr. Ash has spotted deer, hawks, turkeys and sometimes a coyote.

    Until a couple of years ago, Mr. Ash would drive the 280Z each fall up to Lake Placid in the Adirondacks to hunt deer.

    “I’d get up at 4 or 5 a.m., hike out along the horse trail, leave the trail and crash the woods, as the heat slowly left my body,” he said. “And I’d wonder, ‘Why is a Jewish guy like me doing this?’”

    The last time Mr. Ash saw and actually shot a buck, he was just 14, he says. He had the head mounted, and to this day it decorates his modest apartment, also in Chelsea. He has lived there all his years in Manhattan.

    He noted how his far-west neighborhood had shifted from industrial warehouses to sophisticated art galleries. “I feel ridiculous going hunting in the fall,” he said. “I don’t look like the local scene in my hunting outfit and shotgun in a case.”

    At the toll booth for the Henry Hudson Bridge, heading toward the Bronx, a toll collector greeted Mr. Ash with a familiar question: “How many miles on this thing?”

    Nonplussed, Mr. Ash revealed the mileage. “I get this all the time,” he said. He seemed a little weary of the ritual. “Some guy drives along the road, pulls up, toots his horn,” he said a few miles later. “I shoot up into the roof. The driver gives me the thumbs-up. ‘Thanks, buddy, you just scared the hell out of me.’”

    For Mr. Ash, the silver 280Z is not a relic, a keepsake or a collectible. It is simply his car.

    He recalled the first time he saw the car. “I was amazed,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it was a Japanese car.”

    There’s a reason: the 280Z seemed to be patterned on British sports cars like the Jaguar E-Type. (The Datsun brand name was changed to Nissan in the early 1980s.) It had a long hood that housed a 2.8-liter in-line 6-cylinder engine. The rear fenders bulged.

    Fast for its day, the 280Z came with 149 horsepower. Mr. Ash said that in his younger years he challenged a Porsche 911 on the highway. “Until it got to 100 miles per hour, I thought I was faster,” he said. The Datsun could reach 130, but he said: “I never took it to 130. I’ve taken it to 120. That’s enough. Never force it.”

    Outside the window, the blur of brick buildings gave way to greenery. Mr. Ash maintained a brisk and steady pace, willing to wind the motor in empty stretches of road. “I like listening to the engine,” he said.

    He had a good point. Even to an unsophisticated ear, the engine sounded strong and smooth. After all these years and miles, it is one part of the car that has been left untouched, said Mr. Ash, though he has had the timing chain replaced.

    Rust, on the other hand, is a constant concern; after all, it is a Japanese car from the 1970s. For that, Mr. Ash keeps cans of undercoat in his closet. And when he takes the car in for service, he will probe the undercarriage with a flashlight while it’s on a lift and spray lubricant on the blemishes.

    Every two to three years, the car requires a more significant amount of work. Two years ago, Mr. Ash replaced the old springs with Nissan performance springs. He also added sway bars to improve the handling.

    “Through the years, it developed a wiggle,” he said. The sway bars have tightened the chassis and made the car more drivable. “This is a hard-riding car,” he noted.

    While the 280Z has let him down just once — a faulty wire in the engine bay left him stranded near Tarrytown — he acknowledges a whine emanating from the rear end of the car. “It’s always had a whine, from the first drive from Binghamton,” he said. “It’s part of the character of the car — though it’s gotten louder.”

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    Registered User SportBikeMike's Avatar
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    Great article! 330,000 miles and she purrs like a kitten. Gotta love old Japanese cars...
    '82 Datsun 280ZX Turbo
    '14 Ford Focus ST
    '84 Bertone X 1/9
    '07 MV Agusta F4 1000R
    '97 Ducati 916

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    Registered User overdrivex's Avatar
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    thats amazing original owner! original motor! almost original everything! it nice hearing stories of people owning there cars for so long.

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    Imagine a rear end with 300k on it being lowder than when it was new....
    Bruce Palmer
    Salem Or
    Sales@ztherapy.com
    www.ztherapy.com
    503-587-9800

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    Semi-retired admin Arne's Avatar
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    There were two threads on this, so I merged them into one single thread.
    Arne - Former owner, HLS30-37705, 7/71, 905 Red
    Car blogs - 240Z - Porsche 911

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    330k miles is a lot, but there are lots of brands that will do that. My Audi 4000 Quattro has 311k on it's original engine and has never had the head off...still going strong. I even got 309k on the original clutch! Mercedes Benz has a diesel over a million miles, and Irv Gordon of New York has a 1966 Volvo 1800S with 2.5 million miles on it. I met him and saw the car in person in 1999 and he said he overhauled the engine at 693,000 and hasn't since. I don't know if I believe it or not, though his car has been documented as the Guiness Book record holder for most miles on a passenger car. I don't want to rain on the Datsun's parade though, so I'll say that I think the Z is more fun to drive.

    Greg

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