1979-1983 280ZX engine Specifications

The 1979-1983 280ZX came with the tried and true L series engine. ranged from 1.3 L to 2.8 L in both straight-4 and straight-6 configurations and were produced from 1967 through 1986. This was the engine of the Datsun 240Z sports car as well as the Datsun 510 and the first Nissan Maxima. It was a 2-valve per cylinder SOHC non-crossflow engine, with an iron block and an aluminum head.

The design is often incorrectly attributed to Mercedes-Benz. In 1966 Prince Motor Company merged with Nissan. At the time of the merger, Prince was licensed to produce copies of the four and six-cylinder engines. Prince Motor Company later refined the design such that it no longer needed licensing. The engine still resembles a Mercedes in many ways, particularly the valve train.

Here we will focus on the 6 Cyl versions of the L-Series as this was the engine used in the Datsun 280ZX. It came in two different aspirations and sizes, Non turbo and from 1981 to 1983 it was offered with a Turbo.

The L20ET was a 1,998 cc with a 78.0 mm bore and 69.7 mm stroke. It produced 143 hp (145 PS) (107 kW). This was only offered in the Japan Market 200Z-T

The L28E is a 2,753 cc (168.0 cu in) engine produced from 1975?1984. The 1979 and 1980 models had dish-top pistons and the N47 Head for a compression ratio of 8.3:1. For model year 1981 through model year 1983, the L28E received flat-top pistons and a high quench head called the P79 head, raising the compression ratio to 8.8:1, and thus increasing the power rating from 135 hp (1975?1980) to 145 hp (1981?1983).

The L28E was turbocharged in December 1980 to produce the L28ET for the 280ZX Turbo. The L28ET was produced through June 1983. The early versions had adjustable mechanical valve train in the P90 head though these were phased out after September 1982 in favor of using hydraulic lifters in the P90A head. The L28ET produces 180 bhp at 5600 RPM and 203 lb?ft at 2800 RPM.

The L28ET used a single Garrett AiResearch TB03 internally wastegated turbocharger and no intercooler. Boost was limited to 6.8 psi. Other modest changes were made to the turbo model, with static compression reduced to 7.4:1 and a higher-volume oil pump. The most significant change aside from the turbocharger itself was the introduction of a new engine control systems, Nissan's Electronic Concentrated Control System (ECCS).

Specs for the L28E and L28ET

2,753 cc (168.0 cu in)
Bore and Stroke
86.0mm X 79.0mm
Compression Ratio
8.3:1 (1979-1980)
135 hp 5200 RPM
145 hp 5200 RPM
180hp 5600 RPM
144 ft-lbs @4400 rpm
156 ft-lbs @4000 rpm
202 lb?ft @ 2800 rpm
Firing Order

Sources used on this page:

  • Engine Specs from 1979-1983 Nissan/Datsun Factory Service Manuals
  • Engine Calculator Created By: Joe Deu-Ngoc