KIDNEY, ANYONE? Is Jim Fitzgerald’s 1979 Datsun 280ZX the most expensive S130?

The S130 Z-car is perennially known as the most affordable Z car around, often being priced in the same range as a mid-90s Honda Civic. However, this particular example is already fetching some decent numbers. It has a price of $52,000 with a day left in the auction. As you can see in the pictures that this isn’t just any old 280ZX but, rather, is Jim “Fitzy” Fitzgerald’s ex-racer. Fitzy is famous for being the most winning driver in SCCA history along with being Paul Newman’s teammate. 

The car is currently being sold by its owner, Adam Carolla, whom you may know from The Man Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live and Crank Yankers. Adam, much like Paul Newman, is a celebrity who loves motorsports. While Paul was racing SCCA through the 80s, Adam has continued to race the same cars but this time in vintage racing classes decades later.  He has built his extensive collection almost entirely on classic Nissan race cars.

Adam purchased this car from its previous owner, who purchased it directly from Fitzy’s family. The car comes with a written note from the Fitzgerald family and a note from the previous owner, I imagine Adam would include one of his own as well given his important contributions to this car. In addition to these notes, the car will also come with its SCCA log book, negatives of photos from its SCCA days and copies of the magazines it has graced the pages of.

Adam, being a sort of Jay Leno of old Nissan race cars, has lovingly restored this car to its GT2/GTU competition livery with the addition of his name over the door. Generally speaking purchasing used race cars implies that they’ve been beaten within an inch of their life, which this one has, but most race cars do not have someone with the resources and dedication to make the car whole again. Adam has documentation of the restoration process, which will come with the car. I also recall passing mentions on his podcast about the trials and tribulations of racing and restoring this car over the years.

In addition to an aesthetic restoration, Adam also had his team work over the engine to bring it back to it’s prime condition. The engine itself is an L28 bored 0.040″ over with a balanced, nitrided and magnafluxed OEM crankshaft, Carrillo rods and a set of Cosworth pistons. The head is a ported out N24 square port head with a port matched intake manifold in addition to more head work detailed in the Bring-a-Trailer ad.

Inside the car, the interior was also brought back to exact working condition complete with era correct literal “oh shit” shift light. The gauges give you a full read out for every vital sign, even pre- and post- oil cooler temp gauges. Adam did make some modifications in the name of safety with the addition of a modern Sparco seat, steering wheel and harness. The harness does need to be replaced though for any further competition use due to its age.

Arguably the coolest piece of the interior is actually a part of the driveline. The dog leg Nissan Competition “Option 2” direct-drive 5-speed transmission. That’s one of those parts you build a car around if you come across one. If you’re unfamiliar with the term “dog leg” it references that reverse is above first so your 2-3 shift is a straight line. It’s one of those things you don’t know you really wanted until you spoil yourself with it, it’s the heated steering wheel of performance cars.

As if the car wasn’t cool enough as it is, the dual exhaust adds even more flair. I’m sure one tip would suffice since there is only one bank of cylinders but this just looks so awesome.

While Jim Fitzgerald doesn’t have the name recognition of Paul Newman, he was still quite the name himself with his legendary win record. The standard S130 is a very under appreciated JNC, but this car is example number one of why these are legitimately collectible. This car was lucky to find such a loving home with Adam Carolla where it was not only restored, but continued to live it’s golden years out at home on the track. One can only hope that it’s next home will be just as loving. If you feel that you can be a loving caretaker of this car, you can find the Bring-a-trailer auction here.

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8 Responses to KIDNEY, ANYONE? Is Jim Fitzgerald’s 1979 Datsun 280ZX the most expensive S130?

  1. Dimitry says:

    If only I had 60k CAD to spare and not in school loans. If only. Sigh.

  2. pete240z says:

    I wonder why Adam is selling? It seems he is storing up all he can of these old Datsun’s. Not a lot of famous PLN or Fitzy cars out there to find.

    • Ant says:

      Seem to recall from a recent podcast he’s selling to make another big race car purchase. Think he’s letting go of a couple of his Lamborghinis too.

  3. pete240z says:

    I have heard of a lot of 5-speed dog legs put into 510’s but this is the first time I have heard of a Z car having one – totally makes sense to do it.

  4. Vital Parts says:

    Sold on 6/13/17 for $155,000

  5. Brandon Kelley says:

    Looks like this sold for $155k !! Congrats on the buyer for picking up an excellent Z. In the comments section on BaT, he said he will indeed race it in upcoming vintage races. Great to hear it will be used for its purpose. Also congrats to Carolla for taking care of a piece of history and passing it along to the right kind of owner.

  6. Lauren Azevedo says:

    My name is Lauren Azevedo, and my father used to work with and be very close friends with Jim Fitzgerald. Through that friendship, I bought a 1977 280Z showroom stock car from Mary Joe Fitzgerald (Jim’s adopted daughter) that won (from what I was told) 4 races on the Road Atlanta track. I was also told that “Ben Berrel” (not sure of spelling) drove the car when those races were run. When I received the car, it still had Ben’s laminated prayer card in the ash tray which I still have. I am trying to find more information on Ben if at all possible (if that is the correct name). I did meet someone who was racing a Z at Virginia International Raceway who said he knew Ben and he knew my car.

    The car was a bright yellow when it was raced, however I do not know the car number.

    I am keeping my fingers and toes crossed someone might be able to help me as all my internet searches have not yet been successful. I greatly appreciate any guidance or information you can provide.

    Kind Regards, Lauren Azevedo

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