In a further effort to keep the S30 models sporting in the face of increasingly stringent U.S. emission and safety requirements, Nissan Motors released the Datsun 280Z model for the U.S. market in the 1975 model year. Both the 2-seat coupe and 2/2 (2+2) hatchback models remained available throughout the 1975–78 model year run of the 280Z.
For the 280Z, engine size was again increased, this time to 2.8 L, by enlarging the bore of the L26 engine to create the L28, and a reliable Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection system was added.
1975 and 1976 models continued to be fitted with the Federally required 5 mph (8.0 km/h) crash test bumpers that were introduced for the mid-1974 model year of the 260Z . These bumpers were smooth surfaced, and blended into smooth black rubber extensions as they met the body of the car. 1977 and 1978 models received bumpers with recessed channels added to the faces of the bumpers themselves, that blended into corrugated or accordion style black rubber extension trim. Also new for the 1977 model year, 280Zs no longer received the full size spare tire, and instead had a "space saver" spare and a larger fuel tank. This resulted in a raised rear deck area made of fiberboard, reducing cargo space. In 1977–78 an optional 5-speed manual transmission was available along side the 4-speed manual, and the 3-speed automatic options, which included a "5-speed" emblem on the left bottom edge of the rear hatch. 1977 also saw an update from the charcoal painted hubcap style (with a chrome Z floating in the amber center emblems) to a hubcap that resembled an alloy wheel, bearing a center cap with a chrome Z floating in a black circle.
In 1977 and 1978 respectively, Datsun offered two special edition models. The "Zap" edition was offered in 1977 as a "Special Decor Package". Zap cars were finished in Sunshine Yellow paint, and sported black stripes down the center and sides, with yellow, red, and orange chevrons at the front ends of the stripes. An estimated 1,000 "Zap Z" cars were offered in 1977. The "Zap Z" model was also used as the pace car in the 1977 Long Beach Gran Prix. The Black Pearl edition (produced in 1978) came with Black Pearlescent paint and a "Special Appearance Package" (SAP), which consisted of dual racing mirrors, rear window louvers, and a unique red and silver stripe. It is estimated that between 750-1,500 of these cars were produced.
The S30 series was replaced in 1979 by the S130 Nissan Fairlady 280ZX / Datsun 280ZX.