Don’t we all just love the Datsun 280ZX? What’s not to love? Two seats? Check. Straight six? Check. Rear-wheel-drive? Check. Manual transmission? Check, um, er, maybe not on this example, there’s a big T-shaped lever I spied in the middle of the center console. Ugh.

This car kind of feels like an allegory for my desire to live in the bay; pretty, pristine, but there’s always something about there, that just won’t work.

This 280ZX Is a Great Segue to Explaining Why I Don’t Live in the Bay Area
Image: Kevin Williams
  • Car: Datsun 280ZX
  • Location: San Fransisco
  • Photog: me (Kevin Williams)
  • Camera: Canon EOS M

In 2016, I went to the Bay Area for the first time in my life. Only the second time I had ever been on a plane, I was invited to a destination wedding in Monterey. The bride, I had met once before; wasn’t really close friends with her, but she was besties with nearly all of my other friends. Lack of confirmed reservations for an already sold bridal ceremony meant that there were a ton of empty seats. So, I got invited by proxy — to a gorgeous wedding on the beach, with an open bar, and an outrageous seafood cocktail hour.

I ditched my friends for a day or two and took a bus from Monterrey to San Fransisco, and just sort of walked around the city for a few hours.

I loved it. I fell in love, completely. I wanted to be here, I had to be here. The next year, I cut class during my final semester to trounce around San Fransisco. After I graduated, I applied for job after job, after job, trying to find some reason, some way, to get to the Bay.

This 280ZX Is a Great Segue to Explaining Why I Don’t Live in the Bay Area
Image: Kevin Williams

It never panned out. The pay for entry-level work in the Bay Area would have meant a poor quality of life, working multiple jobs, never having time to enjoy the city I had become infatuated with. Moving there felt almost immoral, I was only adding another body to the ever-present fight for fair housing and employment. 

Cars like this 280ZX kind of remind me of that time; a beautiful thing, marred by a serious downside.