It was the Datsun Z cars that brought people into it's dealer showrooms in droves. This was the automobile that added pep to Datsun's line of cars. The Datsun 240 Z had a new car price of about $3,500 and for that money you had a well built performance automobile. While Datsun liked to call their car a personal GT model, the 240 Z was a sports car and a really good one. The car featured in our article is a 1971 Datsun 240 Z. The 240 Z was built for four model years, 1970 through 1973.
Datsun and Nissan
Datsun is a brand owned by the Nissan Motor Company. While Datsun models began being produced in 1931, from 1958 to 1986, only the models exported by Nissan were named Datsun. In a way the names were interchangeable. In the U.S. during this time they were Datsuns.
What Made the Datsun 240 Z A Big Winner
In short, the answer to this is quality plus a relatively low price. The people who purchased Datsun 240 Z's generally were people who could not afford a Porsche or a Jaguar. The Datsun 240Z's delivered competent engineering and styling and better than average performance. Add to that a low price of about $3,500 and you had a winning combination.
The original body shell of the 240 Z continued on with the 260 Z and 280 Z models although with larger displacement engines. Many will say that the handling of the 240 Z's was much better than with the later two models that had heavy and clumsy bumpers due to new safety regulations which added weight to the car. Because of this power steering was almost mandatory.
Auto writers of the period gave thumbs up to the new Datsun 240 Z and this never hurts sales. The Datsun 240 Z was Japan's answer to the British Jaguar.
Nissan Buys Old 1970's Z Models
Nissan did a very unique thing. In 1996 they went out and bought as many straight and clean Datsun 240 Z models they could round up. Four California restorers did ground up restorations on the cars. Each 240Z was examined, stripped and reconditioned, then dipped and painted in colors as close to original hues as possible. Engines were sent to Texas, and transmissions to North Carolina for rebuilding. Finally the cars were sent on a 200 mile test drive to make certain they ran like new. Odometers of the cars, by law, were not reset.
There were some 200 cars involved in this project and Nissan chose ten dealerships that were called "Z Stores" that would retail the automobiles. The cars were restored to such an original new condition that Nissan gave buyers a 12 month / 12,000 mile warranty which was the same as the one given to the car when originally new. The first refurbished 240 Z came out on May 3rd, 1996.
1971 Datsun 240 Z Specifications
The 1971 Datsun 240 Z came out with a solidly built 146 cubic inch overhead cam in-line six engine. The Zero to 60 MPH time was rated at eight seconds flat. The engine put out 151 horsepower.
Transmission was a five speed manual.
Brakes were front disc and rear drum.
Suspension was four wheel independent. McPherson struts were up front and Chapman struts were in the rear.
The Datsun 240 Z had a wheelbase of 90.7 inches and an overall length of 161.3 inches. The width was 64.0 inches and the height 50.5 inches. The car's curb weight came in at 2,335 lbs. More technical data can be found at carfolio.com
1971 Datsun 240 Z total production was 33,684 vehicles.
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There are some excellent reference material available on the Z Cars. They include...Datsun Z Cars by the Consumer Guide Editors.....Essential Datsun Z 240 Z to 280 Z by author Colin Shipway.....How to Restore Your Datsun Z Car by author Wick Humble.
Datsun 240 Z Collector Cars
The Z Cars have a great following among collectors. The first Z car, the Datsun 240 Z appears to be the most sought after. Much of this is due to the better handling of the first models by virtue of being without the heavy bumpers.
The 240 Z offers a combinations of good mileage, rugged engineering and better than average performance. On top of this the design still looks great and parts required for restoration or repair are relatively easy to locate. When purchasing a 240 Z you may want to check for rust since these cars are rust prone. Your search for a 240 Z may also include modified models with poor add-ons which most likely will not add to value and may take away from it. Another thing you'll find in your search is that there were no convertible models produced.
Looking at asking prices for totally restored Datsun 240 Z's , as of this writing we're seeing prices in the mid teens and also in the mid $20,000 range. Another example is a pristine condition show ready model with a price tag approaching $40,000. The 240 Z's are the collector's first choice and the price will reflect degree of restoration and how show ready the automobile might be. Many of the finely restored 240 Z's are put on auction.
(Article and photos copyright 2014 AutoMuseumOnline)