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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Datsun 240Z Review: Best of the breed?

It felt like a good A-to-B speed, one you'd not be too surprised to see from the average outside-lane-tramping 3 Series or A4 on the way to their next cladding conference or software seminar. Nothing too outrageous, just usefully distance-shrinking. But what feels routine in a mid-range repmobile seems more adventurous in an early-1970s coupé like the Datsun 240Z.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/driving/datsun-240z-review-best-of-the-breed/
21 REPLIES 21
hyperv6
Racer

This is one of the only Asian sports cars that interested me. It stole the styling but made it iconic in its own way. 


It was light and simple where the 280 and 300 went the wrong way. 

I just saw a local driver here in Ohio with one of these converted to a convertible. It was a well done job and makes one wonder how well a factory one would have done. 

 

This is the car that makes me not like the new car as they should have copied this nose closer. 

Imagine these lights with Jag like covers on the for aero. 

etm63
New Driver

Not sure about the UK, but there was no such thing as a 1974 240Z in the US. The 260Z replaced the 240Z in 1974 and for only that one year. The 280Z was then introduced and offered from 1975-1978 with the 280ZX offered in 1979.
SAG
Technician

better do more research
Corkola
Intermediate Driver

He stated US, so he is correct.
SAG
Technician

Restored one
SAG
Technician

but back then
I restored a lot of
"Grey Market" cars.
'they weren't suppose to be here, but they were'.
SAG
Technician

1988
the 'US Gov' banned them.
They disappeared.
Have seen a Maserati '3500 Sebring' listed online.
"a grey market car"
Corkola
Intermediate Driver

You are correct. There was no such thing as a 1974 240Z in the US. Early 1974 260Z's had the earlier bumpers while later production models had the bigger bumpers. I owned a late production 1973 240Z with 4 speed and A/C. I decided to rebuild the carburetors so I went to my local Nissan dealer (this was around 1985 in Sacramento) and purchased a rebuild kit. I discovered the gaskets didn't work, went back to the dealer and had to purchase a kit for 260Z carbs to obtain the correct gaskets.
MTB_dude62
Pit Crew

Right, and the '73 240 & '74 260 carbs were junk, hence the weber swap.
audiobycarmine
Technician

Another nod and Like, to Hyperv6.

I, like millions of other Americans, swooned at the first sight of the original 240Z.
As the article states, they did indeed sell for $3500... if you could GET one.
I knew of numerous instances where a new Z was purchased, enjoyed for a month or two, and then SOLD, for a handsome profit!

Though lusting after one for years, I never got to own one.
I did have a fortunate coincidence in that a young female neighbor was dating the son of the local Datsun dealer.
Within a month of the Z's introduction, one showed up in her driveway.
YES!!

Dave, the boyfriend, treated me to a still-memorable "ride" which, I would have sworn at the time, left my physical impression in the seat-back.
And ITS impression further onto me.

It's a real shame that, for some years, the steel used in many Japanese cars, and others, I'm sure; was incredibly rust-prone, resulting in the paucity of viable examples.
My ex-wife had a 280Z which, though less than nine years old, had its FRAME rusting out.

To this day, it is to me, the second-most-beautiful car design ever, behind Jaguar's E-Type.

(And I STILL believe that someone should license and produce "body kits" of these two cars, to ride on modern chassis' — 'Vette, Mustang, various Toyota/Nissan/Mazda... whatever works.)
FloridaMarty
Instructor

The early Z's were probably the best cars ever built! Affordable, solid, good looking, performers. My dad had several of these Z's back then for his salesmen. I got to learn to drive in a '74 1/2  260Z, back in 1978, with the thick bumpers. Man that was a great car!! It tracked like nothing else. It was fast. The engine was smooth as a sewing machine. The car was tight, no rattles, no slop. Why oh why can't they build em like that anymore?

Camarojoe
Intermediate Driver

etm63 has it right, 240 ended in 73. Emissions and the big bumpers knocked performance down so hard they had to up the displacement. Living in Cincinnati I had a 72, I bought in 1978, my first car.
I couldn't drive a stick but didn't care. Also it was already a rust bucket that I had to fix. Also didn't care! Just a fantastic car, even today. I do remember a Porsche designed 5 speed available in 1970 but never saw one in a car. It would go over 120 mph. Did that on the way to Mid-Ohio for an IMSA race. Not the brightest thing in the world to do on a set of Firestone 721's but I was 19.
On the styling end, a top two from Japan and a top 20 of all time. If you look the roof line is exactly the same as the 62 GTO. Someone even said there was one in the studio during design. That is why they sell a GTO body kit for the 240. Always believed when they dropped the Datsun name sales started to fall. Not sure, but I think Datsun outsold Toyota in the 70ties.
Piper
Intermediate Driver

I always thought the 240Z was a miniaturized copy of the 365GTB4 Ferrari Daytona.
GoFaster
Intermediate Driver

For 1974 in the US, it was a 260Z.
Gary_Bechtold
Specialist

The original 240Z is a great car. Still fun and a joy to drive. We have a few in my area, one guy has a green 260Z that is gorgeous. Always puts a smile on my face.
ed
Advanced Driver

Had a '72 with 4 speed and AC, white over red/black.  About $3K in 1978.  One of my favs of all time.  Sold it when the fender rot started, couldn't afford to deal with it.  My bad.

Rick2
Instructor

I had a 260Z that was a rust bucket. I put fiberglass fenders on it, patched the holes and painted it in it's original green. It was fun and plenty fast for the day. Two owners later it was jumped over a local railroad track and actually broke in half.
GingerDK
New Driver

In my last year of high School I finally convinced my father that our second family car should be a 1974 260Z. My mother and I took it on a test drive and it promptly died. Wouldn't restart so the drive was finished in the front seat of a tow truck back to the dealership.....hello Toyota, goodbye teenage dream
Punk
Advanced Driver

The Z was a dream for those who couldn't afford, or want the commitment of an E Type when it premiered here in 1970. My dad got in on the act in 1973, the last year for the 2.4 liter 240 in the US. And it was a revelation to drive! When it ran. Which was almost never during the summer. Vapor lock meant you spent as much time on the side of the road as on it. Would the Webers on this car have helped? Maybe, but they would have changed the tone of the car some. In 1974 the 260 came and it was far worse than my dad's '73. These damn things are a rare sight today because they were for one year only and most of them were driven off cliffs by frustrated owners. The fuel injected 280 finally solved the issues, although, as you note, the car had changed in other ways by then. So if you want one, 1970, '71 or '72. Otherwise, unless its been modified, as this one has, expect trouble.
Mark_AJ2X
Intermediate Driver

I always thought the Fiat 124 Spyder bore more than a passing resemblance to the 240Z. Much cheaper of course, but quite comfortable and practical, and boy did it ever want to be driven fast.
camarogirl57
Intermediate Driver

I had an S130 '77 280Z 2+2 4sp. One of the best 'long-tripping' cars I ever had. Started to rust after a few W. Pennsylvania winters so had to trade it in. I still miss it so.....