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Datsun 240Z: Buying guide and review (1969-1974)

Datsun 240Z: Buying guide and review (1969-1974) Classic and Performance Car
Datsun 240Z Datsun 240Z Datsun 240Z Datsun 240Z
As far back as 1962 Datsun launched its first two-seater open-topped sportscar, very much along the lines of the contemporary MGB. But with the company selling very few cars outside of its home market, hardly anybody got to sample this neat little sportster, dubbed the Fairlady. 
 
By the end of the 1960s Datsun was selling its products in a much wider range of countries, so when the Fairlady’s successor was announced in 1969, Europeans and Americans would be able to sample it too. And this time it would be more serious; there would be a straight-six providing power and instead of the diminutive convertible this new car would be a more substantial coupé. 
 
The new car – dubbed 240Z – was designed to appeal to the American market. The car would go on to become a formidable weapon in rallying, a superb road car and at one point it was the world’s best-selling sportscar. Now, it’s still superb to drive and if you can find a good one (which is harder than you might think) the Z makes a great investment too. 
 
Which one to buy? 
 
Out of all the Z cars, the 240Z is bar far the most sought after, although later (and more rare) 260Z does have many benefits over its older brother. While its looks are less pure, the 2+2 model is the rarest of all, and is highly collectible. 
 
While Zs are rare in the UK, with a little over 200 registered, there are many to choose from in Europe, Japan and the USA. Buying a 240Z from overseas will potentially be more expensive, however you will probably end up with more rust-free example in the long run. 
 
Projects are best avoided unless you’re a bodywork genius. Indeed, you might be better off avoiding UK-supplied cars, as there were all sorts of derivatives available elsewhere that didn’t make it here – and remember that Japanese-market cars are right-hand drive too. Some home market cars featured smaller engines or four valves for each cylinder. Do your homework by picking up something that didn’t originally make it to the UK, and you could end up with a real classic novelty. 
 
Tough as old boots when properly prepped, the 240Z is also a seriously competitive rally car on many of the world’s toughest events. With suspension that’s sophisticated among its peers it is capable, even if it can be bought out by tight stages due to the big straight-six up front causing a the car to go straight on. One nice feature of the Z for long-distance rallies where the cars are parked up overnight and on rest days is that it has built-in lockers, originally intended for tools, behind each seat. If the rules allow, it’s easy to achieve up to 2.8 litres with later blocks and cranks, and there are plenty of specialists in the UK, too.
 
These won the Monte and safari in period, and one took the historic Rally Championship in 1992 and 1993. You have to spec them like a Safari car to get to the end of the toughest rallies, and then it can become a £100k car. But everything’s available, and you can use things like Austin 1800 driveshafts if you get stuck.
 
Performance and specs 
 
Engine 2393cc, in-line six-cylinder
Power 151bhp @ 5600rpm
Torque 146lb ft @ 4400rpm
Top speed 125mph
0-60mph 8.0sec
Fuel consumption 24mpg
Gearbox Five-speed manual
 
Dimensions and weight 
 
Wheelbase 2305mm
Length 4140mm
Width 1626mm
Height 1283
Weight 1025kg 
 
Common problems
 
• Rust can be blamed for the demise of most 240Zs and 260Zs. Most survivors have seen some work, which may or may not have been done correctly. That’s why you need to look for wonky panel gaps and swage lines that are awry. 
 
• One particular problem area is on the rear quarter panel. Three swage lines intersect at the rear wheelarch and it’s common for them to be all over the place. 
 
• Other areas likely to be riddled with rot include the floorpans – especially the longitudinal crossmembers, which are located just below the front seats. Front chassis legs can also attract serious corrosion. 
 
• Wheelarches and front wings should be carefully inspected, as replacement body panels are difficult to source. Other rust hot spots include the door bottoms and the windscreen surround, the rear panel and tailgate. 
 
• The 240Z interior is fairly basic, and while most of the upholstery can be replaced, cracked dashboard tops are slightly more tricky to sort.
 
• The straight-six fitted to all these Zs is durable if it’s looked after, which means annual oil changes. Due to the alloy cylinder head, the coolant also needs to be changed regularly. 
 
• Let the engine tick over and remove the oil cap. You should be able to see if the (hopefully clean) oil is flowing freely. 
 
• If there are any problems with the oil supply, there will be an unmistakable rattling from the top end of the engine. There’s always the possibility that the tappets need setting, but plan for the worth case scenario. Any untoward noises from the bottom end will most likely mean that a full strip down is required. 
 
• The five-speed gearbox that was fitted to UK cars is relatively tough, although the bearings and synchromesh do eventually fail. Second gear is usually the first to become crunchy, and a lack of replacement parts makes rebuilding the ‘box a very expensive business. 
 
• Decent used transmissions are scarce, so fitting a 280ZX unit is generally the best alternative. Later 200SX gearbox conversions are becoming more common. 
 
• On the test drive, the steering should feel alert and precise. If there is any slop, the likely culprits are the rack mounting bushes, which have gone soft. This can be easily fixed with a set of polyurethane bushes, and uprated steering coupler. 
 
• There shouldn’t be any suspension problems, although the shock absorbers can leak and the springs will sag after a while. American cars originally came with softer suspension, so fitting stiffer suspension and poly bushes to these is par for the course. 
 
Model history 
 
1969: The 240Z goes on sale in Japan. 
1970: The UK and America get their first 240Zs; American editions get a four-speed manual gearbox while UK cars have an extra ratio. 
1971: The transmission and location of the differential are improved. A Jatco three-speed automatic is offered in some markets while the rear quarter panel and hatch are redesigned for improved through-flow ventilation. 
1972: The compression ratio is lowered from 9.0 to 8.8:1, reducing emissions and power. Automatic seat belt retractors are installed and the rear window defroster lines are now horizontal. 
1973: The carburettors, manifolds and cylinder head are changed to meet emission standards. Intermittent wipers are now fitted along with tinted glass, three-point adjustable seat belts, a collapsible steering column and fire-retardant trim. 
1974: Engine capacity is increased to 2.6 litres, and the car is renamed the 260Z. There’s also a new 2+2 body style, with fold-down rear seats. 
1975: The US gets a 2.8-litre model, the 280Z, with Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection. 
1975/76: The UK market loses the coupe; only the 2+2 is marketed for this period. 
1977: The 260Z coupe is re-launched in the UK with revised interior trim, improved suspension and a more luxurious specification. The coupe and 2+2 continue alongside each other until the introduction of the 280ZX. 
1978: An all-new, second-generation Z-car is developed, debuting in America and the UK as the 280ZX. Only the engine, transmission and differential are carried over. 
 
Owners clubs, forums and websites 
 
• www.zclub.net – UK owners’ club and forum, catering for all Z cars 
• www.s30.org – Classic Nissan 240Z register 
• www.datsunclubuk.co.uk – Datsun and Nissan owners’ club 
 
Summary and prices 
 
For such an iconic car, the prices of 240Z models are surprisingly affordable. Like most Japanese classics, the Z models lag behind their European counterparts. Projects start from around £3500, but expect to pay between £7500-£13,000 for something half decent. The very best examples can fetch up to around £25,000. 
 
When looking at building a competition car, things tend to get a lot more expensive, although the 240Z actually remains fairly affordable. Build a car yourself from around £40,000, including a basic 2.8-litre rally engine that will produce 230bhp on three Webers. Total rises past £100,000 if you pay someone else to built a car capable of winning events. 
 
The later 260Z is rarer that the 240Z, and offers even better value. £5000-£10,000 gets you a decent runner, while £15,000 is enough to secure a truly great example. 
Datsun 240Z Datsun 240Z Datsun 240Z Datsun 240Z
Last updated: 4th Aug 2016
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Datsun 240Z
26995 38500 GBP
  • Datsun - 240 Z Coupe - 1972

    €26,000 - €33,800 est. (£0 - £0 est.) €26,000 - €33,800 est. (£0 - £0 est.)
    Auction Date: 01 Jan 1970
    RESERVE PRICE
    Online Auction
    €26,000 - €33,800 est. (£0 - £0 est.) €26,000 - €33,800 est. (£0 - £0 est.)
    Auction Date: 01 Jan 1970
    RESERVE PRICE
    Catawiki Auctions
  • Datsun 240Z

    £26,995 £26,995

    FOR SALE A dazzling Datsun 240Z with an incredible 56,622 miles and two owners from new. EQUIPMENT Steel unit body, safety glass, front and rear air spoilers, fully instrumented padded dash, 160mph speedometer, 8000rpm tachometer, fuel gauge, water temperature gauge, oil pressure gauge, ammeter, 3-speed heater/defroster, heated window, electric aerial, push-button self-seeking radio, cigar lighter. Dealer fit: Frigitte air-conditioning. EXTERIOR Astonishingly this sleek Datsun 240Z has never been restored and wears its factory Monte Carlo Red paint, (Code 905), with pride. The graceful distinctive lines still look contemporary today and draw admiration from onlookers. Minor marks and chips to the 47 year old body pale into insignificance when desirable originality is discovered. A deep shine to the paintwork from continual garage storage and amazing chrome work and bright trim will enable immediate enjoyment on the show circuit. Close scrutiny will even reveal factory spot welds to the wheel arches and sills along with small compressions to the wing tops from elbows during servicing. Purists will be thrilled to see an exposed underside in body colour with 56,000 miles of use but no corrosion or underseal. The glass still has the Nissan vehicle emission sticker attached. Remarkable in all respects. INTERIOR Contoured adjustable high-back bucket seats with built-in headrests and ventilation buttons are finished in Black vinyl and remain in perfect condition. Black carpeting has been protected by genuine Datsun rubber floor mats and incredibly all the diamond patterned trim to the foot wells, transmission tunnel and boot area is undamaged. The sports wood-effect steering wheel has discoloured with age and all instrumentation including the Jeco electric clock, self-seeking push-button radio and electric aerial function. The glove box still has the vehicle data sticker and key no sticker. The stainless steel Datsun sill covers to both sides and vehicle identification plate to the door shut remains attached. The large boot area is factory original even retaining the plywood spare wheel cover, luggage straps and toolkit all in pristine condition. Utterly fabulous. ENGINE & TRANSMISSION The in-line 6-cylinder 2393cc engine with twin Hitachi carburettors produces 150bhp at 5600rpm which propels the car effortlessly to 60mph in 9 seconds and a top speed of 125mph. Stunning originality from the unpainted orange air box with factory stickers to the Paint Code sticker on the front cross member are amazing testaments to the unmolested character of this rare survivor. A light and easy to use 4-speed gearbox with perfect ratios and near 50/50 weight distribution enhances the experience. WHEELS, TYRES & BRAKES Distinctive and attractive wheel trims proudly displaying the ‘D’ emblem are virtually unmarked and again have escaped the popular alloy wheel replacement. All four wheels are shod in matching Michelin Harmony 195/70 R14 tyres. Incredibly the spare wheel still wears the factory supplied white-wall Pirelli Cinturato CN75! Fail-safe stopping power with a dual hydraulic braking system and power front disc brakes and Al-Fin drums at the rear for positive braking in any weather. HISTORY FILE This thrilling Z-Car is a remarkable survivor with a verified ownership record of just two individuals. Purchased on the 16th June 1971 by Richard E Friese, an Air Force pilot then stationed at Robins Air Force Base Georgia who remained the custodian for 43 years! The Certificate of Title present in the history file along with a personal letter to the only other owner and UK resident, Mr Christopher Roberts, confirms the transfer of this special car took place in July 2014. Mr Friese writes an account of how he managed to acquire the car and jump the long waiting lists by having a lunch appointment with the owner of the Datsun Dealer in Cochran Georgia and bringing along a cold six pack of beer! Mr Friese gives a fascinating account of how the 240-Z was only a second car covering low miles while he was based at various locations including RAF Brize Norton when he was a Navigator/Bombardier in Strategic Air Command. At the age of 80 the decision was made to sell the car. The second owner wanted the very best, lowest mileage unrestored example money could buy and was delighted to acquire this prime example. Magazine featured on two separate occasions and now available to a lucky third custodian wanting the pure unadulterated Datsun experience. MOT August 2018, HPI Clear. To see a video of this car please copy the link below: https://youtu.be/X7VmoTFzRb0 To see a complete set of photographs of this car please copy the link below: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmaFzMrA 'Like us' or 'Follow us' for exciting new cars coming soon at KGF Classic Cars: https://www.facebook.com/KGFClassiccars https://twitter.com/KGFClassicCars

    • Year: 1971
    • Mileage: 56622 mi
    • Engine size: 2.4
    For sale
    £26,995 £26,995
  • 1971 DATSUN 240Z

    $38,500(£0) $38,500(£0)

    --Red with Black interior piped Red and Black carpeting, Fully Restored, 2.4 liter 6-cylinder, 4-speed manual, Panasport wheels. The Datsun 240Z was Japan’s equivalent to Britain’s sporting Jaguar E-type. By the late 1960s Nissan had begun work in-house on a new sports car designed specifically with American drivers in mind. With superb styling, it became an instant hit and automotive icon. It was equipped with a 150 horsepower 2.4-liter single overhead camshaft straight-six cylinder, independent suspension and disc brakes. The 240Z was on par with or even superior to many of the best sports cars of the period. This 240Z was restored by well-known and respected Datsun Z restorers “The Z Farm” in the United Kingdom circa 2010. It was imported to the USA, has been collector owned and used sparingly since and has thus accumulated few miles since its restoration. A wonderfully presented, restored 240Z in extremely hard to find, superb condition throughout. Video walk-around and road test: https://youtu.be/OY1al_d7cNk

    • Year: 1971
    • Mileage: 2010 mi
    For sale
    $38,500(£0) $38,500(£0)
  • 1971 Datsun 240Z

    POA POA

    (SOLD) This beautiful, unmolested vehicle is in excellent, original condition and would be a great addition to any Datsun enthusiast collection. It was well maintained, garage kept and is a solid, California car with only 2 owners. The paint and interior is all original and in very good condition. The brakes and suspension have been gone through and included new shocks, springs, sway bars and strut tower braces. The car received a major tune up and service, the carburetors were rebuilt and the cooling system has been serviced. The engine is in excellent condition and would serve well as a daily driver.

    • Year: 1971
    • Mileage: 138000 mi
    For sale
    POA POA