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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 cars for sale

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Datsun 240Z
69500 69500 GBP
  • Datsun 240Z 1971

    POA POA

    *** THIS CAR HAS BEEN SOLD *** Please contact us if you were interested in this car. Our inventory is constantly changing and we will have similar examples of this model becoming available soon. ----------------------------- Datsun 240 Z coupe 1971 runs needs work 1971 Datsun 240 Z. A good and solid base, engine runs, gearbox and brakes function good. Needs some cosmetic and technical work. The car has the 2393 cc 6 in line engine with 151 hp. The body of the car was inspired by de Ferrari GTO and the Jaguar E-Type. All this makes this car a popular Japanees classic car. Car has USA title and document importduties for every EU country are paid by us. Documentation is complete for registration in every EU country. You do not need to pay any importduties. We can help with transport. Trading in, buying and consignment possible.

    • Year: 1971
    For sale
    E&R Classic Cars
    +31 416 751393 VIEW CONTACT NUMBER
  • Datsun 240Z Coupe 1970

    POA POA

    *** THIS CAR HAS BEEN SOLD *** Please contact us if you were interested in this car. Our inventory is constantly changing and we will have similar examples of this model becoming available soon. ----------------------------- Datsun 240Z february 1970 fit for classic rally Very early Datsun 240Z from february 1970. True survivor which will be ready for driving after little work. Very beautiful base, also for classic rally becoouse of his age. This 240Z has a 280 injection engine. This Datsun runs faster than all the other 240Z´s. A really fantastic hobbyproject or base for rally preparation. Engine runs fabulous, car drives good. Car has USA title and document importduties for every EU country are paid by us. Documentation is complete for registration in every EU country. You do not need to pay any importduties. We can help with transport. Trading in, buying and consignment possible.

    • Year: 1970
    For sale
  • 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
  • 1971 Datsun 240Z Coupe

    $69,500(£54,293.40) $69,500(£54,293.40)

    In the late 1960s, the Japanese auto industry had a new sense of confidence as they finally found their stride with uniquely designed and meticulously engineered cars. Earlier in the decade, American buyers saw Japanese cars as novelties or oddballs, cars to be avoided especially for those who still had WWII fresh in their mind. The earliest Japanese sports cars borrowed heavily from their two-wheeled counterparts, particularly Honda with its bike-engined S600 coupe and roadsters. Nissan-Datsun took a slightly different approach in the middle of the 1960s, with their take on the traditional British sports car. The Datsun 1600 and 2000 Fairlady roadsters were aimed squarely at the MGB, Triumph TR4 and Sunbeam Alpine. Datsun held the upper hand thanks to its 5-speed gearbox and beautiful 135hp overhead-cam engine. The British cars felt positively agricultural in comparison. Combined with the mechanically similar 510 sedan, Datusn enjoyed moderate success in the US market, demonstrating the Japanese could build a very capable competitor to the best of the British roadsters. Enthusiasts and club racers knew the Datsun was the superior car, though Japanese cars still struggled against the attitudes in the US. When the Fairlady 2000 was due for replacement, Datsun decided to go all out and design a sports car specifically for the critical North American market. The basic formula for the new 240Z sports car drew inspiration from Jaguar’s E-Type. The elegant 2-seat coupe body was designed in-house by Yoshihiko Matsuo at the Nissan sports car studio. A 2.4 liter, overhead-cam inline-six was chosen along with four wheel independent suspension and front disc brakes. The 240Z was very pretty, could punch above its weight in terms of performance, and had a build quality unseen in its British rivals. Yutaka Katayama (known to loyal Z-car fans as “Mr. K”) was the driving force responsible for marketing the Z in the North American market. His effort to promote 240Z paid dividends for the Japanese industry as a whole, whole he developed a cult following for his sports car, Nissan, Toyota and Honda all benefitted from a newfound respect and admiration for the quality of Japanese cars. In 1997, with the 300ZX nearing the end of production and the 350Z still several years off, Nissan sought to cash in on the still-vibrant community of 240Z enthusiasts. They bought a handful of solid, original 1970 and 1971 240Zs and handed them over one of three carefully selected restoration shops to be fully restored from the ground up, using as many factory parts as possible. The restored cars were then sold “new” in select Nissan dealers around the country. It was a brilliant move for Nissan, as they reignited the passion for these wonderful cars and helped to boost the value and interest in all other 240Zs. Our featured 1971 Datsun 240Z is one of the finest examples we’ve ever encountered. This well-documented California car has covered just 200 miles since a four-year, obsessively detailed nut and bolt restoration by Les Cannaday’s Classic Datsun Motorsport, one of those select shops chosen by Nissan to restore their own cars. While this car is not one of Nissan’s dealer cars, it is no less spectacularly restored to exacting standards by a respected marque expert. Presented in its original color of Orange (code 918) over black interior, it is a stunning and thoroughly correct 240Z. The body fit and finish are superlative, all trim is correct and in as-new condition and the car rides on a set of classic slotted alloy wheels. The paint is beautifully laid down and it even wears a set of the seldom seen optional black stripes on the rockers, a wonderful period touch that is often overlooked in lesser restorations. The black interior is upholstered in factory correct materials and executed beautifully. Likewise, the engine bay and undercarriage are fully detailed with correct decals, tags, braided hoses, clamps and gold-cadmium plated hardware. Rarely do we see 240Zs restored to such a level of excellence and with such meticulous attention to detail. Even the owner’s manual is original to this car, down to the matching warranty card. The trunk is properly detailed as well with a full original tool kit including the original wheel chock. The beloved Mr. K, who passed away in 2015 at 105 years old, put his mark of approval on this restoration, in the form of his signature on the glovebox. This is a concours-quality car that also happens to be a fabulous thing to drive; we have tested it on some of our favorite local roads and are happy to report it is simply a joy. Clearly this was a cherished car from day one. As a basis for restoration, this was a very solid, very original and sound example with long-term California history, sold new by Varsity Datsun of Davis, CA. It was never rotted or crashed and the results of the restoration attest to that fact. For show or to drive, one would be hard pressed to find a better 240Z available today. .

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