David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
3/27/18 2:57 p.m.

Story by David S. Wallens • Photos by Tim Suddard
Restoration Photos Courtesy John Taddonio

All that John Taddonio wanted to do was install some stiffer springs. In the end, though, he wound up totally restoring his Datsun 240Z. Actually, a small clarification: He kind of wound up having to restore the car twice.

Like a lot of us, John can trace his infatuation with sports cars back to his more impressionable days. When he was 12 years old, his dad came home with a brand-new 1970 Jaguar XKE. The next year, John saw something he liked even better: A friend of his dad’s showed up with a Datsun 240Z.

“It had similarities to the Jag, but with a sleek hatchback body that I actually preferred to the Jag’s drop top. It just looked right,” Taddonio recalls. “I was allowed to have a seat behind the wheel, and immediately fell in love. A wood steering wheel. An ultra modern jet-black cockpit with the coolest gauges deep set in the dash. It looked fast standing still. That day it became my dream car.”

A good, early 240Z was out of John’s price range once he came of driving age, so he settled for a 1969 Mustang. Other cars quickly followed, but he didn’t forget his original love. Good examples, though, either exceeded his budget or sported too much rust. He eventually expanded his search beyond his hometown of Rochester, New York, and finally spied an ad for a promising car being offered a few hundred miles away in Chicago: “1970 Datsun 240Z, stereo tape, no rust, low mileage, number 3833, excellent condition, $3000.”

John called on the ad. The seller was the original owner, having purchased the car while stationed in Hawaii. The color? Gold, he was told. It wasn’t John’s dream hue of red, but perhaps this was the one.

He patiently waited for the photos of the car to arrive via the mail–Polaroids, he adds–and liked what he saw. So John, who was still in college at the time, made plans to fly out with his dad to inspect the car. The seller met them at the Holiday Inn O’Hare Airport.

“I was in love with the car immediately, but tried not to show it,” John admits. The car appeared to be as described, money changed hands, and father and son made plans for the 600-mile return drive. The 13-hour trip went without a hitch, John reports. The year was 1979, and he finally had his dream car.

“For the most part, from 1979 to 1991, I drove the 240Z summers, stored it winters, and used it less and less as my family grew,” he reports. “In 1991, I decided to park the car for a while, figuring maybe a year or two. By this time three children, a career, home ownership, dance lessons and Little League games took all my time, and the 240Z stayed parked in the corner of the garage, covered and out of mind. It actually became part of the scenery.”

Read the rest of the story

Flynlow HalfDork
4/4/18 1:30 p.m.

Thanks for posting this, I really enjoyed reading it.  Nice to hear about a normal guy getting through a troublesome restoration (long timeline, shop change, etc.).  Gives me hope for my own projects.

4/12/18 9:58 a.m.

Thanks for the great read David and it gives me hope that I might actually finish my 260Z project one of these years.  I did finally move into a new place last Saturday with an 850 sf garage so my poor Trans Am, Datsun and Lincoln LS can be united again under one roof with room to work on them.  Getting the rest of the shop stuff over to the house is this Saturday's project. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
4/24/18 11:27 a.m.

Thanks. That was a fun one to put together. 

Our Preferred Partners