David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
6/8/17 2:08 p.m.

Our sports car world can be divided into two epochs: before and after the arrival of Datsun’s 240Z. Before the 240Z arrived stateside for the 1970 model year, small-bore sports cars came from Europe and sported wire wheels. Most asked their occupants to sacrifice some comfort and convenience for style and performance.

Japan’s release of the 240Z pushed us into modern times with its practical hatchback shape and contemporary driving position. It was reliable, too, and looked more expensive than it was. The genuine wood shift knob perfectly rooted the car in its day.

Oh, and the 240Z could perform, too. Peter Brock’s BRE team quickly established the 240Z as the car to beat in SCCA C Production racing, further putting the European establishment on notice. In the hands of privateers and other factory-supported efforts, the 240Z continued to perform well. (Brock even took the 240Z Baja racing, too.)

Our glasses haven’t been rose-tinted by hindsight, either. Road & Track’s original road test praised the new release: “The basic list price of the 240Z is $3526 and at this price it is a super-bargain, with a combination of styling, performance and handling far ahead of anything else under $4000.”

The 240Z retained its basic body nearly all the way through the ‘70s, with Nissan renaming the model as engine displacement increased: The original 2.4-liter 240Z was eventually replaced by the 2.6-liter 260Z for just 1974, followed by the 2.8-liter 280Z the next year.

With increased displacement came increased weight, though, so those original 240Zs command the most interest. The first cars, those built before June 1972, also came with the desirable SU-style carburetors. Their replacement was the flat-top Hitachi, a carb that won few fans. Fortunately, intake setups can be easily backdated.

Which one to buy today? As usual, first-year cars command the biggest premiums. Hagerty says that a No. 1 example is now worth $58,500, with good and excellent cars worth somewhere between the high-teens and mid-$30s. The 1971 cars are worth a few grand less; by the time you get to 1974, values are cut by more than half.

Prices have been moving upward, too, so while some of the higher-end Japanese classics have experienced some turmoil, perhaps the Z is the one to get and enjoy.

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racerdave600 SuperDork
6/8/17 2:22 p.m.

You need to stop it, now! I still regret selling my '71 a few years ago. It's probably the car I regret the most, and that escalates as the days go by. It's certainly not a perfect car, but there's just something raw and entertaining about the way they drive.

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
6/8/17 3:15 p.m.

Agreed ^^^

I also miss mine---- I just miss looking at the darn thing. It was a great highway car-- long legs and pretty comfy. The steering, shifter, and overall feel is delicate and light. I sure wouldn't want to be T-Boned in one though. Those doors feel like they have as much protection as a wet paper bag!

I'll take another in Orange--- loved that car!

racerdave600 SuperDork
6/8/17 7:07 p.m.

And don't forget the sound. Mine had a header and stainless exhaust, well, and a nice cam too. It sounded awesome! It was silver, but I too would have preferred orange. Its funny, I've been new toy shopping for the better part of a year now. I've almost pulled the trigger on a Boxster, NC Miata, Z4 M Coupe, and a S2000, but I think I really want another 240Z. The problem is I want a really nice one this time, and they are getting pricey and hard to find.

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
6/9/17 9:30 a.m.

^^ Follow your heart, and get another! All the "experts" say they are going to jump in price, but they've been saying that for a long time now. Good examples can still be found for less than $20K, but that is likely to change, as ratty examples get restored, and the "middle ground" cars begin to disappear.

You are totally right about the sound! Love me some straight six! Here's my old car----and Olaf the wonderdog. As much as I miss that 240z.....I miss the pooch even more.

racerdave600 SuperDork
6/9/17 12:47 p.m.

Looks great Joe! I feel you on the dog, I lost mine about 5 years ago after 17 years.

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
6/9/17 12:57 p.m.

17 years? That's a heck of a run!

Yep, Olaf was one of a kind, made it to 13. He could open the fridge, cabinets, screen doors--- the most intelligent dog I've ever seen. He even had a showbiz resume, as he was in the "Busted" show that used to air on the Animal Planet! He played "dog in cage".....improvised too....he was a natural!

The car lives on, but unfortunately dogs are only here temporarily.

Jordan Rimpela
Jordan Rimpela Digital Editor
6/7/19 9:14 a.m.

With a 240Z selling for $124,240 yesterday, I figured it was a good time to reopen this subject. 

wspohn Dork
6/8/19 10:55 a.m.

Stock steel wheels and hubcaps are now rare - I don't recall seeing any brand new 240s on the street more than a week off the showroom floor that didn't have mags on it.

I also recall my British car friends that experienced a big 'Holy Crap!" moment the first time they saw how the cars performed. Many the owner of a smogged up TR6 regretted his buying decision when the Datsun appeared.

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