Throughout the 1960s, Japanese carmakers were teetering on the brink of a sports car breakthrough. Toyota’s 2000 GT was a beauty, but with only 337 made, it was an exclusive curio. Honda was giving it a try too, with the dainty S600 and S800. As for Datsun, the MGB-lookalike Fairladies were relatively popular in Japan and the United States, but virtually unknown elsewhere.
The similarity between the Datsun Fairlady and the MGB is quite astonishing. The Datsun actually appeared first, at the 1961 Tokyo Motor Show, followed a year later by the MGB. Hardly a great car in its early 1500cc guise, the Fairlady improved dramatically over the years, a foretaste of the Japanese car industry’s culture of constant improvement.
It had various different designations, ranging from Fairlady Z to the S30 Nissan/Datsun, but most people seem happy to agree on Datsun 240Z. This was the first of the company’s Z-series sports cars, designed by Yoshihiko Matsuo. The rear-wheel drive, fixed-head coupe had clean and simple fastback lines with a sloping rear hatch. The six-cylinder engine was teamed with four- or five-speed manual transmission (or three-speed automatic box), whilst the 240Z had independent suspension, front disc brakes and rear drums. Internal trim was excellent, with reclining bucket seats, full instrument pack, radio and wall-to-wall carpeting. Air conditioning was available as an optional extra. Continue reading “Datsun 240Z – 1970”