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.
Performance was first class, with impressive top speed, crisp handling, tenacious roadholding, comfortable ride quality and notable reliability, adding up to a refined sports car that delivered unheard-of value in the price bracket. It made the Datsun 240Z a massive international success with Nissan unable to keep up with demand.
The main export market was the USA, where Nissan introduced the Datsun 240Z in 1970 — breaking out of the stereotype that Japanese imports were all boxy economy cars. Keen pricing undercut sporty imports like Jaguar and Porsche, ensuring that the 240Z was a huge hit with the American car-buying public, with the car’s profile raised by considerable success on the racetrack. Regular upgrades were made over the years to conform to tightening American regulations.
A modified 240ZG was introduced in 1971 to homologate the 240Z for Group 4 racing. The two models were very similar, though 240ZG was sold only in Japan and had modified bodywork, notably an extended nose. There were various other evolutions of the standard Datsun 240Z — the high-performance Z432 and Z432R, the 260Z and 280Z. These well-made sports cars all combine stylish good looks with excellent performance, and they’re fast becoming collectable classics.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1970 (until 1978)
2,393 cc Straight Six
Top speed of 125 mph (201 km/h);0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 8.3 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
To help ensure continuing American interest in the 240Z, Nissan ran an imaginative programme in the late 1990s whereby the company purchased as many cars as possible, had them professionally restored and then sold them through dealerships.