Datsun 240Z

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 revolution came with the Datsun 240Z, which at a stroke established Japan on the world sports car stage at a time when there was a gaping hole in that sector, particularly in the US. It was even launched in the States in October 1969, a month before its official Japanese release, and on a rising tide of Japanese exports to the US it scored a massive hit. It had the looks, performance, handling, and equipment levels. A great value sporting package that outsold all rivals.

TOP STYLIST

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The lines of the 240Z were based on earlier styling exercises by Albrecht Goertz, master stylist of the BMW 507.

SPOILER

Trunk-lid airfoil was not a standard 240Z feature in all markets.

WINDSHIELD

Steeply raked windshield aided aerodynamic efficiency.

ENGINE

The six-cylinder twin-carb 2.4-liter engine was developed from the four-cylinder unit of the Bluebird sedan range.

WHEELS

Tacky plastic wheel trim is an original fitment.

BALANCE

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This view shows that the engine was placed forward of the centerline, with the occupants well behind it; yet the Z was noted for its fine balance. The large rear window offered the driver excellent rearward vision.

HOOD

Hood was uncluttered by unnecessary louvers; it later became fussier.

FIRST OF BREED

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As with so many long-lived sports cars, the first-of-breed 240Z is seen as the best sporting package lighter and nimbler than its successors. If you wanted to cut a real dash in a 240Z, the ultimate Samurai performance option had what it takes. Modifications gave six-second 0–60 (96 km/h) figures.

MIXED STYLING CUES

As with the recessed lights at the front, there is an echo of the E-Type Jaguar fixed-head coupe at the rear, with a little Porsche 911 Mustang fastback and Aston Martin DBS of 1969.

INTERIOR

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Cockpit layout was tailored to American tastes, with hooded instruments and beefy controls. The vinyl covered bucket seats offered generous rear luggage space.

Z IDENTITY

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The model was launched in Japan as the Fairlady Z, replacing the earlier Fairlady line; export versions were universally known as 240Z and badged accordingly. Non-UK and US models were badged as Nissans rather than Datsuns.

CAT LIGHTS

Recessed from light treatment is very reminiscent of an E-Type Jaguar.

BODY PANELS

Thin, rot-prone body panels were one of the few things that let the 240Z down.

BADGING

The name Datsun —literally son of Dat—first appeared on a small Dat in 1932.

SUSPENSION

Sophisticated suspension spec was independent with MacPherson struts on all four wheels.

S P E C I F I C A T I O N S


MODEL Datsun 240Z (1969–73)

PRODUCTION 156,076

BODY STYLE Three-door, two-seater sports hatchback.

CONSTRUCTION Steel monocoque.

ENGINE Inline single overhead-camshaft six, 2393cc.

POWER OUTPUT 151 bhp at 5600 rpm.

TRANSMISSION All-synchromesh four- or five-speed manual gearbox, or auto.

SUSPENSION Front: Independent by MacPherson struts, low links, coil springs, telescopic shock absorbers; Rear: Independent by MacPherson struts, lower wishbones, coil springs, telescopic dampers.

BRAKES Front discs, rear drums.

MAXIMUM SPEED 125 mph (210 km/h)

0–60 MPH (0–96 KM/H) 8.0 sec

A.F.C. 20–25 mpg (7–9 km/l)

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