A 240Z Still Young

By | June 1, 2014

IMG_2201Two weeks ago I flew from Boise, Idaho to Sacramento, California to pick up a 1971 Datsun 240Z that I purchased on Ebay a couple of weeks earlier.  You assume a certain amount of risk when buying a car off of Ebay, especially one that’s 43 years old and as rust prone as the old Z’s are.

I’ve had my share of blunders when it comes to buying cars.  I learn best from the school of hard knocks.  The weeks leading up to my trip to get the Z were tormenting.  Half of me couldn’t wait to get my first Z home and the other half was terrified that I’d get there and find that it was full of hidden issues.  Thankfully it was not.

240Z EmblemWith a build date of 11/70, my 71′ 240Z is a true series one.  The differences between series one (1969-early 1971) and series two (late 1971-1973) 240Z’s are minimal and hard to notice from an untrained eye, but to a purist it could be the difference of several thousand dollars.

Series one Z’s were made of thinner sheet metal and lacked an extra crash support bracket in the doors, making them 250 ibs lighter than the series two’s.  Series one Z’s also had the more desirable dual Hitachi SU carburetors and came with the E31 cylinder head that had higher compression.  Visual differences are in the badges where the series one Z has the 240Z emblem written out on the rear three quarters of the car while the series two just has a vented Z emblem.  The series one ventilates the cabin through two vents on the rear hatch.

Originally Sunbird Orange, my 71′ was purchased new in Phoenix Arizona where it spent the next 30 plus years in the care of the original owners.  Once they couldn’t drive it anymore they sold it to their son who brought it to Sacramento.  He realized he wasn’t ever going to drive it so he put it up on blocks in his garage and there it sat until earlier this year.

IMG_2175I arrived in Sacramento on a Friday evening to find the car as described.  Now blue with silver accents, the Z is a little more sun faded than it looked in the pictures but the common rust areas are impeccable.  The car has fresh tires on the factory mag wheels, new brakes & lines, and a full tune up.  The L24 is quiet and strong and I easily managed 70 to 80 miles per hour over the 600 miles home.  The suspension could use refreshing but otherwise she drives like a dream.  The Z made short work of the Sierra Nevada mountains, never got hot, and drove much better than I expected a 43-year-old car to do.  At roughly 2,200 ibs, the 151 horsepower six made no qualms of getting the Z to scoot.  Quick enough at least to attract attention.

IMG_2210With the original numbers matching engine and cylinder head and only 77,000 miles on the odometer, my series one will be a car to hold on to.  Early Japanese cars are quickly becoming valuable collectibles as younger generation collectors start getting into the game.  A 240Z was lucky to bring $5,000 a decade ago.  Now?  I’ve seen them go for well over $20,000 in pristine condition.  240Z’s are especially good candidates because not only are they coming into their own with a certain generation but they were a big deal back when they were new.  They looked great, they drove great, and they were cheap.

Plenty of people like to hack up the old Z’s and stuff V8′s or RB skyline motors into them.  I’ll admit I’m a fan of a GT-R powered 240Z but the cars are so reliable and fun to drive right out of the gate that I plan to keep mine as original as possible.  As time and funds permit, my Z will be going back to the original Orange or at least something very close and I’ll probably refinish the mags but keep them on the car.  Perhaps lowering springs and an upgraded exhaust will be among the few modifications.

IMG_2213Project Pony Up is getting underway and we’re excited to see the outcome of Chance Hales Mustang.  Stay tuned for future Z updates as well.




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