The Datsun 240z: Collectors Era

By | August 12, 2015

I’ve always been fond the nostalgic Japanese cars.  Partly because they are about the only “classic” cars I can afford, partly because I see their future value, and mostly because the Japanese just do things right — unless we’re talking bosozoku… that’s just weird.

Honda CRX Si

I got my first taste of future Japanese classic metal when I purchased a 1989 Honda CRX Si.  It was an Arizona car which meant no rust but also no paint — and destroyed weather stripping.  I cared less what the car looked like because it had the venerable B16 DOHC VTEC under the hood.  With Megan Racing headers & exhaust, and a nicely weighted Skunk 2 short shifter my CRX was anything but boring.  I very much enjoyed surprising Mustang GT’s and 350z’s at the stop lights.

The CRX was a gem and Honda’s have a special place in my heart, however, down deep I’m a Z guy.  The 350z came out when I was in high school and the 300zx Twin Turbo has always been a bucket list car of mine.  I was in the market for a clean low mileage 300zx Twin Turbo when I stumbled across a series 1 Datsun 240z on eBay.  We’re talking the father of Japanese sports cars (I don’t count the Toyota 2000GT because of it’s rarity and insane price tag).  It was essentially a one owner, had very little rust, and it was a numbers matching original… minus a repaint to a different color.  I bought it, flew to California and drove it 600 miles home.  In those 600 miles my first Z car worked its way into my soul and I knew that I’d be a Z guy forever.  I still have my 1st Z and drive it regularly.

Datsun 240z

Last week, I was cruising craigslist for 240z’s.  It’s a regular ritual for me as their values are skyrocketing and 2015 is widely considered to be the last year to pick up the early Z’s for under $10,000 in good condition.  I read an article by Hemming’s that said “The Japanese bullet train is leaving the station”, I would agree.  I was on my way back from a business trip in Northern Idaho and as fate would have it, a series 1 240z had been posted on Craiglist that night in the town I was staying in.  For the condition that the car appeared to be in, the price seemed almost too good to be true.  I called on it immediately.  The next morning I went and met the owner and drove the car.  The Z was white, its original color, with a blue interior — one of the most rare combos in a series 1 240z.  The owner was 87-years-old, had brought the car up from California where it has spent its entire existence and he was just the second owner.  In the glove box I found the original owners manual, pink slip, and warranty book with the original owners signatures and address.  The interior was perfect and everything worked… including the clock and those almost never work.  The car was wearing an older repaint of its original color and it was holding up great, it never sat outside.  The sole red flag; on our test drive the differential started emitting sounds similar to that of marbles in a blender.  Honestly, I didn’t care.  I bought the car on the spot, rented a car hauler from U-haul and pulled that baby home.

Series 1 240z After getting her home I discovered no fluid in the rear end and some metal shavings.  After a good flush, some fresh Royal Purple 75W90, and a friction modifier called Archoil I got the Z back on the road.  The diff is definitely damaged but she’s driveable and the more I drive it the quieter it seems to get.

So now I’ve got two Z cars.  Both are numbers matching series 1 240z’s.  I’ve already turned down an offer for my 1st one that was what I paid for the second, regardless of the fact that it’s not nearly as cherry.  I’ve considered going to rehabilitation but I don’t want it.  The 240z is my unicorn.  I’m no sailor but if I was the sirens would sound like an L-series straight six with glass packs.  Sure, my garage is seriously crammed, the Z’s are parked the wrong direction, and I have to do a 6 point turn to get them out but I think they are money in the bank.  The 240z is the car that made Nissan relevant as a brand in the USA, they are widely regarded as the every man’s E-Type, they were legendary at the race track, and they are one of the most gorgeous cars every penned.

Datsun 240z's

This is me telling you to buy a good Z before all the good ones are snatched up for an affordable price.  “I bought a Z car and regretted it”, said no one, ever.  Even that guy in the weird Japanese film called “Devil Z” couldn’t get over it after wrecking it three times.  The Z bug will get you.

 


2 Comments

Al Moore on August 21, 2015 at 7:32 pm.

I’m the Original Owner of a ’73 240Z (901 Silver/Black), 75 years old, and still work on it most days! “Poor man’s Ferrari” is what I’ve always considered it…Magic on Four Wheels ????

A firm believer in the mantra, “Life is too short to stay stock,” I’ve modified it continuously over all that time. Three car buddies and I have created a truly unique machine, sporting a five-page Spec Sheet…single-spaced. It’s now getting the final boxes checked on a Project beginning in 2003. After the tragic death in Jan ’65 of Turbo Tom, my best friend, I mothballed it for most of the following ten years…too disheartened to continue.

Life and circumstance intervened a year ago, when I trailered it to another Genius of the group in Atlanta, for picking up the pieces and returning it to the road. For 3-1/2 months, Bryan worked his “magic,” releasing glorious engine sounds from the revived 3.1L stroker six. My Datsun was back, and with it New Life!

At 42+ years, it is definitely my most enduring Love Affair! Saints willing, we shall remain a team for many years to come ????

Matthew on September 16, 2015 at 11:25 am.

That is great to hear Al. The 240z is a special car!

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