The Datsun 240Z first came to America in 1969 and sold as the 1970 model year. I was a sophomore at Purdue when I saw my first one on the street. OMG was my reaction. Forget the TR6 or the Healey 3000 I had been coveting, I was smitten. That image stuck in my head for the next 40 years until I finally acquired my very first one.
On its launch, the 240Z was a spectacular car that could easily compete with the best cars from the American and European sports car market. Seeking head-to-head competition with established European sports cars, Datsun priced the new 240Z within $200 of the British MGB-GT in the United States, a five year-old design that showed its age.
It was a performance car with a sexy look, at a price (only $3500) that helped the maker to sell over 30,000 units in 1971 and over 50,000 and 40,000 in 1972 and 1973, respectively. The 240Z’s sleek styling, modern engineering, relatively low price, and impressive performance struck a major chord with the public. Positive response from both buyers and the motoring press was immediate, and dealers soon had long waiting lists for the “Z”.
My first purchase of a 240Z came about quite by accident. I was at the NSRA show in Louisville KY looking for a 55 Chevy. A 240Z was not on my mind, but there sat a 1971 Series I car, red with black interior in great restored condition. It did not have a for sale sign, but after all the obligatory car talk, I popped the question……..might it be for sale? After some deliberation by the owner, he said yes and for a good price. It came home with me. Needing nothing, I put it on my website just a source of pride, a 2 owner, original window sticker and bill of sales with dealer installed A/C and slotted rims. Shouldn’t have done that, received dozens of calls and an offer I could not refuse; there it went and all I got to drive it was on and off the trailer.
Dummy, dummy me, why did I do that? Oh well I told myself, there is always another one out there. With many other classic cars that’s true, but not necessarily so with a 240Z. The good ones are hard to find. With my awareness now peaked and the help of a local friend who turned out to be a real Z expert, the quest was on. I search all the internet sites. Lots of rusty ones or sale, but I didn’t want or need a restoration project.
Persistence usually pays off . I located a 1970 model a mere 40 miles from me that had a lot of the restoration work completed. It turned out to a 2 owner car with a very low serial number, most likely in the 1st shipment of Zs to the U.S. I had it painted and finally drove it for several summers discovering at last what all the excitement was about with a Z car. They are just downright fun to drive.
Rather than scratching the itch of ownership, I now wanted more. My spec sheet for Datsun’s is; only 240s (I would buy a 260 if I found a good one), only 4 speeds, and only restored cars. My latest find is the best yet. A 73 Series II car with great colors and dealer installed A/C. A one owner car (fully documented with original window sticker, Bill of Sale, owner history) and it comes with a great story. Car was purchased new by owner’s mother as a Univ. of Kentucky graduation present. He owned it and kept it in Lexington until his passing last year. I purchased it from his estate. During his ownership, he had the car restored to Concurs show quality. It won 1st place in its class in 2 Concurs events. Having the ribbons, trophies and pictures makes this one special. A keeper for sure…..I think so unless I find an even better one!