Rare Cars: Datsun 240z
Manufactured by Nissan, and named one of the top cars of the 1970s by Sports Car International magazine, the Datsun 240Z – also known as the “Z-car” – was the first car out of Japan to compete with the North American and European sports cars on their terms. Prior to the release of the Datsun 240Z, Japanese cars were known primarily for their small size and fuel efficiency, but the Z-car proved that Nissan had what it took to compete with the likes of Porsche, Jaguar and BMW. And, because it was produced by Datsun, the Z-car proved to be very reliable – something that couldn't be said for many sports cars in its class.
The Datsun 240Z began life in Japan as the Nissan Fairlady Z in 1969, with a relatively small number of left-hand drive cars produced. Because of their rarity, the Z models from 1969 to 1970 are especially prized by Z-car collectors. The rare first-generation Z-car has a top speed of 125 mph, and can go from zero to 60 in eight seconds. As far as looks go, it is a sleek fastback coupe, low to the ground with a long nose and short rear end. It is a brilliant combination of the sports car and family sedan, having power to spare, but more room and greater comfort than the average sports car.
Produced from 1969 until 1973, the Z-car remained relatively unchanged. In 1973, however, the engine was enlarged in order to compensate for government-mandated higher fuel efficiency standards for a regular road models. Unfortunately, an unfortunate drop in performance accompanied the Z-car's adaptation. However, the market seemed to responded favorably and the sales of the Z-car continued to increase. After extensive road testing, the Z-car was first used in America as a racecar, winning competition after competition. Most notably, at the Sports Car Club of America, the Z-car dominated the C-class production category for 10 years. From 1970 to 1980, no one was winning a car race without a Z-car.
The Z-car's great value for money, reliability and distinctive shape continue to place this rare car in high demand in the classic car market. It can be difficult to find a stock Datsun 240Z, given the enthusiasm with which car buffs have set about restoring and modifying these cars. Today, the Datsun 240z is one of the world's rarest cars, but Nissan is still producing new generations of the Z-car series. They still offer good value in terms of performance vs. cost. Even still, the 1970s Datsun 240Z still remains popular with a strong and loyal Z-car fan base in the United States, and around the world.