History of the 1969 - 1974 Datsun 240Z
The Nissan-produced Datsun 240Z and 260Z were designed by a team led by Yoshihiko Matsuo. The 240Z was launched in 1969 and was replaced by the evolutionary 260Z in 1974 before production was finally halted in 1979. It is a front engine, rear wheel drive car that seats two people with some later variants having two additional small rear seats.
The Datsun (or in some markets Nissan) 240Z went on sale in 1969 as an alternative to the British sports cars prevalent at the time. It met with critical success and was seen as a major step forward with its sharp, European inspired, styling and straight-six engine driving through a 4- or 5- speed gearbox. The advanced design was continued under the skin with independent suspension all round via MacPherson Struts and a disc / drum brake set up. A big selling point was its reliability whilst the hatchback coupe body style added practicality.
A 3- speed automatic gearbox was introduced as an option in 1970 with a new 4- speed manual gearbox following it in 1971. A progressive tightening of American emission legislation saw a change in the supplier of carburettor 2 years later.
The engine capacity was increased from 2.4 litres to 2.6 in 1974 and this led to the car being redesignated the Datsun 260Z. As well as the engine change, longer and larger chassis rails were introduced allowing a slightly longer and stiffer body. A 2+2 version with small rear seats became available at the same time.
In the Datsun 240Z the straight 6 single overhead cam engine has a capacity of 2393 cc. Twin Hitachi carburettors were the original standard fit with a change to Webbers coming in 1973. The stroke was increased to give a capacity of 2565 cc for the 260Z.
The 240Z and 260Z handle well although they can be a little “tail happy” if pushed hard and the brakes are reasonable but require a bit of effort for rapid retardation. A good driving position coupled to nicely weighted controls mean that it is a pleasure to drive this car although the engine can sound unpleasant if pushed to the upper end of its rev range. The enclosed space behind the seats makes it a practical tourer but the rear seats in the 2+2 are probably best used only to carry children.
These cars were notable for their reliability when built and mechanically there are no serious issues, however it is not unknown for original fuse board terminals to overheat and melt. The 240Z and 260Z suffered from a lack of rust proofing when new and will corrode virtually everywhere. Make sure that the water channel from the scuttle is kept clear but even with this and similar precautions you can expect problems with sills, chassis rails, rear wings, floor pans, spare wheel well, doors, bonnet and even around the fuel filler. Panels and trim can be expensive and difficult to find.
The Datsun 240Z is lighter than the260Z and generally seen as the preferable model with the Datsun 260Z 2+2 being the least favoured.
Alternatives are the MG BGT, the Triumph GT6 and Toyota Celica Coupe.