By on March 9, 2013

I see endless Z31 300ZXs in junkyards, and I usually don’t pay much attention to them (unless we’re talking about a rare 50th Anniversary Edition with BodySonic butt-vibrating seat speakers with super-futuristic digital dash, of course). Even 280Zs and 280ZXs are plentiful in self-service wrecking yards, so I don’t photograph many of them. However, an optioned-to-the-hilt 240Z, complete with automatic transmission, sunroof, and Malaise Era brown paint is worth shooting, so here we go!
I think this is the first 240Z I’ve ever seen with an automatic transmission, though this became a fairly common option in the 280Z and especially in the 280ZX.
I considered grabbing these Hitachi SUs, just as I bought the Weber DGV I found on this 22R-powered MGB a few months ago, but these are the not-so-desirable “flat-top Hitachis” and in the end I figured they wouldn’t be worth selling or trading.
Speaking of nightmare Hitachi-ized British smog carbs, what was the last year for a factory manual choke in a US-market car? Or is this just a light that comes on when an electric choke is engaged?
I was also tempted to buy this ignition switch with vintage Nissan Z key, but then decided to leave it for a lucky Z-owning junkyard shopper.
This car is very solid and— at least when I saw it a few weeks ago— nearly complete. By this time, I’m sure it has been picked over thoroughly by now.
Such an optimistic speedometer!


Comparisons between fully race-modified cars and their street counterparts are always suspect, but this ad does a good job of selling the 240Z.

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80 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1973 Datsun 240Z...”


  • avatar
    PenguinBoy

    “Or is this just a light that comes on when an electric choke is engaged?”

    It looks like there is a choke lever by the gearshift, so this car probably has a manual choke.

    • 0 avatar
      kmoney

      Agreed. The underhood shot shows the two pull cables running down to where the electric choke module would normally bolt on to these carbs when equipped as such.

      • 0 avatar
        lon888

        The 70 thru 73 only had manual chokes. I would bet that if you were to pull on that choke handle, you would find that it was broken. The choke handle was mounted to the center console with 2 very weak plastic mounting points. When I bought my ’73 240Z in 1976, I had to replace center console because of this and also the lid to fuse block was broken. It was a great first car, but sadly it was real rust bucket in later years.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    My wife’s 77 Honda Accord hatchback had a manual choke. She bought it new in 77 and we drove it till 94. This 240Z looks like it is restorable. I recall there is a company that restores these and sells them. It is a shame this one wasn’t restored.

    • 0 avatar
      snakebit

      Don’t know if you’re thinking of the same restoration program, but around 1997, Nissan was locating rebuildable 240-Z’s, and having Pierre’s Z Shop, in Hawthorne, California do authorized restoration of them using new parts where needed, before select Nissan dealers retailed them for around $25,000 each. I don’t know how many were finally completed, but there were 10 dealers nationally selected to sell them, and as of August 1997, Nissan estimated that each of those dealers had a backlog of 10 orders to fill.

      • 0 avatar
        west-coaster

        I got it from a very reliable source that the final total was less than 40 cars, and that Nissan North America lost a ton of money on the program.

        Many dealers never sold them, but used them as a showroom converstaion piece instead. The dealer nearest to me has had a lime green one in the window since they first got the car as part of the program.

        • 0 avatar
          snakebit

          west-coaster,

          Taking you at your word, that is the saddest fact I’ve read lately.

          First, thank you very much Nissan for following through and doing the 240-Z restoration project. Reading your count,west-coaster, about how many cars were finished reminds me of something. Sometimes, the manufacturer WILL pay attention, will build or import a very exciting car, and the buying public will thumb their nose at the effort. I’m thinking of the late model Pontiac GTO’s and G8′s. What happened with that project? I think what happened is that Pontiac had built so much inferior junk, that when they eventually sold really sweet cars, the public wouldn’t give them a look or roadtest.

          As for the Nissan/240-Z restoration project, I think people were stuck on the $25,000 price and comparing it with the original $3600 price in the 1970′s. People, do you know what it costs to restore a classic car? First, you have to already own it. Then, you’ll pay the restoration shop to rebuild the powertrain, to paint it, to redo the interior, etc. If you’re lucky, you’ll spend only $50,000 on top of handing them your car to restore. People, this was what amounted to a certified preowned 240-Z for $25,000 out the door. And, no donor car needed.

  • avatar

    Nostalgia hits again! When I was young and brown car were so common in the late 70s and early 80s I thought I’d never want one. Now, they look kind of cool.

    Love the placement of the antenna on that back fender. VW really ruined antenna placement by putting theirs on the back portion of the roof (and everybody following). If your going to place it on the roof it should be on the roof near the windshield.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    beautiful designed car. pity the new ones dont look like this.

  • avatar
    yesthatsteve

    My mom had a ’79 Corolla with a manual choke.

    In high school, a friend had a 260Z with an automatic.

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      My sister had a 77 Corolla with a choke. It was the base version 1200cc 4 speed with rubber flooring and an AM/FM radio. Super reliable. When it was cold, even on the coldest mornings you just pulled the choke out and the engine revved up then kicked down. IIRC I don’t think the more upscale versions Deluxe with the 1600cc had chokes.

      I wish Nissan would do a new version of these to compete with the FRS/BRZ. The current 370Z is a bit bloated.

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      My sister had a 77 Corolla with a choke. It was the base version 1200cc 4 speed with rubber flooring and an AM/FM radio. Super reliable. When it was cold, even on the coldest mornings you just pulled the choke out and the engine revved up then automatically kicked down. IIRC I don’t think the more upscale versions Deluxe with the 1600cc had chokes.

      This car is quite solid but a vinyl roof? Back then they offered them on practically every thing.

      I wish Nissan would do a new version of these to compete with the FRS/BRZ. The current 370Z is a bit bloated.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    It’s a shame that this one won’t become a project for restoration. Resto’s require a lot of money – but around here not many people drive a car with manual transmission.

    • 0 avatar

      I owned a 1974 Datsun 260Z, the follow-up model. I bought it new and drove it for three years. It had all the usual emissions control equipment of the pre-catalytic converter era. (California models had the CC.) Mine was a hideous pea green. They were in short supply then, and you took what you could get. The air conditioning was a dealer add-on, although there were some factory air cars. It also had the pre-5 MPH bumpers, introduced in mid-cycle, and looked much like the previous 240Z. The tail lights were the only external difference. I believe the 1974 model year was the only one with an interconnect that prevented the car from starting before the seat belt was buckled. There was a sensor in the driver’s seat, and it could be unplugged, disabling that annoying “safety feature.” I am almost certain that it did not have a manual choke. The 260Z was far from reliable, not having the dependability that we now expect from Japanese vehicles. Over the years, I added a CB radio (!), a cassette player, and alloy wheels. I drove it on my first date with my future wife.

      • 0 avatar
        snakebit

        If by ‘in short supply’, you mean that there was a waiting list, you’re right. It got to the point that if you were in Los Angeles, with more Datsun dealers than any other metro area, you still might wait 6-9 months in the early 1970′s if you hoped to buy one at sticker.There was one guy in the SF Valley, not a Datsun dealer but a wholesaler, somehow buying cars out of state, loading them with Ansen alloy wheels and dealer-installed AC, and charging $5,000. This for a car with standard sticker price of $3596. It wasn’t uncommon for guys to travel to places out of town like Phoenix to find a car in a reasonable amount of time. My car came from Boston. $5000 today doesn’t sound like much, but if you bargained a little at a Chevrolet dealer,that approached base Corvette money back then.

      • 0 avatar
        SomeOtherSteve

        The 260Z had a manual choke as well. I have a 73 240Z & 74 260Z sitting in my garage.

  • avatar
    pls

    I owned a white ’72 240Z. What a blast. It did have a manual choke. You can see the little lever in your picture of the shifter. I had a four speed. I bought it for $500 from a doctor who’s son had trashed it. The assumed blown head gasket turned out to be a clogged fuel filter and radiator leak combination. I had plans to rebuild it and do a lot of work myself while I had spare time in college but the time didn’t materialize and those things are surprisingly difficult to work on for such a simple car, so the pro got it running. It’s built to be a race car. I kept it from ’82 to ’94 when the first kid came along. I sold it and bought a really nice Italian bicycle. It had 115k on it when I bought it and it had 185k when I sold it. During those 12 years it never died on me and never left me stranded anywhere, although I can say that there were many many miles where it didn’t run great. The worn seals in those dual carbs let air in so it was always a battle between being too lean at low rpms and being too rich at high rpms. In the balance you ended up with perpetually fouled spark plugs. Put some new plugs in it though and it was a real kick in the seat. I burned quite a few bridges in that car. Great memories.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    As usual ;

    The addition of an aftermarket sun roof made this car guaranteed to hit the junkyard sooner than later .

    Agreed it looks in good overall shape and would make a good parts car .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      The shot of that gaping hole made me sad too. It was nice dreaming about stuffing an LA in there; my 72 had a 351W until I crashed it. Stupid, unsafe, and SOOO much fun.

  • avatar
    mpresley

    We had a 76. By then it was the 280Z. Not a good car by today’s standards, but in the context of ’76 it was at least average. The steering was heavy, the interior was a mess after a few years (cracked dash foam and vinyl seats tore up with regular wear), and the lovely exterior British racing green paint crackled spiderwebs. The thing would leave you stranded for no good reason–electrics.

    But the design. So nice on the eye. Much better than the Jet Jaguar/JVC boom box aesthetics coming out of Tokyo today.

  • avatar
    snakebit

    Don’t know why they still had manual chokes in the early 70′s, but they did, as well as 510′s. For guys who learned to drive in older cars that had automatic chokes, the console light for the choke in this car was a helpful reminder.

    As for who would ask the dealer to install not just a vinyl roof, but an aftermarket sunroof on a 240-Z, I think the powers that be should round up the leisure suit and Members Only jacket-wearing, porkchop sideburns-sporting meathead and have his bank account and credit frozen so that he’s prevented from committing a sin like this again.

    I’d love to imagine that after Murilee snapped these photos, someone made a successful offer to the boneyard to retrieve this car and take steps to put it back on the road. The hole in the roof might be an obstacle, but maybe another yard has a car in otherwise terrible shape but with a good roof, or push comes to shove another aftermarket sunroof can be found if no other solution can be found. As Murilee wrote, this car was pretty much complete when he shot those photos.

  • avatar
    linkpin

    Manual chokes lasted well past the 1970s – my ’83 RX-7 still had one!

    • 0 avatar
      zeus01

      Mazda stayed with the manual choke (actually it was best described as a “semi-automatic” choke in that you had to pull it on manually and, once the engine warmed up, it would automatically retract in two stages) on all of the 12A-powered Rx7s through 1985, after which the 12A (and carbs) was dropped altogether.

    • 0 avatar
      Power6

      Ahh I was looking through the comments to see if someone mentioned that, I had an 85 GSL and it had the manual choke, or as mentioned it is a really semi-automatic, after you drove for a bit you’d hear a mysterious “thunk” and remember it was the choke pull sliding back in on its own.

      To be very technical I think some cars still had semi-automatic chokes like this at the time, they were typically activated by flooring the throttle once before starting, and de-activated by heat like the RX-7 12A choke.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    The first car I independently purchased was a 1972 240Z. Traded my ’68 Chevelle SS396 and $2000 for a car that retailed for $3685. My Father, being the AMC-Chrysler dealer, was incensed. But to my thinking, having owned a Twin-H Hudson and therefore experienced in the black art of the multi carburetor device Uni-Syn, the 6-cylinder Z was the natural progression. That, and the fact the girl du jour thought they were cool, pushed me over the top. These cars would do 120, but not with the Yokohama’s they came with unless you had a death wish. The most tire-dependent automobile I have ever owned. If memory serves, I installed Michelins and they changed the dynamics completely. The car survived knee deep muck at the Satsop Music and Art Fair that summer, and finished school with me. The best education I could get in what was for the time modern metallurgy and four-wheel independent suspension, as no other car I had owned was anywhere near as technically advanced as the FairLady. Simple, elegant, sturdy and inexpensive. If a guy with work-study and summer-only employment could keep up the payments, anyone could. I sold it with 155k miles on it for $3000. The best dollar and entertainment value I have ever had in a car. I am glad to report that an aquaintance ended up with it, and after a restoration by Father and son, it is still cruising today. The only downside to this story is that it enboldened me to believe I was a good enough wheelman to purchase a 911. The fact that the beautiful Dr. Ferry Porsche special edition ended up in the river should explain my hard-core lesson in the throttle-off oversteer characteristics of that car. I believe now what I was told then – “you buy your first Porsche to learn how to drive your second Porsche correctly”.

    • 0 avatar
      jim brewer

      Those 240Z were an absolute sensation when they came out. The ultimate cool car for those of us just learning to drive. If you got one for $3650 list price, it was an insider deal. They typically went for much more than that in my area. I think more like 5K, if memory serves. I expect the after market sunroof was a way to beef up the price any way they could. The malaise era was kicking in big time and the Zvery dramatically went the other way.

      The Datsun 510 had established a solid reputation among the car cognoscenti in California, and the Land Cruiser had a cult following, but it was the Z that proved that the Japanese could market a sought after car, not just what you bought if you couldn’t afford a “real” car.

      • 0 avatar

        My 1974 listed for $5895 and that is what they sold for. You could get a new discounted Caddy then for the same price! When the Z car came out in 1970, they did list for about $3400, plus air conditioning.

        • 0 avatar
          olddavid

          The 510 and the Z were a long way from the Toyopet. In 1962, we got a freight-damaged ’61, that damn near had two birthdays at our store. My Mom loved driving it, as she had the most eclectic taste in our family. It replaced a Hillman Minx, which replaced a Sunbeam. One of my favorite memories is my Mom catching second gear rubber in my Z with her scarf blowing in the wind, framed by those giant sunglasses of the time.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @snakebit–Yes, you are correct that was the same restorer and they sold them at Nissan dealers. One could only hope that a restorer would get this car and bring new life into it. This appears to be a very restorable car and worth the effort.

  • avatar
    GeneralMalaise

    It was 1973… my mother just had to have a Z, so dad bought her an orange ’73 with an auto trans. Serious drivability problems in hot weather… pre-fuel injection w/fuel lines routed far too close to the manifold (I think it was).

    Dad worked in real estate in SoCal and mid-Summer – driving the Z – took my younger brother with him out to the desert… remote, nothing around for miles… outside of Palm Springs to scope out a piece of property for one of his clients. So remote they were on a dirt road for miles to get to said property. Long story short, fuel commenced to boiling and the car crapped out. Dad didn’t know which would happen first: would the engine cool down enough to start? or would the two of them die of thirst/sunstroke in the 115 degree temps?

    Lucky for them, what seemed like an eternity (but was actually about an hour into their ordeal) they see an old truck coming down the road, and the Old Geezer/Savior had enough rope to tow them back to civilization. That Z car ended up being totaled by li’l brother 3 months later, so it all worked out in the end.

  • avatar
    gasser

    I and several friends bought new 1973 240Z in California. Thet were all POS. The California smog regulations for 1973 ruined this car. The ’72 automatics were better than the ’73 sticks. The ’73s were 125 HP, down from 150 prior to then.
    Additionally, they came with a 195 degree thermostat which guaranteed overheating until you swapped it out for the generic 165 degree units most cars ran. The fuel lines ran near the block and with the low pressure mechanical fuel pumps (electric pumps were a key upgrade later) vapor lock would get me towed in to the dealer at least once a month.
    Desperate for a reliable car, I traded it in on a used Mercedes before the first year was up. In forty years, I still won’t look at a Datsun, Nissan or Infiniti.

    • 0 avatar
      GeneralMalaise

      yep… Datsun had to set up a SoCal “hotline” and had their engineers focus on trying to calm the troubled waters that resulted from Z-car ownership in hot climes… I think wrapping/insulating the fuel lines was also tried.

      • 0 avatar
        lon888

        Besides wrapping the fuel lines in insulation, we also installed a small aftermarket electric fuel pump in the bay. When you felt the “vapor lock” coming on, you would switch on the electric pump and push the bubbling gas into the carbs.

        • 0 avatar
          -Nate

          Vapor Locking & E-Pumps ~

          The accessory pump should always be placed as close to the fuel tank is possible .

          With the current mix of California Foo-Foo Fuel (it’s _not_ Gasoline) , we’re once again seeing the need for these .

          -Nate

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    Paula was a fettered housewife.

    Paula opened the garage door. The smell of old fuel, and dried grass on a lawnmower was thick in the air. “Come on, we’re going to be LATE!”, she yelled at her youngest. Soccer cleats clopped on the concrete. “Mom, you don’t have to yell at us all the time!”, her 10 year old daughter responded as she joined her siblings in the back of the blue Uplander. They were always late, ALWAYS. Every activity carried with it the prerequisites of being a stressfull, loud, unmitigated disaster.

    It wasn’t always this way. Paula glanced at the minivan’s garage companion as she backed out. The Z was a relic of, not happier times, but a time where she once had freedom and exuberance.

    After a few hours of disappointing soccer, and one $200 grocery bill later, the clan returned to the house. Requests to keep the 2 liter bottle of Dr.Pepper in the bag fell on deaf ears, and there had been the inevitable release of it’s syrupy contents throughout the cabin. She sighed as she got out, and leaned on the Z’s door as she watched her smartphone-equipped children disappear inside, leaving mom to tend to the groceries. All was now quiet as it should be, for this place was a tomb. She stared at the forlorn sports car. It lay there, hobbled by a decade old flat and boxes of Christmas decor piled on the roof.

    She recalled how alive she felt the last time she drove this car 15 years ago. The L24 belted out a harmonious throaty note as she sped to a brunch date with her girlfriends. Friends who had fallen to the wayside long ago. Though it’s automatic transmission didn’t allow the 240 to be as dynamic as it could be, she didn’t know that. To her, the Z was crisp and handled spritely, compared to the LeSabre wagon they had at the time. Afterwards, the car sat for a bit too long, and the battery had shed it’s last electron. Attempts at a recharge failed. Replacing the battery in situ was something slightly out of her and her husband’s mechanical ability, as well as time constraints.

    This was Paula’s relic. While some people hang on to a toy from their childhood, she had this Z to remember her past life as a wild party girl. There were concerts. There were all-nighters at the techno club. There were MEN, with the customary “walk of shame” in the morning to the brown Z. This car knew things about her that she would never speak to her husband about. The least of these things being the previous owner of the car. Todd was an ex that she still though fondly about. A mustacheod personification of testosterone. She suddenly realized she had been reminiscing so long, that the ice cream was probably melted in the back of the van, and the gallons of milk were as sweaty as Todd was that one time…

    Paula and her husband Burt plotted the fate of the car over the weeks that followed. There were plans to fix it up for their 18 year old son Joey. But Joey vetoed it when he learned of the financial burden about to be gifted to him. He was a rebel without a cause, or a job, or even a destination. Burt posted a vague Craigslist ad with a single image. A herd of enthusiasts followed. They flocked at the prospect of a $2000, $1800, then ultimately $1500 240Z. Each one met the car with a grimace or a scowl upon seeing it’s hideous toupee, peanut brittle interior, and hackjob sunroof. Every time, Paula lost a little magic from the memory of her glory days. She thought that maybe she wasn’t as cool as she remembered.

    “Just call somebody to tow it away.”

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      Thanks, I enjoyed that.

    • 0 avatar

      My mother had a brown one, 74, but stick naturally. There were no techno clubs in the 70′s, but the car could easily have told a simlar tale if you replaced the word with Disco, and she was a cocktail waitress by trade. It was her first car after the inevitable 70′s divorce and the vehicle that dropped me at the McDonald’s on Fridays for the court mandated once a month visitations. It was the first car I remember.

      She traded it on a 70 Cutlass ragtaop. Wrecked that and started down a string of Pintos of all things. 3 of them.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Wow, do most married people feel that way? I sure don’t…I rummaged through my first car last year (tucked in the garage) and found a phone number from a “Laura” and a “Dayna”…under the rear seat…I walked away smiling….I guess there was a real reason they use cars as time machines in movies…

  • avatar
    Maintainer

    Wow! Right next to the Bertone Volvo. Iowa U-Pull yards have nothing on Colorado.

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    I remember the early electric chokes with no nostalgia. Can’t remember all the cars that I disconnected the electric choke and installed a manual. The 81 Datsun pickup was made so that was difficult to do. Did it anyway and it started every time.

  • avatar

    I’m tempted to say to hell with the Z, look at the black Volvo 780 Coupe next to it! Tell me how many of those you see compared to classic Z’s.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    While some wonderwhy no being restored, others are eager for this car’s parts.

    This Z is not desireable to restore with brown paint, chopped sunroof, auto, and 73 emissions.

    BTW: 1973 model year was a record in sales of cars. Was just before Oil Embargo I, so no economic ‘malaise era’ yet. I vote for a ban on that overused TTAC word.

    • 0 avatar
      snakebit

      Chicagoland,

      I don’t think the brown paint would be a deal killer for a restorer, the hole in the roof and the ’73 carbs and emissions might be, though. When you read all of the comments, and articles about the official Nissan restoration project, the common thread is, ‘stay away from the 1973 240-Z, concentrate on the 1970-1972 versions, or convert your 1973 using the older carbs. If this site, which is not necessarily Nissan-centric, is so familiar with the 1973 240-Z woes, you can bet that a Z-Car user group could walk you through changing your 1973 Z over so that it runs as good as the earlier cars.

      • 0 avatar
        SomeOtherSteve

        The thing about conventional wisdom is that it’s not always correct. My 260Z has the “flat top” carburetors. Even driving in the heat of the summer, I don’t experience vapor lock. My 73 has the round top carburetors. They are easier to maintain, but performance wise, they are not any noticably better than the flat tops.

    • 0 avatar
      jim brewer

      Heavy into the pre-catalytic converter de-smog phase.

  • avatar
    GeneralMalaise

    I had a co-worker in the early 80′s who bought a new (would’ve been a 280 by then?) Z for his wife from a dealer in Huntington Beach, Ca… remember he had some issues with their service department… found them untrustworthy (imagine that!). So when it came time for a valve adjustment, he had taken his wife’s pink nail polish and had made a bead on the valve cover toward the rear of the engine. When he picked the car up, he saw the charge for the valve adjustment on his bill, opened the engine hood… sure enough, the bead was unbroken. He calmly beckoned the service manager over to the car, showed him the charge on his bill and then showed him the unbroken bead which proved the cover hadn’t been removed. I can’t recall how much free service he got after that, but do remember that service department made sure he was a happy camper from that point on.

    • 0 avatar
      jim brewer

      Could be worse. I brought back my new Nissan for its obligatory 1,000 mile new car valve adjustment and the mechanic left the valve cover gasket off entirely on reinstallation. It was after closing for the weekend. Salesman went to bat for me and got me a loaner to drive home for the week–280 miles away.

  • avatar
    SLLTTAC

    About 1977, I bought a badly damaged 1973 240Z, had the body fixed, added a pop-top sunroof,, and replaced the carburetors with carburetors from a 72 240Z. Then I added real Minilite wheels fitted with 175-14 Goodyear tires, and Mulholland springs and shocks. I can’t remember the name of the tires, but they were a new kind of radial. What a difference those Goodyear tires made! I replaced the seats with British seats—I cannot remember the brand—but their quality was mediocre. The Z was fun to drive, but its build quality was tinny. The Z was a really bad winter car, as I sadly discovered. All in all, in its day, the Z was a good car, but not by today’s standards.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    These were the only Japanese products , prior to the Accord of the late seventies , that I remember selling way over list . At the time they were considered the beginning of the end for the British sports car . And yes, even when new some of them had aftermarket / dealer installed sunroofs . I knew a fellow art student / rich sorority girl type whose daddy bought her a new 1974 260Z 2+2 ,with a dealer installed , folding vinyl sunroof. I recall riding in the backseat once – even for a 5 ’5″ little guy like me it was nearly unbearable . Also remember her having problems with it overheating and breaking down at Lake Travis in Austin on a hot July day. These really weren’t up to a Texas summer , particularly with the air conditioning cranked up .Also recall many of the first generation Zs in Austin with the orange paint and white interior / racing stripes/ vinyl roofs , which were the University of Texas school colors .Also , the first gen Z had , typically of Datsuns of this era , absolutely hideous wheel covers . Many owners immediately replaced them with aftermarket mag wheels , and the dealers too .

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I think the British sports car was already marked for death when the 240Z showed up. The magazines that once celebrated them were already calling them archaic and pointing readers towards more modern and useful cars like the BMW 2002 and Porsche 914. The last mostly new MG was introduced in 1962. Sure, the MGC followed in 1967, but it was really just a reflection of BMC’s reluctance to spend money making a modern Austin-Healey 3000 as regulations were rendering the original obsolete. The MG Midget was a face-lifted 1958 Sprite. Triumph still had the TR7 in the future, but it was killed off by organized labor, not competition from Datsun. People bought all they could get between strikes, until word spread that they were improbably awful. Jaguar never followed up the E-type, the XJS being some sort of lounge tourer, perhaps influencing the regression of the Z-cars.

      The market for open cars wasn’t just assaulted by megalomaniacal bureaucrats, the proliferation of baby boomers also meant that zippers and snaps were no longer an acceptable level of security for valuables. Suddenly everyone had a chip on their shoulders and a sense of entitlement. Sheetmetal and door locks became a bigger selling feature than wind in the hair. Eventually just about nobody could maintain mass market sports car production, but the Brits were well on their way to forfeiting what had been their cash cow before the arrival of the 240Z.

  • avatar
    Mr. K

    1) Those are either 260Z carbs or they put the 260Z carbs on the last 240′s. The 260Z carbs were awful!

    2) After I replaced my 206Z carbs with 240Z carbs I was driving in some box canyon in SW Colorado and I did see around 140 indicated. I had never been that fast before or since in a car. The mountains were coming up so fast it was like flying a plane,,, and since the C150 (LOL thats what they called them at the airport!) I did my incomplete pilot training in topped out around 120…

    3) All in all it was a vehicle of amazing sophistication for the price and day…

  • avatar
    Ron B.

    Recently an English car magazine parked a yellow 240Z in a street in London and asked young people (girls mosty) what they thought of it. All loved it,nearly all thought it was Ferrari or Lambo and none realised it was easily twice their age.
    The design of the body came about when some Japanese marketing students were sent to various markets to research what was wanted in a the shape of a sporty car and the 240Z in pure shape was the result. (not from the pen of Goertz as urban myth would have it)
    If the engine is gutless,simply bolt in your favorite late Nissan straight six turbo engine or…the infinity V8. a true power house in a compact package.
    There are enough companies out here that sell upgrades for brakes , suspension etc all honed on the race tracks of Japan and the UK to make a great driver. The body looks good so some paint will clean that up.
    if that car were here in Australia it would be in a Z car guys shed right now getting prepped for the road. You guys in the USA do not know what you have, maybe when it’s all gone you might but I doubt it. As an example, The numbers of good Porker 356′s getting shipped down here for peanut money is amazing right now.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      What is your idea of peanut money? 356 prices are insane here. If anyone is willing to pay more, then they’re ridiculous. The best thing about the 356 was its build quality, and the number of original ones that still possess any of it is a single digit. Project cars that people rightfully gave up on twenty years ago and allowed to rust into the ground are breaking five figures. 356s that are merely dogs with zero originality and needing everything are selling for the per-capita GDP. Yes, many of them are leaving the US. Good riddance, considering what we’re getting for them and that they’d be worth $250/ferrous ton otherwise.

      I’m from the east coast, and this 240Z would be restored there. It would be so much easier to swap in a real transmission and built engine with Webers than it is to deal with the rust that riddled the vast majority of these. It must really pain rust belters to see the cars we throw away in the west.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        Not sure what ‘ peanut money ‘ means either ~ I’m the second owner of a ’63 356B Coupe , unrestored and unrusted , you’re correct about the build quality , it’s fantastic but the handling left me underwhelmed ,my beat to crap ’67 912 would have run circles ’round it , so when I was offered $10,000 for the old tub , I was going to off it but my Son said he liked it so now it’s his , the folks @ the Montery Historics loved it a couple years ago when he and his young wife drove up and camped out of it like I’d done back in the 1970′s…

        I’s a displaced Yankee so I know rusty cars and you’re correct , here in Sunny So. Cal. we scrap out rust free vehicles that make me sad but , NO ONE WANTS THEM God knows , I tried to save them , even tried giving them away to avoid the crusher but truth be told , NO ONE wants truly rust free old Sports Cars , period .

        I see near cherry , if dusty from sitting in some garage for 20 years , 240Z’s in Pick-A-Part on a weekly basis .

        Every one could have been bought from the yard for $1,000 NO ONE _EVER_ even asks….

        -Nate

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          It gets harder and harder to indulge in the hobby, especially in California. You’re liable to be harassed by your neighbors and the state for owning project cars. When they’re ready to be driven, you get to settle fees with the DMV. If the car was built after 1975, forget it. If it was built before that, look to CA to continue to tighten regulations based on when the engine you use was cast. On top of that, economic security is a luxury good now. Outside of government employed ostriches, nobody wants to take on sizable discretionary expenses.

        • 0 avatar
          Crabspirits

          All of you guys need to search Chicago Craigslist right now for “Datsun”.

          Then cry with us.

  • avatar
    luvmyv8

    Ah so that’s why it’s in the junkyard…. the automatic transmission. OK and the goofy sunroof didn’t help it…. or the vinyl roof… It still sucks to see a 1st gen. S30 go to the crusher, especially when the tin worm isn’t attacking it. Still love to get it, dump the crap transmission and put in a L28 that’s bored out to 3.1 liters, add a twin turbo setup, paint the thing Midnight Blue and add the fender flares and Wantanabe wheels and go all Akio Akasura….. but I digress.

    Also do I spy a normal Celica or a Celica Supra next to the Z?

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    I sat in a Genesis coupe yesterday, it felt sooo good, like I was back in my ’72 Cougar. Man, I miss that machine. The Genesis gauges were old-school just like in this Datsun.

  • avatar

    Murilee, could you let me know the location of this junkyard? I want to make sure some Z car enthusiasts have a chance to pick it clean.

  • avatar
    probert

    It’s nice that Toyota finally came out with an updated version – kudos. Now maybe nissan can get on that MR2 project.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Looking at this car further it could be restored. Strip the paint and the vinyl top down to the metal. You could either replace the sunroof or weld sheet metal into the hole where the sunroof is. The interior needs some work. This car would look great in bright red with a tan leather interior. Put a manual back in it and either replace the engine or redo it.

    • 0 avatar
      west-coaster

      $20,000 later, you’ll have a car worth about $15,000 (at best).

      Proper restorations are expensive, and there’s a reason this car never got one and ended up in a boneyard.

      • 0 avatar
        mkirk

        Meh, so you are upside down 5 grand…you are still in better shape than the dude getting an 84 month loan on whatever the flavor of the month is. Cars like this beg for an LS crate motor some upgraded brakes and suspension bits. So long as you drive it and don’t sell it I don’t think you’d come out too bad so long as you don’t live in the rust belt.

        • 0 avatar
          ktm

          I have a 1972 240z with an LS1, vented front discs, rear discs, and “upgraded” suspension, amongst numerous other things……let’s just say that it is as much fun as you’d imagine….

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            Have you got a set of triple 45mm DCOE sidedraught Webbers on it. That is the next best thing to fuel injection.

            The L Series Datsun engines was one of the finest engines ever made and were super reliable after some work was done to them.

            You can alot of performance from the heads relatively cheaply.

          • 0 avatar
            ktm

            It originally had an L24 but the previous owner swapped out the engine (engine casting code did not match the engine tag) with one that had an earlier E31 head as well as swapped the dash out. Since the car was not “stock” in that sense, I did not care about modifying it.

            First came the L28ET out of a 1983 280zx turbo. I installed a Wolf V500 (from Oz) EMS, larger turbo, 757 cc/min injectors, 1400 cc/min methanol injection, Slover ported P90 head, Isky cam, and custom exhaust. The car was a blast to drive, but not what I really wanted. I sold that setup which paid for 90% of the LS1 swap.

            You are right, though, that the L-series engines are generally bullet proof and with some head work, some 45 DCOEs Webers/Mikunis, a good cam, etc., they were screamers.

  • avatar
    dm2012

    Wow! This takes me back to 1984, when I bought a collision-damaged brown ’73 240Z for 700 bucks and fixed it up. I removed all mechanicals forward of the firewall, had a frame shop spot-weld in a replacement front clip, then bolted everything back in. And I had it re-painted in a more tasteful color (Alpine white). And retrofitted a pair of pre-’73 Hitachi SU carbs. The car was pretty reliable, aside from a weird intermittent fuel starvation problem that I eventually traced to a clogged paper fuel filter element in the now-unneeded electric fuel booster pump. (The pre-73 carbs worked fine with just the mechanical fuel pump.) The summer of 1984 was a great time in Los Angeles-the Olympics were going on, and the freeway traffic was way lighter than normal.

  • avatar
    JMII

    The 70s Zs were too early for me, I lusted after the 2nd generation models as a friend’s mother had one. As kids were could fit in the hatchback. It had the turbo and the wild digital dash, it was like a car from the future with its awesome looks and warp speed compared to my mothers VW Rabbit of the same era.

    I almost bought a 3rd generation model, but it was way too expensive for a newly married Graphic Designer back in ’96 so I got an Eclipse GS-T. When the wife and I finally decided we weren’t have kids I started looking for a real sports car. Sure I owned the turbo Eclipse and Prelude Si but those were wanna be FWD vehicles. I found a mint, garage queen ’03 350Z Touring model and scooped it up as fast as could write the check. I love driving it despite the wife’s complaints (too loud, too stiff) but as a daily driver it manages 26 MPG in a 70/30 highway/city mix. Sure the shape isn’t as sexy as the original Zs but it kind of grows on you… its a very simple organic kind of form and the interior (while very plain) carries over the 3 gauge pod look of the original.

    Kind of strange to thing of a Japanese sports car as a “classic” but my ’03 will never achieve such status as its engine is same VQ V6 in every Nissan on the road from Altimas to Quest minivans. Plus most people consider it too heavy to be a real tossable RWD coupe. It seems to handle great to me, but haven’t gotten any track time in yet and don’t have anything else to really make the comparison.

    • 0 avatar
      -Nate

      Unlike many Americans , you have grasped that a ” Sports Car ” is
      -NOT- a _Race_Car_ ~ it’s supposed to be fun and sporty to drive Vs. your average Sedan .

      You were the target for the Z cars , don’t worry about not winning any trophies in the Slalom , just go drive and enjoy it .

      -Nate

  • avatar
    HLS30-150256

    Marilee Martin – Did you buy that brown 240z ?? If not…would you tell me city and name of the junkyard? I am desperately looking for the center sections of the seats in that ‘ginger’ color/pattern. I’m keeping my 73 original only….Thanks, if you can help.


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