Spotted: Datsun 240Z

The Japanese ability to reinterpret classic Western cars and, in the process, improve upon them is well documented. The Honda NSX showed that mid-engined supercars needn't be intransigent to drive. The Lexus LS400 taught the Germans what real refinement was. And of course the Mazda MX-5 injected a dose of reliability into the small British roadster mix to great effect.

The muscle car, having turned Japanese
The muscle car, having turned Japanese
Then there's the Japanese Mustang, the Datsun 240Z. It was our colleagues at Classic and Sports Car that drew attention towards the 240Z, following a twin test in this month's issue with a Mk 1 Ford Capri. The comparison is fascinating, both cars clearly influenced by the burgeoning American muscle car scene with big engines, long bonnets and rear-wheel-drive.

But it's the little details that mark the Datsun out, and make it seem more modern than the Ford. It's shorter and narrower, emphasising a sense of litheness and athleticism; the styling themes are just as classic, but the 240Z just seems to wear its years better than the Capri. The 240Z's straight-six revs to 7,000rpm thanks to an alloy head and an overhead camshaft. The Capri's Essex V6 will spin to just 5,800rpm, thanks to its all-iron construction and pushrods. And despite having 600cc more cylinder volume, it makes less power.

Don't misunderstand this comparison; I love old Fords, especially Capris. But putting it alongside the 240Z shows how the European car industry underestimated the competition coming from the east.

Evocative cabin is full of charm and character
Evocative cabin is full of charm and character
In fact, Nissan itself is so proud of the 240Z's styling cues that it aims to celebrate them with a 21st century reincarnation as an 80th birthday present to itself in 2014. More retro in design than the current 370Z, you can see the early sketches (with some help from Jay Leno), in this video.

This £15,000 car is the only 240Z for sale in the PH Classifieds, and looking elsewhere didn't unearth much more. Under £10,000 buys you a project Z in need of work for an MOT whilst spending over £20,000 that gets you a race-prepared 240Z.

The advert states this Datsun was 'Totally Restored In 2008 And Has Covered Only Approx 1000 Miles Since'. OK, capitalising every word makes reading it a test of endurance but the restoration seems very thorough. Almost everything has been replaced engine-wise, the work including a full rebuild and balancing of the bottom end by Fourways Engineering, new valves,a high-lift cam and new carburettors. Then there's the stainless steel exhaust, uprated brakes, immaculate period alloys...

Revvy straight-six outguns contemporary Capri
Revvy straight-six outguns contemporary Capri
The paintwork also deserves a mention. Naturally a bare metal respray was part of the restoration process, and the new Candy Apple Red gleams in what appears to be real sunlight. It completes the car's overhaul beautifully, and shows off a stunning piece of design well. In fact, given the huge undertaking this 240Z restoration represents, it seems a shame it's hardly been driven!

Oh, and if you still fancy a Capri, this Mk 1 3000E looks great.

See the original advert here

Datsun 240Z
: 2,393cc, straight six
Transmission: Five-speed manual
Power (hp): 163@5,600rpm
Torque (lb ft): 146@4,400rpm
MPG: 21
CO2: N/A
First registered: 1973
Recorded mileage: 1,000 since 2008 restoration, no other figure given
Price new: £2,690
Yours for: £15,000

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (84) Join the discussion on the forum

  • The Obeast 08 Nov 2012

    That is absolutely stunning.

  • Ozzie Osmond 08 Nov 2012

    Very nice indeed. There's a yellow one round my way that's been in the same ownership for years.

    Beware the tin worm!!

  • OlberJ 08 Nov 2012

    My favourite Japenese car.

    Someone please post a link to the SC'd V8 version on youtube smile

  • StottyZr 08 Nov 2012

    This pulled into my local petrol station a while back. It stopped us in our tracks and we just stared (and took a photohehe)


  • jason61c 08 Nov 2012

    Ozzie Osmond said:
    Very nice indeed. There's a yellow one round my way that's been in the same ownership for years.

    Beware the tin worm!!
    Yep, that's why you should buy an American one from a 'dry state'.

    Awesome cars.

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