I ran across this old Datsun 240Z recently, on the way to dinner. Datsun was the original name for the Japanese car company now known as Nissan. Today, Nissan makes a sports car you may have heard of, called the 370Z, and this 240Z is the ancestor of the 370Z, the original Z car. This particular example, while clean looking for a car of around 40 years old, has had some muscle car touches, hence my title of JDM muscle.
Those fenders, for example, are not stock equipment. They’ve either been rolled out to be wider or some wider aftermarket fenders have been added and smoothed into the body. As much as I personally love the classic retro “white car, black riveted over-fenders” look, I must admit that this car had it going on, but in a nice subtle way. Unless you really knew Zeds, you could have walked up to this car and thought it had all been that way from the factory. However, you’ll notice that there are no emblems on this car, they’ve all been removed for a cleaner appearance. The “knock off” style aftermarket wheels are also a nice muscle car touch. If you go back to my most recent post “In Remembrance of Carroll Shelby,” you’ll see similar fenders and wheels on the 427 Cobras.
The front end had unfortunately suffered some damage in a small collision on the driver’s side. The hood was slightly bent on its edge and the lip was split. There was also a very small patch of cancer by the gas filler door, but it seemed small enough for repair. If you look closely, you’ll also see some small “speed damage” on the lip; tiny little nicks in the paint from small rocks or gravel. I kind of liked those, it kind of added character to it, but I do hope that lip and hood get fixed. With how rare these cars are getting, it’s just nice to see one out being used and enjoyed.
Judging by the license frame and the “Datsmo” (Datsun + Nismo) custom tag, this owner is a fan of Nissan’s motorsports division, Nismo, who builds and maintains all of Nissan’s factory sponsored race cars.
The 240Z was originally sold as an “everyman’s” sports car. Something affordable that the average guy or girl could pick up inexpensively and hoon on a daily basis. By the 1990s, Nissan had strayed significantly from the low cost formula, when the higher end twin turbo Z’s were going for around $50,000. This would lead to the 300ZX (the then-current 3.0 liter Z car) selling in fewer and fewer numbers, eventually discontinuing importation from Japan.
The Z would not return to US shores for another 6 years, with the introduction of the 350Z. While prices are no longer as high as they were in the ’90s, they’re hardly what one would consider cheap. Hopefully, with Subaru and Toyota recently unveiling the BRZ/FR-S twins, Nissan will see the light and possibly bring something less expensive to market, possibly a Silvia successor with the cheap, simple spirit of the original Z cars.
I’m a big fan of the original Z. I smile every time I find one still in good working condition. With a little hope, there will be something like the Z car from Nissan in the future, to inspire future generations of auto enthusiasts.
Up ahead, there are still two Festivals of Speed articles in the works to be posted soon. In the mean time, I hope you enjoy the Z and another DOTS that I’ve got coming up.