The Datsun 240Z by Nissan cleared the way for Japanese performance parts and racing cars in the American and international markets. The relative affordability, high performance, and maximum elegance uniquely positioned this trailblazing Japanese coupe to compete with European sports cars in the United States.
The 240Z, known as the Fairlady Z and Nissan S30 in some markets, was the very first Z-car, so it’s an undeniably iconic model. Fortunately, at the time of the 240Z’s production, everyone seemed aware of the fact that it would soon be a classic, which is why so many Datsun 240Zs were extremely well kept.
For this reason, if you’re in the classic sports car market, the Datsun 240Z is an awesome option that will say a lot about your taste and knowledge of sports car history. To aid in your epic quest to buy a sports car (or casual online browsing), here are some of the highest performing, most stylish 240Z models to consider!
Datsun 240Z Series 1
In 1970, conditions were perfect for a new player to enter the sports car market place. Jaguar, Porsche, BMW, Corvette, Fiat, and Alpha Romero all had a limited supply and dealership network inside the United States as primarily high-end luxury manufactures.
To emphasize its aggressive market strategy, Nissan priced the Datsun 240Z right around the popular and similar British Motor Company GT. The GT was already five years old at the time and aging fast, so the timing couldn’t have been better for a similarly-priced competitor. So, if you’re looking for a piece of automotive history, the first Datsun 240Zs are an icon in the industry.
240Zs also have a flagrant sense of style and class, which certainly wasn’t diminished in future models, but was slightly altered. The bumper over-rides have a more timeless placement in this early model, for instance. You’ll also get a more retro 240Z badge on your sail pillar as a symbol of your supreme coolness.
Datsun 240Z ’72-’73
Two Datsun 240Z models, briefly known as Series IIs, were released across 1972 and 1973, and both are worth considering. In 1972, the interior of the 240Z received a big update, although this was also when the bumper over-riders were changed. Then, in ‘73, new emissions equipment was added that made the Datsun 240Z a bit friendlier on the environment.
Both of these Series II models are available in a three-speed automatic transmission version, unlike the Series I. Both the Series II and Series I were available in four-speed manual and five-speed manual transmission.
The Fairlady ZG
The Fairlady ZG is quite possibly our favorite model of the Datsun 240Z. Between the extended aerodynamic nose design, rear spoiler, riveted fenders, headlight covers, and red, white and Maroon color options, the ZG was certainly a looker.
The 1970 Fairlady (as the 240Z is known in Japan) first entered the Japanese market about three months before the end of 1969. In 1971, the Fairlady received the ZG model update, which was designed specifically to force the 240Z onto the racing scene — the G stands for Grande as in Grande Prix.
Unfortunately, the Fairlady GZ was never sold outside of Japan. However, the “Aero-Dyna” nose kit, where the GZ sourced much of its elegance, was made available to US markets for the 240Z in order to certify the GZ as an international racing vehicle. If you’re looking for one, these nose kit-ed Z-cars are known as 240ZGs in North America.
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The Z-car continued to grow and develop over the years. If you’re looking for a slightly newer model, we’d recommend skipping the 1974 260Z, which had a hard time maintaining performance with new emissions regulations at the time, in favor of the Nissan Datsun 280Z, a much better sports car without the issues of the 260Z.
With regard to styling, the 280Z came in two notable special editions, the ‘77 Zap and the Black Peral edition (pirates beware). The ‘77 came in sunshine yellow with black racing stripes. An estimated 1,000 were made. There were somewhere between 750-1,500 Black Pearl editions made — about one per dealership. These Z-cars came in reflective black with red and silver stripes and dual racing mirrors.
Crossing the Finish Line
If you’re looking for a classic car that makes a statement, Nissan’s breakthrough coupe model is certainly an impactful option. In the world of Japanese cars, this instant classic has only grown in stature over the decades and has become one of the most commercially successful sports cars in history. You can’t go wrong with the timeless Datsun 240Z.