Hagerty.com

Datsun 240Z values show it’s getting the appreciation it deserves


#1

Before about 1970, most people would point and laugh if you told them you were buying a Japanese car. A “Made in Japan” label served as a red flag for cheap and hastily made. Datsun’s 240Z helped change that perception, permanently. It brought Americans a sports car that was quick and attractive but, more importantly, both affordable and reliable. It was significantly quicker than the cars in the same price point ($3,500 in 1970, or about $23,300 in 2018 dollars), and way cheaper than the cars with similar performance. It turned the sports car market on its ear.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/09/20/datsun-240z-values-show-appreciation

#2

The 240Z was a real “game changer” as they say, but what changed the public’s mind about the quality of Japanese vehicles was the pick-up trucks that proceeded the 240Z by several years. By the time the 240Z came out Japanese cars had long since lost their reputation as cheap and unreliable.

Unrelated but funny story: in the early 70’s I was a claims adjuster and had a claim involving some damage on a 240Z. The body shop was told by every Datsun dealer that they called that the hood for the car was on back-order from Japan and there were none to be found anywhere in the US. In desperation he found the number for the Datsun parts warehouse and called them. The parts manager told him "Funny that you called right now. I was just standing here thinking ‘where am I going to put all these damn 240Z hoods?’ "


#3

In 1973 I dumped a '70 Fiat 124 Sport coupe that I had purchased new for $3,400 and bought a one year old '72 240Z with 15K miles on the clock for $3,500 from a college kid who couldn’t afford the payments. At the time the new 1973 models were strangled by smog regulations and were selling for around $5,000. The car was bright orange but I actually came to like the color. What a great automobile. I drove it until 1977 when I got promoted into the FoMoCo executive lease car program and picked out the last of the German Capris, a white “Snow Cat” with black and gold interior. I foolishly sold my 240Z for the same $3,500 I’d paid for it four years earlier, a decision I have regretted ever since. While the Capri was a very similar package with regard to performance with its 2.7L V6 and 4 speed manual tranny, it was only for a year and then I was off into an annual Mustang until I left the company. The Z car was a milestone car and nobody even comes close to producing a vehicle like it today, and nobody makes anything for $24K except dull four door sedans. The Z car was like the Mustang in 1964. An affordable fun car that you could enjoy driving. Today everything is twice that much for a bunch of nanny systems to provide a safe place for you. My '09 Corvette is one of those cars and the degree to which the systems control the driving experience is flatly annoying and will eventually be life limiting for the car. When repairing one of those failed systems exceeds the market value of the Vette, it will be off to the scrap yard.


#4

@ragtop69 - The Subaru/Toyota partnership brought the BRZ/FRS to life and those lively little two-door coupes start at $25k. there is still fun to be had under $30k!


#5

I actually owned a Honda S600, and getting into it with my 6 ft 2 in (slim) body was no problem. Owned a 1962 TR-3 (ordered it in Hong Kong for $50 down and total $1750 to be delivered in Long Beach - - to my surprise it was) Raced it up and down the west coast in the good old days when a sailor could afford to do that. Drove to the races, raced it, drove it back to my Navy base. yes, there WERE good old days.
Had a '66 TR-4A with IRS. Bought it used in '72. Neither car ever failed to start, and neither ever left me beside the road.


#6

Thanks for the article! I am fortunate to own an every option 5 speed, 1986, 300ZX 2+2 (red of course). While I’ve owned 50+ various vehicles over the years, my Nissan remains the most fun to drive. Part of the attraction, I must also admit, is the fact I spend far more time driving it than having my head under the hood or it sitting at my mechanic’s garage. Without a doubt, the older I get, reliability becomes much more important consideration.


#7

I purchased my 240Z from the dealer in 1973 and have been loving it ever since. The US Air Force shipped it to Germany (1974) and back (1977). It has been on roads built by the Romans and cruised at over 100 MPH on the Autobahns with time in seven countries. It has been to 33 of the US States and was my “Daily Driver” for over 28 years. No longer stock (drive train and suspension upgrades over the years) and in need of a proper restoration to take care of the “less than perfect” spots, but it still turns heads and (when it suits me) embarrasses someone that thinks that “old Japanese car” can be that fast … This car is well worth the original purchase and time and money I have poured into it over the past 45 year! Thank you Hagerty for the great article.

Three_Wheels|301x500


#8

Dad had a ‘70 510 and brother Norm had a ‘71 510. He had the aluminum wheels on his. I loved the 240Z as a kid because of our Datsun connection. Would have one too if the stars lined up.


#9

It’s funny how people are built differently. I’m 6’2’’ as well and a Honda S600 (albeit with the top up) was one of a handful of cars I actually haven’t been able to drive comfortably, and that includes Lotus Europas, prewar British roadsters and other tiny cars.


#10

I have never sat in one, it must of had the same feel like Camaros and Firebirds of the early 80’s…like sitting in a bath tub…but a few of the car shoes I watch that restore projects cars that have stumbled on hard times have had quite a few of these cars on the last few seasons…a lot are crossing the auction blocks as well…they say you can never go back…I guess you can now with a little help from the internet…


#11

TI bought a 240Z in 1971 and drove it to work for 190,000 miles. Did some autocrossing and went to drivers school in it at SIR in it. Never had a problem other than a blown head gasket early on.
When I retired I decided to restore it using OEM parts. I pulled the engine and transmission. With head off I checked the bore with a gauge and it had only worn half a thousand so I can installed new rings and bearings.
Over the next 6 years I totally disassembled car. All the glass, body, suspension, upholstery, and had it professionally repainted the original color orange. I bought all the worn parts from a Nissan dealer in Texas. I still have the car and take it to local shows.
Gman


#12

I bought a 1972 240Z in 1976. It was quite abit different than the TR4A !RS that I had just gotten out of. More power better handling and above all reliable. Not long after I got it I had a business trip overseas. I had a short stay in Rome I found a small garage and bought 3 Weber DCOE32 carbs for it. At the time there was a company here that had intake manifolds for them. I put those on and headers. Later on I completely reworked the suspension with new springs, shocks and front and rear sway bars. I autocrossed it a few times. The only thing I can remember breaking on me was the clutch master cylinder.


#13

I owned my 1969 240z #194 until last year, sold it to a great guy. Regrets???, as Frankie said, “I had a few”… selling it is one of them : (
But I can’t keep all the cars to myself, still have a decent herd to handle.


#14

I purchased a 1971 240Z in 1979 for $1,000.00. It was Safari Gold and had been hit in the Drivers front. The car had a 4 speed and air conditioning and ran very good. My body guy repaired the damage and repainted the car with Dupont Imron paint. Shortly afterwards I loaned the car to a friend who preceeded to overheat it and blow the head gasket warping the cylinder head. I tore the engine down and brought the head to our local machine shop. This was in a small Arizona town population 7,500. I picked up the head and it looked quite different. The combustion chambers were no longer round, the machinist had milled 60 thousanths off the head. I began to install the head and noticed the abnormal amount of slack in the timing chain. I did not have a lot of OHC experience so it was off to the dealer to find a solution. The service manager said way too much meat was taken off the head to shim the cam towers. Not having the money to buy a new E31 head, I opted for 3 sets of cam tower shims. I was informed if I used that many shims there would be no way to get the camshaft true and I would be wearing out cam bearings and breaking camshafts. I took the shims home and bolted it all together. The timing chain slack was gone and I could turn the engine without the valves contacting pistons. I decided that since I was into it that far I would install a set of exhaust headers and a new 1 3/4" Exhaust with a single turbo muffler. I ran a compression test prior to start up and had 215 pounds on all 6 cylinders. After taking the car out for a test drive I was very surprised at the increase in performance. This little Z was crazy fast. The midnight drag races out on Thornton Road was kind of a thing to do, so I decided to give it a go. The Z was dominating everyone, 55 Chevy’s with dual Quads, Mustang’s with 351 Clevlands, Chevy Camaros, I was not only winning but by several car lengths and going through the 1/4 mile still in 3rd gear. Being curious as to what kind of time I was running we decided to go to the Local Dragstrip for the Friday night grudge races. I ran 3 passes in the econo class, besting a Mazda RX7, a Ford Capri, and another 240Z with triple weber carbs. My best time of the night was 13.9 @ 101.3 mph. I kept that Z for 14 years and racked up another 140,000 miles without any issues whatsoever. Finding fuel was a trick, I found a 50/50 mix of Leaded Regular and 93 Unleaded Premium would keep the engine happy. It was totally an accident this Z became so fast. I was 19 years old, I took auto shop in High School. I wasn’t trying to build a racecar, just trying to put it back together. If anyone out there has HLS3040204 I would like to talk to you.


#15

I bought a modified 1973 240Z in 1977. 3 two barrels, flared fenders. Great car. About a month or so after I bought it I was informed by my insurance company (GEICO) that my insurance was being dropped. The reason? Because the car was fiberglass. No amount of explaining would change their minds.


#16

Hello, I am the owner from the SAFARI GOLD 71 DATSUN 240Z with vin HLS3040204,
The Arizona title is in the name from Robin in MESA AZ, I live in BELGIUM and i was surprised that
i saw the vin from my car, can you please respond Mister Speedster ? Thank You