Datsun 240Z: Why this 1970s sports car is still relevant today
Quick, affordable, fun to drive and stylish. These have ALWAYS been features of a successful car. When these ring true even 50 years after release, you have a LEGEND!!
Nissan Fairlady Z and the Datsun 240Z
What is a 240Z / Fairlady Z?
The first generation Nissan Fairlady Z , called the Datsun 240Z overseas, came out in 1969. The chassis code S30 or S30Z is often used to refer to these cars as well.
Nissan wanted to create a sports car that could rival popular European cars .
Mr. K (Yutaka Katayama) created the Z concept and Yoshihiko Matsuo and his team developed it. Styling cues like the long front bonnet and, aerodynamic body are features on both the Z and Jaguar E-Type.
The Fairlady Z (S30)was the Japan only car. It had 2.0-liter engine that produced 130 HP and four-speed manual transmission. The export model, the Datsun 240Z ,was had 2.4-liter engine that produced 151 HP. It had a four-speed manual transmission and could go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in around 8 seconds.
The Datsun 240Z was an instant success, becoming one of the most popular sports cars of the 1970s. Many praised it for its combination of performance, style, and affordability.
Z Styling is Timeless
Throughout its entire life, those who have seen the Z, love it. Young or old, male or female.
Anyone who saw one could imagine themselves driving it and that is something special. It is not too masculine and not too feminine.
With its flowing lines, small stature but spacious cabin even tall drivers fit in the Datsun Z.
How much is a Datsun 240Z?
In 1970, the retail price for a Datsun 240Z was 3,600 USD (equal to 27,000 USD in today’s money). This was an affordable price for many when compared to the Porsche 911 base which retailed for about 6,500 USD.
Since the 1990s, the price of used Datsun 240Zs has been rising. In the 1990s, one could buy a well-kept, running and driving 240Z could for around $5,000. Yet, as these cars have become more rare, prices have gone up.
By the early 2000s, a good condition 240Z could cost upwards of $15,000. Today, the prices for 240Zs range from $20,000 to over $100,000, depending on the condition and specific model year.
Immaculate, original, low vin number cars can fetch over 300,000 USD. (Bring a Trailer)
Is a Datsun 240Z rare?
Total number of Datsun 240Zs made is around 165-170,000 units worldwide.
1969 Datsun 240Z: 3 units (likely pre-production cars)
1970 Datsun 240Z: 17,005 units (sub 1000 serial number cars are highly sought after and sell for a premium)
1971 Datsun 240Z: 40,219 units (minor changes introduced such as tool boxes behind seats)
1972 Datsun 240Z: 60,025 units
1973 Datsun 240Z: 51,332 units. (Datsun 260Z started production this year and may skew 1973 240Z numbers)
Many 240Zs have crashed, saved other 240Zs or have rusted away due to exposure to the elements. Because of this, it is difficult to estimate how many remain. It is safe to estimate there are less than 100,000 worldwide.
Z Racing Success: At Home and Abroad
Datsun 240Z Racing
The Datsun 240Z also made a name for itself in racing circles. In particular, it was dominant in the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) racing series. John Morton, a well-known American race car driver, won the C Production National Championship in 1970 and 1971 driving the BRE Datsun 240Z.
The 240Z also won the East African Safari Rally in 1971 and 1973, showcasing its durability and ruggedness in tough conditions.
There were also many 240Zs campaigned in the IMSA Racing Series.
Nissan Fairlady Z Racing
The Fairlady Z was also successful in racing, particularly in Japan. In 1971, the Fairlady Z432 won the Fuji 1000km endurance race.
The Z432 was a high-performance version of the Fairlady Z powered by the S20 engine that made 160 HP. It also had a five-speed manual transmission and a limited-slip differential. This made it a popular choice among racing enthusiasts.
The 240ZG was a more aerodynamic version of the Fairlady Z with the signature “Grand(G) Nose” and a 2.4L engine.
The racing success of the S30Z established the car as a serious performance machine. This contributed to its popularity among car enthusiasts.
Datsun 240Z Modifications and Aftermarket
Since it’s introduction in 1970 the Datsun 240Z has been a car that was simple, fun and took to modifications well. The cars were often campaigned by privateers racing in SCCA and IMSA.
Since it's start the Datsun 240Z has had a dedicated following. Thousands of enthusiasts modify and customize their cars. This led to an active aftermarket for 240Z parts and upgrades. Since the 70s, many companies specialized in Z performance modifications and restoration parts. Z lovers know companies like Rebello Racing and BRE for their expertise with Zs.
Some popular modifications for the 240Z include:
- Engine swaps (Endless choices from V8s to Rotary Engines)
- Coilover suspension upgrades (Suspension upgrades can improve handling and cornering)
- Big brake upgrades (can improve stopping power and reduce brake fade.)
- Body kits (improve aero as well as widen track to fit wider wheels and tires)
240Z Tuning Concepts and variety
Many Datsun 240Z and Fairlady Z fans worldwide love to restore and maintain their cars. As a result, there is an active market for restoration parts. A handful of companies produce high-quality reproduction parts for the 240Z.
Parts range from body panels and trim pieces to engine components and interior parts. Many of these parts are almost identical to the original parts. allowing enthusiasts to restore their cars to original condition.
The popularity of the 240Z has led to a global network of suppliers and distributors for these parts. Enthusiasts can order parts from companies based all over the world.
The active market for restoration parts is a proof of the enduring popularity of the Datsun 240Z. It allows enthusiasts to keep their cars running and looking great for many years to come.
There is also a growing trend in the car community for "restomods."
Restomods involve taking a classic car and modernizing it. Enhance performance while maintaining the original look and feel of the car.
In Japan, owners upgrade the L-Series engine by increasing engine size from the 2.0L, up to as high as 3.2L. Many upgrade to electronic fuel injection or side draft carburetors. They also update electronics for better efficiency.
Many restomodded 240Zs feature adjustable suspension components. Bigger brakes (and rear disc brake conversions) increase safety. Many owners add modern amenities like air conditioning and Hi-Fi audio for comfort.
Restomod 240Zs can sell at higher prices than original or restored examples. They offer the perfect combination of classic style and modern performance.
The popularity of restomods for the 240Z is a testament to the car's timeless appeal.
Impractically lowered cars, airbag suspension, and inordinate amounts of negative camber. This aesthetic is its own subculture, self titled “Stanced.”
While not for everyone, there is no denying the striking effect seeing those cars has.
The 240Z and Fairlady Z are versatile so owners experiment with this tuning style as well.
Love it or hate it, you will definitely remember it!
Industry Garage x Make Haste Corp collab on WILD Tesla powered Z for SEMA: a sign of things to come?
This project design is by Ash Thorp and Color Sponge. The car build is by the Youtuber "Street Bandito". Their last project was a Datsun 240Z with a Carbon Fiber body.
Their new project looks to be even crazier while being Tesla powered. Definitely something to look forward to this November.
The 240Z came with an inline 6 cylinder engine. If removed, there is a lot of space to shoehorn other engine configurations in.
From 4 cylinder turbo engine swaps to Rotary Engine swaps, the search for power is endless. The spacious 240Z engine bay provides endless possibilities.
240Z Cultural relevance renews awareness and interest
- A Nissan Fairlady Z S30 was the hero car in the 90s Japanese manga and then 2000s anime “Wangan Midnight.”
- Called the “Devil Z,” this twin turbo S30Z prowled the highways of Tokyo at night. It raced the fastest cars including its rival: “Blackbird” the Porsche 930 Turbo.
- Fugu Z - Fast and Furious Actor Sung Kang partnered with Rocket Bunny on his Datsun 240Z for the 2015 SEMA show. It won the coveted “Best in Show” Award. Miura San of Rocket Bunny collaborated with Kang to release his new aero kit for the S30Z.
- In 2018 Discovery channel had a show called JDM Legends. It featured the Utah based shop that restores and modifies classic Japanese cars. Datsun 240Zs and Nissan Skylines were on the show.
Social media evolution made it easier to collaborate and share love for the S30Z
- Message boards such as HybridZ, and ClassicZcar had many active users. In the early 2000s information flowed on forums and message boards. As an owner of a Datsun 240Z, you had to be on these.
- blogs like High Top Fade and photo galleries on tumblr were a constant source of inspiration. They helped to understand what was going on in the Japan car world.
- From the 2010s, Facebook groups became more popular. Many Z owners bought/sold cars/parts and exchanged information. The world moved away from clunky message boards
- Reddit has an infinite number of communities. The r/Datsun community on reddit is very helpful for troubleshooting and finding information.
- Instagram/Youtube - Video and visual content has taken over as the king of entertainment. Anyone building a 240Z or restoring their Fairlady Z S30 likely has an Instagram or Youtube. These are the go-to places to follow progress and interact.
Why the 240Z and Fairlady Z S30 are still relevant: Conclusion
The collectibility of the S30 Fairlady Z is due in part to its racing success and the reputation it earned as a performance machine. The car's design and unique styling are why it is still popular and desirable for collectors.The Datsun 240Z is an affordable, stylish car. Normal punters (both male and female), racers, tuners, DIYers, celebrities and more LOVE the Z.
It is now easier than ever to connect with others doing interesting things with them.
There are endless ways to make them unique or inject your personality into them.
The 240Z is the perfect automotive canvas. It has been since the 1970s and it likely will continue to be for many years to come!