1 of 3: 1971 Datsun Primadonna 240Z

Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

The Datsun 240Z has an interesting history as a car that served as the basis for V8 conversions, including one that received factory backing. That car was known as a Scarab, and is a highly desirable specimen of the original hybrid Z cars. This one here is a lesser known take on the same concept – shoehorning a domestic V8 into the Fairlady chassis – known as a Primadonna. A grand total of three were built, and this car is known in Z circles as “JETTLAG.” Find it here on eBay¬†with a Buy-It-Now of $36,000.

The Primadonna features a Chevy small-block and utilizes the Scarab adapter plate. However, what sets the Primadonna apart is the bodywork which resembles that of a period IMSA race car. The seller claims they knew of this car for 20 years and have been pursuing it ever since. The limited information that’s available online indicates that there is the white car; a red car known as “ZBAIT”; and a black example known as “Prima Z.” The reason for the limited production seems wrapped up in the original molds for the kit being needlessly destroyed by their last caretaker.

This is really an impressively well-crafted widebody not built by the factory. The one page with details about the birth of the Primadonna is written in a strange first-person voice and rather difficult to follow, but it seems that the first car was simply built by the owner for the purpose of mirroring Porsche’s thundering 935 race cars in a Z-car body. The Primadonna created such a stir that he built a few copies of the kit, offering the molds to other owners. A stretched windshield, whale tail spoiler and staggered and widened wheels were also part of the kit.

Unfortunately, the molds fell into the hands of an owner who never had time to complete the vision of bringing them to mass production. For reasons unknown, that owner destroyed the molds and the Primadonna dream was effectively dead. As you can see, the kit incorporates numerous styling details not found on the original car, not to mention significant suspension modifications and the SBC stuffed under the hood. This is as close to a one-off as it gets, but the trail goes cold after this and the black car; the red example hasn’t been seen since 1997.

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  1. Milt

    Can we get a bigger wing?

  2. Rick

    Such wonderful tackiness that it almost holds together until you get to the back… and the humongous wing and goofy taillights kill the entire look.

  3. Todd Fitch Todd Fitch Staff

    Whoa Jeff. I need one of these. The fastest car I ever drove was a ’72 240Z with a later 2.8 I6 built by Leitzinger motorsports. It could smoke most V8-swapped Z cars, but I’d like to give this one a whirl. If you have that body kit you better have the power to back it up. Never saw one of these. Sometimes too much is just enough!

  4. Jeffro

    For some reason, I really like this! Of course, if I bought this, I’d be looking for the next Mrs. Jeffro. But boy, I’d look good doing it.

    • Tom Member

      Now that’s funny right there!

  5. KevinR

    What did they use for the inspiration of the back wing? It looks like Sally Fields’ habit from “The Flying Nun.”

    I find myself wondering if there is any chance of getting rid of that bodywork and returning to a normal Z-car look.

  6. glen

    Under the hood looks good, inside looks good, …then there’s the rest of it, ouch.

  7. giorgitd


  8. michael streuly

    Now thats a BIG F**KING WING.

  9. Kevin

    reminds me of the flying nun

  10. Dolphin Dolphin Staff

    This car has been for sale on CL off and on for quite a while, with no takers.

    An excellent, very original ’71 Z car could sell in this price range, but not a car modified like this, even if it could outperform a stock Z car. That’s just the way the collector car world works. And excellent, original early Z cars are now collectible.

  11. sluggo

    Back in the 1970s when this was built this was considered AWESOME… And I personally am a big fan of IMSA & SCCA period styling. Yes, that wing is way too big, But a regular whale tail would be cool, I knew some guys back in the day with cars styled similar and always admired them along with everyone else.
    I also love the gold honey comb wheels as another nice period touch.
    Cool car, and with some slight changes would be just as cool today. Enjoy it for what it is, still plenty of donors out there for restoration.
    For more info on cool altered Z cars, see this site:
    Basically a A to Z encyclopedia of how to’s & tech.

  12. Rodger

    I’m old enough I remember seeing this thing in the kit car magazines of the day, back when I had my 72 Z, and if I could have afforded it then, who knows I might have got one. It did sort of replicate the IMSA look back at the time. It is unique for what it is, and that’s fine, I’d drive it. It’s worth the price if someone will pay it I guess. I have a Jamaican bodied Austin Healey which of course most people think of as a hideous thing to do to a Healey, but back when it was built, Healeys were cheap and rusty (already), so it is fine for what it is and that makes it unique when showing up at a Healey gathering. I’m rebuilding the HiPo 289 and CR toploader, and I’ll just enjoy it for what it is.

  13. olddavid

    Is there any justification for that wing – as far as aerodynamics goes? It looks even bigger than the Plymouth and Dodge versions and they probably outweigh this by 1500#. For $10k, I would take a flyer for a track toy – at $36k I’m beyond my wife’s ability to cope.

    • Kmoe

      The wing povides a reatively high level of downforce a lower speeds. You’ll see similar sized wings on Can-AM cars of the era as well.

  14. ROTAG999

    Any Bets it well sell @asking price ?

  15. Double R car

    I really like the huge wing. Thinking I could strap my kayak in there and head to the river to do some category 5 rafting. Or not…

  16. Mike

    The owner pursued it for 20 years and he already has it selling on eBay for 36,000. He wanted so bad that he just had to flip it. I don’t like it when people do this. The only reason he wanted it was to make money off of it

  17. JRATT 1956

    $36 K, no wonder it did not sell. There are just too many great cars out there in this price point. Many for a whole lot less.


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