1971 Datsun 240Z: Only One Problem


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When the Datsun 240Z was released it represented a relative bargain at $3,500. With a 150 horsepower inline six and fully independent suspension it could run with much more expensive cars. The fit and finish may not have been the best, but the reliable engine and good looking exterior made up for that. I have always liked the early cars and this one really caught my eye. It looks to be very original and rust free. Presumably the current owner has done a lot of work to keep it on the road. Take a look here on eBay where bidding is currently right under $4k. It’s clean and ready to drive, but there is one major problem. It’s an automatic…

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  1. Shilo

    I really like this car. Good condition California rust free car. Original, well maintained, runs good, good title. The transmission kills it for me but for someone it will be an awesome car. I had several of these back in the day. Fun to drive, low maintainence and easy to work on. Z cars will go up in value in the future too. The only downside is the automatic but it might be a positive for someone.

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    • olerascal

      Indeed Shilo…the autotranny is a plus for folks with physical problems
      that make mannytranny less desireable…as age and/or infirmaries escalate.
      All my hobby cars are DIY shifters…and it’s becoming more difficult
      to enjoy the rides. Sold off a few, selling down to the two “keepers”,
      and then will aim for fun/vintage autotranny next.
      That Z would be on the shortlist of candidates.

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  2. cory

    That’s an easy fix. Just swap it out for a zx 5 speed.

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  3. DolphinMember

    I’m restoring an early first year Z car now, and I sure wish the interior and engine bay of my car were as nice as this car’s. The seller doesn’t claim that the 21K miles are correct but I can believe that they probably are. The seats are the correct early seats and in great condition, the vinyl trim is really good. The only things that I can see that need much work or replacement are the sun-bleached paint and hatch area carpet.

    The auto trans isn’t a big deal. There were so many of these made that used parts come up for sale all the time, including things like pedal sets, transmissions, and other basic components. If it were mine I would buy and install the parts to convert it to a standard transmission. Then I would see if the paint can be saved.

    Originality counts even for ’70s Japanese sportscars now, so whatever you can save will help. OTOH, nobody wants an auto trans in an early Z car, so I don’t think a switch to a 4-speed would hurt, and in fact it would likely help.

    Early Z cars in really good original condition can bring $15K – $30K now, so if the reserve is reasonable for this car it could be a great buy.

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  4. sammy

    I would chunk a small block chevy in there and burn some rubber.
    Nice car!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    • Peter

      Ditto for EVERYTHING Dolphin said–seriously–and well-said, too! ;-)

      Oh…Sammy–a Small Block Chevy V-8’s (or, SMC, for short)? Really? I was about to accuse you of being unoriginal, but then I realized, I just “dittoed” what Dolphin said, so I can’t say that, or I’d be a hypocrite. LOL

      But, if you’d “…would chunk (sic) a small block chevy in there and burn some rubber,” then I’m guessing you’re no fan of magic of the inline six, in general, am I correct?

      Not to mention the fact that such an engine swap would KILL this car’s dollar value, IF it’s truly an unmolested, 21,000 mile “survivor.”

      Engineering types (of which I’m not–can’t do the math, or I would have been) would tell you that the inline six is (I believe) the ONLY configuration which has perfect primary (and secondary?) balance. I honestly don’t know the correct terminology, exactly, but the concept has to do with there being a power pulse for every 60 degrees of crankshaft rotation, i.e., 6 X 60 = 360 degrees. That is not the case in a domestic V-8—or ANY V-8, as far as I know.

      The reduced, inherent vibration of the inline six is (I’m assuming) ONE reason for the acknowledged greater durability of many inline sixes, with Ford’s 300 cu. in./4.9 liter, Chrysler’s famous 225 cu. in. “Slant Six,” and their/Jeep’s 258 cu. in. straight six being just three such examples.

      I know your concern is “burning rubber,” and (apparently) not durability, and that’s fine, if you want a DRAG CAR. But if durability is a concern, please consider that the single, most popular, over-the-road, semi tractor engines are…(wait for it) inline sixes.

      The legendary Cummins diesel (famous for 4-500,000+ mile durability) is an inline six.

      There’s a special harmony of a well-tuned, performance-built, inline six. (And yet, you’ve seen those Cummins diesels built up to over 800 ft. lb. of torque, being drag raced in pickup trucks, so a six CAN be built into a race engine–and has been, by many Euro-marques).

      I’ve read about a Ford, 300 cu. in. (gas) 4.9 liter being built up to over 700 ft. lb. of torque. Not that that engine’s going to last nearly as long as a stock 4.9, but you CAN “burn some rubber,” with an inline six—not that you ever said you could not, of course.

      Most inlines have a longer stroke, per cu. in., than do V-8’s. And we all know that “stroker motors” make more torque than “non-strokers.” So inline sixes tend to be torque monsters, not h.p. fiends.

      Are inline sixes as quick, in the 1/4 mile, as a V-8–typically, no, not even close.

      But are they FAST? Well, when the 1961 Jaguar XKE was introduced, it ran 150mph RIGHT OUT OF THE BOX–and I believe the displacement was all of 3.8 liters. (And that was with no “power adders,” as the popular terminology for forced induction, NOS, etc…, goes).

      So…with SO many Small Block Chevy V-8’s out there, why would you gut what MIGHT be an original, 21,000 mile SURVIVOR 240Z, for yet another drag car?

      Heck, I can’t even stand to see how many Model A’s, and other, ’30’s Fords, be they rat rods, hot rods, drag cars or trailer queens, have the ubiquitous SBC V-8–in FORD products!

      I GET that there is NO cheaper horsepower-per-dollar than the SBC V-8. No argument there.

      But sometimes, it’s not about the cheapest path to driving for low, double-digit, or even single-digit, 1/4 mile times. SOMETIMES, it’s about THE JOURNEY, and the MUSIC, and the GRACE—and that is where the inline six SHINES.

      I grew up around a lot of inline sixes, in Mack B61 Dumps, in Linkbelt cranes, a Mack R-model, 10-wheel diesel semi-tractor with the “Maxidyne” six, in Ford pickups, in a Cat D5 dozer, a CAT 977 tracked loader, and in cars of many different manufacturers, etc…. And there is a certain HONESTY to an inline six, and it’s MUSIC, that can be appreciated, if one listens for it…..

      If it makes you feel any better, I have a 250 cu. in. CHEVY inline six, in my 1972 boat. It’s a Mercruiser, and it puts out 165hp., considerably more than the same block in my 1975 CHEVY van (which I think puts out 105 h.p.). (The boat has a two barrel, the van a single, and the “marinazation” of the boat motor, by Mercury Marine, results in more ponies in other ways (I believe) like a hotter cam, and possibly a higher compression ratio.

      So…would you consider leaving “our” little, (seemingly) ORIGINAL, inline Z-car unmolested, and putting your SBC in…oh, I don’t know…how about a Chevy Vega, or a Monza, perhaps? LOL The Vega might be close, in weight, to the Datsun Z, right? (Translation: I’m too lazy to look it up).

      But as the saying goes…Survivors…they’re only original ONCE.

      /rant over.

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  5. rjc

    I have a 1971 240z I’m working on, i’m about two thirds of the way through.
    But I think I’m going to sell it as is. I really want a convertible.

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    • David

      When you get ready to sell, let me know I may be interested.


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  6. rjc

    this is my 1971 z , decided to sell because I really would like a convertible.
    these are nice cars, I agree with above comments.

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  7. Tom

    No problem with an AT. Just find a G35 VQ35 engine/mission dropout and swap in some sweet sweet NA/6-speed reliability.

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  8. tom999p

    Here we go- another car that people have no qualms about throwing a chevy engine into. Why not just go out and buy a chevy instead of destroying a cool car??

    Also, why is everyone on this website against automatic transmissions and 3 or 4 speed transmissions?? Cars have had automatic and 3 or 4 speed transmissions for over a hundred years, so they must work enough to get an old car around the neighborhood and to car shows… I doubt anyone is going to drive this car across country or use it as a daily driver on the autobon.

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    • Jesse JesseAuthor

      The simple answer – manuals are more fun.

      Like 0

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