50-Year First Owner: 1972 Datsun 240Z

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I was 15 when the 240Z was introduced. I remember vividly seeing my first Z, an orange one just like this, that a neighbor had bought. I couldn’t believe it was a Datsun, who like other Japanese automakers (save for the Datsun 1500/1600/2000 Roadster) was known mainly in the States for its conservatively-styled, sensible, and reliable economy cars. What an image buster this was. I thought the Z looked like a Jaguar E-Type or other kind of sleek European 2-seater hatchback sports car. Combine that great styling with peppy performance, reliability, affordability, and a car that’s downright fun to drive, and you have the formula for sales success. In 1972, 45,588 240Z’s were sold, a 26% increase over 1971, and it was well on its way to becoming a sports car icon. Here’s a well-preserved example of the first generation of Z cars that was bought new by a “meticulous” engineer who owned it for 50 years. The seller (a retired broadcaster and car lover who restores cars as a hobby) purchased the Z, performed some work and repairs on it,  and is now looking to sell it to a new caretaker. It’s currently located in Milford, CT. and is for sale here on craigslist for $39,900. Thanks again for our pal, Pat L., for sending this fine-looking Z our way.

Even at 50, this is still a great-looking sports car. Those first-generation Z’s are so well proportioned and styled, and this particular one presents itself well. The seller claims it was in very good original condition when he bought it, has been in no accidents, and has very solid floors, frame, and sheet metal. Repairs and mechanical work was performed with the goal of keeping as much originality as possible and making it a dependable driver. The list includes rebuilding the engine, repairing some surface rust and painting those areas in the original New Sight Orange, new bushings, brake pads, rebuilt calipers, new wheel cylinders, clutch, water pump, flushing and cleaning the fuel, brake, and cooling system, and putting a set of new shoes on the Z.

I wish the seller had included more photos of the Z’s classic black interior, but what is shown (door panels, hatchback area, dash, the never-used cigarette lighter and ashtray, and the factory plastic that’s still on the passengers shoulder harness) look very good. The seller says, “The interior was perfect except for a tear in the driver’s seat bottom so I had it professionally repaired. I also replaced the carpet, and the original comes with car.” He also claims everything works, including the original factory radio, and all the lights (including the glove box and service light under the hood).

Under that sloping orange hood is a clean, tidy engine bay containing the reliable, (some say indestructible) 2.4L (146-cubic-inch) inline six cylinder engine that produced 151 horsepower when new. It’s paired with a 4-speed manual transmission. When tested back in the day, the 240Z was clocked at 0 to 60 in 8.0 seconds. Just a skosh slower than its heavier, more fuel-thirsty Detroit V8 competitors. The seller says it starts, drives, and stops as it should, and he has photos of all the repair work he performed. Also included is the original window sticker, spare keys, owners manual and other dealer goodies. This appears to be a solid, driver-quality Z with a 50-year first owner and a known history, (which is always a plus). Hagerty’s values a #3 condition 1972 Datsun 240Z at $33,800. This one seems to be reasonably priced.

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  1. bobhess bobhessMember

    Nice car. The orange ’72 we ordered in late ’71 never got off the boat in San Francisco due to a dock strike. Still missing the chance to have owned one.

    Like 5
    • 370zpp 370zppMember

      “Still missing the chance to have owned one.”
      Yup, that about sums it up for me too.

      Like 4
  2. angliagt angliagtMember

    “One owner car” that hasn’t been transferred to this seller.

    Like 5
  3. mike

    The best Z cars had carbs.

    Like 4
  4. Steven

    Had one just exactly like it! If it’s as good as it looks the price is a steal!

    Like 5
  5. JoeNYWF64

    Is that a simple overhead valve straight 6 like the american 6’s back in the day? I’m assuming mutiple carburetion & higher compression allows it to make about the same hp(but less torque) with 100 less cubic inches! than for ex. the ’68 chevy 250 6 cyl with 1 barrel.

    Like 0
    • bobhess bobhessMember

      Nothing simple about this engine. Overhead cam, huge twin carbs, most solid block with multiple bearings ever built in the day, simple modifications got the engines over 200 hp, all in a light weight chassis with race car style suspension front and rear. Americans were a long way from building engines like that one at the time.

      Like 6
      • Greg Gustafson

        I worked on Datsuns for three years and the 240z’s and the 280z’s were not that hard to work on. The 260z’s were miserable. They had vacuum hoses in more places than you could shake a stick at and you had to be a contortionist to get the carburetors off for repairs. There was a fine line between making one run decent and still passing smog testing.

        Like 2
      • JoeNYWF64

        I should have looked closer at the front top of the valve cover for the bulge to clear the OHC.
        Most american strait 6’s back then had 7 main bearings so they were built very well. & the chevy one didn’t even have a timing chain OR belt, making it very very hard to kill. & with simple as pie 1 bbl carb. I prefer the max torque of 235 ft lbs(in ’68) at lower rpm(1600 rpm!) in the case of the chevy 250.
        & i heard you could drive home a slant 6 if you lost the coolant. lol
        & I am impressed with the low weight of the cast iron ford straight six.

        Like 0

      Closest engine type to this is the Mercedes in line 6 of the day. This six was basically derived from that sturdy and bulletproof German engine. Having had two 240Zs over the years, I can attest these are not simple engines, they have their quirks but they are torquey, and bullet proof. Well cared for, they are extremely durable and dependable.

      Like 0
  6. Lukin R.

    IMO the most beautiful sport car ever.

    Like 4
  7. JC

    I looked at these cars when I was 16 looking for my first car in 1978. ALL of them had serious rust issues… the engines were fine but the cars were rotted out. Datsuns were notorious for that.

    Like 1
  8. Jay E.Member

    Was going through my garage the other day and hidden in the back was a 5 speed transmission from a 260z that would slot right into this one. I thought the color was hideous back then, but now I’d own it in a second. Nice car.

    Like 5
  9. Troy

    It has been a interesting thing to watch over the years I remember the Z cars being popular when I was to young to drive when I was old enough to buy my own car I wanted a truck and remember you could buy a z in good condition for $2000 bucks fast forward and they are getting this kind of money for them, kinda makes me wish I would have got a couple for $2k to sell now

    Like 2
  10. Doug

    I remember our school coach bought one in 1971 I was 13 . He parked it by the gym of our school . The first day he drove it to school he was showing some of a students who took an interest in the car . I was aww his was silve and I was so impressed what Datsun built

    Like 1
  11. John D

    In 72 my dad bought a Datsun 610 it was a new 73 model, there on the showroom floor was the Z I begged him to by it of course with a wife 3 kids and our grandma all living together he saw nothing but 2 seats and wasn’t having any of my begging. At least I learned to drive a stick on that 610.

    Like 1
  12. Bob

    I bought a 1971 240Z from my brother in 1976. It had almost 100K miles on it then. I drove this car another 100K miles with only having to replace the bushing on the distributor shaft.
    When I sold it, it was totally worn out. The engine knocked , the transmission rattled, brakes were shot. With all of that, still got $1500 for it.

    Like 4
  13. danny mathers

    I was going out with Jenny Kraan from collingwood when her older brother robert drove in their driveway with a brand new Datsun 240 the most dazzling sports car id ever seen it really blew me away!!!!! and i am a mustang guy. thanks denny mather.

    Like 0
  14. Jasper

    As nice as everything looks on it, I can’t not see the weird paint job on the hubcaps.

    Like 1
  15. Gary

    I always thought a GNX motor would be great in one of these.

    Like 0

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