California Z-Car Dreamin’


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There’s no shortage of vintage Datsun Z-cars out there, but the early Zs weren’t given any protection against rust at the factory. So, unless the dealer or buyer took steps to protect the underbody, that’s the way they stayed. The result is that by now most of them are very rusty. This California 240Z caught my eye because it seems to be in far better condition than most unrestored early Z cars. Have a look at it here on eBay or find it in Sunnyvale, California


The seller bought it from the original owner’s widow after it had been sitting for about 30 years in what must have been a pretty dry garage because the body seems to be in good shape. There are no underside photos, but none of the tell-tale signs of body rot are present, like creeping rust around the rear wheel wells. So unless a PPI turns up some nasty surprises this body could require very little work.


That’s a big plus, because most of the work to restore early Z cars usually goes into the body. The drivetrains are pretty tough, and parts needed for repairs are still available, so this car could be an easy project. Perhaps the biggest problem is the engine, which does not turn over. But if the car is good overall it would be worth the effort to pull the engine and dismantle it to free it up and give it a rebuild. The car has close to 100K miles on it, so a rebuild would probably be worthwhile anyways.


Once it was running and the systems gone through to make sure it’s safe to drive, the question comes up: drive it as a survivor, or do a full restoration? The values of early Japanese sports and GT cars are definitely rising, and this car would require less restoration work than most early Z cars. It has been bid to $5K in less than a day, so the perception of value by bidders seems to be there. Personally, I would clean it up and drive it as the survivor it is. I would be interested to know what others would do: a complete restoration or clean-and-drive it now?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. hhaleblian

    I owned a pristine one owner 40k mile 70 Z. BS brown and as original and tidy as a new one. Car just didn’t have a soul. I had a 275GTB, 246GTS, and lightweight RS at the time and that may have been the problem. The neighbors were heavy hitters. Sold the Z to Keith Martin. He had it a short time and it moved along from there. No regrets and no desire for another one. The heavy hitters? Don’t ask. You already know the answer.

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    • DolphinAuthor

      I hear you, but the Z-car and the Ferraris are in different universes. $25K will buy the best early 240Z on the planet, but it’s tough to buy a decent 275 GTB for $1 million nowadays.

      And since a Z car can be made to run with the 275 GTB for the cost of a major service and a set of tires for the Ferrari, aren’t you talking more about status as defined by those ‘heavy hitters’ than about performance on the road?

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  2. Michael Ryman

    A good question you pose here. Personally I would recommission it as it is and just enjoy it. Originality and patina is gorgeous, although I’d expect a few costly surprises along the way to getting this Z roadworthy in terms of brakes, suspension bushes and exhaust system. My bet would be that the rest would work well once inspected and/or overhauled.

    Bodywise, how lovely to see an unmolested example (apart from period Wolfrace wheels)…I wish I could trace my own UK spec Z that I stupidly sold in 1983….not because of its value now, but because it was the one car that fitted like a glove and simply poured its silken power down whilst achieving a creditworthy 21.6mph per 1000 rpm in fifth.

    I am tempted by this US car though….but expect it’ll make at least $8700 dollars, possibly as much as $12k. After all, you don’t get much for that these days, do you?

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  3. jim s

    no reserve, already at $5000 with more then 6 days to go. it will be interesting to see where the bids end up. would be a fun daily driver that would be able to keep up even with today speed limits once you fix the motor and anything else that does not work. nice find

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  4. Shilo

    I like it. I had a bunch of these cars. They are reliable and fun. This is a good deal and an excellent find.

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  5. DT

    Keith Martin? the worlds fattest man would have trouble fitting in a 240z

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  6. cory

    I had a z in high school. They were beater cars then. Hard to believe they are collectible. I would keep this one as is.

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  7. Jareth

    I would absolutely restore this Z, the early Z’s are one of my all time favorite cars…Ok…so it did not have a lot of outstanding power and it did not hold the same class as some of the other cars in the list but that is why I like the Z. Not over powered and not really under powered either. I had a 76 280Z for many years and would have restored it if it was not for one big nasty word…RUST!! Miss my Z but do love my 85 Corvette, restoring it now. There will always be a spot in my heart for the early Z cars though.

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  8. rjc

    I have a 1971 240z, I am about at the midway point of restoration.
    I rescued it from the side of my friends body shop where it sat abandoned and unloved.
    I always thought of these as a poor mans Ferrari / xke .
    I am very happy to see the values climbing .

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  9. Robert J

    Hey, I am pretty sure that this is the first BarnFinds-Bring a Trailer cross-post.

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  10. DolphinAuthor

    Sold for $10,200, with 39 bids.

    Like 0

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