Nice Original Driver: 1972 Datsun 240Z

Picture this car in red and you might see a mini-Ferrari 250 GT! Datsun put Japanese performance on the map in model year 1970 with its front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, two-passenger mini-GT, the 240Z. This 1972 Datsun 240Z in Englewood, Colorado seeks a new owner here on eBay, where at least seven bidders have elevated its market value beyond $16,000. With a numbers-matching original engine, this four-speed Z shows just over 80,000 miles and features mostly original paint, original interior, and a dry and substantially rust-free undercarriage. Its “excellent mechanical condition” bodes well for continued bidding.

Most drivers in the early ’70s would praise the smoothness and torque of inherently-balanced inline six cylinder engines. “Straight six” engines power many BMWs today for these reasons, and I6 engines historically propelled classic British two-seaters as well. This sweet 151 HP 2.4L (146 cid) six, paired with a four-speed manual transmission, promises fun in daily driving or spirited corner carving. Bob Sharp and others saw success road-racing Z cars as well. The battery location, rearward and opposite the driver, keeps that dense object in the ideal position short of relocating it to the rear cargo area. This thoughtful engineering pays off when driving with zeal, as the location of the dense object gripping the steering wheel cannot be altered.

The 240Z’s sub 9 second 0-60 time puts it on par with a base 350 cid (5.7L) V8 four-speed Camaro of the day, and the lightweight Z-car would reach that speed while consuming significantly less fuel. The long nose and short tail gave it a sporty Pony Car presence at a time when most Japanese cars were “cute” to homely. Here we have a real sports car with eyes on Mustang and Camaro buyers.

The plain white wrapper outside contrasts the racy red upholstery. Despite being white with a red interior myself, I might prefer a bolder paint color on this car’s body. There’s no hiding the sporting intentions of this Z24 240Z. The low seating position puts your posterior mere inches off the ground. Check out those nifty low-mounted door handles!

The seller graciously includes some undercarriage shots to back up the claim of originality and minimal rust. A fully independent rear suspension granted the little Datsun finesse on bumpy corners with a level of sophistication rarely found in American cars of the day, aside from the Corvette. In fact the Corvette may be the 240Z’s nearest American competitor from 1972, though the fastest ‘Vettes would decimate the 240 in a straight line. Most drivers would find themselves more comfortable driving the Datsun quickly on a typical twisty two-lane. Where do you rate the Z24 240Z among sports cars from the ’70s?

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Comments

  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    I rate them high. Only real problem with the Zs was rust in them from no inner panel rust prevention. Fun to drive, lots of power. When we ordered the ’72 we had the slotted mags before we got the car delivered. Just looked right on the cars.

    Like 11
    • Ken Jones

      I owned a ‘72 240, red with white seats. Living near Syracuse (the Salt City) main problem was the rusting through of the fender flairs.
      Many happy miles and stories!

  2. David

    This is one car I would love to drive.

    Like 2
    • Go Speed Racer Go !

      I remember driving one at 18 years of age. I was the GM hot rodder 55 Chevy 1st car and 1969 Z28 2nd HS car etc. i did an oil change and tune up on the car and knew the owner well. He told me to take it out and open it up knowing what i drove etc. My parents were retired military in small town USA with farm land and straight stretches every where driving. I felt guilty with it not being my car and backed off pushing 110 with plenty of tach and pedal left.
      It was a heck of a car for its time.

      Like 3
  3. 71Boss351

    Rust was a big issue on these 240Zs. However, they were a great bang for the money at the time. It is comforting to know it was California car most if it’s life. It is nice the seller has some nice underneath pictures to go with the eBay auction. If I was in the market for this car, I think it would be a serious contender.

    Like 1
  4. A.G.

    These were great cars as long as rust wasn’t an issue. This one looks naked without the badging on the hood, fenders, and liftgate.

  5. Steven

    Had one in the 80’s, great car, fast (120 mph+) and fun. I would never have sold it but I couldn’t find a body shop at that
    time to repair the major rust. I’ll bid on this one but it’s going to sell for a lot more than the current bid!

  6. Barzini

    Race driver Bob Sharp also owned a successful Datsun dealership and catalog aftermarket parts business. He also greeted every employee (100+) by name, which made a big impression on me as a teenager.

  7. Steve Clinton

    The 1970 240Z proved that Japan could produce more than ugly cheap cars.

    Like 1
    • JMB#7

      That is like saying that the K-Car proved that Chrysler could make cheap ugly cars…

      Like 1
  8. Steve Clinton

    With 2 days left, the bidding stands at $22,755.00 with the reserve not met.

  9. SebastianX1/9

    That will go for $30K.
    I’ve always thought of these as an affordable Japanese Masarati Mistral. The 3-door hatch, 2 seats, light weight, really low, and a straight 6.

    The Mistral costs over $100K more. These are still a good deal imho.

    Like 1
  10. Dave Falter

    Mine was an identical ’73. My first sports car of many later on. I had Appliance Plating mag wheels with a front air dam. It was a blast to drive and several of my friends went to the local dealer and got one after riding in mine. Summers were a bummer since the fuel lines cooked off when parked in the sun. Insulating the fuel lines didn’t work – finally had to louver the hood to dissipate the heat. Everything else was great!!

  11. JMB#7

    I would rate any 240Z very high. I do not like being critical, but am rather confused by the write-up. Why is it, that certain cars cannot be discussed without comparing them to cars that there is little point in comparing them to?
    To make matters worse, you call it a Z24 at the end of the article. Please stick to the merits of the car being reviewed. The 240Z is legendary.

    Like 1
    • Todd Fitch Staff

      Thank you JMB#7. I certainly deserve a public flogging for dropping “Z24” in an article about the 240Z. I’ve corrected it but left the original gaff in strikeout to haunt me for eternity. I hoped to point out that the 240Z and Corvette (and few other cars of the day) shared IRS, a two-seat configuration, front-engine, RWD, etc. If you move the conversation to the aftermarket, dollar for dollar spent, the lighter 240Z will rapidly gain on the heavier Corvette through simple mathematics. To make a car twice as fast you can either half the weight or quadruple the horsepower. At any rate I would consider the ’72 Corvette and the ’72 240Z today if I wanted a classic two-seater, as I would have in ’72, even if that seems silly to some. Error corrections and counterpoint are always welcome. Thanks for your comment!

      Like 7
      • JMB#7

        Well stated. I appreciate your response. As an owner of a 82 RX7 I hear some interesting remarks. Maybe I have become overly sensitive to particular references.

        Like 2
      • JMB#7

        Todd, for today’s “Where’s Waldo Competition”, please see if you can find the other “Z24” in the text. Kind regards, all in fun.

        Like 1
      • David L Seaford

        I think you more than make up for it with your “dense object” and “white with red interior” comparisons.

        Like 1
      • Todd Fitch Staff

        Wow – thanks again JMB#7. I fixed that duplicate blunder as well. Guess I picked the wrong day to stop sniffing glue when I wrote this piece (kidding of course). I appreciate your good nature. Happy motoring!

        Like 2
  12. MarkO

    A friend of mine and I each had identical silver 1976 280 Z.’s.. we live on Long island (NY.) Combine the salt air and the salted, pot-holed roads, Our Z’s didn’t stand a chance. Knowing that there were some rust issues with my friends Z,( Ziebart…should rust in HELL), We put it up un a lift: the chassis was so rotted that the car was flexing as if it were going to break in two.
    We could punch holes anywhere on the underside with a blunt screwdriver. Chunks were breaking off right before our eyes! It was disintegrating!
    We gently let it down from the lift and drove it to a foreign car junkyard( remember those?).
    It didn’t look quite as bad from the outside,( if you didn’t look too closely!) the interior was nice (except for the dash pad) . The sills and the fenders looked pretty bad, but nothing like the underside! We both paid extra for Zibart and purchased the cars new. …. I think that the “fish oil” that they sprayed inside the doors and crevices with did more harm than good. Almost every Z had Ziebart rust protection: The dealers loved selling this fish oil as an add on; It looked better to a customer ithan paying “over sticker”. What a con job!
    It was a sad day:I followed him to the junkyard, knowing that the rust in mine wasn’t far behind….in a matter of a few weeks, mine had also taken its last cruise.
    all that being said , I sure wish I had mine today!
    They certainly have found better ways to make the cars of today more rust
    resistant. You hardly see any cars today with rusted rockers, fenders( not to mention, trunk lids, doors and Cowls!)
    Rust-wise, most cars from that era were a pure crap.
    Price didn’t matter. Many a Pantara was also scraped due to rust.
    Maybe I should have eaten more antioxidants !

  13. Eric_13cars Eric_13cars Member

    This looks to be a very nice version, complete with no crack in the dash pad (at least that my old eyes can see). Back in the early 80s when I was shade treeing my way through grad school, I worked on quite a couple of these 240s, one 260, and a number of 280s. They were great drivers and I always wanted one. Wound up with the whole fuel injection unit for a 280Z but not the rest of the car. Don’t recall how I got it or what I did with it. Here in the central Piedmont, cars don’t rust much. Can’t say the same for the beach or mountains Snow is a rare occurrence here so salted roads are at a minimum. I have a number of vehicles and other than the wrecks awaiting restoration, all of the drivers and almost drivers are rust free, thank goodness.

    Like 1
  14. Chris Munn

    I recall these were introduced as a poor mans E Type. With original Zs now selling for huge money, perhaps E Types are the poor mans Z…clearly comparing with the later V12 automatic versions.

  15. Dave Peterson

    This is really starting to piss me off! My go-to for cheap reliable transportation was usually a 280 of the ’79-82 iteration as no one really valued them and they were easy to keep up. Now the rising 240 tide has even got the Z31 and 32’s rising with it. Eighteen months ago I passed on an ’89 with 72k miles because he wouldn’t take $2500 – he was stuck at $3000. I hope he hung on and is reaping the benefit this tightwad was too stupid to see.

  16. Steven

    I believe Datsun and other car manufacturers of this era were not interested in any kind of rust prevention because they considered these cars basically throw away. You bought it, drove it and when it wore out you junked it and bought a newer model. They were never meant to last 40 plus years.

    Like 1
  17. Noah Hurst

    Dove a ’72 240 (with a 280 block & 240 side updraft carbs – best of both worlds) from ’77-’85.nwent through various suspension & exhaust mods – favorite was diamond-punchout sidepipes, which produced 33mpg (at stoichiometric burn, 4500rpm).
    Took me through college & seminary (where I met my beautiful bride).
    Last I heard, Bessie & I still held one of best the times from Huntsville to Auburn, AL (2 hrs flat, 212 miles)…there were some fun, long straights.
    Good times.
    Best. Car. Ever.

    Like 1
  18. Mark

    My buddy had one with a 350 in it… Ran good, looked great and was a pretty good handling car.

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