Just 35,000 Miles: 1974 Datsun 260Z

Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

Although it can seem like old-school Z-cars are never too hard to find, many of the examples that pop up are quite rusty or have been neglected for years and years. That’s why when sifting through the legions of 240s and 260s on craigslist and eBay at any one time, taking a closer look to find low-mileage survivors like this 1974 260Z here on eBay is time well spent instead of chasing a clapped-out coupe. 

Now, the real bummer with this particular car is the automatic transmission. I’m amazed at how many examples of older Z cars feature the slushbox, especially since it was never a powerhouse like a Corvette of the same era. See, if it had a big, honkin’ V8 under the hood, I could understand feeling as if the automatic wasn’t exactly a penalty. But with a car like the 240Z or 260Z, maintaining the shift-it-yourself option ensured you extracted every bit of power from the factory inline six.

As you saw in the photo above, this car is all about the cosmetic condition. The interior does appear darn near spotless, and the engine bay looks as you’d expect it to for wearing only 35,000 miles. The body does have some rust but it’s contained; still, you’ll want to get it sorted in order to preserve the well-maintained condition of this car. The seller notes that it came with aftermarket wire wheels when he got it, but thankfully the original rollers were included and quickly swapped on.

And, of course, it wouldn’t be a proper Datsun 260Z without rear window louvers! I love period correct details like that. The 260Z also sports an aftermarket header and air pump delete, so perhaps even with the automatic, you’ll get a more sporting feeling and sound out of the car. Overall, the details seem correct on this example and the interior condition – especially the cargo bay – all seem to affirm that the low-mileage reading is correct. Bidding is over $6,000 at the moment, so the transmission doesn’t appear to be holding this one back.

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Comments

  1. Tom P.

    Nice car. I would love to own if it had a row your own. That’s the way these cars are meant to be. So much more fun!

    2+
  2. Ben Kline

    I had a 74 with 4 speed that I loved. Also had a non-running 74 with an auto that a friend gave me that I never did anything with.

    1+
  3. KevinR

    Michelin XZX tires? Unless they are Coker retro issue, those haven’t been available since the 1980s. I don’t think I’d drive this one very far before investing in a new set of tires…

    I find the rust to be much more of a problem than the transmission. A full scale dismantling, replacing and repainting is in order. That kinda kills some of the value inherent to a 43 year old car with only 35k miles.

    Still, as projects go this one is much easier than some of the other options out there.

    1+
  4. irocrob

    They rusted almost overnight. I would only buy a perfect one and a manual trans

    1+
  5. Bill

    I had an ’81 280 ZX. Beautiful car. Started rusting after nine months from new. Rust on this one will be a problem of the never ending variety.

    0
  6. RS

    Remember what a mess our cars were under the hood with all the emissions crap? This one’s just that way.

    0
  7. mark

    I can second the fears about rust. I had a ’74 which was buzzed down to bare metal, primed and resprayed in the original silver, and it lasted all of about 6 months before the tin worm came back with a vengeance. It was the inside surface of the panels where the true rot was hiding all along. Low miles as well. Nice car, otherwise.

    0
  8. Mr. TKD

    The first major order of business on this would be a transmission swap. Looks like a nice example.

    0
  9. JPW

    What is the extra handle by the e-brake?

    0
  10. Adam T45

    I’d be interested in some feedback on what sort of prices these are commanding in good condition in the US. Here in Australia they have reached the “we take body parts” stage!

    Part of the problem has been identified in earlier comments. Nissan/Datsuns from the 1970’s and early 1980’s were horrendously bad for rust. I owned a number of them, and you could almost hear them corroding! A great indicator of the problem here is best explained by the fact that in the 1970’s and early 80’s, Nissan/Datsun were the highest selling Japanese cars in Australia, and you saw them everywhere. Now you rarely see them. They’ve all rusted away (and that’s no joke!).

    2+
  11. z28th1s

    I had a ’75 280Z with a 4 speed in this exact color combo back in 1984. It was a really fun car to drive, had very good power and handled well. My sister really liked it and when I was ready to get another car she bought it from me. It was the first in a long list of Z cars in her life.

    0

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