No Reserve Z-Project: 1972 Datsun 240Z

This 1972 Datsun 240Z is the preferred early edition of the long-running sports car, but not quite a Series 1 model. Still, with its less restrictive emissions equipment and slim chrome bumpers, a ’72 240Z is hardly a bad place to start for a project car. This example here on eBay was parked and stored in an effort to keep the previous owner’s son from stealing the keys; and while a speeding ticket may have been avoided, the Z car was left to perish in the Texas sun.

The seller mentions cryptically that the 240Z is equipped with some rare features, including the engine and some factory options. What those are, escapes me in just looking at the Z, unless he’s talking about the Weber carb conversion and the rear window louvers? Other than the bumper overrider, everything else looks like straight up Z car recipe.

Despite being in Texas, that hasn’t stopped the sensitive Japanese sheet metal from perishing. The interior components are in decent shape, with bucket seats and center console in usable condition. Of course, the dash is cracked and those are near impossible to find used, but it’s not the worst I’ve seen. The bigger problem is rust scattered around the car’s exterior.

The engine looks like a stock 240Z drivetrain to me, but perhaps our eagle-eyed readers can see something that supports the seller’s assessment that the car is made more rare thanks to the power plant? The listing also says this Z car was in great shape prior to being parked, so the years have not been kind to the non-runner that was hidden solely to prevent a teenager’s joyride.


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  1. Classic Steel

    Texas by the seaside?
    This Z has much tin worms 🐛..
    I get the use for parts or restore
    comment after viewing the ebay pictures.

    In dry texas one gets petrified interior and no rust metal usually.

    I hope someone restores the car bit its a $$$ costly one

    Like 4
    • Frank Thomas

      @Classic Steel: Right. This Z looks like it was in Texas during Katrina or Rita. Seat-high saltwater victim. Parts car only.

  2. Rik

    Where do you see a Weber carb conversion?…I remember twisting the frame testing a brake job on one…if the tin worm has done as much damage as we can see, I hate to think what the underside is like…

    Like 6
  3. Patrick Kelly

    Flood car, sediment on interior floor seems to suggest that?

    Like 10
    • charles Flowers

      Yep, exactly right.

      Like 2
  4. Rx-7 TurboII

    I don’t really know what the big deal is with Datsun people and their desire to have series 1 cars. The only difference between the series 1 240Z and the rest of them up to 1973 is that vent in the hatch. So you’re willing to pay an extra couple thousand dollars for a vented hatch? LOL!
    I’ve had literally dozens upon dozens of Z cars since 1986 when I started driving ,and they all Drive the same whether they’re carburetor or fuel injected , it’s the same car just with different bumpers and some trim…. I always keep my eye out for a nice rust free early car,but this car would not be on my watch list…. I bet and it’s earlier years it was stunning, now…. not so much.

    Like 5
    • Little_Cars

      Rx-7 TurboII —Spotted one for sale on the side of State Rt 64 going west towards Memphis last Saturday near Bolivar, TN. Like, literally on the side of the four lane highway in the grass. Better condition than this, not sure if early or late 240Z. Had the brushed aluminum slotted mags. Depending on your location, might want to check it out.

      Like 1
      • Howard Rieter

        Saw that car in TN on my cross country ride this summer. Banged a u turn to see it. #howieandsuetrip to see the pic on my Instagram. That car was a project

        Like 1
    • Frank Thomas

      If you’ve really owned or driven even two different years of 240Z S30 cars you wouldn’t have said any of that. The first production cars were 300-400 pounds lighter than the succeeding years, which made them dance and stop much better than the later cars. Also, later reduced compression ratio, increased smog control and ‘flattop’ carburetors all combined to make each new year of the S30 slower than the year before it. By the time the 1974 Z was released, my old 1970 was seconds quicker and 15mph faster.

    • Frank Thomas

      @RX7: If you’ve really owned or driven even two different years of 240Z S30 cars you wouldn’t have said any of that. The first production cars were 300-500 pounds lighter than the succeeding years, which made them dance and stop much better than the later cars. Also, decreasing compression ratios, increased smog control and the eventual ‘flattop’ carburetors all combined to make each new year of the S30 slower than the year before it. By the time the 1974 Z was released, my stock 1970 was seconds quicker, far more nimble, shorter stopping and 15mph faster. Kelly Blue Book listed the old “Series-1” cars (no such actual designation) as worth more than the showroom new cars, causing Datsun to introduce the 260 and fuel injected 280 in an attempt to keep up with the quicker early Zs.
      This 1972 car, however, seems to have spent some time underwater and should be viewed for parts only. And if it has any Weber carburetors they are stowed in the glovebox.

      Like 2
    • schooner

      Series 1 obsession? I suppose it’s the same nonsense as Honda 750/4 guys drooling on early first year sand cast cases as opposed to late first year die cast.

      Like 2
      • schooner

        Frank Thomas – I was responding to RX7, I stand corrected as far as the Series 1 Z.

      • John

        Honda 750- as a guy I met from Quebec called them back in the day “ mort machines.” Plenty of power and evil handling.

    • Bond

      the vents as you refer to are not the only diff…production numbers are much less and there are other differences. Badging on the rear quarters are different, think the rear window defroster is different too. But if somone wants to pay a little more for an earlier production model, so be it. At any given car show you are bound to see less examples of them which is nice.

  5. bobhess bobhess Member

    I’ve got a lot of panel repair welding time on these cars but don’t think I started out on one this rusty. Can’t be a lot left underneath.

    Like 3
  6. Rodney

    Added to the watch list simply to know what someone would spend on this.

    I’ve owned a number of these and can say this is beyond help. Even if there isn’t a hole in a spot on the body (which I can cannot find one panel without some rust) I can guarantee the metal is very thin. Look at those rockers. And that tail light area has to be really bad.

    Like 4
  7. 8banger Dave Mika Member

    Ya, no webers on this one, but as mentioned, enough rust to say no thank you.

    Like 1
  8. TimM

    Can you even get quarters for one of these??? I know you can’t get dash pads so how about the sheet metal??? I would do body work on one of these if the parts were available!!! Anyone on here know if replacement panels are available for these Z cars????

    • Bond

      there are a few places that can correctly and nicely restore dash pads these days, so other then cost, not a big deal. Rust on the other hand,…a big deal to most people.

  9. TC

    These were popular in Australia and if the engine was stuffed it could be replaced fairly simply with a 253 GM V8, similar to Chevy V8’s being shoved into XJS Jaguars which is also a common and approved replacement engine.

    Like 1
  10. bog

    I belonged to the “Windy City Z Club” back in 1980, and at that point they had to have a special meeting when I asked to join, as I was the first guy with a, “horrors !!!” ZX, (mine was still badged as a Datsun) to approach them. Since I helped club members with various and sundry up at Road America, I was voted in. Those guys & gals all had pristine 240s, 260s, and a few 280s. There were certainly sources for all the parts, including sheetmetal for these back then. Perhaps some of the bigger clubs still have sources or Nismo has parts stocked away. I would think “someone” is making body panels as these are still so well loved. I shuddered when looking at this particular car. Perhaps he should have let his son drive it ! BTW, these older carb versions are very succeptible to the dreaded “vapor lock”. The folks I knew always carried a cooler with lots of ice on longer runs. Some added extra or better fans to cool the engine compartment…

    • Frank Thomas

      @BOG: Only the 1973 240Zs and early 1974 260Zs had those vapor lock and percolation problems due to the flat-top carburetors. The earlier and later cars ran fine.

      Like 1
      • bog

        Frank – thanks for the clarification on the year/series with those issues. Was a long time ago, and I’ve never owned an earlier series car. Sure liked the looks of them, and certainly knew that the earliest were lighter/faster etc than later models. My ’80 ZX did seem oddly “huge” next to the 240’s too, and though they did a pretty good job with the large color matching bumpers, I had a tiny bit of envy re: the early thin chrome ones. Best thing about being in that club was meeting and really getting to spend time with Paul Neuman, as he raced them back then. What a guy !

  11. chrlsful

    “…or better fans…” phenolic spacer btw carb’n intake? insulated fuel line?

    Aren’t ppl puttin the whole body down onto a modern car (they find a good body that fits an SC Cobra or something much more modern – seems a ‘standard swap’…

  12. 71FXSuperGlide

    Not buying the teenager story. Still, this would be nice to restore if someone had the time and money.

  13. Poncho

    If the rust on the hood is any indication of the rest of the car, I’d say parts car.

    Like 3
  14. RdeB

    Engine looks stock. Those are SU carburetors used until 72. Then in 73 Datsun switched to Hitachi versions of the SU. Not Webers for sure or there would be 3 X 2 barrels. Had a 71 and a 73. Great cars, I put 240K miles on the 73 before the odometer broke and drove it for 2 more years.

  15. Rodney

    Wasn’t this posted few days back already???

    Like 1
  16. Stilbo

    I love the pre ‘74 Z cars.
    That said.
    We restored a ‘72 years ago. It was a Virginia car. We emphatically told the owner that it’d be best to pull the drivetrain and suspension and check for rot and rebuild any subframe components that required repair or replacement.
    He emphatically stated that he only wanted the exterior and engine compartment restored.
    The customer is always right so…
    Two years after the restoration the engine fell out of the subframe cradle due to rot.
    ANY rust on a Z car requires a total tear down…
    And that gets pricey.

    Like 1
  17. Bond

    I know its rusty and rough, but it never ceases to amaze me when sellers cant take a few hours to try and properly prep the car for marketing etc. How hard is it to clean the car out, wash it off, and the engine etc.? If they like the whole barn find look, post pics of both in your ad..woohoo. Some cars I agree, leave the dust on it and show it, ..not this one. To me it just shows how little they really care about the car anyways and getting the most out of it dollar wise not too important. Also not posting pics of under the car etc, just hiding something.

    Like 1
  18. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    “left to perish in the Texas sun” — correct
    car is in Sugar Land, a Houston suburb, therefore high humidity year-round
    could also be a flood car

    Not too many poorer places to “store” a car outside than Houston.

    Like 1

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