Owned Since ’73: 1971 Datsun 240Z

It doesn’t seem like that many years ago that it was possible to head out and buy a nice Datsun 240Z for a modest sum. They have now hit their straps in the classic market, and pristine examples can sell for some pretty mind-blowing prices. This 1971 model is far from pristine, and getting it to that point will take a lot of time and effort. However, maybe it’s worth a closer look to assess just how much work would be required to have it sparkling once again. Located in Roselle, Illinois, you will find the 240Z listed for sale here on eBay. The price has reached $5,000 off the back of some intense bidding action, but the reserve hasn’t been met.

The Datsun is finished in Safari Gold, which is probably not the most attractive color available in 1971. The paint is looking baked in a few spots, and there is evidence that suggests that the vehicle has received at least a partial repaint at some point. However, that isn’t this car’s most significant issue. The 240Z does have a reputation for developing rust, and sadly, this one is not an exception to that rule. Some of it is in the areas that we might expect, including the floor on the passenger side, along with the lower front fenders, the rockers, and around the rear hatch. It is visible around the rear wheel arches, and the driver’s side has been treated to some amateur repairs at some point. There is also rust developing in the roof and down into the gutters on the driver’s side, which will be a worry. Many of the issues that I have mentioned to this point could conceivably be addressed in a home workshop. I tend to be more conservative when it comes to rust in areas like the roof. We’re talking about the potential for structural issues here, and there can be no compromise on these types of repairs. The last thing that anyone wants to find is that these repairs haven’t been completed to a decent standard. This is especially true if they happen to find the vehicle shiny-side down in a ditch. Regardless of cost, safety has to be paramount in this case. The trim and chrome all seem to be present, and while the Datsun wears a set of aftermarket wheels, the original hubcaps appear to be present.

The L24 engine fitted to the 240Z has to be one of the most bullet-proof engines that ever powered a Japanese car. I have seen these engines clock 200,000 miles without ever having a spanner laid on them. Their only real weakness is that they will occasionally blow a head gasket. The 2,393cc 6-cylinder engine produces a respectable 151hp, which finds its way to the rear wheels via a 4-speed manual transmission. A ¼ mile ET of 16.6 seconds is commendable, but the 240Z comes into its own when it is pointed at a piece of twisting road. Standard equipment includes 4-wheel independent suspension, which makes the Datsun an agile and sure-footed handler. The current owner purchased the car back in 1973, so potential buyers should have no trouble finding out a bit about its history. The owner states that the car runs and drives, and he specifically says that the clutch is good.

Rust is one issue that can plague the 240Z, and deteriorating interior trim generally runs a close second. That means that this car has been hit with the double whammy. This interior needs just about everything because the UV rays have exacted a heavy toll on the vinyl and plastic. A new dash pad will be on the shopping list, as will seat covers and a carpet set. That’s just the starting point because we don’t get a clear look at the headliner or the rear cargo area. The saving grace here is that due to the ongoing popularity of the 240Z, most of the interior trim items remain readily available today. Some pieces can make you wince when you see the prices, but with things like seat covers being available for $220 a pair, it isn’t all doom and gloom.

Restoring this 1971 Datsun 240Z to its former glory is not going to be a cheap or easy exercise, and there will be readers who will question why you would bother. However, this is an early production run or Series 1 car. That makes it one of the more desirable examples of the 240Z in today’s market. While it is possible to find some tidy examples of the 240Z for around $25,000, you need to consider adding at least another $10,000 for a Series 1 vehicle in similar condition. That’s just the starting point because there have recently been a few pristine examples sold for six-figure sums. So yes, restoring this 1971 Datsun 240Z is going to be a major undertaking. But with those sorts of potential values to consider once the work is complete, maybe this is a classic worth more than a passing glance.


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  1. angliagt angliagt Member

    Looks like this one needs almost everything.
    I passed on a ’72 with a little rust for $5000,thinking
    I’d have at least twice that into it when I was done.
    Wonder if anyone will start making replacement
    bodies for these?

    Like 4
    • Kane Stephen

      All body panels are available after market as are the bumpers.

      Like 1
  2. bobhess bobhess Member

    Having suffered through a reincarnation of a rusty ’72 for a customer I can tell you now that this car is way past saving. By the time we got through with the metalwork there was over 6K in labor and supplies. The metal finishing, paint, and reassembly was another 9K and none of this addressed the engine work required. All this happened in ’93 and paint and other materials have more than tripled in price since then. Hard to recommend this car for anything but parts.

    Like 11
  3. Steve R

    Last time the seller listed it, they chose not to do an auction, instead lusting it for $10,000. It “sold”, but the transaction was not completed. Since the reserve still hasn’t been met at its current bid of $5,100, I’d expect it’s still a few thousand dollars short of its reserve.

    I’d agree with the previous responses and pass, potential buyers would be smart to hold out for a better car, even at a higher price. It will be money well spent and will pay off in the long run.

    Steve R

    Like 8
  4. angliagt angliagt Member

    Here’s the one I looked at for $5000.
    I don’t know if it’s still for sale.

    Like 1
    • John

      That’s a good-looking Bronco in the background. Good-looking Datsun, too. But I saw the Bronco and the Chevy first.

    • Dallas

      Nice plate on the yellow 240 – “Riches” – I guess that explains the $5K ask. Can’t believe the prices being asked for these rusty cars… I sold my rust-free 240Z in 2010 for $9K CAD after putting nearly $6K into the rust remediation, body and paint. Bought a nice aircooled 911 with the money though so I’m not regretful :-)

  5. scott m

    I still remember the first one of these I saw (orange, of course), in a gas station, pulling a boat that must have been 1 1/2 times bigger. It just reeked of power and style, a very vivid memory

    Like 1
  6. Jim

    This thing has terminal cancer. You’d have to replace more than half the car.

    Like 3
  7. David

    I had a ‘71 in the early 80’s that was all original except for a repaint and the drivers seat. It ran superb, including when I passed a local police car at 105mph. Sold that baby for $5,000 and wish I still had it. Oh, well.

    Like 1
  8. alphasud Member

    I liked RoadKill’s name for their rusty old 240. The Rotsun 240. I think that title applies here as well.

    Like 3
  9. A.J.

    I would still love to have one, but they are out of range now. I’m reminded of a senor NCO I worked for back in ’69 when these came out. There was a waiting list for them. He got on the list and when it came in, he paid the $2500 (I think it was). Got the paperwork, went out to the showroom where his “buyer” was waiting. Got $3500 for it on the spot, and never saw the car.

    Like 2
  10. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    Ended up not meeting Reserve @ $6,300.
    Seller should have grabbed the money.

    Like 4

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