Restore, or Not? 1973 Datsun 240Z

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Datsun 240Z prices have shot upward in the last few years, as restored examples of this ubiquitous but competent sports car began to hit the market. It’s as if the willingness to spend real money to make a pristine 240Z created a tipping point, and suddenly everyone wanted a 240Z. Early cars have a strong fan base, but every 240Z has seen at least some appreciation. Here on eBay is an unrestored 1973 example, bid to $7800, reserve not met, and a buy-it-now of $15,500. You’ll need a trailer to bring it home from Surprise, Arizona. The car comes with a clear title, factory manuals, proof of registration leading back to 1975, and the original jack and tool roll.

The 240Z owes much to Nissan’s racing success. Yutaka Katayama, working at Nissan since the 1940s, had involved the company in endurance racing in 1958, a trend that evolved into rallying for decades afterward. Meanwhile, after its merger with Prince Motoring Company in 1966, Nissan inherited a race program started by Shinichiro Sakurai – father of the Skyline – who had managed to win the Japanese Grand Prix that same year. Katayama, sent to the US for market research, urged Nissan to produce a sporty car from the technological insights gained as a result of its Grand Prix win. This was the Datsun 510, a scamp of a car as comfortable on the track as it was on the road. Katayama’s next effort was a more powerful car that could compete with a Porsche, was simpler than a Jaguar, yet remain appealing to the economically-minded. The result was the 240Z. Early cars were powered by a 2.4 liter, SOHC in-line six-cylinder making about 150 bhp. By 1973, emission controls and a carburetor change shaved horsepower and boosted zero-to-sixty times. This car is equipped with its original four-speed manual. The motor does not run but it does turn. The odometer reads just over 117,000.

The interior – like almost everything else on the car – has never been altered. The seats are worn, but the floors are solid. The cargo area is clean. Just about every corner has a bump or a scrape, but rust is minimal. The seller reports that the windshield has a rock chip high on the passenger’s side. The one item that has been altered on the car? It has later Z wheels, rather than its original Topy steel wheels.

The Brown Metallic paint is faded nearly to the primer in places, and the rubber seals have seen better days. The seller suggests replacing the chrome as well. But. Restoration costs have executed a moonshot, too, just like Z prices. I would be very tempted to treat this one to a mechanical refresh and leave the cosmetics alone – provided I could buy it reasonably. What do you think?

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  1. bobhess bobhessMember

    Can’t think of a color worse than brown and whatever this color is on an early Z. Might be a good buy. All we can hope for is the buyer repaints it another color befitting the Z line.

    Like 10
    • Tracy

      Amen brother! All of the GREAT 1970’s 240z colors and someone walked in the dealership and said YES THIS IS IT! I want the turd brown car!

      Like 8
  2. 370zpp 370zppMember

    Poopy paint needs gone.

    Like 4
    • JRHaelig

      My recollection is that there were selling like hotcakes and people took whatever color was on the lot and painted them over.

      Like 9
      • Chuck

        Yep. Back in the day, I drove a white/red ’73 and the wife had a ’72 with this color combination. We “upgraded” to a copper-colored ‘74.5 260Z for her and then a BRG ’77 (280z) for me. The ’77 was the first one that we bought that we had a color choice.

        Like 0
      • Tracy

        That is very true! My dad purchased two. A 1970 and a 1972. They were still in crazy demand in 72. Both times he had to take whatever color was next in line on the truck or pass and wait for the next one.

        Like 1

        Back then, Japanese cars were on allocation basis … a dealer only got so many of each model … we knew what was coming and pre-selling over sticker was the name of the game … I remember pre-selling a brown ’84 Camry 5-speed to a woman who didn’t know how to drive a stick – she just knew she had to have a Camry … I drove it to her house, followed by a detail guy … called her back a couple days later and she said she was learning how to drive it … those were the days …

        Like 1
  3. John Lupanoff

    I bad a 72 z…..Great mechanical ……..frame rotted. Wish I had it back.

    Like 0
  4. Jess Chen

    The ’73 240Z and thec’74 260Z, due to the carburetor change and additional emission controls, are on the lower scale of desirable “restored” list.
    Straight, rust-free cars make excellent “restomod” candidates. With a proper selection of suspension and engine upgrades, these cars can become very spirited and a blast to own and drive!

    Like 1
  5. Car Nut from Tacoma

    That depends on the condition and driveability of the car. If it can be driven safely under its own power and all systems work like they should, why not just drive it as it is?

    Like 3
  6. Jim Sartor

    It’s 1971 and I gave dealer $1,000 non-refundable deposit and listed 3 colors I would accept and went on list. 2 months later (December), he called and my red one was here and to bring my check and get my car. Couldn’t get there fast enough. Spent $3,000 in next year on wheels, spoiler, exhaust, Gerbrock performance package, etc. Best money ever spent.

    Like 3
    • Car Nut from Tacoma Washington

      I agree. I’ve always loved the 240z-280z. I would’ve bought one if I was old enough at the time to drive a car.

      Like 1
      • Tim

        Then buy a current Subaru twin, a BRZ or GT86. Same idea, just different DNA.

        Like 3
      • Samtheman

        Don’t buy a Subaru 😂

        Like 1
  7. Mark

    I have a L76 327 that would be perfect for this car.

    Like 0
  8. JMB#7

    I don’t care what color it is. It is a 240Z. Take care of the mechanical stuff, especially the suspension. Add new tires and drive it. After that drive it some more. After that drive it some more. Then drive it some more. Enjoy it!!! Don’t just stand there staring at it!!!

    Like 4
    • Car Nut from Tacoma

      Exactly! It’s the same whatever you drive. It takes maintenance to keep a car running indefinitely. Drive it, enjoy it, take it to a maintenance every few months, and drive it some more.

      I’ve heard people complain that it’s “too expensive”, or it breaks down too often to justify keeping the car, yadda, yadda, yadda. I disagree. It costs money to keep a car running. If one cannot afford to have service done on the car, they probably shouldn’t have bought the car.

      Like 2
  9. Fred

    Had a 72 dark blue in 1984 . Needed a lot of work. Took about 2yrs fenders quarters interior. Believe it or not a five speed ? Don’t know how or who but it is true. Had a blast driving and showing it. Sold it in 2016 for 5g’s could get more if the front frame rails were in better condition. Loved that car but I aged out turned 72 and gained some weight

    Like 1
    • JMB#7

      You enjoyed it for 32 years! I think proves how much fun the 240Z is (was).!!!

      Like 1
  10. Car Nut Tacoma

    My parents drove a Datsun 280z when I was a boy. I thought it was an awesome car. The only thing I didn’t appreciate about the car was that it didn’t have a rear seat. It wasn’t a 2+2. I know that one could’ve gotten a 280z in 2+2 body style. It’s too bad they didn’t buy one. It may not have been the best looking vehicle, but I might’ve fit more comfortably.

    Like 1

    No doubt restore. I love it.

    Like 1
  12. John N.

    Color, what ever your spray booth will accommodate. Mechanical restoration, wonder why it won’t run, what ever the issue is may be simple but I’d do a complete rebuild. If I had the spare money I’d love it. In ’82 I bought an ’81 280Z, the dealership advertised a 240 but alas no such luck, still kick myself for selling it much nose heavier than the 240 but still a blast.

    Like 1

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