Rust-Free Survivor: 1971 Datsun 240Z

We’ve seen our share of Datsun 240Zs over the years here at Barn Finds, and many of these have exhibited the type of rust issues that mark them as significant restoration projects. This 1971 model is slightly different because it is a rock-solid survivor that needs little to raise its presentation to the next level. It is a two-owner classic that has seen little use in recent years, so the owner has decided that it needs to find a new home with someone who can appreciate this survivor for what it is. Located in Temecula, California, you will find this Datsun listed for sale here on Craigslist. You could take this blue-plate survivor home by handing the owner $28,750. Once again, Barn Finder rex m has had his radar operating effectively to spot this classic for us. Thank you so much for that, rex.

Apart from the period-correct alloy wheels, it appears that this little Datsun is essentially an unmolested survivor. The seller admits that the original owner treated it to a repaint in 1991, but he chose to perform the work in the car’s original shade of New Sight Orange. It appears that the paint shop performed the work to a high standard because all of the correct labels and decals were reapplied when the job was complete. The paint still shines well, with both it and the steel it covers looking to be in excellent order. However, the most important news with this survivor revolves around the topic of rust. The 240Z is a great car, but areas like the floors and the area around the rear hatch are renowned for developing significant problems that can cost an arm and a leg to address. Potential buyers need not worry on this front because the supplied photos show that these areas, along with the spare wheel well, are perfect. The exterior trim is in excellent condition for a survivor of this vintage, and the same appears true of the glass.

After the exterior refresh in 1991, the original owner turned his attention to the interior the following year. He treated it to new seatcovers, a carpet set, and door trims. The unique quilted vinyl trim in the rear compartment is in excellent order, and the overall impression is that things present pretty well. There is no noticeable wear, fading, or physical damage. Nobody has made aftermarket changes, so the original radio remains intact. However, it isn’t all sweetness and light because there is one glaring flaw for the buyer to consider. The dash has succumbed to the common problem of cracking across the top, and in this case, it’s pretty bad. There are a few options for potential buyers to consider, and the prices of these range from the very cheap to the eye-wateringly expensive. At the lower end of the spectrum would be to throw a cover over it, which would cost the buyer around $100. Glue-on caps run to between $200 and $500, with the next rung of the ladder being high-quality reproductions that cost $800. At the top end of the market are restored originals, but you need to have around $2,500 in your wallet for one of those. With the ongoing increase in values for these classics, I would either opt for the reproduction or a restored original because it would be worth the additional cost in the long term. I would then throw a carpet cover over the finished product to preserve my investment as a precaution. I’ve had one of those covers over the dash of my old Ford for twenty years, and the pad is still in as-new condition.

The 240Z is a numbers-matching classic that features its 2,393cc OHC six-cylinder engine that produces 151hp. That leads us to what is probably the only disappointing aspect of this classic. The original owner ordered it with the three-speed automatic transmission rather than the more desirable manual. This will impact outright performance because while the manual-equipped version will cover the ¼ mile in 16.5 seconds, the same journey with the self-shifter will take 17.7 seconds. If the buyer is not concerned about complete originality, the parts are available to swap out the auto for something that will help unleash this classic’s full potential. One of the reasons the owner has placed this Datsun on the market is its lack of use. The odometer reads 48,612 miles, but a mere 6,000 have been covered in the past twenty years. He feels that the car deserves to go to an owner who will drive and appreciate it. The lack of use means that the buyer will have a few tasks ahead of them if they want the Zed to perform at its best. It runs and drives, but the carburetors could use some adjustment by a knowledgeable person to get them working correctly. Given the age of the vehicle, it would be worth the added expense to treat these to a rebuild so that the buyer will know that they are spot-on.

It doesn’t seem that many years ago that you could buy a tidy and rust-free 240Z for under $10,000, but that era is nothing but a memory. Today, you will struggle to find many good ones for less than $30,000. If a buyer is seeking perfection, that figure can easily double. This car is a tidy survivor that needs little to push it to the next level. The automatic transmission will impact its value, but the price remains pretty competitive. If you were to buy this 240Z, would you leave it untouched, or would swapping the transmission be an option too tempting to resist?


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  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    Thought maybe you’d unearthed the ’71 we ordered in San Francisco that we never got off the boat because of a lengthly dock strike until I saw the auto stick on the tunnel. Good looking car in great condition.

    Like 4
  2. SMS

    My mom traded in her ‘67 mustang for one of these. Due to it being in the shop numerous times it was traded in for an MGB after a couple of years.

    Even with the trouble they had with the car she still has fond memories of it. Was a great looking car.

    Like 3
  3. Terrry

    Had me drooling until I saw the automatic shifter. That’s like dating a girl who looks like Barbara Eden, lifting her dress and finding a hot dog.

    Like 15
    • Derrick

      Yes, automatic transmissions are the hotdogs of the tranny world.

    • robert semrad

      You sound like a very intelligent person.

      Like 1
  4. Frank Miller

    Wife had the first year 1970 and it was a pretty nice car but no match for my Porsche 914-6. Today the 914-6 prices are around $70-$100K plus. Datsun 240’s not so much.

  5. ERIK

    “Towelbar” bumpers like on this one always made these cars look better than the later “safety” bumpers that would come along later. Would love to add this car to the collection but my pockets are not deep enough. With rising values of 1970’s-1980s Japanese marques due to “disposable income” now available to those who would have grown up in the era of these cars, someday this asking price will likely seem affordable.

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