Sitting Since 1990: 1973 Datsun 240Z

Could you imagine walking out past your project car every day for the last 17 years, just watching it collect dust? That’s the story being told in a listing for a 1973 Datsun 240Z. I suppose if you own several project cars, it’s possible to have a few fall off your radar screen, but I’d at least dust it once in a while! Check out this project-grade Datsun Z-car here on craigslist, located near Buffalo, New York with an ask of $5,000. 

The interior of this 240Z does seem to belong in a car that was cared for at one time. It’s clean, the wood-rim wheel looks sharp and the original shift knob and leather boot are in good shape. Also, the dash remains uncracked and from what we can see of the light interior colors, it isn’t super dirty like the outside. The seller claims he came upon this car and bought it from the previous owner who allowed it to sit, but he hasn’t had time to start the project.

No word on if the engine is original, but the venerable L24 inline-six always looks right at home in that engine bay. Paired to a four-speed transmission, the 240Z remains one of the most recognized sports cars on the planet, and values seem to be creeping upwards. However, there’s plenty of project grade cars to choose from, and this one is far from rust-free. To the seller’s credit, he does photograph the rocker rust and surface rust on the doors – but doesn’t mention it in the ad.

It’s hard to tell if that paint is original, as it changes shade a few times in the photographs. Regardless, the attempted bodywork on the doors and a few other spots will necessitate a fair amount of cosmetic refurbishment, so I’d assume a repaint is in the plans if you want it to be fully sorted. Although the ad reads more like a flipper than a time-strapped enthusiast, this 240Z looks worthy of saving if that rust hasn’t gone further than pictured. What would you offer for it?

Fast Finds


  1. Mr. Bond


  2. AirBoss

    “This posting has been deleted by its author.”

  3. Rabbit

    Anyone notice what town it was in? Curious if I may see it pop up in the neighborhood.

    • smackin

      Said Buffalo Craigslist.

    • SSPBill

      Hamburg, NY. My home town. I saw the post this past Saturday and thought seriously about looking at it. I watched a documentary on the Japanese classic car culture in Japan Saturday morning and had no choice but to jump right on Craigslist. I bet it will show up again soon. Z’s are just getting off the ground floor.

  4. Doug

    27 years

  5. DG

    Not surprised it sold quickly at that price. Unless its a complete rust bucket, that’s a steal.

  6. Dolphin Member

    Because of the runup in Japanese car values a lot of these are coming out of the woodwork. These had no rust protection from the factory other than paint, and aftermarket rust protection was in the dark ages back in the ’70s, so these can rust very badly. By the looks of this car and its location—Buffalo, NY, right in the middle of a big snowbelt—I would say this one is probably pretty rusty down low.

    Fortunately there is a guy in Canada who makes repro floor pans and chassis stiffeners to replace the underside parts that are the most subject to rust. I have used his parts and they are good, but there is a lot of cutting and welding involved.

    This car is a ’73, which is the least desirable of the 240 cars. One reason is the flat-top carbs, which didn’t work as well as the earlier round-top Hitachi carbs. Many ’73s have had their flat tops replaced by earlier round tops, but not this car. The earlier carbs are readily available used because so many early 240s have been junked because of rust. Lots of the carb sets end up on Ebay.

    Another reason is that the earlier cars in a series are just wanted more by collectors than the later cars in a series.

    I would not bother with this Z car. These ’73s are worth a lot less than the ’71 and especially ’70 M.Y. cars, making it much more worthwhile to spend money and effort on an earlier car rather than a ’73. And earlier cars needing attention are out there and available, sometimes for no more than the price of this ’73.

  7. Rex Rice

    I spent the summer of ’73 selling Datsuns. The ’73 Z’s were tied up in LA ports as they couldn’t pass the emissions test. We had a ’70 that we used for a demo, taking deposits and forming a list. This one appears to have the original color as these came with the terrible white interior. When their car finally came, they were disappointed that it wouldn’t perform like the demo. We sold these cars fully equipped minus undercoating for $4306. Years later, I bought a ’72 from the original owner. Great car.

  8. stillrunners lawrence Member

    I know of some guys hording these…..along with some crunched ones…..wasn’t the factory rebuilding these a couple of years back – and selling with a warranty ?

    • Dolphin Member

      Yes, around 1997 Nissan arranged to have a shop in Hawthorne, CA restore ’70 and ’71 Z cars for sale through selected Nissan dealers. This was a US-only deal, and the factory in Japan wasn’t involved in the restorations.

      They restored about 40 cars, and I believe they were sold with a warranty. They sold them for about $25K.

      Problem was, the market for the old Z cars wasn’t that good back then, so not that many cars made it through the resto program. A good thing was the reproduction of some parts that had been discontinued, to help the restos along.

      Too bad that wasn’t happening now. With the big increase on the earliest Z cars they could probably sell more cars now.

  9. Chris Court

    So I’m trolling along looking at images on Google and to my surprise I see this car, now my car. I click visit page and it leads me here, a site I have viewed and read numerous times. I bought this car from from NY and I am not disappointed. I did pay the 5K and as a avid series 1 enthusiast who watches everything everywhere I don’t think I paid up. The price trend is steadily rising and good series 1 cars are becoming increasingly difficult to acquire. This one owner car, a non-starter as the SU’s are obviously gummed up, came with some really nice bonuses. For one, it is all original and all intact. It has 58k of the most well documented miles I could have hoped for. From day one the owner wrote in a log book every mile he drove daily, every gallon of fuel and it’s price, his average mileage every fill up, every light bulb, fuse, tire fill, wiper blade replacement, oil change brand and grade, anitfreeze top off, greasing, etc. He wrote notes about performance and hesitation, and even the name and address of every service and part he ever paid for along with receipts, right up to the last entry which says on 1/9/89 he brought it out at 58,186 miles for a spin as it was a “beautiful January thaw”. I have the day one title, window sticker, all registrations, booklets and manuals, warranty cards, recall letter from Datsun etc. Also included were every Zclub Monthly from ’74 to ’81 and membership patch, Road and Track magazines from April 70, July 71 and April 72 featuring and comparing the 240z to other sports cars of the day, shop manuals and aftermarket Z parts and accessory catalogues from the late seventies and early eighties. It has rare pattern Rouge Custom Keystone wheels (full teardrop shape) that have zero damage and will polish up nicely. Up till now I have only found them for sale in Japan. The car itself is not perfect. The body has rust in all the right places despite the Ziebart treatment. Credit for most all of the rust visible in the pictures can be given to the owner’s boy, who thought he could help fix dad’s car up with a grinder. That’s right, he took a grinder to the fenders and the doors, gas cap, trunk lid, quarters….the hood however is unblemished. No one thought to spray primer on the spots so there you have it. I just took the valve cover off the other day and was pleasantly surprised. It is nearly as clean as if I had pulled and tanked the head. I’m not a fan of the flat top SU’s myself but we’ll see what’s what. It is numbers matching and I restore to as close to factory as I can get so they might have to stay. Doglegs and rear wells are bad, rockers are good, Zeibart treatment may have saved floorpans and engine bay. I’m in shock that people paid to let someone drill holes all over their car, squirt black pitch all over it, in it, dripping out and down the rear of the car, all over engine bay….wow what a mess. I found rubber membrane cleaner for roofing dissolves and wipes it away almost effortlessly. The interior needs all new vinyl and is very ugly. Dash is mint. This is a full resto project and I haven’t decided when to start or how far to go but I think I did ok at $5k. I just need to finish my other projects first!

    • SSPBill

      Congradulations Chris. I’m glad it went to a knowledgeable owner rather then a flipper or worse. I laughed a little about the grinder story. My younger brother did the same but opposite to my Dad’s 64 1/2 Mustang years ago. He got the hood. Three decades latter you can still find one or two faint gouges in the right light and he never hears the end of it. If you don’t mind me asking where did the Z end up? Hamburg NY to is where I have lived all my life. I saw the post when it was up and thought about going to look at it.

  10. Chris Court

    The car is at my shop in Sandwich. If you ever visit the Cape send me an email and stop by. BTW great blog, keep up the good work.

    • SSPBill

      I was just out there a few weeks ago to look at a boat. Didn’t bring it home but I have relatives out there so not a wasted trip. Wife said only I will enjoy a car, everyone can enjoy a boat. So that’s where the money is going now.

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