Stored 40 Years: 1971 Datsun 240Z

In the early 1970s, Nissan beat the European sports car builders at their own game. They introduced the Z-series of little runabouts that were both reasonably priced and dependable (compared to the English autos which could be finicky). Importation to the U.S. began in 1970 and helped Nissan establish an American foothold for the Datsun brand (which would continue to be used into the 1980s). This 1971 240Z looks to be a highly restorable car that’s been in storage for four decades. It’s a complete car, but not in running condition. Located in Proctorville, Ohio, this Datsun is available here on eBay where only the opening bid of $8,000 has been cast – so far. And there’s a reserve to tackle on top of that.

Enter the Datsun Fairlady Z, or the “Z car” in the U.S. Like its successors the 260Z and 280Z, the 240Z was named after its 2.4-liter inline-6 engine. Variants of the 240Z would remain in production through 1978. Because assembly quality was a cut above many of the Z’s European competitors, the new entrant forced the other players to step up their game. After selling 16,000 Z-cars in the U.S. in 1970, consumption more than doubled in 1971 to 34,000 units, which would include the seller’s “barn find.” Before the 260Z replaced the 240Z, nearly 150,000 of the little machines were consumed by Americans.

For reasons unknown, the seller’s car was only on the road for about 10 years before going into storage. In that time, it accumulated just under 90,000 miles of use. We assume the 240Z quit running as it hasn’t been started since the 1980s. The 2,400-cc engine, when in optimal running condition, should be good for about 150 hp. This example comes with an automatic transmission, which puts a bit of a damper on performance, perhaps targeted at buyers who were more concerned about looking sporty.

Some work has been done to the Z over time. For example, it has new brakes all around, indicating that someone wanted to see this Datsun on the road again. We’re told it’s a complete auto, so when you get around to restoring it, a huge parts search isn’t necessary. The bones of the 240Z are solid, but there is some rust in the rear wheel wells and rocker panels that the seller believes can be patched. It’s a numbers-matching car, so for purists, this would be one to go after. According to Hagerty, these Datsun’s can command upwards of $90,000 in pristine condition, but you have to deduct 15% for the automatic.

Comments

  1. TBone

    I didn’t know that these came with automatics until later years. Also makes you wonder about the blocks under the wheels. Just put it in park.

    Like 3
  2. Z baby lust

    Whenever i hear haven’t tried starting ..I scratch my head and wonder if that’s really true.. as a running car is worth so much more.

    Its like starting my car has never seen rain or snow….
    No car ever has since they are objects only 😜

  3. Rw

    Looks to me they forgot to put the master cylinder caps back on when they preformed that brake job.

    Like 2
  4. John Boy

    The steel on these rusts easily and then turns rock hard. Also expands. Almost looks like it was laminated. Forget about being able to fix the rust easily.

    Like 3
  5. Frank D Member

    Rust, automatic and mustard colored. What’s there to like?

    Like 3
  6. Wayne

    If you have never driven a good running 240Z with a little wider wheel and tire package, good shocks and a manual gearbox. Then you have missed a very nice driving, torquey car. It has a feel all it’s own and loves to be push hard. I miss driving one. Yes, they rust, and the head gasket can be an issue if the cooling system maintenance has not been kept up. But the car I had experience with rolled the odo twice with no issues other than normal care. If I ran into a nice one at the right price I buy it in a heartbeat.

    Like 2
  7. Karen Bryan

    I never understood why they made so many of these in that awful yellow-brownish color.

    Like 1
  8. Brett Lundy

    what is the small lever beside the e brake handle?

    Like 1
    • trav66

      Good question, Brett. I wondered about it too. It’s the choke lever (for the carb). Learning something new everyday!

      • Brett Lundy

        only thing I could think was the rear hatch release, but the throw looked too long for that. Manual choke makes sense on that year.

  9. Michael Freeman Mike Freeman Member

    Was it transmission fluid or brake fluid that went under the black knob on top of the Hitachi/SU carbs that came on these. There’s a tiny dipstick made underneath the knobs if I remember correctly. Dash looks great if those lines are just cobwebs running across it as they’re prone to split if left in the weather.

    • John Boy

      I used ATF. Probably anything works.

  10. Peter Wolf

    A manual choke. Pull back when starting . In mine not always needed.

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