Straight Driver: 1974 Datsun 260Z

Brian BirknerBy Brian Birkner

What is there to say, that hasn’t already been said about the Datsun Z car? It is the Japanese sports car that stole America’s heart 47 years ago. The Z car is still relevant today with many who have been long term fans, as well as the up and coming generation that appreciate the styling, history, and capabilities of the chassis. This early 260 has seen a repaint or two in its day, but appears to be a solid car, which makes this Z a hot commodity. Ready to drive home for your next big build, this Z is currently bid up to $1,325.00. Take a look at it here on ebay out of Las Vegas, Nevada.

Under the hood we can see what appears to be a mostly stock and original Z car aside from the factory carburetors. Although running, and in good health, the Holley carb may drive the purists insane, as the early “SU” style carbs often perform beautifully, and look great. It is clear from the engine bay that this Z has undergone a color change at some point, but it would appear this 260 began life as a silver Z.

Western cars and Z cars especially can have abysmal interiors having suffered from long term sun exposure. Thankfully this interior has a nice look, and is quite clean minus a few condition issues. The biggest issue, and certainly a common one with the Z’s is a cracked dashboard. The radio is missing, and the passenger side window crank is missing as well. Although for appearing as a mostly original interior, I would say this Z interior has survived nicely.

Purple is the most apparent color on this Z, but looking closely at the rear of the car, it is clear this 260 once was red. There are some areas where the purple paint is rolling off much like an Earl Shibe paint job. The seller stresses that the car is rust free, and that there is no filler to be found. After a few color changes, and old Datsuns natural propensity to rust, I would definitely use a magnet to be sure. Quite straight, there is only one area of concern in the body work arena. There is a dent in the rocker right before the passenger side wheel arch. The metal is dented and punctured, with a few minor waves around it. Certainly not the end of the world for this Z car, but a small amount of body work would be needed to resolve the issue. Solid Z cars are becoming harder to find as time marches on, and prices have definitely been on the rise as well. With some paint and body work, and a dash pad, this 260 could be a very nice project. Would you jump on this solid Z?

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Comments

  1. Stu

    Z’s are rust buckets here in the Northeast. I only drove mine in the spring, summer and fall and the floorboards and frame rails still rotted out in only 4 years.

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  2. Dolphin Dolphin Staff

    With the condition of this poor Z car being what it is, the seller might have been better off opting for dull & fuzzy instead of those “60 HI DEF photos!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

    Too bad the car has so many needs, beginning with a back-to-metal repaint, which will set the buyer well back of the value of the car when its needs have all been addressed. The Holley carb doesn’t help with Z car fans, even if the car runs OK. Bumpers need attention, and all the rubber seals on the car will need to be replaced.

    With a longer stroke these have noticeably more torque than the 240Zs, so are more relaxed to drive. But the 260s are missing the appreciation boat, given that most of the collector and special interest in Z cars is for the ’70 and ’71 model year cars.

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    • Oddimotive Cason

      The overspray on the horn and rear of the grill is comical…

      The early cars are leading the way, but no S30s are missing the boat – they’ve all gone up. This car is very solid by Z standards – just minimal body work and some paint will do it.

      The Holley 4bbl is preferable vs. the original flat-tops in terms of driveability, but “bordeline purists” would rather see round tops. Personally, I see this as an excuse for triple Mikunis, but would drive with the 4bbl for a while until doing cam, headers and exhaust to go with the triples.

      These are big bumpers anyway, so MSA 240-style fiberglass bumpers would be perfect. Full rubber kit is in the ~$200-300 range and would be done with a good paint job, anyway.

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    • Dolphin Dolphin Staff

      260Zs have gone up but not by much, not enough to persuade me to tackle this car. The chassis stiffeners have taken a bashing and are wavy, and should be replaced. And there is also some perforation in places, and also waviness in the floors. And we still haven’t even seen under the battery tray, which often gets perforated because of acid drip.

      As soon as a serious Z buyer sees that underside the price he’s willing to pay goes way down because of the hours of metalwork, getting the bad door gaps right, etc, etc. Lots of hours of work needed there before you can start painting the car, and the paint is so damaged that you have to take the whole car down to bare metal to get a decent job. Lots more hours.

      Cheap seal sets used to be a couple of hundred $ but a good set—one that fits—is more than a couple hundred. And then you need a competent glass installer for the windshield and hatch glass….unless you already are a competent glass installer, or like playing Russian roulette with expensive glass, which will be on the brittle side if original since it’s now more than 40 years old. More costs to add up. Then labor to install the rest of the seals, etc, etc. And we haven’t even mentioned the badly cracked dash. Anyone know how much work it is to get that out, redone, and replaced? A LOT.

      And if you want to sell it to a person who wants it as a collectible, the interest goes down or the price willing to be paid goes down, most likely both, as soon as he sees the US 4-barrel instead of round top Hitachis. Aftermarket glass bumpers? Same thing.

      I would pump—and am pumping—big money into a January 1970 build 240Z (close to $10K for a small amount of metalwork and a complete, perfect, no-orangepeel, bare-metal respray in the original color), but I would not put big money, or even moderate money into this car. It does not make financial sense. And thinking you can end up with a car that’s worth the equivalent of a top auction price without making the car near-perfect is a big mistake.

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  3. Richard Gaskill

    Yes, prices are on the rise. Values increased $300 in the past year. Condition 2 went from $15,100 to $15,400 and Condition 3 went from $7,800 to $8,100.

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  4. dogwater

    I think if you found in good shape put a nice paint job it could be a money maker.

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  5. Oingo

    its already at 4k so the market pretty much agrees a rust free and not too badly damaged 260 is worth a resto.

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  6. Big Ed

    No one has said it but it looks like this “Z” car has seen a couple of trips across the salt flats and bombarded with salt crystals. Appears it was sanitized enough that it wouldn’t rot away before your eyes!

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  7. Joe

    Not original seats. Recoved in fabric which was never offered. OEM was vinyl with air vents on seat back.

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  8. Howard A Member

    Clearly, the car that put Datsun on the map. A cheap reliable XKE, of sorts. I’m surprised they used SU’s, I thought they used Stromberg. I wonder if the 4 barrel affects driveability any, as I had no problem with SU’s. The only thing this lacks is a 5 speed. If it’s solid, it still seems like a good deal.

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    • PoPPaPork

      Both 240s and 260s used a hitachi copy of the skinners union carb, they worked fine in the 240s but emission regulations kicked in and hitachi had to heavily modify them for the 260s, its a very popular swap to drop the 240s style carbs into your 260 if a weber conversion is to expensive.

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