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Upgraded Driver: 1972 Datsun 240Z

Bidding is nearing the point of almost being at the “Buy It Now” for this clean, California driver Datsun 240Z. Although not a Series 1 car, it is an earlier model with all of the benefits that go along with that, naely the smaller chrome bumpers. The seller is known dealer specializing in rust-free survivors, which this 240Z certainly seems to be. Sitting on period-correct alloy wheels and looking quite smart with a white-over-red color scheme, it comes with an upgraded OEM engine and is listed here on eBay with a Buy-It-Now of $27,995 and bids currently sitting at $22,300.

There’s no denying that a 240Z is at its most valuable when it’s a genuine Series 1 car. However, I always felt like the smart money was on buying a non-Series 1 but sticking with an old enough model that you reap the cosmetic benefits that go along with the earlier styling. The dead giveaway for most folks is the lack of vents underneath the rear glass, which were a tell-tale sign of a genuine Series 1. Of course, those panels can always be swapped out when rusty or otherwise damaged, but this being a ’72, there’s little doubt of what generation it falls under. I love the little bar that extends over the rear bumper – not sure of its purpose, but it adds a vintage touch to the design.

White over red is one of the best combinations ever for a sports car, and the interior of this 240Z appears to be in excellent shape. The bucket seats are in good ahep overall, and it looks largely unrestored – which seemingly indicates this Z car has had some compassionate caretakers over the years. While many 240Z and 260Zs came with automatic transmissions owing to their capabilities as a grand tourer, we’re relieved to see this one has the preferred three-pedal setup. The seller is one of those that prefers to let the photos do the talking, so it’s hard to say whether there are any major cosmetic sins lurking; amazingly. the dash appears to be uncracked, which suggests years’ of indoor storage.

The option to upgrade to a more powerful engine from a later 280Z was a popular choice among Z car owners who stuck with their car over the long haul. When the original inline-six gave up the ghost, an OEM+ upgrade was to go and find a low-mileage replacement from a wrecked 280Z. The later engine in this car was good for about 170 horsepower when new, and 144 lb-ft of torque. It should make this 240Z even more fun to hustle along backroads, provided the suspension and tires have been looked after to the same extent of the body and interior. I suspect this one will hit its Buy-It-Now soon, so bid quickly!


  1. Avatar photo Steve R

    Really nice example of a small bumper 240Z with upgraded that were the norm in the early to mid-1980’s. The 2.8L and 5spd were almost standard, just like the dish mags on this car. If it runs as good as it looks someone will have done well, especially if the have little interest in bringing it to car shows.

    Steve R

    Like 5
    • Avatar photo Steve R

      Auction closed at $23,666 with 65 bids, did not meet reserve.

      Steve R

      Like 1
  2. Avatar photo Aussie Dave Member

    Always loved the 240Z or zed as we call them.
    I acquired a skyline with the same L24 engine (seized) 5 speed as the zed. Bought a 240k (Aussie equivalent of the JDM skyline GTR) as a wreck from an insurance company. Transplanted the engine into the skyline . Absolute road weapon.
    Sold the auto from the 240K and made a profit.
    My boss why back when, had a 240 zed, loved that the passenger side had a foot bar, needed it with his driving, lol

    Like 3
  3. Avatar photo HoA Member

    When the original 6 gave up the ghost? Sorry, my friend, not in my universe. The Datsun 2.4 was another of those motors that did more than power the 240Z. I read the “L” series was the workhorse of Datsun vehicles, from trucks to limos. These cars rusted out far faster than the motors demise. Quite frankly, I never heard of the swap, or a 2.4 “giving up the ghost”,,and why would you bother? The 240Z was legendary, and powered by a 2.4 motor and a 4 speed. What the heck was wrong with that? Sorry, guess I’m still upset about an AH 3000 at Copart.

    Like 8
    • Avatar photo bobhess Member

      If you haven’t driven one of these go do it. It’s fun on wheels. I’ve seen the rust first hand as l had a couple of customers who wanted to “save their Z” bad enough to pay for the repairs. One was OK but the other one was junk. Put all that money into it and then let it get flooded in a hurricane.

      Like 5
    • Avatar photo MrBZ

      Absolutely agree on the L-series, H. Had a 74 L-18 in a 620 pickup that my cousin over-revved and drove into a creek. One of the rods was a near 90 degree bend. No block or head damage, rebuilt it and was stronger than ever.

      Like 1
    • Avatar photo Aussie Dave Member

      The L24 in the skyline I acquired (as an abounded car on the base) had the same engine as the 240 Zed, it was seized totally.
      I took the head off, and pistons and block had become one. Sever overheating and driven till it stopped.
      So the L24, can “give up the ghost” just requires a total coolant failure and an idiot driver.

      Like 2
  4. Avatar photo justpaul

    That bar over the rear bumper is the AMCO “rear bumper guard”, available when new for a bargain $30.55. They had one for the front end too, which sold for $25.45.

    Theoretically it would help in when the idiot trying to parallel park behind you rode up over the stock bumper, but given the rather lightweight nature of the mounting, they’d have to have done so very gently to avoid creasing the back of the Z.

    This looks like a solid example, free of the usual rust issues. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone pops the Buy-It-Now option before the end to ensure they get it.

    Like 4
  5. Avatar photo Bub

    I keep looking at this car and wondering what exactly they have done to one of the few standards of styling excellence to make it look so plug ugly?

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo Buddy H

      I think the pin stripe is battling the body side molding for attention and both are losing. Pretty easy fix though.

      Like 1
      • Avatar photo Bub

        Thanks Buddy H. That’s it!
        Wheels and tires are doing it no favours.

        Like 1
  6. Avatar photo Davey Boy

    I have driven the 240Z and the 280Z and the 240Z was considerably faster than the 280Z so why would you replace the motor with a 280Z motor instead of either rebuilding the motor that was in it or finding another one? I would definitely put the 240 back together or and I know this is going to piss a lot of people off but put a Chevy small block in it just because it’s already not original might as well get some power out of it. Beautiful car though. Normally these things were rotted away long before they died so that’s kind of odd unless somebody just beat the crap out of it. Well either way it apparently didn’t meet his reserve so the owner still owns it. I’m sure he’ll work out a deal with somebody.

    Like 2
    • Avatar photo Steve Jackson

      The reason a 240z is faster than a 280 Z was primarily the weight. The 240 is almost 500 pounds lighter than a late 280. The L28 from the 280Z does not rev as high as the oversquare L24, but does have more torque. Putting an L28 in a 240Z will definitely make it quicker off the line.Especilly if you swap the rear end with a lower geared 3.9 diff out of an early 270ZX and put in a 5 speed . It was a well known hot rodding trick for early Zs back in the day.

      Like 3
    • Avatar photo Edwin Haggerty

      Had a friend drop a 400 small block in a 260Z and it would scream with no engine mods straight out of a Chevy wagon. The weight of that 6 in the Z is pretty similar to the Chevy 350. It was a very straightforward swap without a lot of difficulty.

      Like 1
  7. Avatar photo bobhess Member

    Bub… probably over 50% of the early Zs had the slotted mag wheels on them as soon as they hit the road. I went with the 4 spoke American Libres on mine. Much improvement over the ugly wheel covers.

    Like 2
  8. Avatar photo Mike

    The L28 was easier to smog in the USA. I took prefer the L24, but the five speed in the 280Z would have been appreciated. Also owned vehicles with L16 & L20B, as I found the PL620 and 610 useful as the Z carried two, and littke else. Agree they are great motors. Modded my 240Z with full front spoiler, rear window louvers ( probably most useful mod ), sport side mirrors, all from the dealer. Also added “Wink” full length rear view mirror . Makes visors unusable, but very popular in the day.

    Like 0

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