1970 Datsun 240Z
OK, so it’s nothing like 1934. But that year, Nissan Motors was formed from the merger of two Japanese car companies: DAT Automobile Co. and Jitsuyo Automobile Co. But instead of using the new, Nissan name plate for the front of their cars, they chose to brand them Datsun – the moniker DAT Automobile Co had been using since the previous year – which was a variant of Datson, the name used since the company’s first car the year before that, changed because it sounded too much like a Japanese phrase that means “to lose money”. Come 1984, and with the Datsun brand firmly established across the world, Nissan decided it was about time it marketed its cars under the parent brand’s name plate. Datsun was dropped. But it was a pricey decision. Changing signs at the 1,100 Datsun dealerships cost $30 million. Changing the marketing epithet from “Datsun, We Are Driven!” to “The Name is Nissan” cost $200 million. Then there was another $50 million spent on approved but redundant Datsun adverts. All in, it was a $500m exercise…
Let’s get into the way back machine Peabody, and head to 1970 when Nissan was Datsun, and the company hit the US shores with a pony car of their own, which happens to be the car up for consignment. It’s looking sharp in white, holding its clean lines, small chromed bumpers, long pony car hood and hatchback styling bringing up the rear. An original drivetrain is under the hood, (2.4L I-6), and the interior is looking good…almost as if new.
With gaps that remain consistent, we note only a few areas of chip off exposing some surface rust underneath, but this is reserved to the pinch weld of the rocker panels. Overall, the chrome and trimmings as well as most of the panels are looking terrific, and nice and shiny. Badging is all good and correct from 1970, the glass is clear and note the badging and well-kept rear hatch vents are exclusive to the 1970 model year. It’s 1970, and all the crash bumpers, and emissions have yet to hit the car market hard, so this car benefits from that to have nice chrome simple bumpers, and a great body line thanks to the Japanese designers take on the pony car motif. 15″ 8 spoke polished lip Mag style wheels are on all 4 corners, and the car remains mostly original to boot.
Opening the doors, we note some nicely done door panels in Cobalt Blue vinyl which are original. This blue is highlighted by a black armrest/door pull and chrome trimmings for the door releases and window cranks. Freshly recovered Cobalt Blue high back buckets float in a sea of black carpeting and have a nice black center console with a wood topped shifter knob racing forward from the rear back carpeted hatchback storage area. These seats are patterned with smooth bolsters and nice tuck and roll inserts and covering the hump and leading up to the console is diamond pleated vinyl. Up front, the nice black padded dash uses a deeply embedded circular motif as its central design, which forms the housing for all the gauges including some peppering the very center of the dash on top. Flowing down to the console in the center of the dash we note the heater controls and the factory installed AM radio. The original 3 spoke steering wheel fronts this dash and looks rather sporty. We note that the glovebox insert has been removed, however a new insert is included with the purchase.
An original unrestored 2.4 Liter L24 inline 6-cylinder graces the engine bay. On the side under the orangish red air cleaner assembly are dual Hitachi HJG 46 W 44mm SU type carburetors all working together to make a stout 151hp. Bolted to the back is a new with less than 300 mile 4-speed manual transmission attached along with a new clutch which sends power to a 3.36 posi rear summing up the drivetrain.
Patina and factory undercoating abounds throughout with the only surface rust seen being on the stock style single exhaust system. A front disc, rear drum brake arrangement with a new master cylinder is on to slow you down in time for the 4-wheel independent suspension to handle any curve you can throw this Z-car through. A well-kept undercarriage here without any of the notorious Datsun corrosion.
This sports car started easily, and it was off to the test track where it had nice acceleration, rail-like handling, and quick bias free panic stopping. The interior is very comfortable and surprisingly roomy and all functions save for the AM radio were working exactly as designed. I fancy myself more of the British sports car type, but this import from across the Pacific met my ultra-high expectations and standards and then some.
Lovingly cared for and put away safely after each use has left us with this shining example of the 1st year Z-car from Datsun. With a new transmission, clutch and redone seating this is more than just eye candy, it’s meant to be driven and enjoyed…well maybe a little gloating and showing off is acceptable too. A Japanese pony car which gave all others here in the USA a run for their money, now classic and becoming collectable, right here in our hallowed halls of Classic Auto Mall, Zat’s all folks!
L-Left Hand Drive
01382-Sequential Unit Number
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Location: Morgantown, Pennsylvania, United States