The Datsun 240Z was part of the first generation of the 'Z' two-seat coupes, produced by Nissan in Japan from 1969 through 1978. The other models in the 'Z' lineup included the 260Z and the 280Z. The dramatic looks sourced much of its appearance from a 1960's styling concept drawn by Count Albrecht Goertz for Datsun. The early cars received their power from a 2.4-liter, straight six, overhead cam engine offering around 150 horsepower which gave them a zero-to-sixty MPH time of 8 seconds. The top speed was 125 mph. A five-speed manual gearbox was standard and the car featured independent suspension all round with MacPherson struts at the front and Chapman links at the rear. Rack and pinion power steering and front disc brakes helped complete the modern package on the 240Z.
The 260Z, produced from 1975 through 1978, served as the replacement for the 240. It had an enlarged engine with a longer stroke and a 2.6-liter displacement size. Power rose to 165 horsepower.
For 1974, the Datsun 260Z was available as a 2-passenger coupe or a 2+2 passenger coupe. The 2_2 version was nearly a foot longer than its 2-passenger sibling.
The 260Z received new protruding 5-MPH bumpers in 1974, and a built-in chin spoiler. It also had an electro-magnetic fuel pump and transistorized ignition. Pricing began at $5,290 for the coupe and rose to nearly $6,100 for the 2+2 version. By Daniel Vaughan | Jan 2017
The 240Z was not a new idea. Sturdy engineering, excellent performance, low price, attractive styling, and average interior had been achieved by many manufacturers prior to the Z-car. The reason the 240Z car was so great was because it capitalized on all these criteria and perfected the concept of a low-cost, reliable, sports car. Mr. Yutaka Katayama is considered the 'Father of the Z Car' and is responsible for the design and creation of this legendary vehicle. As recognition of his contributions to the automotive world, in 1998 he was inducted into the Automobile Hall of Fame.
The Datsun 240Z was introduced in 1969 as a 1970 model. The engine was a derivation of the Datsun 1600. The Datsun 1600 engine was a copy of the 1960's six-cylinder Mercedes-Benz 220 engine, but with two less cylinders. By adding two extra cylinders in the 240Z the cylinder count was back to six. With 151 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque the vehicle could propel from zero-to-sixty in eight seconds. The independent suspension and the rack-and-pinion steering added to its quick response, performance, and handling. The front disc brakes brought the car to a stop from high speeds in just seconds. With a price tag of just over $3,500, it cost much less than anything else on the market. Due to demand, a year later Kelly Blue Book rated the value of a used 240Z at $4,000.
The 240Z dominated the SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) C-class production category for 10 years ranging from 1970 through 1979. In 1970 and 1971 John Morton, driving for Brock Racing Enterprises, was the first to claim victory in SCCA C-Class production racing using a 240Z. Bob Sharp claimed his first win in that category in 1972 and again in 1973 and 1975. Walt Maas continued the streak in 1974. The Z-car competed in the IMSA (International Motor Sports Association) where it captured many victories, including the IMSA GTU title. In 1982, Devendorf and his Electromotive racing team win Datsun's first ever IMSA GTO championship.
In 1985, Paul Newman set 10 track records in a 280ZX Turbo.
In 1994, a race-modified Z car won the 24 Hors of Daytona and the 12 Hours at Sebring. It also captured the GTS Class at the 24 Hours of LeMans, making it the only car ever to accomplish such a record within the same year.
In 1974, the engine displacement was increased to 2.6 liters and the vehicle was dubbed the 260Z. This brought an end to the 240Z series which had sold 116,712 examples during its life-span. The United States emissions regulations were increasing every year. Thus, the 260Z had less horsepower than its predecessor and was rated at 139.
The 260Z was available in 2+2 configuration. With the fold-down rear seats, the 260Z offered a higher level of practicality over the 240Z. During its first and only model year, 63,963 examples were produced giving it the all-time Z-car sales record to date.
In 1975 the displacement was increased to 2.8 liters and the vehicle dubbed the 280Z. A Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection system was included which helped bring increase the horsepower to 149.
In 1977, the horsepower rating was 170. A five-speed overdrive transmission was now offered, giving the vehicle better performance and fuel economy. The sales of the Z car once again hit a record high, with 67,331 units sold.
In 1979, the second generation of the Z-car was introduced as the 280ZX. It was more refined and luxurious than the previous Z's. The formula was correct and it was named Motor Trends 'Import Car of the Year'. A new all-time sales record was achieved with 86,007 units being sold.
In 1980, over 500,000 cumulative American Z-cars had been sold. It had reached the half-million sales mark faster than any other sport car. A new T-bar roof option was now being offered.
To add to the appeal and performance of the 280ZX, a turbocharged engine became available in 1981. Sales continued to remain strong through 1983.
In 1984 the third generation of the Z-car was introduced and was dubbed the 300ZX. It featured distinct styling and a new 3.0 liter V6 engine. The normal-aspirated engine produced 160 horsepower, while the turbocharged version offers 200 horsepower.
In 1989, the American automotive economy was continuing to evolve. Minivan's and sport utility vehicles were gaining in popularity. In response, Nissan introduced the fourth-generation Z-car in 1990. The new 300ZX featured improvements both mechanically and aesthetically. Under the hood sat an all-new DOHC 3.0-liter engine with a horsepower rating of 222. A twin-turbocharged version of the engine was available and brought the total horsepower output to 300. The body of the vehicle had been improved giving it a more aggressive stance.
Motor Trend awarded the Z00ZXTT 'Import Car of the Year' and 'One of the Top Ten Performance Cars'. Automobile Magazine honored the car with 'Design of the Year' and was added to its 'All Stars' list. Not to be outdone, Road & Track named the car 'One of the Ten Best Cars in the World'. Car and driver named it 'One of the Ten Best Cars'.
During the 1990 model year the one-million sales mark was achieved making it the all-time best selling sports car. The car continued to receive great reviews and awards by Magazines and publications. The year 1995 marked the 25th Anniversary of the Z-car. To commemorate this occasion, a limited edition was produced with the help of Steve Millen Sport Cars.
In 1996, the production of the Z-car ceased in North America. Decreasing Sales figures, and increased smog regulations and production costs were to blame. The price of the twin-turbo 300ZX was priced at $45,000, a cost that was to expensive for most consumers. Production of the Z-car continued in Japan until 1999, although it had undergone a major redesign in 1998.
In August of 2002, Nissan introduced the 350Z. This six-gear, two-seater was the fifth generation of the Z-car. Offered in five trim packages that included Base, Enthusiast, Performance, Touring, and Track Editions, the vehicle was an instant success. Base price was around $26,000 with the fully-loaded Track option costing over $34,000. Aesthetic and performance upgrades were available through Nismo, Nissan's motorsport and performance division.
In 2004, a roadster option was offered. The roadster was available in two trim packages which included the Enthusiast and Touring editions.
A special 35th Anniversary model was released in 2005 featuring twice the output of the original 1969 model.
Sales figures, race results, and satisfied customers have proven this to be one of the best sports vehicles ever produced. By Daniel Vaughan | Jan 2007
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