When the stylish Datsun 240Z arrived in late 1969, Autocar rather struggled to come up with any cars to fairly pitch it against.
There were some rivals around, such as the ageing MG B-GT, but it took until 1972 for us to find one that properly matched the Japanese sports car on size, weight, performance and price – although it didn't come in the form we had expected.
The two-seat 240Z was powered by a six-cylinder single-overhead-camshaft engine. The 2.4-litre unit pumped out 150bhp at 5600rpm, sending drive to the rear wheels through a five-speed manual gearbox. The suspension was by MacPherson struts front and rear. The car was priced at £2309 (equivalent to £28,963 today).
The Bertone-designed GTV, meanwhile, had a two-plus-two seating layout. It too sent its power to the rear wheels, this was provided by a four-cylinder, 2.0-litre twin-cam engine producing 131bhp at 5500rpm. The gearbox was a five-speed manual, while the suspension was comparatively old-fashioned, with double wishbones and coil springs at the front and a live rear axle with trailing arms and an anti-roll bar at the rear. We specified our test car with the optional limited slip differential, taking its price to £2587 (or £32,500 in today's money).
It should be noted that the discrepancy in power was the product of odd maths, with Datsun measuring by the "optimistic" SAE system, rather than Europe's DIN.
Back on 14 September 1972, Autocar compared the two models.
"The 240Z has a very flat torque curve." we began. "It pulls very strongly throughout the rev range, whereas the GTV needs coaxing at the bottom.
"Seeing as power and weight are more or less equal, this makes the 240Z faster than the GTV – without ever scoring a runaway victory."
Indeed, in the 240Z, 0-60mph could be achieved in 8.0sec, while the GTV took 9.0sec.