With a Lotus-inspired suspension set-up, baby Jaguar E-Type styling and a 0-60mph time of just 8.0sec, the Datsun 240Z had pretty much everything going for it, so it was no surprise that it quickly became one of the most acclaimed and popular sports cars of its time.
With its 2.4-litre (hence the name) straight-six engine sending 150bhp to its rear axle and a kerb weight of little more than a tonne, the 240Z was aimed squarely at accessible sports cars like the MGB and Lancia Fulvia Coupé, but it was so comparatively well built, modern and quick that it gained a much more widespread global following. That legacy is still strong today, and it’s the success of the 240Z and its successors (running right through to today’s 370Z) that make us especially sad that we won’t receive the new 400Z in the UK.
Let’s not mope, though. There are 240Zs aplenty to pick from, and with prices hovering around the mid-£20,000s for a clean, unmodified example, you can get your old-school sports car fix for a fraction of what you would have to pay for the more prestigious E-Type or the ultra-rare Toyota 2000GT.
You can even buy a new one. Well, sort of: MZR Roadsports’ take on the little Datsun is rather more refined than even the cleanest standard examples. The Bradford firm’s restoration process has each car stripped down to bare metal and rebuilt with modern sound-deadening measures, strengthened chassis components and uprated motors but, crucially, leaves it almost identical to the original 240Z. It’s a lovely way to spend £90,000, but an untouched original car is best if you’re on a budget.
You would be wise to value structural integrity over provenance. The British climate especially hasn’t been kind to the rust-prone 240Z, and what looks like a cheap car can quickly spiral into a money pit with no hope of recuperating your outlay. American imports, mainly from California, are therefore very popular, but shipping fees and import taxes will usually negate any saving you make on repairs, so buy one here and let someone else do the legwork.
Once you’ve decided your budget, making a decision is as simple as verifying a car’s mileage, checking the calibre of any work carried out, getting a quote for any jobs that are outstanding and hitting the road.
And that’s exactly what you should do with a 240Z, at least while values are still just on the right side of realistic. That straight six is revered for its eagerness and durability and, with a properly sorted driveline and chassis, the 240Z can hold its own on any B-road against much more modern equivalents.
How to get one in your garage