It might surprise some car fans to know that Australia was one of the very first export markets for many Japanese auto makers back in the 1950s, including Toyota and Nissan. Of course, when Nissan first started exporting their cars, they didn’t call them Nissans – they used the name ‘Datsun’. That’s a whole other story…
Datsun quickly gained a warm reception Down Under thanks to their reliability and affordability, with models like the 1200 ute and 1600 sedan becoming wildly successful. Datsun even began locally assembling cars here in 1967. The ‘Datto’ became a real part of Australian culture.
But the Datsun most people remember is the 240Z: the brand’s first sports coupé and grand tourer. Also known as the Nissan Fairlady Z, the 240Z was one of the most successful sports car lines ever produced and a total automotive icon. It almost single-handedly changed the West’s perception of Japanese cars as boring ‘econoboxes’ and cemented not only Nissan but Japan’s reputation as an automotive heavyweight.
Because it was such a successful car, it’s still relatively easy to find ‘Z cars’ for a reasonable price… But the years haven’t always been kind to the poor things. So when we came across this absolutely mint 1971 example listed on Carsales in Sydney’s Yowie Bay – maybe the nicest 240Z on the planet – we couldn’t help but be impressed. Scratch that. We couldn’t help but salivate. This is one tasty Datto.
“Here’s your chance to own a concourse condition 240Z,” the owner proudly begins their listing. “This is build number 409 making it one of the much-coveted ‘Series 1’ cars.”
“I paid 35k for a newly separated body and 10 boxes of parts. I then spent $120k on a full nut and bolt restoration. All mechanical and parts assembly and interior work performed by All Classic Car Restorations in Brookvale. Collectors will know the quality of the craftsmanship of this father and son team is unsurpassed and they are the go-to restorers of E-Type Jags and other period classics.”
It’s funny that this car’s been restored by Jaguar E-Type specialists… Maybe they were excited by this 240Z’s British racing green paint job? Funnily enough, the 240Z and the E-Type were both on the market at the same time: E-Type production ran from 1961 to 1975, and the 240Z’s from 1969 to 1978.
More on that E-Type comparison later…
This 240Z has been tastefully restored with only a few small quality-of-life modifications:
“I have dropped a newly built L28 in it with triple 45 Webers [plus] custom made extractors into custom-fit pipes. I have the original L24 which matches the car but chose not to install. Would be good for a resto and installation by the next owner.”
“I installed an electric [distributor] for reliability and improved performance. There is a bolt-in half [roll] cage as I had intended to tarmac rally the car… Far too valuable a car to risk that now, hence the sale. The car rolls on Rota RB wheels with Yokohama Advan Neova AD08 R tyres.”
“Virtually a brand new 240Z with under 2,000km since full resto and new engine.”
Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
The only thing that might give you pause for thought with this 240Z is the price: $125,000. For that money, you’re squarely in E-Type territory, as it happens. Nice E-Type territory, too. (The cheapest on Carsales is ‘only’ $85,000.) Now, we love the E-Type. But if you put a gun to our head and asked us whether we’d want an E-Type or this Datto, we’d pick the Datto. Yes, this is the hill we’ll die on.
Why? Because the Datto would be easier to live with. If you’re going to fork out six figures for a classic car, you may as well buy one that you can drive every day – or at least won’t spend half its life at your mechanic’s. The reason the 240Z was so successful back in the day was that it looked and drove like an exotic without any of the bullshit that comes with owning an exotic car… And that’s even more true more than 40 years down the track.
Plus, just look at it. It’s stunning.
Check it out on Carsales and make them an offer before we do.