1972 Datsun 240Z

What with getting the interior back in the Lancia Beta and other stuff, it’s been a busy couple of weeks. But, inspired by the August issue of Grassroots Motorsports I picked up at the Concours d’LeMons, I wanted to return to the mainstream and see what was available in the way of Datsun’s mainstream breakout hit (ignoring the 510). They were commenting on how their first project car was a Z, and that back in 1984 it was just a used car. While I’ve never been a huge fan of the early generations of Datsun Z (probably just because of their popularity), they are an attractive car with a good power-to-weight ratio that are on the cusp of being valuable the same way 1950s sports cars are now. And with their spec, they’re still perfectly capable of keeping up with today’s traffic. Also, as with most cars, when they’re not so common the road I remember what I like in the few examples I do see running around.

Let’s go to today’s example, a pale yellow (just like GRM’s) 1972 Datsun 240Z in Sacramento, CA for $2900. According to the seller, it’s got its original paint and has been upgraded to a 5-speed, which should make for easier freeway cruising. At this price level, you’d want to ask how the work was done and about the origins of the transmission to make sure it’s not part of the reason for the sale. In fact, at this price level, when buying a car that’s more popular than, say, a Renault 17, you’d want to do your homework well since even the worst cars command higher prices.

1972 Datsun 240Z side

From this side shot, the car appears to have decent panel gaps. Wheels look like something aftermarket or from a later Z – I’d want to change them back to stock for some tail-out fun on skinny tires. The hood is evidently from another car, unless it’s just been painted a contrasting (rally-style) flat black. With that and the way the seller has cut off the front end of the car in his picture, I’d want to be certain there hasn’t been some kind of accident damage up there. In his favor, he does seem pretty up-front about the car’s cosmetic needs.

1972 Datsun 240Z rear

The other picture is also less than complete. However, it does show what shine the paint has left, and that the right side of the car is straight. Again, decent gaps on the trunk lid, and the trim looks to be all intact. Unfortunately we have no pictures of the engine or interior.

At this price range for this kind of car, beggars can’t be choosers, and this one looks pretty decent. Since the seller’s photos are only really teasers, I’d want to call and ask some more detailed questions, and if that checks out, go take a thorough look at the car after having done my homework. If the car is indeed rust-free as he claims (probably just no visible rust), and if it runs halfway decently, this seems like it could be a good introduction to this iconic sports car. The good news is, these (and their descendants) should still show up in junkyards, so interior trim bits, mechanical parts and the like should be readily available. Also, unlike with the cars typically featured here, you might get a bit of your money back out of this one. For those of you with experience driving an older Italian car, how do these compare?

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2 Responses to “1972 Datsun 240Z”

  1. David Sanborn Says:

    I had a 72 zed that was my all time favorite car out of all that I’ve owned. Had a 2.8 block, cam, header, dual SU’s and went like stink. Back in the day it regularly put the hurt on Iroc-Z’s and cockroaches (Mustangs). My life being the ironic vehicle of black gallows humor that it is, the Z was destroyed while parked in front of a pal’s place in a 25mph zone by a drunk uninsured redneck in a Monte Carlo adjusting his stereo. Ahem. I digress…
    The Craigslist posting for the 71 Z was expired by the time I checked but I’ll weigh in with this: sellers who can’t post decent pictures should be slapped around. I mean c’mon it’s so fricking easy! You get 4 pictures, make one a front 45º shot, a rear 45º, an INTERIOR picture and one picture of the worst of the problem areas (rust, dents etc.). It’s not rocket science.
    240Z’s are worthy of any enthusiast’s love and bank account. What little I saw of this one with its 5-speed and factory paint is very intriguing.

  2. Jimmy Says:

    I still have my original 1972 Z car. I want to replace the engine with a high performance version. Any suggestions. Also any resources on changing the interior to a high tech looking interior…mjl

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