Road & Track tested the 1971 Datsun 240Z against four other GT cars: The MGB-GT, the Fiat 124 Sports, the Opel GT, and the Triumph GT6 Mk3.
Any guesses as to which one came out on top?
[Click images for full-size scans – Enjoy!]
[Editor’s note: As a long-time Datsun restorer and collector, I get to meet people all over the world who share my affinity for classic Nissan products. Sometimes, however, some of the most interesting people and builds are right in your own neighborhood. I recently got to spend some time with Stuart Jamison, an Arizona resident who’s building a Z that will definitely stand out from the crowd, and should turn heads for decades. I’ll let Stuart tell the rest of the story, but I wanted to give him a proper introduction… Enjoy the build!
My family has never really been a ‘car’ family. I think I just was the odd one out. The day for my affliction with cars came when I went looking for my first car. I remember test driving mainly sports cars of the time, like a Fiero, a Mazda RX7, and then finally a 1979 280ZX. I had no idea on anything about these cars, other than I liked the looks and style of them. All of them ran fine, except the 280ZX. I paid about $1200 for it my senior year in high school.
It had a 5-speed, and it didn’t run. It needed a new distributor and some other things to get it to work right. Eventually got it going, and fell in love with this model. It started
seeping oil out of the plugs at one point, but continued to run. MAF problems, but still it continued to run. I was amazed at how well this car ran, even though it had problems. Eventually my neighbor and I worked on it, and that’s when I started learning about fixing cars. Clutch change, head work, rings, etc. Everything was done by myself until something came up and no one knew how to fix it, which meant a shop would have to tend to it. These were the pre-internet days, and I had a Japanese car in a predominately American car neighborhood. This car remained in my possession for about two years. It ended due to another guy T-boning me while I went through an intersection. The guy’s response was “I just didn’t see you”. He had no insurance, and it wasn’t even his car. Car was totaled and off it went, never to be seen again.
I drove past a fly-by-night car dealer on 7th Street and Dunlap here in Phoenix every day on my way to work, and ooh’ed and ahh’ed at a Flame Pearl Red 1988 300ZX that was fully loaded. Leather, digital dash, everything a boy could dream of. So with some help from family on a co-loan, the 88 300ZX replaced it, but it was never the same.
It was full of luxury and the car practically drove itself, an awesome touring car, whereas in the 280ZX you drove the car. Never really had that feeling with any other car since then, but have always been a Nissan guy since that ZX. In 2000 I bought my first new truck, a Nissan of course, which was an experience in itself. It was a 2000 Solar Yellow Nissan Frontier Desert Runner. 6 years later, I traded in the Frontier and I bought my second truck, a 2006 Titan-SE crew cab, which I still own today.
Things started taking a turn in 2012. I was really getting the bug to have a Z again. I thought about trading in the Titan, but was convinced otherwise not to do so by my wife. I had been on a track for the first time with some super cars, at an event that comes to town every now and then. Got to drive Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Audis, and of course the GTR. I would say that was when the time hit where I wanted something fun to drive again. By now, I was older/wiser and making decent money. I could do the things I always wanted to when I was a teenager with a Z. After thinking long and hard about it, and convincing my wife, I set off to find a project car – something I could work on, and bond with my new father-in-law over, since he was a huge car guy.
Questions about this build? Comments? Discussion here: Widebody 280Z discussion
One of our sharp-eyed members spotted this spectacular example of Z-car beauty for sale in New Smyrna Beach, Florida.
We’ll let the owner tell you about it – Check it out!
The more you know about Z cars the more you can appreciate this very original and unmolested survivor. This is an absolute must-see for a true enthusiast. The original owner purchased this car in Portland, Oregon and owned it from new until January of 2005. The second owner then purchased the car and owned it through November 2007. I purchased the car from the second owner and have owned it since. I feel that you will be hard-pressed to find a Z that’s this original, and in such great condition.
The exterior of this car has the original lacquer paint, has never been in an accident, and hasn’t had any paint or touch-up work done – ever. There are zero rust issues or rust that has been repaired. There is no rust present in the rear deck lid jamb or under the battery tray, which any Z owner knows is common on these cars. The car even has all original glass, including the windshield. All seals have been maintained properly and/or replaced if needed. All badges are original and in mint condition. The undercarriage is clean with no rust whatsoever.
This vehicle has always been meticulously maintained. I have every receipt for anything done to the car since new, even old records from the Datsun dealership in Oregon! The car has the original engine and transmission in it. The transmission has all new bearings, seals, and syncros. The clutch has less than 10K miles on it. Most all bushings have been replaced with O.E. units. The struts have less than 10K miles on them. The brakes work perfect and the car stops and drives straight. The battery is only 6 months old.
The interior is all original with two exceptions – the carpet and radio. The dashboard is still soft and remains crack-free, no dash cap here! Every gauge works correctly – including the clock. All lights, switches, knobs and chimes work perfectly, just as they did when the car was new. The locks and ignition work perfectly with the original Nissan Key.
There have been some minor modifications done to the car, as follows: The headlights are upgraded and wired on their own circuit, with relays to avoid wiring issues. The alternator has been upgraded to a GM 105-amp unit. Rear U-joint shafts have been converted to CV joints. The A/C system is converted to R134A and blows ice cold. There is a 160 degree thermostat installed. The car also has a wrapped Motorsport header and Motorsport exhaust system with resonator installed. The car has Konig wheels and Cooper tires with good tread. The modifications done to this car were mainly performed to improve drivability and/or safety, and are fairly typical for any older Z.
All in all, this is a very well cared-for, well documented, all original 280Z. This car drives nice and straight and needs absolutely nothing to be a nice driver. I have all original parts that will be included with the sale. The only thing I do not have are the factory steel wheels. However, I do have the original hubcaps. The original exhaust system is still intact with only minor surface rust. All other included parts are in great condition as well. I am happy to take additional pictures of anything you would like to see. I can possibly arrange to put the car on a lift and take undercarriage photos if necessary.
Want to see more pictures? Here’s a ton more, click for full-size versions.
I am asking $20,000 OBO for the car. The vehicle is located in New Smyrna Beach, FL and I have a clear Florida title in hand. I am happy to aid in shipping of the car, providing the buyer pays for and sets up transportation. If you have any questions and would like to talk more about the car, I can be reached at:
Let’s find this pretty lady a new home!
UPDATE: This Z sold within three weeks, at almost the asking price! This is great news for the Z market, and for collectible Datsuns in general.
Straight from the DatsunForum memorabilia collection, this 1976 280Z sales brochure was included with the original owner’s paperwork when we purchased the car for restoration, and it’s been scanned here for your reference and enjoyment.
1976 was the first year of the Datsun 280Z, arriving on dealer lots in late 1975 as the successor to the 260Z, and beginning the final version of the 1st generation Z sports car. Covering the 1970 through 1978 model years, the 1st generation Z was replaced by the 1979 280ZX.
The engine displacement was increased to 2.8 liters, resulting in the 280Z nomenclature. A Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection system helped combat the increasingly-stringent emissions regulations which threatened to diminish the Z-car’s horsepower ratings.
Available with either a 4-speed manual or a 3 speed automatic transmission, the first-year 280Z retained the earlier models’ independent suspension arrangement and 14″ alloy wheels, while adding a sportier array of dashboard gauges.
The 280Z was now available in two body styles: a 2-seat coupe or a 2+2 4-seater. The 4-seater was 12.5″ longer than the standard 280Z, though it shared similar performance characteristics.
We hope you enjoy this slice of history, and if you’re not already active on DatsunForum.com, we hope you’ll pop in and join the conversations!
This Datsun 240Z supplemental manual was prepared by the National Service Training Department, and contains important service information in addition to and/or superseding the basic “Service Manual” titled 240Z, Chassis and Body.
More comprehensive instructions are provided for servicing the dash area including removal and replacement of the instrument panel assembly and floor console (Automatic and Standard transmission models). Additionally, the heat and ventilating system (HVAC) is fully documented in this supplement, as well as removal and replacement of the center instruments, center console finisher, and radio. Section VI contains revised wiring diagrams and illustrations for positive identification of wire harness electrical connectors.
(Click images for full-size documents)
You can find the rest of the 240Z (and other Datsun factory service manuals) at Datsun Service Manuals.
Special thanks to Chuck from Sakura Garage for procuring this manual for you.
We hope this helps you with your restoration!
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is an island country lying within the Lesser Antilles, in the eastern Caribbean Sea. St. Vincent is situated in the Windward Islands at the lower end of the Caribbean chain, while the Grenadines comprise a chain of little islands and rocks between St Vincent and Grenada. In 1973, the island nation began to issue their own stamps; the island gained independence in 1979. Beginning in December 1992, most stamps issued by St. Vincent are identified with “St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”
Our example here is inscribed, “Union Island – Grenadines of St. Vincent.” Union Island is but a mere postage stamp itself, at 1.5 miles wide by 3 miles long… but it brought us this cool postage stamp of a Series 1 1970 Datsun 240Z!
This one is well-preserved here amongst the rest of my Datsun collectibles, but I’ll bet there are more out there. Anyone else have an example of a Datsun postage stamp? Tell us about it in the Datsun Forums!
Here’s some really cool documents that came with our 1972 240Z – I’ve scanned them to share with you guys.
The brochure shows a breakdown of the maintenance required to keep the [very primitive] emissions equipment functioning properly. Since emissions equipment was a new “thing” for consumers, a letter from Nissan Corporate arrived soon after the first owner took delivery of the car.
Hope you enjoy checking out these “historical” documents!
Although it’s been a love/hate relationship with this project, I still plan to stay on the path to building it the way I want it. I have loved the idea of building a car that could be enjoyed on the track and on the street. I never plan to win any trophies with it, but love the fact I can drive the car down to the local track, spend the day there, and then drive it back home. The car has never been fully restored as you saw, but it’s got patina and soul. It’s a car that’s been used and a car that’s been driven – and driven hard, enjoyed to the fullest.
I’ve logged just over a thousand miles so far, being driven up to Flagstaff, through the canyons in Sedona, and back through Globe. I have a few loops in town I’ll take and storm back down into the valley over the course of a few hours. This was never fully developed as an outright race car, because I like the idea of being able to drive wherever I want. When I haven’t driven it in a while and start it up, I get the biggest smile and feel a bit giddy. No drivers aids or electronics to help out, just the raw output of the straight-six. It still scares me sometimes when I have my foot down on the pedal. Its really fun to play with, a source of freedom, a total personal satisfaction listening to the sounds, and knowing all the mechanical parts doing their job. The triple Webers have a very unique sound – it’s very exotic and you can feel the instant power behind them. It pulls all the way up to 7000 rpms without giving up and probably would continue if it wasn’t for the cast pistons…. I do get some exhaust fumes into the car, which is inherent in these models when you have the windows down, but it just adds to the overall experience.
So here we are today… with lots still to do. Plenty of lessons learned from just going out and doing it, rather than planning it out. Overspent on parts I didn’t need, just because I thought they would work and they didn’t. It happens, but trying to minimize the cost was still a goal which unfortunately didn’t happen exactly the way I wanted it. When you have to buy two engines within a year, that’s not good at all for anyone’s budget.
For the near future, the plans are to get the body prepped and find someone who can paint it or do a wrap… Get some turn signals back onto the car and get the interior put back together. Seam seal the rear inner fenders, and put some sound deadening and insulation down in the rear of the car to help prevent some of the fumes from coming in to the car from the exhaust. Redo the body wiring on the car as well at some point and under the hood. Reroute a few plumbing items and clean up the engine bay… and finally figure out how I’m going to re-do the front hubs. The center bore on the HRE wheels is 58mm, and the center bore on the hubs are 73mm on the car. So they will need to be opened up a bit on the wheels. Maybe a spacer or two will help offset some of that bore on the hubs so they can fit. Time will tell… What does the future hold? Maybe a 3.2L with ITB’s… but that will be way down the road unless I win the lottery or something!
A final lesson that was quickly learned was with these big tires… burnouts just dont happen anymore. Already broke a u-joint. Luckily I was right outside my house when it happened, and was easily able to fix it.
Rebello P90 Head work Street Ported with supertech valvetrain
Rebello Camshaft (63DE) .487 lift 279 duration
Rebello 3.0L Stroker 297hp @ 6700RPM (Engine Dyno / Car Dyno 225hp)
Champion 3 Row Aluminum Radiator
Electromotive XDI Ignition with CAS
NGK Spark Plugs
Accel 7048 8.8mm 300+ Spark Plug Wires
Kameari 50mm Intake Manifold
Triple Weber DCOE45
MSA 2.5″ Coated Header 3-2-1
Godspeed 10 Row Oil Cooler
Reduction Gear Starter
1983 ZX Alternator Mod
Energy Suspension Polyurethan Bushing Kit
Tokico Illumina Struts/Springs
5 Speed Close Ratio Transmission
Competition Clutch Stage 2
Competition Clutch Lightweight flywheel 10lb
Custom SS Exhaust
Magnaflow XL #12616 Straight through muffler
Toyota Front Caliper Mod with Cross drilled rotors
Maxima Rear Caliper Mod with Cross drilled rotors
Earls Stainless Brake lines and fittings
Vintage 3 Piece Hayashi Racing HRE 505 wheels 17×10.5 Front and 17×14 in Rear (-63.5 offset)
KUHMO 275/40/17 up front and 335/35/17 in rear
Ebay GT Fender Mirrors
JDM Tail lights
Datsun Competition Hood Scoop
MSA Victory Spoiler
Ztrix Street IMSA Body kit
DCOE 45 jet settings:
00 Pump Bleeds
45 pump jet
Questions about this build? Comments? Discussion here: Widebody 280Z discussion
Stay tuned – I’ll be updating this build article as the project progresses. I hope you’ve enjoyed it so far, and I’m looking forward to seeing you all at an event soon.