Courtesy of Motostalgia
The first Series I cars produced between late 1969 and early 1970 are identified by the fresh-air exhaust vents located on the rear hatch. Datsun quickly realized that they had hit the mark with the modern lines and overhead-cam 6-cylinder that redlined at 7,000 rpm. Restored to like-new condition, this 240Z is one of the most pristine examples on the market. The only thing this car lacks to be a ZCCA gold-medallion car is the factory wheels and hubcaps, as the restorer chose a period centerline wheel to complete the sportier look. From the paint to the interior, great attention to detail was used during restoration. The engine starts promptly and pumps incredible smooth power to the rear wheels. If owning the nicest of its kind appeals to you, you will want to seriously consider this first series Z.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1970 Datsun 240Z Series 1 coupe
Years Produced:1970–73
Number Produced:148,115
Original List Price:$3,526
SCM Valuation:$8,200–$14,000
Tune Up Cost:$200
Distributor Caps:$10.95
Chassis Number Location:Right side firewall
Engine Number Location:Right side inner fender
Club Info:Classic Z-Car Club
Alternatives:1965–74 MGB-GT, 1971–74 Alfa Romeo Spider 2000, 1969–76 Triumph TR6, 1965–72 Porsche 911
Investment Grade:C

This car, Lot 107, sold for $40,700, including buyer’s premium, at Motostalgia’s Grand Prix Auction on November 1, 2014, in Austin, TX.

The 240Z was a pivotal product for Datsun in 1970, and it set the stage for Nissan sports cars to this day. It is the direct lineal ancestor of the current 370Z. The 240Z offered performance and styling at a level not generally expected from a Japanese car in that era, and its low price point relative to the European competition made the 240Z an extremely attractive proposition.

In its debut year, Datsun marketed the 240Z as a “high-performance personal two-passenger fastback” with a 2.4-liter SOHC inline 6-cylinder engine rated at 151 horsepower and a fully synchronized 4-speed gearbox.

The new 240Z advertised a 0–60 mph time of 7.5–8.7 seconds and a top speed of 115 to 122 mph. The 240Z also offered a modern independent suspension at all four wheels, with McPherson struts in the front and Chapman struts in the rear, radial tires, and front disc brakes. Inside, buyers got a true sports car experience, including a full set of aircraft-style gauges. It was an exciting package with a sticker price of $3,526. Datsun sold 16,215 of these cars in the first model year.

The 240Z soon made its mark in racing, diving into road racing and even scoring a win in the East Africa Rally on the WRC calendar. Best known in the United States was the distinctive red, white and blue livery of BRE Racing by Peter Brock. Brock’s 240Z racers claimed back-to-back SCCA national championships in 1970 and 1971.

This is the performance and history of a true groundbreaking sports car.

The 240Z in context

When comparing the 240Z with its closest in-period competitors, buyers could save a few dollars by buying the Triumph GT6 or TR6, but they would sacrifice performance, as the Triumph pushrod engines made just 94 and 104 horsepower respectively. The horsepower comparison doesn’t even touch the antiquated suspensions on British cars of the day. 240Z purchase prices were on par with the Opel GT, but there again, the best Opel came with only a 102-hp engine and a solid rear axle.

To get into the same performance envelope as the 240Z, buyers could opt for the least expensive Porsche 911 at 142 horsepower and $6,430, or the 914-6 at 125 horsepower and $5,999. Yet those cars cost more than the 246-horsepower Jaguar E-type at $5,725. Of all comparable imported sports cars, the 4-cylinder Alfa Romeo Spider 2000 at $4,198 and 132 horsepower came closest to a good competitive buy in 1970.

Now comes the value spike

The subsequent history of Z-Series cars had its ups and downs. Bad decisions at Nissan — that turned the nimble 240Z into a heavier, clumsier car — resulted in the 240Z (1970 through 1973) emerging as clearly more desirable than anything that came afterwards. While the collector car community has been slow to recognize the value and appeal of Japanese cars, some recent sales are indicating an impending tornado for top-condition early Z-cars.

Our subject car was an early 1970 240Z that sold for $40,700. Even considering 57,014 original miles on the odometer and a nice restoration with respect paid to period-correct aftermarket dish-mag wheels, this was still an eyebrow-raising price for the car.

But just two weeks later and thousands of miles away at the Silverstone auction in Birmingham, England, a resto-modded 1972 240Z with 62,924 miles brought $33,813.

This car had been the subject of a bare-metal restoration, with the engine pumped up to 190 horsepower courtesy of an aftermarket exhaust and triple side-draft Webers replacing the original twin SU carburetors. Ordinarily, those modifications should detract from auction value, but that doesn’t seem to have been the case.

The hype begins

As if those sales weren’t enough, consider the restored 1970 240Z that ended up on eBay in late November. The owner claimed $90,000 in receipts, including $40,000 in paint and bodywork. The high bid came in at $30,600, which didn’t tip the reserve or come close to the hyperbole in the listing, but it was still an impressive bid for a 240Z.

The SCM Platinum Auction Database shows that most 240Z models traded between $2,000 and $10,000 just a few years ago. One all-original 1972 example sold in 2009 for $9,975 (SCM# 143125). Those days are almost certainly over for any solid original or nicely restored 240Z. Prices for the transition model 1974 260Z and the 280Z from 1975 through 1978 will likely follow the rising tide.

With these recent sales, it seems undeniable that at least for top restorations and solid time-capsule cars, values have taken a hockey-stick turn and are headed up to compare with more conventionally collectible vehicles of the same era. Collectors are not blinking at mid-five-digit prices, which will bring more quality cars out from under their covers and onto the auction blocks in 2015. If you ever want to own a 240Z, the time is now. ♦

(Introductory description courtesy of Motostalgia.)

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