Few realize the roots of Nissan reach back to 1912, when a young man named Masujiro Hashimoto created a car. The car was named DAT, after three family member's initials. By 1934, the cars were Datsuns and the company was Nissan. By the late 1950s, Yuraka Katayama, a young engineer educated in America, advocated both the use of racing to develop the breed and the idea of a car designed for the very different roads and drivers in America. Katayama hired noted German designer Dr. Albrecht Graf von Goertz, who had been involved in the creation of the BMW 507. He and the Nissan styling staff developed the design while Katayama engineered the drivetrain and built the prototype. However, Nissan and Yamaha could not agree on the engine design and the project was shelved. Later, Goertz and Yamaha took the engine and prototype to Toyota and the result was the Toyota 2000GT, an original and striking design. Nissan decided to develop a car in house. Chief designer Yoshihiko Matsuo and his team developed the car we know today as the 240Z, using a selection of contemporary sports cars as influences. Introduced in 1969, it was an immediate success, offering striking styling, strong performance, advanced specifications, good build quality and an affordable price. The car's sleek lines easily placed it at the top ranks of production sports cars of the time. Inside, a luxurious interior with reclining seats, an impressive instrumentation binnacle, and a host of standard equipment creature comforts added to the appeal. Its sophisticated single-overhead cam straight-six engine, four-wheel independent suspension, and disc brakes put the car in a class by itself. For the first time ever, it could be said that owning a Japanese car was the dream of high school boys-both in Japan and America. The exceptional 42,000-mile example pictured here has been in the same family since new. Garage kept, its paint is excellent as is the original interior. Unlike many, it has never been modified and looks, runs and sounds like a new car. The car is also well equipped, with electric rear window defroster, underhood light and a full tool kit. It is well documented, including the original window sticker, owner's manual, past registrations, service work orders, the warranty and service booklet, warranty registration card and even the original radio operation guide. Both a Chilton's and factory service manual (on CD) accompany the car. A car can be restored many times but is new only once. The outstanding example offered here provides the informed collector with a rare opportunity to acquire an original, one-owner, unrestored example of the car that started it all for Nissan-the original Z car.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1973 Datsun 240Z

This unusually original 240Z sold for $18,700 at the RM Monterey sale, August 16, 2002. This price is all the money, but justified in this case by an exceptional car, in the right period color, with full documentation. Are we at last seeing a move in the long-quiescent 240Z market?

Datsun started in the sports car business with the 1600 and 2000 roadsters, virtual MGB styling clones. The 240Z burst onto the scene in 1969 and at the time was not only a terrific bargain, but also an exceptional car regardless of price. The 240Z has styling borrowed from the best cars in the world at the time: a blend of XKE, 911 and Daytona. But it avoided the irregular build quality of the Jaguar, the high price of the Porsche, and the limited availability, stratospheric price and intensive maintenance needs of the Ferrari. For those willing to forget the racing heritage of the European marques, the 240Z was an easy choice.

In 1973, I drove a new 240Z head to head against a new Porsche 911T. The greatest surprise was the raw power of the silky smooth straight six. The Datsun, at least in its ability to go fast in a straight line, stood toe to toe with the 911. Even though it didn’t have the panache of the Porsche, it was a fairly easy decision to buy the Datsun at 50% of the price of the 911. I opted for an orange 240Z nearly identical to the subject car.

After a year, when I grew tired of it, I sold it, recovering a large percentage of my purchase price, and ending what was a fully satisfactory, if not overly emotional, ownership experience.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the prices of exceptional Zs cross the $20,000 mark during the coming year. Their survival rate, in desirable condition, is low, and the installed base of previous users who fantasize about going back in time through purchasing one is large. And although they will never have the sex appeal of the equivalent 911, E-type or Mercedes SL from the same period, they have truly become the only mass-produced, collectible Japanese car.-Jim Schrager

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