AJ’s Car of the Day: 1972 Datsun 240-Z Coupe ( aka Nissan S30 )

AJ’s Car of the Day: 1972 Datsun 240-Z Coupe ( aka Nissan S30 )

Car: Datsun 240-Z Coupe ( aka Nissan S30 )

Year: 1972

What makes it special: The Nissan S30, sold in Japan as the Nissan Fairlady Z and in other markets as the Datsun 240Z, then later as the 260Z and 280Z, was the first generation of Z GT two-seat coupes, produced by Nissan Motors, Ltd. of Japan from 1969 to 1978. One of the most successful sports car lines ever produced, the trend-setting S30 was designed by a team led by Yoshihiko Matsuo, the head of Nissan’s Sports Car Styling Studio. Seeking to compete head-to-head with established European sports cars, Datsun priced the new 240Z within $200 of the British MGB-GT in the United States, a five-year-old design that showed its age. As a “Halo” car, the 240Z broadened the acceptance of Japanese car-makers beyond their econobox image. 

What made it famous: The 240Z’s sleek styling, modern engineering, relatively low price, and impressive performance struck a major chord with the public. In mid-1971, for the Series II 240Z-cars, the sail pillar emblems were restyled with just the letter Z placed in a circular vented emblem, and the vents were eliminated from the hatch panel of the car. Powering these sleek little sports cars was a 2,393 cc 2.4 L; 146.0 cu in L24 inline-six engine, cast iron block, alloy head, two valves per cylinder, seven-bearing crankshaft, SOHC, with a 9.0:1 compression ratio 9.0:1. It’s maximum recommended engine speed was 7,000 rpm. It was backed by a 4-speed manual transmission: 3.364:1.

Why I would want one: I had the 1979 280-ZX, and loved it. The 240-Z was smaller, and a much-better looking car in my opinion. It had more of a sports car look and feel.

Fun fact: In 2004, Sports Car International named this car number two on their list of Top Sports Cars of the 1970’s.