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Any classic is better than no classic remains our motto here at ViaRETRO – a mindset which we truly believe in and adhere to. But a Datsun Z is even better than much else – and here’s a tip which can save Z enthusiasts a chunk of cash: Get a 260.


The Datsun Z story is well-known: Japan builds a sports car in 1970 which defeats most European and American competitors, and the 240Z becomes a huge sales success. The Z also works well in motorsport, where it primarily wins rallies. And, not least, it is pretty and sexy and well-built and sounds great and is even relatively cheap. Or at least it was.

Because the Z has (finally – it took some time) become a recognized classic, and while I honestly still think that a 240Z offers an incredible amount of classic sports car for the money, it has like so many other fine classics become significantly more expensive over these last few years.

Beautiful car, the 240 Z. It was even available in a multitude of great colors. This one has the original “dustbin” wheel covers.

But there’s a shortcut to a cheap Z: Do not search for the original 240’s like everyone else does, but rather go for the successor 260. Most people will not be able to tell the difference. In fact there are only two downsides to a 260 compared to an 240: The 260 can of course never achieve the honor of being the first of the Z’s. And, in actual fact, it’s not quite as fast as the 240 – but really, the difference is rather small and almost only theoretical.

This is a 260Z – and the one most people think of when asked about the succesor to the 240Z: The 2+2. But the 260 also came with a body virtually indistinguishable from the 240 and THAT is our savings tip for today.

The same applies to most other contexts: I would venture to say that only a knowledgeable enthusiast can spot a 1971 240Z from a 1974 260Z. Besides the badges, of course – they say “Datsun” on the front fender of a 240 and “260” on a 260 – most often, at least.

But, in fact, a 260Z also has its advantages over the 240Z: As the Japanese had a habit of doing; the successor is improved on a number of minor points compared to the original – including the fact that the bodyshell is actually built stronger.

Of the half million examples built, only a small percentage have survived.

This increased strength makes the 260Z slightly heavier, which is indeed the primary reason for it being slower than 240Z. As you will have probably guessed from the name (!), the engine grew as well, but mostly to compensate for the demands for cleaner emissions, not for outright power. Add to this, a few minor modifications to bumpers and interior and then you’ve got the 260Z of 1974. But still – if you’re in love with a 240Z, then there’s really no practical reason whatsoever to avoid the 260Z.

Straight from the front, no one can tell the 2-seater from the 2+2.

There is, on the other hand, one factor that speaks significantly for the newer Z: The price.

See below how the American company Hagerty assesses the Zs on the American market (where most were sold new and can still be sourced) in four different categories of condition:

1971 240 Z Current Values

#1 Concours $56,300
#2 Excellent $38,300
#3 Good $18,200
#4 Fair $7,900

Value Adjustments

-15% for auto trans.

1974 260Z Current Values

#1 Concours $24,400
#2 Excellent $16,600
#3 Good $8,700
#4 Fair $5,200

Value Adjustments

+15% for early small bumper models.
-15% for auto trans.

See what I mean? The 260Z is roughly half price of the 240Z. Now I must admit that I think the Hagerty valuations are not fully updated on the very latest development, but even allowing for a degree of adjustment, there is no doubt that there is a lot of money to save if you dream of a Z. The trick is simply to choose the 260 over a 240.

So once again, here’s a ViaRETRO tip for you to use on your internet search straight away: You can always thank us later – happy surfing!

The bonus-ViaRETRO-dark-web-cheat-code: A real cynic could of course simply swap the 260Z badge with a more prestige-filled 240Z badge. Be warned, though – that is not a reputable thing to do. 

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3 Responses

  1. Anders Bilidt
    Ouuuu… that had me straight onto “Car and Classic” and eBay in search of good 260Z’s! I want one. In fact, I think I need one!
    I’ll have mine in dark bronze/brown metallic please. After my “Stylised Headlights” article yesterday, it’ll obviously need the optional plexi headlight covers. Also the little ducktail rear spoiler, and maybe a set of 14″ anthracite grey Watanabe RS alloys.
    Question is, would I want to be somewhat controversial and buy the 2+2…?? I actually think it’s a really pretty design! Every bit as elegant as the 2-seater, and then with added practicality too. Hmmmm… decisions, decisions… ;-)
    Reply
  2. Dave Leadbetter
    I’m a big fan of these and once spent 4 days travelling the length of the UK in a 240z. I was very tempted to buy one of the “dry state” project cars that were coming into the Netherlands a while ago but I missed that boat price wise whilst fixing all my “wet county” cars here. I’d like to think I may have still have a shot at a Datsun someday. But it won’t be a 2+2. What a difference a few inches makes (insert own joke here) but it looks horribly ungainly compared to the original 2 seater. I surprise myself how strongly I believe that but it’s just plain wrong. Is it just me?
    Reply
  3. Claus Ebberfeld
    It’s not just you, Dave: Although there are worse stretch-jobs from 2-seater to 2+2 (I’d like to nominate the Jaguar E-type here) I agree that some of the harmony of the original proportions are lost in Z 2+2. However I’d was told that this has also become quite sought after as it is apparantly rather rarer than the pure 2-seater. “Plain wrong” would not be my characteristic – but I must admit I’d never consider the 2+2 for my own garage.

    And as I stated I think the model still offer tremendous value for money: In 1970 it was not far off the Porsche 911 and I like to think it still isn’t.

    Regarding the wheels, Anders – I must admit to a slight fetish for the peculiar “dustbin”-wheel covers. How well they work depends a bit on the colour of the car, but I think they are absolutely terrific on the green car in the article.

    Reply

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