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.
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.
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.
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.
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
-15% for auto trans.
1974 260Z Current Values
#1 Concours $24,400
#2 Excellent $16,600
#3 Good $8,700
#4 Fair $5,200
+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.