The 240Z was not a new idea. Sturdy engineering, excellent performance, low price, attractive styling, and average interior had been achieved by many manufacturers prior to the Z-car. The reason the 240Z car was so great was because it capitalized on all these criteria and perfected the concept of a low-cost, reliable, sports car. Mr. Yutaka Katayama is considered the 'Father of the Z Car' and is responsible for the design and creation of this legendary vehicle. As recognition of his contributions to the automotive world, in 1998 he was inducted into the Automobile Hall of Fame.

Datsun Z Cars History

The Datsun 240Z was introduced in 1969 as a 1970 model. The engine was a derivation of the Datsun 1600. The Datsun 1600 engine was a copy of the 1960's six-cylinder Mercedes-Benz 220 engine, but with two less cylinders. By adding two extra cylinders in the 240Z the cylinder count was back to six. With 151 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque the vehicle could propel from zero-to-sixty in eight seconds. The independent suspension and the rack-and-pinion steering added to its quick response, performance, and handling. The front disc brakes brought the car to a stop from high speeds in just seconds. With a price tag of just over $3,500, it cost much less than anything else on the market. Due to demand, a year later Kelly Blue Book rated the value of a used 240Z at $4,000.

The Datsun 240z is an iconic and successful endurance rally car of the '70s. Grant always wanted a 240z as child after watching them on TV in the East African Rally (showing his age now!) therefore it was an easy decision for him to make when choosing a car to compete in the London to Cape Town Rally. The East African Safari Rally is said to be the worldıs most grueling sports car event. Running through the nations of Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania on the African continent, the stages of this rally are ran over a five day period at average speeds of 60 MPH+ (100 kph). In its first entry in the 19th East African Safari Rally (1971) a Datsun 240Z won the Over-all victory, Class Victory, Team Victory and Manufactures Championship. This victory also set new records as NISSAN became the first company to win back to back victories in all three categories! Another significant note is that the Datsun 240Z was the first vehicle to capture an over-all victory in its first year of competition.While the East African Safari Rally runs over parch dusty earth, where rain creates vast mud planes, The Monte Carlo Rally runs through ice and snow, and the demand for speed exceeds that of the East African Safari Rally. Although the Z has never won this race, it placed in each of the three consecutive years following 1971.

In 1974, the engine displacement was increased to 2.6 liters and the vehicle was dubbed the 260Z. This brought an end to the 240Z series which had sold 116,712 examples during its life-span. The United States emissions regulations were increasing every year. Thus, the 260Z had less horsepower than its predecessor and was rated at 139. The 260Z was available in 2+2 configuration. With the fold-down rear seats, the 260Z offered a higher level of practicality over the 240Z. During its first and only model year, 63,963 examples were produced giving it the all-time Z-car sales record to date.

In 1975 the displacement was increased to 2.8 liters and the vehicle dubbed the 280Z. A Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection system was included which helped bring increase the horsepower to 149. Front and rear bumpers were enlarged to meet Federal 5 mph regulations, adding about 50 kg. Turn signal mounted above front bumper.

In 1977, the horsepower rating was 170. A five-speed overdrive transmission was now offered, giving the vehicle better performance and fuel economy. In April an official pace car for Long Beach Grand Prix, was designed by Nissan U.S.A. It became a special limited production decor package for US Market right after the race. Approximately 1000 pieces sunburst yellow 280Z cars were given name ZZZAP with special features: multi color stripes, racing mirrors and rear window louvers.

In 1978, Black Pearl edition introduced on coupe models featured a black pearl metallic finish with red and silver stripping. The sales of the Z car once again hit a record high, with 67,331 units sold.

Datsun 280Z TV Commercial 1

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Datsun 280Z TV Commercial 1

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