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Discover what made the future: Datsun 240Z

The 240Z can be noted for pure Japanese ingenuity in spotting a gap for affordable muscle in ‘Merica. The vehicle itself was so much more than just a good business move though, it produced a true classic.

Appearing on our roads 50 years ago this year, the 240Z was the first generation Z GT produced by Nissan and is the George Clooney to Nissan’s later, less desirable, 370Z Zac Efron. It was manufactured from 1969 to 1978 and is one of the most successful sports cars despite having some pretty heavy competition. Yoshihiko Matsuo was the visionary behind introducing the sport shape to Nissan and was given a lot more freedom after the 240Z’s popularity.

The 240Z’s were made with independent suspension on all four wheels allowing for superb handling. It had disc brakes in the front, drums in the rear and was first introduced in four-speed and, shortly after, five-speed. The 240Z could reach 201 km/h and had a powerful, at the time, 151 bhp. The 2.4-litre, six-cylinder engine is what did it for the Americans, who are truly the ones to commend for adopting the 240Z as one of their own.

The 240Z was also a very successful racer. It won the East African Safari Rally in 1973. It won the SCCA C Production national title in 1970 and 1971 with John Morton at the wheel and built on the early success to stay relevant to this day. As recently as 2013 Nissan claimed their 97th SCCA national championship victory with driver Greg Ira.

With their popularity and, now a relative rarity, the mint condition 240Z’s are reaching prices of up to $100,000, a fair upshot from the release price of about $3,500 ($20,000 in present monies).

It was named at number two in the Top Sports Cars of the 1970s list from Sports Car International.

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