1 Oct 1970
Datsun dropped a bombshell when it unveiled its stunning (and stunningly affordable) 240Z (Fairlady Z in Japan) sports car in 1969.
With design input from renown German stylist Albrecht Goetz (BMW 507) – and bearing a remarkable resemblance to his 1965 Toyota 2000GT sports car allegedly created for Nissan in mind – the 240Z’s gorgeous looks and serious sports car engineering (independent rear suspension, high-revving in-line straight six-cylinder engine – with the latter reportedly modelled on a Mercedes design – as well as rear-wheel drive, a five-speed manual gearbox and rack and pinion steering) catapulted it to world’s best-seller status.
Cranking out 112kW of power and 198Nm of torque, the first Z’s 2.4-litre L24 unit could zip it to 400 metres in 16.7 seconds and 100km/h in under nine seconds on the way to a 200-plus km/h v-max.
Lightweight (1026kg) construction helped in achieving these Ford XW Falcon GT-like figures.
Along with the build quality, equipment levels were also high – front disc brakes, bucket seats, full instrumentation and a heater were standard – and the two-seater hatchback configuration spacious and evocative.
A popular three-speed T-bar auto was introduced in the 1971 model year.
It eventually relegated ancient English drop-tops like the MGB and Triumph TR to the scrap heap.
Today the 240Z is regarded as a pioneer in the mass acceptance of Japanese cars and is easily the most collectable of all of Nissan’s disparate Z-cars.