The first Japanese car to be truly accepted by the classic fraternity. The Datsun 240Z and 260Z were originally designed for the domestic and American markets.
Datsun's in-house team created a masterpiece that works superbly, both in aesthetic and mechanical terms, thanks to its sleek styling, lusty engines, sublime handling and robust mechanicals.
This wasn't the first sports car to emerge from the Datsun stable, though. In 1962, the same year that MG launched the B, the Japanese marque introduced its own small open-topped car which carried the ‘Fairlady’ name, just as the Z cars did in their home market.
The 240Z was unveiled in Japan in 1969, but it wouldn’t reach the UK until October 1970 – although few came here until 1971. The 260Z replaced the 240Z in January 1974, with a 2.6-litre engine and two-seater or 2+2 configurations. The two-seater was axed within a year but it returned in 1977, with a stronger bodyshell, an improved interior and revised suspension too. By August 1978 the 260Z was dead, replaced by the 280ZX which was more of a cruiser than a sportscar.
Historically the 240Z has always been considered to be by far the most collectable Z, but the rarer 260Z two-seater is now recognised as the very desirable car that it is. The 2+2 version has also become much more sought after, not least of all because it’s the rarest survivor of them all.
So, now you’ve decided you need to buy a Z, the biggest problem will be finding one. The Z Club’s Rob Gaskin says: "According to the DVLA there are just 230 or so 240Z and 260Zs registered in the UK. Nice cars are now very rare; do your homework before buying and consider a US LHD car as these are usually less rusty than European cars".