The history of the Datsun 240z begins in 1969 when launched as a 1970model to the motoring world. The Datsun 240z was not a new concept as many manufacturers had achieved sports cars with excellent performance, strong engineering, and attractive styling with mediocre interiors at a low cost. The success of the 240z was down to the fact that the car perfected the idea of a low cost, reliable sports car. The man responsible for the design and creation of the Datsun 240z was Yutaka Katayama and in recognition of his involvement of this legendary vehicle he was inducted into the Automobile Hall of Fame in 1998.
The history of the Datsun 240z engine is quite interesting as it is a deviant of the Datsun 1600 engine which in itself was a replica of the 1960’s Mercedes Benz six cylinder with two less cylinders. Add two extra cylinders back to the Datsun 1600 engine and you have the 240z engine with 151 brake horsepower. With 146 pound-feet of torque you have a vehicle that could reach 0-sixty in eight seconds add to this the rack and pinion steering and independent suspension and you have a car with quick response, great performance and handling. Bringing all this to a halt in just seconds you had front disc brakes. With its launch price tag of $3500 it was much less than its rivals on the market at that time.
There is a strong history of the Datsun 240z with the Sports Car Club of America as it dominated the c-class production category for 10 years from 1970-1979. John Morton driving for Brock Enterprises in 1970 and 1971 claimed the first victory in the SCCA c-class production racing using a 240z. In 1972, 1973 and again in 1975 Bob Sharp was victorious in a 240z with Walt Mass continuing the winning run in 1974.
1974 saw an increase in the engine size to 2.6 litres and the vehicle renamed as the 260z effectively bringing to the end the 240z series having sold just under 117,000 models during its lifetime. The 260z engine had a lower brake horsepower of 139 as a result of the increasing emissions regulations in the United States as each year passed.
The Datsun 260z proved to be a far more practical car than its predecessor and during its first and only year of production it sold 63,963 units giving it the Z-series all time sales record.