The nostalgic fun of a Datsun 240z

Originally published at: The nostalgic fun of a Datsun 240z | Boing Boing


There’s an article nearby that describes the unfortunate tendency of engineers to make things more complicated. I watched the 240Z turn into the 280ZX over a number of years as I grew up, and thought that every version was worse than the one that came before. This evolution summed up the Malaise Era very well.


The 80’s 300ZX was a complete p.o.s., total opposite of the 240Z.


Seeing the movie One on One (when it came to TV) where a 280z was the recruiting gift for bobbie benson made me want one. A few blocks down there are 3 of them always parked on the street, I always enjoy seeing those. This 240 certainly is a beautiful car.


The 90’s fourth gen 300ZX Twin Turbo on the other hand was pretty great. I was never a fan of the successive 5th/6th gen models. They always looked too big and bloated to me.


And I don’t care what anybody says, the 280ZX 10th Anniversary Black Gold was freakin’ rad. It was so tacky and overstated – making it kind of a perfect encapsulation of the era.

As a kid, I remember seeing this ad in an auto magazine and was like “holy shit I want this”:


Always been a fan of the earlier Datsun z’s. Like others said, over time they morphed and I didn’t find later models as desirable as this one (once they moved to that ugly rubber bumper, they lost me). If I had the money and inclination, I’d probably get something like this. More affordable than most other sports cars of the time, still stylish.


I feel like those things were literally everywhere in the '80s and '90s to the point where I thought “240Z … meh they’re everywhere.” Now I’m like “Ooooh a 240Z! That’s not a car you see every day.” My neighbor up the street has one like the one in the article, except it has a matte black hood which looks pretty cool.


My dad had a '78 280 Z for a few years. It was my absolute favorite of all the cars he cycled through. Unfortunately, he sold it shortly before I got my license.

That body shape makes me think of E-Type Jaguars.


Rare is the revised / updated model that has not grown larger / wider / heavier as it matures. For example:

Original Honda CVCC (Civic) 1973 10th Generation Civic 2020
Dimensions Dimensions
Wheelbase 2,200 mm (86.6 in) 2,700 mm (106.3 in)
Length 3,551 mm (139.8 in) (1973) Coupe: 4,492 mm (176.9 in)
Width 1,505 mm (59.25 in) (saloon) 1,799 mm (70.8 in)
Height 1,327 mm (52.25 in) (saloon) Coupe: 1,395 mm (54.9 in)
Curb Weight 680 kg (1,500 lb) Coupe: 1,242–1,310 kg (2,738–2,888 lb))

Lotus is one of the few exceptions to this rule, with its cardinal rule of adding lightness to its vehicles. The Mazda MX5 / Miata has also done pretty well over it’s 30+ years, though its gone from 960kg in original NA spec to 1058kg in ND (current generation) spec (961kg in Skyactive spec).


Yeah, the Miata bloated up in the NC edition then took a bit of weight off for the most recent iteration (unless you buy the pop-top model).

I had a Datsun 200SX as my first car, and it wasn’t anywhere near as sexy as a 240Z but it sure was fun to drive.


I had the immediate predecessor to the 240Z back in 1968 while I was in college, the Nissan 2000 Roadster convertible, which was a wonderful car. 5 speed manual, plenty of zip and great handling and cheap on gas. Sadly, I sold it a few years later to finance a trip to Europe.

Then during the late 90’s I got nostalgic for it, so I bought a 1984 Nissan 300ZX Turbo 50th Anniversary edition. I can’t speak for others, but this car was nothing but trouble. I needed a full time mechanic to keep it running. It was fast as hell when it ran, but it probably kept me alive by remaining stationary for much of my ownership. Great styling though–looked like a razor blade.


My dad had a 260Z (I think it was 1975?). One time, he opened it up on an entrance ramp to the expressway and hit 100mph — in 3rd gear! Well, as a 14 yr old boy this was AMAZING!


Once the stricter federal crash regulations came into play, so many automakers just didn’t know how to redesign their cars and just stuck whatever. Lamborghini couldn’t even figure out a way to not make the Countach look stupid.


280Z is nice. Nicer: a hockey player I knew ( in the sense that he beat me up once :slight_smile: ) about the same time got a Ferrari Dino for his signing bonus. Sadly, he wrecked it, hit a bridge abutment at 75 mph. ( He was OK, though )

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My dad had a blue '81 280ZX, manual 5-speed with the t-tops (he had the t-tops stolen two or three times if I remember correctly. I guess there was a market for stolen t-tops back then).

I fondly remember my brother and I battling who got to ride shotgun and who had to squeeze into the rear hatchback. When I got older I would occasionally sneak it out for a joyride and do donuts in the school parking lot. Helluva a fun ride!

Sexy as F too!


I remember the first one I saw, in a remote B.C. gas station. I thought, probably wrongly, that it had been influenced by the Ferrari Daytona, but that’s how it hit me. I remember thinking the British sports car manufacturers were doomed. I have a feeling @jlw is particularly taken with this one, maybe he’ll buy it and we can enjoy it vicariously :slight_smile:


My brother owned one of the first 240Z’s imported into the Northwestern US. Everywhere he went people ooh’d and ahh’d over the car. Remember that at the time only the highest end sports cars had styling like this. People would come up and say, “Is that a Ferrari?”


Well, sometimes they do that for a while and then slot a smaller “new” model in underneath the old one. When the Nissan Sentra got bigger they added the Nisan Versa. As the corolla got bigger and fancier, Toyota added the Echo/Yaris.

Overall cars are still getting bigger and especially heavier to accommodate both crash safety and driver comfort, as well as to support bulkier children’s car seats that they ride in for longer.

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I’ll offer the Shiro Special as the best of the Z31class before the twin turbo monsters of the 90s: