So… Where to start? My first full 24 hour race and at the famous “green hell” no less! I had no idea what to expect. I was looking forward to this one like a fat kid looks forward to his next piece of pie! I wrapped up work early on Friday to meet Mat on time for the Team Falken drift demo at the Mullenbach corner! I arrived with a familiar site for those who visit the ring frequently; The Nürburg castle. Read more
“You will never find another pristine example like this anymore around Malaysia.” This is one car in Malaysia that has been sought and dreamt by car enthusiasts of young and old, around the world. It was a very fortunate moment to be given a glimpse of this fine beautiful machine, before it goes on sale and to be sold to the luckiest owner in Malaysia.
The Datsun 240Z, which Mr. Ng owns, was obtained about 30 years ago from Kuantan. He admires this glorious machine very much; that he had it garaged and pampered all its life. He has retained many of the original parts in the car, to preserve its originality. So what makes this car very special?
The Datsun 240Z is the ancestral grandfather of the popular Nissan 350Z or 370Z. It is also fondly known as the Datsun Fairlady Z in the Japanese market. The smooth, Kammback swooping lines of the car’s silhouette is the unmistakeable Z car trademark. The President of Nissan Motor Company USA, Yutaka Katayama, didn’t wanted to gamble its luck with the company’s image abroad, decided to enter the American market with a new brand, called Datsun. They would want to disassociate itself from the brand in case they failed to penetrate the US Market.
The 240Z started in mind, as an affordable sports car for the masses. Designated as the Model S30 the Fairlady’s styling and design cues are from German-American designer, Count Albrecht Goertz, who was also well known for was involvement in the design inputs of the Toyota 2000GT coupe. The Toyota 2000GT went on to be a legend of its own and it became one of the most desirable Japanese sports cars in the planet, after being driven in the 007 movie, You Only Live Twice, starring Sean Connery.
The 240Z was a star of its own. Although it did not have the endorsements of a widely acclaimed movie franchise, it has its own merits and sensations, not least because of its price. It was a very smooth, civilised, fully equipped yet a very capable sports car its time. Most journalists of its time had compared it to the legendary Jaguar E-type, however the 240Z trumps in it being a more affordable alternative than the latter. With all the positive praises from automotive journalists everywhere, buyers began to flock into the Datsun showrooms.
The long nose of the 240Z was very distinctive in shape, as it wrapped around a 2.4 litre inline-6 engine snugly, that produced 151 horsepower. Power might sound inadequate by modern standards, but back in the early 70’s, this was a lot faster than most cars in the category and overall car performance beats the baseline V6 powered Ford Mustang of its days.
The car had modern underpinnings for its time. Chassis specifications were very up to date, considering it had 5-speed running gear, all independent suspensions via Macpherson struts, wishbones and coil springs, rack and pinion steering and front disc/rear drum brakes. The dashboard was however, more American, having inspirations from the dash of a Corvette.
Soon, Nissan realised that the 240Z was an instant success. They realised they were unable to cope with the demand on the market. Never had their cars ever been compared to the badge prestige of a Jaguar but yet provided so much mechanical reliability in the Z cars.
The original Datsun 240Z was sold at a phenomenal rate of 50,000 cars a year. Later in 1973, Datsun introduced its 260Z model, which had its engine enlarged by increasing the size from 2.4 litres to 2.6 litres, in hope that it will compensate for the power losses due to detuning of the engine in accordance with the U.S. emission limits. That however, did not helped, as it possessed lesser horsepower and torque than the former. Newly regulated U.S. rules dictate that the crash bumpers had to be larger, which caused the 260Z’a performance to suffer.
The Datsun 260Z later introduced a pair of tiny seats for passengers at the rear. Designated as the “+2” variant, it allowed two adults to be tucked in properly at the back, although the designs of the Z had to be altered, with its swooping rear and flow lines changed slightly, to accommodate the headroom of two adults. That made the “+2” variant undesirable, as the hump from the roofline raised made it ugly. Sales unfortunately plummeted considerably after its introduction.
The Datsun 280Z was the last hurrah in the earlier Z cars. It had its engine enlarged to the final size, of 2.8 litres. Realising that the performance was suffering in its earlier 260Z cars, the 2.8 litre engine produces good power figures that finally offsets the lack of performance due to the requirements of the U.S. government of its time. The 2.8 litre engine adopted a Bosch electronic fuel injection and junked its older carburetion unit for driveability.
Demand for the Z cars had remain strong most of its life till the last model sold in 1978. Despite all the models that were sold in the US and European market, the only model that was not sold outside of the Japanese car market was the Datsun Fairlady Z432. The Datsun Fairlady Z432 was fitted with impressive twin-cam 2.0 litre engines that were actually powering the most legendary of Nissans since the 70s’. This legendary entity is none other than The Nissan Skyline GT-R. The engine produced 160 horsepower and it emitted one of the most unforgettable engine sounds, that distinct note of which is still appreciated by motorsports enthusiasts up until today.
The Z432 is one of the most expensive and highly sought after Datsun Fairlady of them all, considering prices nowadays still going for a whopping $100,000 in Japan, and with so few in existence of which are mostly held on by collectors and it is hard to see one ever change hands anywhere in the world. Only 420 units of these were ever built and sold to the public.
Considering it was one of the most affordable sports cars of its period, most race teams have purchased them for racing. It was a very successful race car in the 1970s. Famous names such as Bob Sharp Racing in the Eastern US, had employed Paul Newman of acting fame, to race for its race team, in their race prepared Datsun 240Z. While in the Western US, Brock Racing Enterprise, participates their races with a race prepared Datsun 240Z, with John Morton winning most of the time, at the wheel.
With such immense fame and involvement in racing in its days, the Datsun 240Z was a legend of its own. It was very much a Nissan GT-R in its time. The 240Z is also portrayed often in modern media, in the forms of modern serialised comic/animation, as the lead character vehicle in the Wangan Midnight series. With renewed interests in the cars, most of these cars in Malaysia are sold for exorbitant prices now to enthusiasts. Even very badly rusted wrecks are purchased by enthusiasts to be restored and repaired to its former condition.
It will be a while before a car of such pristine condition will appear for sale in the market. It is a poster boy’s dream come true to be able to come close to feel and admire the car from close. Hopefully, the new owner will enjoy and preserve the car for the coming years.
Words – Kevin Lee
Photos – Kevin Lee
7TUNE. THE ULTIMATE JDM EXPERIENCE SINCE 2005.
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This two part series on the fourth annual RB Meeting at Nikko is going to be HUGE. I’ve got over 80 filthy shots and plenty to say about one of the best events of the year at the famous circuit; The meeting an absolute must see for any fan worth his/her “RB” branded salt. There were Nissans, some other Nissans and again more Nissans just going at it hell for leather all day and into the evening with the weather playing its part; helping to keep festivities jovial and smoke clouds pouring off tires… Read more
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