Investment autos: Datsun 240Z

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I am not a big fan of Japanese cars. One of my favorite lines is that the Japanese have only built two collectible cars in their entire history-the Toyota 2000 GT (of which only 100 or so were built and they trade above $500,000) and the Datsun/Nissan 240Z.  Actually, I have identified a few more to talk about in later columns, but it still isn’t a more than a handful. The Japanese build appliances, by and large.

So let’s talk about the obvious other car, the 240 Z, produced from 1969-1978.  An iconic car, the 240Z put Datsun on the map. Here we have a great looking, fast, decent handling car, that broke new ground. The 1970 240Z was introduced to the American market by Yutaka Katayama in late 1969 as a 1970 model. The early 1970 model 240Z had a chrome “240Z” badge on the B-pillar quarter panel. Two vents were included in the rear hatch below the glass molding.

These are very rare since in mid-1971 the B-pillar side badges were restyled with the letter Z vent, and the vents were eliminated from the hatch. Design changes for the U.S. model occurred throughout production and basically involved bigger motors and an ill fated addition of a rear seat and 2+2 layout, on a longer wheelbase. Initially the car received the L24 Overhead Cam 2.4 liter engine which produced 151 HP mated to a 4-speed manual gearbox.

One of the most appealing Japanese cars ever produced, it nevertheless disappeared almost entirely from American road within two decades. Unfortunately, like most Japanese cars of the time, it had insurmountable rust issues.  Prices are now at around $7,500- $15,000 for a good non-rusty example and will slowly rise over time.  It’s a heck of a car for the money, and they’re pretty rare because of the low survivor rate.

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