In the mid-1960s, Japanese manufacturers awakened to America and Europe. They will offer very classic cars in their forms and in their technical solutions; you have to be reliable at a contained price.
This is particularly true in the United States where, in the average family, it becomes possible to buy a small car for a mother who is more comfortable with a four-meter automobile than with a six-meter liner… But there is also a market for the pleasure car. This is where Nissan comes in.
America as a goal
It was the American GT market that was targeted by the little Datsun Fairlady which appeared in 1969 (240Z in Europe). It is an elegant coupe whose long bonnet ends in a pointed muzzle, framed by two large round headlights, and whose “fastback” style roof ends, meanwhile, on a truncated rear tinted in black.
The body designers had to take inspiration from Italian productions with a profile close to the Ferrari 250 GTO or the 275 GTB4. A drawing attributed to Akio Yoshida and Yoshihiko Matsuo (as well as Itsuki Chiba for the interior design), under the supervision of Albrecht Goertz.
A patchwork of existing pieces
In order to reduce production costs, the manufacturer will dig into its bank of parts such as, for example, at the front, struts and lower arms of the Nissan Laurel 1800; at the rear, the suspension strut and lower wishbone system was borrowed from the Lotus Elan.
On the other hand, the engine will be the subject of in-depth work; starting from the 2-litre 4-cylinder from the Nissan Bluebird, the engineers will obtain a 2.4-litre in-line 6-cylinder (hence the figure 240). Fed by SU carburetors, the block delivers 150 SAE hp, or about 130 current hp.
Armed with a multitude of small suggestive details or endowed with a real interest in the efficiency of the car (front spoiler, rear spoiler, small round mirrors, marked wheel arches), the small coupe is presented in the United States on October 22, 1969. With a price of 3,526 dollars, the 240 Z is ultra competitive. Immediately, the demand was so great that the factory in Japan had to increase its production rates.
Balance sheet, after a year, the opportunities sold more expensive than the nine. 523 cars were sold in 1969 and 17,740 in 1970. It was at the end of 1970 that the 240 Z reached French dealerships, imported by the Richard establishments.
In France, its career will be eclipsed by the Cherry and other Bluebirds, but it is positioned as a popular coupe that faces the Ford Capri, Alfetta and other 504 coupes despite its strictly two-seater interior.
Its standard equipment is very complete with bucket seats, instrumentation including an ammeter and an oil pressure gauge, tinted windows and even a radio with electric aerial. If the United States were fond of automatic gearboxes, in France there will only be 4-speed mechanical gearboxes. Its popular vocation is reflected in the sales figures: 38,371 cars in 1971 and 58,053 in 1972. It must be said that sport will help.
An unbreakable 240Z
Built very seriously, the 240Z is quickly sent to rally events. Thanks to its self-supporting body, four-wheel independent suspension, front disc brakes and rear drums, the 240Z is very balanced. In 1971, she took part in the East African Safari Rally, one of the toughest rallies for men and machines. Driven by Edgar Herrmann and Hans Schüller, it wins all categories!
In 1973, the 240Z driven by Shehkar Mehta and Mike Doughty did it again. She will also win at Rally Bandama. 1973 is its last year of production; 50,452 units were sold, making a total of 116,712 cars, before giving way to the more powerful 260Z.