For a long, long time the Datsun 240Z has been my all time favourite (realistically own-able) car but with nowhere to keep one and "becoming an adult", the dream of owning one was slowly slipping away one tin of paint and nappy change at a time. With a house project swallowing a large chunk of the car fund, one last effort was made to find a tidy 240 before they increased too much in value and the car fund pot dried up.
In the last few years the value and popularity of Datsuns has rocketed, great if you own one but not so great if you're looking to own. For me, a UK car was out of the question, it's no secret that early Japanese cars suffer from rust and 240s are no exception, so i turned my efforts to the U S of A.
No recommendations for good old Craigslist here; after being let down on "done" deals time and time again, with what is a relatively simple task of buying and shipping a car became a chore and the love was lost.
I have been wanting a Z car for as long as I can remember and whilst I have seen them at events, I still hadn't seen an early 240z or even been out for a ride in one. My step dad mentioned that one of his old work colleagues, John who collects Datsuns. A quick phone call and we made arrangements to visit his unit in Essex. I was really looking forward to a good nose around at some of his collection. We arrived to see a very complete patina'd 240z, his daily driver and his 280z - fresh from paint with a 3UZ in the bay - dream day! It was great to meet John, he pointed out the sometimes overlooked subtle changes between the 240, 260 and 280 cars. He also treated me to a ride out in the 240 which rekindled the love.
The ambition had been reignited, so I was straight back on Ebay and a car caught my eye, tatty, well worn and both inlet and exhaust were hanging off; indicating the engine was more than possibly locked. Initially I dismissed the car but kept coming back to it time and time again, the decision was made to jump in the car with father and go have a look.
After a two hour drive, we arrive to what I can only describe as "barn find heaven", American, British, German and Japanese classics all scattered around a yard after they have been pulled from their hiding spots in sunny California. I catch my first glimpse of the car and it was love at first sight.
On further inspection and to my surprise most of the known rot areas were clean and original, bar the Saab 95 cloth seats. Sifting through all the crap in the car luckily most of the missing bits were located. So with a few more tyre kicks, a decision was made, I struck the deal, booked my trailer and the car was collected two days later. After months and months of searching who would of thought that I found my Cali car on UK ebay.
After a super speedy clearing of some space in the garage to tuck my new friend away, it was settled into it's new home, I then began to uncover some of the answers to my questions.
Does the engine actually turn? Yes
What original colour was it? Racing Green
What year is it? 1971
The dream for me was to own a 1970 series one car so to find out the car is an early 1971 series 2 car was awesome. To me that was the next best thing so I can settle on that.
With the car home, the first job was to clear out all the crap from the interior and tear out the Saab 95 seats. I was able to locate most trim parts and a few spare parts, but sadly no keys or badges were discovered. I did uncover potentially some history on the car, a previous owner's address, a few items dated 1996 and a long shot that the car has been sat since then. I will be sending a letter to the supposed previous owner in California hoping to gain some more history of the car and maybe a set of keys! - I will keep you updated if I ever hear anything back!
The car is being transported to the Practical Classics "Classic car and Restoration Show" held at the Birmingham NEC on the weekend of 23-25th March. We have a stand at the event displaying a few of our current projects, we will also have a limited supply of apparel for sale. Come see us at stand location 5-262.
Work wise on the car, I've got to finish the ongoing garage extension and once that is complete the car will be torn down and the true extent of rust will be known.
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