When it comes to S30s, the 260 is sort of the anti-goldilocks as in many ways it's considered 'just wrong.' Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe '74 has a vinyl roof, which we know can make up for a myriad of sins, but does it also have a price that's bearable?
What do you think is Japan's most venerated sports car? The Toyota 2000GT? Acura NSX? Mazda MX-5? Well, I for one think that Datsun's Z-car should rest atop that pedestal as the island nation's most iconic sports car. Now, full disclosure, I may be a little biased as I have a '71 240Z in my modest stable. That doesn't mean however that I am wrong, just that I have good taste.
Of course, there are times when heroes make mistakes, great chefs burn the truffles, and even the most beloved of proper princesses shart their designer undies, as it's just a fact of life that none of us is perfect.
Datsun's Z-cars, the first generation of which is collectively colloquially known by their company code of S30, was in each iteration, less than perfect. Some of them however were even less perfect than others. It wasn't all Datsun's fault, as a lot of what negatively impacted the model over the years was driven by government regulations.
Today's 1974 260Z is a prime example of how these external demands affected the car's purpose and its use. The original S30 - the 240Z - was an epiphany upon its 1969 introduction, and hit the traditional small sports car makers in England and Italy like a sumo wrestler to the face.
The 240 featured a fairly agricultural but totally un-finicky SOHC straight six with a robust 151-bhp, independent suspension at each corner, and swoopy bodywork that looked as good as the much more expensive Jaguar XKE. It wasn't all milk and cookies however. The 4-speed gearbox had a shifter straight from Gumby's posse, and the car's handling was twitchy at the limit. Neither of those foibles stopped the car from being raging success, and the 240 started another tradition, that being dealer gouging.
The 260Z was much like the 240, only designed to address the ever tightening U.S. emissions and safety standards. That meant a switch to far more complicated carbs early in the model's run - a pair of side-draughts nicknamed 'flat tops' for the shape of their dashpot - which turned out to be one of the car's Achilles heels. Not only were these carbs hard to tune, they contributed to the 260Z's horsepower drop to 139-bhp despite the engine's 200-cc increase in displacement.
Other issues with the 260 were a tendency to vapor lock in hot climates, hence an eventual model-year switch to a vented hood, and the addition of a rear anti-roll bar to tame the Z's handling. bigger bumpers extended the cars' length by almost a foot overall, and added weight compounding the drop in power's effect.
Plusses included a redesigned unibody for greater rigidity and a redesigned shift mechanism that eliminated the 'monkey's paw' feel of the prior generation. Aside from the wonky bumpers, the car was still as handsome as before.
This one's pretty good looking although it suffers from the tinworm as do most of these cars. It rocks five-slot alloys which are period-correct and look really good on the car, as does the rare seemingly complete vinyl roof. It doesn't get much more '70s that that!
On the inside, the dash looks amazingly intact, as do the seats, however they have been recovered in non-stock patterned material. The sill guard on the driver's side looks to be missing, and based on the open hatch picture, this car probably has had a re-spray at some point in its life. That life has included an amazing 27 years in stasis, but at least it's been brought back to life since and now is claimed to run and drive.
Speaking of running, the L26 under the hood like it's alls stock with one major exception. The Hitachis on this engine are round tops, not the correct (and evil) flat tops. That's probably a plus. It's said to have 97K on the clock, and the asking price is $4,500.
What do you think about a middle child S30 for that kind of moolah? Is that a price that should have this Z sitting in the middle of a new owner's driveway very soon? Or, should a couple of middle numbers in that price be replaced?
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