Back to Z page 1974-1979 240Z 260Z (S30) 1979-1983 280ZX (S130)

The 240Z had created a huge amount of interest when launched, with demand being so strong that deliveries to Europe wouldn’t arrive until late 1970, a year after the car was originally launched in Japan and the States.  Typically several trim levels had been introduced in Japan but much of Europe had a standard single model trim. Typically for a new model, many of the components from the car were sourced from the existing range using components from the C30, 510 and original open top Fairlady models. It was also one of the first Datsuns to consider export markets seriously, with development in interior design suitable for taller Europeans. American requirements for a decent level of equipment, such as air conditioning and provisions for local exhaust emissions was also an important criteria. More importantly, it was the overall package, the chassis, build quality, styling and most importantly the performance that shot the car into the limelight. Most export markets received the bigger 2.4 litre L series engine, with a 2 litre and race engined models for local markets. By the time the Z was launched in the UK at the 1970 London Motor show, imports of Datsun cars had virtually covered much of Europe and was starting to become familiar sights. The car offered practicality as well as driver appeal and in the press often referred to the car as a successor to the Austin Healey 3000. In truth it was a far easier car to own, and as many owners soon discovered a car that could be used all year round without specialist maintenance or regular repair. An open top version was considered but increasing safety legislation in the states would have increased the development costs.

240z1971 UK spec Datsun 240Z

The 240Z was priced close to the E-type in the UK, which meant that sales were not quite as quick as they were in the states and the press response somewhat typically was more restrained by the American reception. 72 cars were sold in the UK in its first full year, but increased to over 600 in 1972. Imports into the UK were initially ill prepared with some early examples imported without headlamps, as the correct beam patterns had not been available in Japan. Some US spec models also made it to the UK with obvious trim differences, again due to the haphazard rush to meet UK demand. The car instantly created a formidable reputation as a rally and racing car, having competed successful in the Safari, Monte Carlo, RAC as well as many American racing car series.

260z1974 UK spec Datsun 260Z

Datsun often took advice directly both from dealers and customers and as a result the American markets demanded more equipment and more space. The logic was to develop and strengthen the 240Z body and add more standard features. The increase in weight would mean that the engine size would have to be increased to 2.6 litres. That increase of power benefited countries that didn’t need need emission control (reduced ignition timing and compression ratio) but the States ended up with a new model that was less powerful than the original. The first 260Z’s were visually similar to the 240Z, featuring a new rear panel and interior changes. The 2+2 model which a longer wheelbase provided more space for rear passengers making it a 4 seated sports car but at the expense of elongating the compact styling.

260z_11975 UK spec Datsun 260Z 2+2

The 260Z was temporarily discontinued in the UK in early 1976 for a year as the 280Z was expected to replace it. However it turned out that this was to be an American only model and within the year the 260Z imports recommenced and continued until 1979. Visually the 280Z is similar to the 260Z, just with a fuel injected L28E engine.

280zx1981 UK spec Datsun 280ZX

The final evolution of the Z model was again born from American demand for safety and emission controls. As the 280Z and 280ZX were totally different models, a new model designation was created and the model code was changed to S130 as the car was a total redesign. The 280ZX retained the 2.8 litre engine and some drivetrain components. The 280ZX had increased interior specifications, such as increased fuel tank, high end stereo systems, improved fuel economy, braking, steering and superior emissions compared to the original model. There was a lag in the performance due to the extra weight and emission equipment, which was addressed just for the American market by the addition of a Turbo engine. A Targa T-bar model was also available in the UK, offering some form of open top motoring. Despite the evolution of the design, which over time soften the sporty nature of the Z car, the 280ZX was a huge seller. What the 280ZX lost in driver feedback it gained in luxury and straight line cruising comfort.

280zx_11982 UK spec Datsun 280ZX Targa

Model History

240Z (1971-1974)
L Series 6 Cylinder 2393cc OHC
3 door coupe
260Z (1974-1979)
L Series 6 Cylinder 2565cc OHC
3 door coupe
280ZX (1979-1983)
L Series 6 Cylinder 2753cc OHC
3 door coupe
October 1970
First official imports start
April 1971
Rear window ventilation slates removed, spoiler now standard, revised indicators and sidelights
August 1971
Differential moved back, redesigned subframe, revised centre console and hub caps
April 1972
Gearbox updated, interior colour options deleted, rear heater element design changed
July 1972
Upgraded servo, intermittent wipers
July 1973
240Z discontinued
January 1974
260Z introduced
March 1974
260Z 2+2 introduced
January 1975
anti-dieseling solenoid on carburetor, alloy wheels now standard
February 1976
260Z temporary discontinued
March 1977
260Z and 260Z 2+2 re-introduced, features standard alloy wheels and cassette/radio player
March 1979
260Z and 260Z 2+2 discontinued, replaced by larger 280ZX
March 1981
280ZX 2+2 Targa introduced, gearbox amends
October 1981
All versions recieve redesigned bumpers and grilles
December 1982
280ZX coupe and 280ZX 2+2 imports cease
April 1984
280ZX 2+2 Targa discontinued