History of the 1974 Datsun 260Z
Datsun’s 240Z, introduced in 1970, was brilliant, but emissions controls began to hamper the car’s performance by 1972. Changes were required in order for the Z car to meet federal mandates while still retaining an essence of its original purpose, so plans were made to switch from carburetion to fuel injection in the 280Z. In the interim, Datsun offered the 260Z in the U.S. for 1974 only.
The Datsun 260Z used a modified version of the 240Z’s 2.4-liter overhead-cam straight-six engine, now stroked to a displacement of 2.6 liters. The bigger motor was required to counteract a lower compression ratio, and the 260Z was slightly less powerful at 140 hp. Top speed for the 260 was a tick higher than the 240 at 127 mph, while acceleration was not quite as spirited.
Other than the engine, mechanically the car was quite similar. Front disc and rear drum brakes provided stopping power. Independent suspension all around aided handling, though the 260Z had a thicker rear sway bar and a stiffer chassis to provide a more assured ride in some ways. Shifting could be handled with either a three-speed automatic or a four-speed manual.
The basic coupe retained most of the 240Z’s lovely styling, albeit behind bigger bumpers. A new, larger 2+2 coupe also debuted with the 260Z, and this car had a noticeably taller rear roof line to provide head clearance for all passengers. Datsun also provided the 260Z with a new interior design. In 1975, Datsun introduced the fuel-injected 280Z, which would provide a more long-lived emissions solution.
Like other Z cars, the 1974 Datsun 260Z is mechanically simple, quite reliable, and fun to drive. Rust-prone bodies are the biggest risk with these cars, and the one-year-only status (in the U.S., at least) means that buyers may have to hunt a bit to locate cars in great condition. Similarly, some parts can be a challenge. Still, plenty of rust-free examples are available and club support is fairly good for these models, all of which adds up to a car well-suited to be an entry-level collectible car.