Jim A 1971 Datsun 240Z 2dr Coupe

Unintended Forever Car

It didn't start out as a "Forever Car" - it just worked out that way. When the Datsun 240Z was introduced I really wanted one but they were all on long waiting lists. It was March, 1971 and I was ready to pull the trigger on an immediately available Porsche 914 when a good friend staged an intervention and directed me to a local Datsun dealer with a car on the showroom floor for sale. The car was heavily loaded with dealer add-ons including 10" wide alloys with street-illegal race rubber. As might be expected, the price had been jacked up to a level no one would pay. I negotiated the wheels and tires back to stock, got a couple of other things taken off the car and it was mine! With a build date of 12/1970, I now had one of the last of the Series 1 cars that wrapped up production in January 1971.

Years of car club activities included a lot of autocrosses where the Z was consistently able to top the previously class-reigning Porsche Targa 2.4. My wife-to-be and I dated in this car and we were regulars at the drive-in with a big brown bag of heavily buttered popcorn that she would make for the occasion. My two daughters always loved to ride in the car as long as long as they could lay down on the rear deck with their feet poked between the seats and gaze upward through the hatch glass.

I put the car away in 1982 when it began burning some oil due to bad valve seals, the car had 92k miles at the time. We were building a new home and I just did not have time to attend to the repairs. In 1999 I began a full restoration and had the car fully dis-assembled when "Life" decided to intervene. Every single part on the car was carefully bagged and tagged; every electrical connection was string-tagged and marked before being separated. Every item that needed replacing was carefully recorded in a spreadsheet.

In 2009 I had been retired for one year and the restoration project was picked back up. Always a Dallas-area car and always garaged, my Z escaped the scourge of the rust worms so common to these cars. I contracted the body and paint work, an engine rebuild, and a rebuild of the carbs; all other work was completed by me in the garage without the benefit of a lift. The bag-and-tag effort of 10 years prior paid off big-time! The car was completed in the fall of 2011 and now enjoys the revered "Garage Queen" status at our home. It gets regular outings for club events, the monthly Cars & Coffee gathering, and area car shows.

Today I get a big grin when my 12 year-old grandson marvels at the operation of a manual crank window and his two older brothers talk excitedly about the simplicity of the big inline-6 in the cavernous engine bay. Of course, my daughters regale the kids with their stories of star-gazing during night-time rides.

Life is good with a classic and unintended "Forever Car".

3 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Keith N. Texas February 15, 2014 at 20:16
    Wow, a great looking 240Z.
  • 2
    Larry D. Simpsonville, SC July 27, 2014 at 15:08
    Another love affair with a car ...
  • 3
    Rich Scharf San Diego CA November 29, 2015 at 23:29
    Great car and a great story. Thanks for sharing.

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