Extendable trailer specs

1971 Datsun 240Z is our auction pick of the day to bring a trailer

• Likely a daily driver before being refurbished over 20 years ago, this 1971 first generation Z dates back to the desirable era of pre-5mph bumpers.

• Some 44,780 miles are displayed on the five-digit odometer, but it’s unclear how many times it has rolled over in the car’s 51-year history.

• Bidding is open until Wednesday, May 11, and the current high bid of $8,000 already eclipses its initial base price.

This is not a concours level example of the Datsun 240Z, auctioned on Bring a Trailer, which as Car and driver, is part of Hearst Autos. But it’s a pretty clean car that spent its entire life in California, apparently in the custody of one primary owner until it changed hands last year. The car underwent a fairly extensive refurbishment in 2000 and appears to have been treated like the classic it has become since then. But 22 years ago is not recent, as evidenced by the included VHS tape that documents the restoration. Yet the end result is a Z that’s mostly true to its mint condition in a way that suggests that’s what it might have looked like when it was, say, three years old and still partly owned at the bank.

The stock thin wheels and rim protector tires have been replaced, as they almost always have been, but instead of going with the split 5-hole mags that were the default choice at the time, this owner opted for Center Line look-alikes. It also has period aftermarket side mirrors but thankfully the owner didn’t see fit to fit a set of rear window louvers that were all the rage at the time.

1971 datsun 240z

Bring a trailer

On the surface, perhaps the best feature of this car is that it predates the era of 5mph bumpers. Z cars that were produced from 1973 onwards, like this other listing for a 1977 280Z, looked a little less cool because of the huge bumpers that were grafted on to meet the new rule. But this other list also highlights an often overlooked fact. The first generation of the Z-car consisted of similar 240Z, 260Z and 280Z phases, which is probably why people started calling it just the Z-car. The second generation was called 280ZX, with the added X probably deemed necessary by the marketing department at the time to indicate the model’s redesigned status. And that’s why we don’t mind that the 2023 Nissan Z is called the Z. Numbers never mattered much. The Z was the thing.

In this car you can see clues to what the designers of the new Z were looking for. It’s even yellow, the color chosen for the 2023 Nissan Z Proto Spec, the special launch edition that will be limited to just 240 units. The long hood and its domed center appear on the new car, and they faithfully reproduce the sloping roofline and the sharply defined Kammback tail. The taillights of the new Z are reminiscent of the taillights of the Z32 300ZX, but the designers of this car in turn paid homage to it.

It’s also worth looking at the square grille opening just below the bonnet lip, which looks smaller than it is because the chrome bumper bisects it. There’s a horizontal mesh grille above the bumper, and a similar-looking mesh also appears on the upper half of the new Z’s grille opening. Inside, the three modules above- above the dashboard represent a straight line that appears on the new Z, but the interior is much more raw and stripped.

It will be interesting to see how much this car and the 1977 280Z cost as well. With the wave of hype and nostalgia in the air surrounding the new car, we can’t help but feel that these ads are trying to ride that wave.

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