1971 Datsun 240Z – The First Restoration
In the summer of 1988 my family moved to Laguna Hills, California and I started my first year of college at San Diego State University. My sweet sixteen car, a 1974 BMW 2002, didn’t make the trip or actually more than a year in my possession. Fraught with mechanical problems that left me stranded and no budget or time to fix it, I had to trade “up” to my grandmother’s 26,000 mile 1976 Buick Skylark. The beige bomber served me well shuffling up to 12 kids from party to party until I got my mother’s hand-me-down Buick Skyhawk for my senior year of high school. Thankfully neither of these cars made it to California either. The bomber was given to a relative and my sister took over the Skyhawk.
So what’s a boy to do in Cali without a ride? Get a Jeep Wrangler with a soft top right?! Apparently not. My father who suggested the BMW 2002 now suggested a Datsun 240Z. Come again dad? I had no idea what a Datsun 240Z was but was all too familiar with the later version the Nissan 280Z. My dad was schooling me on soon to be classics that never made it in the rust belt. Cars we desperately looked for to be my first, such as Porsche 914s, folded in half in Michigan after sucking up salt but in California they were plentiful. The land of foreign metal with no rust. We landed on the mustard yellow, or 920 Gold as it was called, 1971 240 pictured above. Porsche 914 flat four engine be damned. I was getting the ripped off styling of a Jaguar XKE with a dual-SU-carburetor-Japanese-built-straight-six for two grand. Sweet.
The restoration we did was purely cosmetic as the car ran well enough. My dad and I worked on design. We decided to do a color change to white which was an available color that year and shod it with my favorite style Enkei rims plus 205 series tires. It was my intention and still is to this day to leave most of the original styling, details and mechanicals as they were built if they are original to start. The car we bought had replacement fenders and wasn’t all original paint which made it easy to change. You can see the different color from front fender to door in the picture. As far as the interior, I upgraded an already aftermarket stereo and put in Recaro seats.
A year later after returning to Michigan, I replaced all four springs to give it tighter handling and apparently more bounce which helped considerably the night I hit a curb at 80mph, jumped the guard rail and landed 30 feet deep in the woods. I still have the souvenir owner’s manual and receipt for the damage. The repair bill resulted in a total insurance loss less than four months after it was featured in Automobile magazine March 1990 as a collectible classic. A bought and restored a second 240Z in 1996-97, see that here. It was deep green, original interior and retained original dealer installed mag wheels. In 2002 I sold that to a collector in Georgia.