Datsun 260Z

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Datsun 260Z

1974 - 1978
Straight 6
151 bhp
4/5 spd. man.
Top Speed:
192 km/h
Number Built:
3 star
To tell the story of the 260Z would normally be short and sweet, simply put the 240Z had its engine size enlarged. But that would be too easy, so in the interests of writing an interesting article let's go back to the beginning.

Datsun started life by assembling Austin cars under licence, but was able to break into the lucrative US sports car market in the mid-1960s with its stylish little 1600 Sports and 2 liter models.

Both cars were thoroughly conventional, however their shortcomings soon became evident.

The engine may have been strong and durable, but it was far from being refined, and the cars perceived lack of roadholding and utilitarian style soon saw them lose favour with US customers, despite the price.

The chiefs at Datsun knew, however, that there was enormous untapped potential in the US market and despite their previous setbacks, decided to set about creating a thoroughly new and exciting sports car, the 240Z.

It was never intended that the car compete on performance with the such marques as the Jaguar E-Type or Italian exotica, rather it had more traditional British sports cars in its sights, such as the MGB and TR6.

Classically designed by Count Albrecht Goertz, the "Z" featured independent rear suspension and a silky smooth 2393cc in line OHC 6 already used in other Datsun models - able to run effortlessly to its 7000 RPM cut-out and capable of doing 0-100 km/h in a little under 9 seconds.

The sleek fastback looks, with lift-up tailgate, and obviously influenced by the E-Type and Ferrari 275GTB lines - and the world fell in love with it. The 1970's would see the US tighten its laws on emission and safety, so much so that many traditional European sports car manufacturers gradually slipped back, or pulled out altogether.

This in turn left the market wide open to Datsun, and the Z-Car. By 1972 it had become the world's fastest selling sports coupe. Good looks and stellar performance were soon backed up by two outright victories in the East African Safari rally, in 1971 and 1973. The original car stayed in production until 1973, by which time no fewer than 156,076 240Z's had been built. But as with any car, the "Z" needed to be modified to keep the buying public interested, and so in 1974 the 260Z was released.

Effectively it was simply a 240Z with a larger 2565cc engine fitted, however now you could order a longer wheelbase derivative offering extra occasional seats, logically enough called 260Z 2+2. However despite the increase in engine capacity, the new "Z" was actually slightly slower, and less sporting, than its predecessor.

The 260Z remained on sale to global markets for four years, however in the US, which was its principle market, it was replaced by the lustier 280Z in less than a year. As its title implies, the 280Z had a larger 2753cc engine specifically tuned to meet the latest emission laws, but the biggest improvements came courtesy of the newly fitted Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection.

Naturally the fuel injection helped improve fuel consumption, however the "Z" was rapidly gaining weight and, unfortunately, it was not winning the battle of the bulge. Heavier and slower than the original, the allure of the "Z" began to tarnish, which is why today the 240, and to a lesser extent the 260, are so fondly remembered by many.

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Also see:

Datsun 260Z Technical Specifications
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