Datsun 260Z Technical Specifications

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Datsun 260Z
Nissan/Datsun Color Codes A - G
Nissan/Datsun Color Codes A - G
Nissan/Datsun Color Codes H - Z
Nissan/Datsun Color Codes H - Z

AT THE 1969 Tokyo Motor Show Nissan-Datsun revealed the hatchback, fixed-head 240Z and brought to an end BMC/British Leyland's halcyon days as supremos in the world of mass-production sports car manuufacture.

Aggressive, attractive looks, 125 m.p.h. from a single overhead camshaft, straight-six engine, five-speed gearbox and all independent suspension, excellent handling and what has since proved to be superb reliability contrived to make this newcomer into the World's best-selling sports car.

Five years later the 240Z was replaced by the 260Z, an even more exciting package in the same shell. Most importantly, the 260Z remained an immmensely satisfying car to drive; and the affordable entry price made it the most covetable sporting car produced by a major manufacturer below the Porsche or Ferrari Dino class.

What made it so brilliant was that it remained fairly un-sophisticated, not even mid-engined which many had previously believed to be the only real way to manufacture a sports car. While the car did come with some compromises (rapid cornering speed being one), the 260Z reminded all that drove it just how much fun and, equally important, practical a conventional layout sports car could be.

The 260Z made no pretence at being anything more than a two-seater and as a result had a comparatively large luggage area accessible through the top-hinged, hydraulic-strut supported, rear door. Unfortunately the rear wheel arches and McPherson struts intruded to restrict what might otherwise have been an even more commodious area.

Externally the 260Z was identifiable from the 240Z only by the badges attached to the front wings and a rearrangement of the rear light clusters, which were flanked by separate reversing lights in the matt-black rear panel. The 260Z retained the same classic body style of its predecessor, and like the Austin-Healey 3000 it exuded a unique character.

Tthe 5H x 14 in. wheels on the 260Z carried wider, low-profile Bridgestone tires 195/70 instead of the old 175 - a great help with the road behaviour and presenting a squatter appearance. Internally the facia and other details had also been revised.

Mechanical modifications were the most important improvements made to the 240Z to create the 260Z and of these the most obvious was the increase in engine capacity from 2,393 c.c. to 2,565 c.c. by lengthening the stroke of the seven-bearing crankshaft from 73.7 mm. to 79 mm. The straight six thus remained slightly oversquare, the bore continuing at 83 mm.

  • Years of Manufacture:
    • 1974 - 1978
  • Number Built:
    • 310,497
  • To Identify:
    • 260Z badges attached to the front wings
    • Rearrangement of the rear light clusters, which were flanked by separate reversing lights in a matt-black rear panel
  • Body:
    • Unitary construction (Monocoque)
  • Exterior Dimensions:
    • Total Length: 4140 mm (163 in)
    • Total width: 1626 mm (64 in)
    • Height at kerb weight: 1283 mm (50.5 in)
    • Wheelbase: 2300 mm (90.6 in)
    • Front Track: 1359 mm (53.5 in)
    • Rear Track: 1346 mm (53 in)
  • Kerb Weight:
    • 1100 kg (2425 lb)
  • Fuel Tank:
    • 60 liters / 13.2 UK Gal / 15.9 US Gal
  • Performance:
    • Top speed: 127 mph (204 km/h)
    • 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h): 8.0 seconds
  • Instruments:
    • Speedometer (with odometer and tripmeter)
    • Tachometer
    • Petrol gauge
    • Temp gauge
    • Clock
    • Oil pressure warning lamp
    • Alternator warning lamp
    • Handbrake warning lamp
    • High-beam warning lamp
    • Brake fail warning lamp
  • Transmission:
    • Manual, 4 speed floor mounted (US Market):
      • 3.364:1 (37:11)
    • Manual, 5 speed floor mounted (Outside USA):
      • 3.90:1 (39:10)
    • Automatic, 3 speed floor mounted T-Bar (available after September 1970):
      • 3.545:1 (39:11)
  • Clutch:
    • Single cushion disc, dry plate clutch
  • 2 liter Engine:
    • Capacity: 2,565 c.c. (156.526 cu in)
    • Type: Conventional, watercooled four stroke, reciprocating piston type with 4 cylinders, single overhead cam, 2 valves per cylinder, 7 main bearings
    • Configuration: Front mounted, longitudinal, inline
    • Head: Pushrod and rocker actuated ohv with two valves per cylinder
    • Fuel System: Mechanical fuel pump, twin Hitachi HMB 46 W 1.75 in (44.4 mm) SU-type carburetors
    • Bore and Stroke: 83mm x 79 mm
    • Power: 162 b.h.p. at 5,600 r.p.m.
    • Torque:152 ft·lbf (206 Nm) at 4,400 rpm
    • Compression Ratio: 8.3:1
  • Ignition and Electrical:
    • 12 voltr
  • Exhaust:
    • Semi extractor
    • Single tail-pipe, zinc annealed type muffler
  • Choke:
    • Electric, automatic
  • Suspension:
    • Front: Independent with MacPherson struts, lower links, coil springs, telescopic dampers, anti-roll bar
    • Rear: Independent with Chapman struts, lower wishbones, coil springs, telescopic dampers
  • Steering:
    • Variable ratio, recirculating ball
    • Collapsible column and built in lock
    • Turns lock to lock: 4
  • Brakes:
    • Power assisted Girling-Sumitomo hydraulic system, operating through tandem master cylinder and separate front and rear circuits. The system incorporates a front-to-rear brake pressure proportioning valve.
      • Front: Disc 10.7 in (271.8 mm) discs front
      • Rear: 9.0 in (228.6 mm) X 1.6 in (40.6 mm) drums rear, servo assisted
      • Parking Brake: Mechanically operated on rear wheels
  • Wheels:
    • 4.5J-14 steel wheels with 175 SR 14 tires
  • Tyres:
    • Low-profile Bridgestone 195/70 / 175 SR 14 tires
Many found it hard to believe that less than 200 extra c.c. could be the sole reason for the engine's improved performance. Claimed figures showed an increase of 11 b.h.p. SAE to 162 b.h.p. at 5,600 r.p.m. and 152 lb. ft. torque instead of 146 lb. ft. torque at the same 4,400 r.p.m. and that while running on a lower compression ratio of 8.3 to 1 instead of 9.0 to 1 to suit low-lead three-star fuel.

No emission equipment was fitted, but the two SU-type Hitachi carburetters and ignition had been recalibrated to meet more stringent anti-pollution requirements. Yet the 260Z feelt much more flexible and much quicker than the old 240, suggesting that beneficial modifications to the cylinder head and/or camshaft were also made. The engine seemed more willing to pull the higher final drive ratio (3.70 to 1) than the 240 engine did its 3.90 to 1 ratio. Overall gearing in 5th gave 22.3 m.p.h. per 1,000 r.p.m. as against 21.6 m.p.h. for the 240Z.

The whole of the drive train was beefed up and at the same time the gearbox ratios were revised to make more efficient use of the torque and eliminate the 240's gap between 1st and 2nd gears. The 1st gear ratio was revised to 2.91 to 1 instead of 3.32 and 2nd gear was 1.90 to 1 instead of 2.08. The five-speed gear-box was one of the best then available, although it was somewhat ironic that the engine in the 260Z was so flexible as to need less gearchanging - the gearbox was so good that it would literally encourage cog-swapping for the fun of it.

A comfortable leather knob surmounted the hefty gearlever in place of the earlier nasty plastic-wood device and this selected the lower four gears in a conventional H pattern with 5th up to the right opposite reverse. There was very little spring-loading to overcome across the gate, the gearlever nonetheless being self-centring in the 3rd/4th plane, and the change was thus rapid, light and accurate although with fairly long moveements.

First gear synchromesh occasionally baulked when selecting this gear from rest. The 8.87 in. diameter clutch was positive and its hydraulic operation not unduly heavy. Uprated coil springs had been incorporated in the 260Z's otherwise unchanged four-corner McPherson strut independent suspennsion, allegedly to compensate for the extra weight of the new engine and improved interior, although this was fairly negligible and the truth was probably because Datsun wanted to improve the handling, which indeed the combination of these sti ffer springs and wider tires had achieved.

Stability on fast bends was very impressive, having less roll, less pitch and virtually none of the wallow which the 240Z's outside front corner would engage in when confronted by a bump in the middle of a fast corner. Near the limit on fast corners there was a predictable and gentle transition to oversteer, but the Bridgestone radials showed no sign of letting go completely; even in the wet their roadholding was excellent.

Traction too was excellent, the McPherson strut rear suspension with lower wishbones using the greater acreage of rubber to advantage. In spite of the long bonnet the 260Z remained a comparatively easy car to place through the lanes, the steering was fairly heavy at low speeds but this became more manageable with speed.

A new 14 in. wheel with a commfortable, leather-like padded rim and heavily padded boss was an improvement, enabling you to feel just how precise and responsive the front suspension/steering was, although it inherited the same annoying bump steer evident on the 240Z. Datsun also failed to improve the Girling-Sumitomo servo-assisted, twin-circuit braking system (10.67 in. front discs and 9 in. finned drums at the rear). These proved perfectly fine if moderate demands were made of them, however to drive a Z very fast was to experience almost certain brake fade, first announced by a heavy pedal and then by an embarrassing unwillingness to stop.

The single o.h.c. straight-six gained 172 c.c. and 11 b.h.p. Datsun claimed a 127 m.p.h. maximum for the 260Z, which would reach 60 m.p.h. in less than 8 sec., average 22 m.p.g. driven extremely hard, and driven less arduously would offer over a 350-mile range from its 13.2 gallon tank.

While the 240Z engine was unwilling below 4,000 r.p.m., the 260 engine offered progressive power most of the way up the range and excellent flexibility, 5th being usable down to about 20 m.p.h. The 8,000 r.p.m. rev. counter wais yellow-lined at 6,500 r.p.m. and red-lined at 7,000, but very fast progress could be made without exxceeding 6,000 r.p.m. Speeds available in the lower three gears were 46, 71 and 102 m.p.h., 70 m.p.h. was achieved at a quiet, effortless 3,150 r.p.m. in 5th and the 127 m.p.h maximum speed required a mere 5,700 r.p.m., all the while the beautifully smooth, mechanically silent engine emitting an exciting, but reasonably muted, deep-throated roar.

Interior appointments were excellent, if you could stand the abundance of nasty plastic. An excellent three-speed heater and four-outlet ventilation system was controlled by a triple-lever illuminated panel, instrumentation was clear and comprehensive, two-speed plus intermittent wipers, electric screenwashers, lights and flashers were controlled by two steering column stalks.

The high-back seats unforgivably lacked a reclining mechanism and the big throttle pedal, well-placed for heel-and-toeing, was too light and sensitive for low-speed town driving. But many would contest these were small issues, and the 260Z remained a true sports car that was fast, handled well, required skill to drive very quickly and, perhaps most importantly, was tremendous fun while doing so.
Datsun 260Z

Also see:

Datsun 240Z Review
Datsun 260Z Review
Unique Cars and Parts USA - The Ultimate Classic Car Resource