Archive for October, 2011

It All Ends With ‘Z’

Posted: October 26, 2011 in Classics, Vehicles
Tags: , , , , , ,

I will start out by mentioning the obvious: it’s been a long time since H4H’s last post. Due to the complex nature that is sometimes referred to as “life,” I have not found myself writing much in the past few months.

That being said, I’ve had a few nice chances to take some cool cars out and also attend a couple nice events since then. I suppose being that it has been a long time, I will make a comeback with something else that has been resting for a long time but is back in the game.

This middle-aged cat is none other than one of my favorite classic Japanese cars, the Datsun 240Z. Manufactured in the last quarter of 1970 and sold as a ’71, it is a series one S30 chassis Z, and also happens to be burnt orange, which is quite possibly the best looking color on a Datsun, period. There is something so catching about an orange Datsun, something that tickles your nostalgic armpits.

It may be that it is so period correct, or it may be that no other car has ever been able to pull such a color off quite so well since, but there is something undeniably seventies about the color that makes it fit so well. Shag rugs were made in the same color, Velma, Daphne, or Shaggy from Scooby-Doo wore it (be it sweater or hair color) in the popular Hanna-Barbera cartoon series. It could be a color dyed into a zoot suit and shown off on the disco floor.

Either way, the color is right at home on the timeless styling of the Z’s lightweight frame. Granted, the Z is not quite as light as its boxy brother, the 510, but it’s still lighter than any newer variants of the Z since, starting from ’73 onward. The North American market S30s became bulkier, heavier, and also less attractive as the years wore on, largely due to increasing safety and smog regulations. But the series one has really stood the test of time on a styling level.

As for performance, the Z is no screamer compared to cars of modern time, and can’t even come close to touching performance figures like that of its youngest brother, the 370Z. However, the 240 has really got it where it counts: character. It’s a thoroughly involving drive and keeps the driver connected very directly. There’s no power steering, ABS, radio or A/C (at least not anymore), ECU, differentials, or driver aids of any sort to get in the way of you and the road. It’s really just driver, car, tires, and tarmac.

That sense of contact with the road is what makes this Z shine from behind the wheel (not to mention the cherry stained wood grain of the steering wheel itself). And for being 40 years old, this particular Z also is very much original and intact, boasting all original body work and interior, with the quilted leather even holding up without ruffling or tears. Under the hood also sits an original L24 that has been stroked to 2.8L and features a more aggressive cam with valves and springs to boot.

Having spent the better part of this past decade in a garage in Orange County, the Z has undergone a good amount of work to ensure that it runs strong. It’s received a new alternator, clutch hydraulics, belts, hoses, gaskets, and of course, all new fluids. It is a middle-aged car still, and needs the occasional check up. But much like Dos Equis’ most interesting man in the world, while it is aging, it keeps its charm, good looks, and game without so much as a slouch.