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Classic Review: Nissan 260Z

Nissan’s ‘Z Cars’ were among the models responsible for permanently transforming the image and reputation of Japanese cars in the US, and the wider Western world, during the 1970s. Previously they had a somewhat cheap and disposable image, and were seen as affordable, utilitarian vehicles for those on a modest budget. The Z Cars, starting with the 1969 240Z (which was released when the majority of Nissan cars were still sold under the Datsun brand), shattered these preconceptions and showed that the Japanese could build a desirable sports car that could go toe-to-toe with the best that Europe and the US could muster.


The car was the brainchild of the head of Nissan USA, Yutaka ‘Mr. K’ Katayama, who identified a demand in the American market for something that would be affordable and fun to drive, yet more comfortable and practical than the bare-bones open-top roadsters of the ’60s. He pushed for a new GT sports car design that Nissan was working on in the late ’60s to be offered in the US. This became the original 240Z, equipped with a 150hp, 2.4-litre, straight-six engine, making it more powerful than the equivalent Fairlady Z model offered on the Japanese domestic market. It sold like hot cakes, and other Datsun models benefited from its positive ‘halo’ effect on the brand as a whole. In 1974, the revised 260Z was introduced, with a larger engine, although US models had slightly less power due to ever-more draconian emissions regulations. A longer wheelbase allowed for a ‘2+2’ version to be offered, with two pint-size rear seats. After just a year, the 260Z was superseded by the 1975 280Z. Engine displacement again increased, to 2.8 litres, but the car’s weight went up, too, and the nimbleness that had characterised the 240Z suffered as a result. 280Z production ended in 1978, when the less well-loved ‘ZX’ line began with the 280ZX.


The widespread popularity and enthusiast appeal of modern Nissan sports cars like the 350Z, 370Z and GT-R can be traced back to the trail blazed by the first generation of Z Cars. This illustrious history has meant that they have become popular with classic-car aficionados in recent years, alongside several other Japanese models. The example featured here is a Nissan 260Z 2+2, owned by Jason Doyle from Co. Wicklow. It was imported from Australia in totally original and rust-free condition 18 months ago, but Jason has carried out extensive restoration and modification work since then. The 2.6-litre straight-six engine has been replaced with the 2.8-litre L28 block from the later 280Z, and Jason has added a Schneider Stage 4 cam kit, a high-flow oil pump and a 6-1 manifold, amongst other goodies, to boost the car’s power output to an estimated 200–220hp. The car also features numerous cosmetic enhancements, including a gunmetal-grey respray, ZG flared wheelarches and 17-inch alloys that were custom-made by UK company Image Wheels. Jason is a member of the UK-based Z Club and knows of around 10 –15 other Z Cars in Ireland, north and south. He drives the Z every couple of weekends and plans to enjoy it for some time to come.

Original Specifications – Nissan 260Z 2+2 (European/Australian model)



2,565cc, 6-cyl


162hp @ 5,600rpm, 206Nm @ 4,400rpm


5-speed manual, RWD


0–100km/h in 8.3 seconds (Est)

Top Speed



12 litres/100km (Est)



Boot Capacity

Info not available

Price When New

£2,896 (UK)

Value Now

€9,000–€11,000 for a good example

Production Run




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