By Chris Constantine June 9, 2019
If you ask any classic car enthusiast without boatloads of expendable cash, they’ll say the bubble for old school Japanese sports cars needs to burst. First came the $100,000 Toyota Supras, then the high-priced Skyline GTR imports, and now the Datsun Z cars are feeling the fallout of the JDM craze. A 1970 Datsun 240Z recently sold for $124,240 on Bring a Trailer, one of the highest auction results a conventional 240Z has seen yet.
For well over $100k, the new owner will get a well-restored but completely stock 240Z with 33,000 miles on the odometer. It’s clad in orange with a black interior and is powered by a 2.4-liter inline-six engine developing 151 horsepower, mated to a four-speed manual transmission.
This Z’s high price comes courtesy of its rich history, having been used as a model for a Franklin Mint die-cast model car. It was also present at former Nissan Motor Corporation USA Yutaka Katayama’s induction into the Automotive Hall of Fame. Katayama, also known as Mr. K, was the biggest advocate for Nissan to come to the United States and is idolized as the father of the Z-Car by the Datsun community. A signed photo of him posing with this car as well as a signed Franklin Mint 240Z model was3x included with the purchase of the vehicle.
In addition, this particular car was on display at the Whitney Museum of Modern Art in New York and won the prestigious Gold Medallion Award from the National Z-Car Convention. It’s a fantastic example with a desirable background, and thus should command more value than the average Z of its vintage.
All that said, is it really worth $124,000—the same price as a brand new, lightly-optioned Nissan GTR? Datsun 240Z prices have been rising substantially as the generation of car enthusiasts who had them when they first came out gets nostalgic and the number of examples unaffected by 1970s-era rust dwindles. Plus we cannot forget the rare, Skyline GTR-powered 240Z 432, one of which brought in $170,000 at auction a few years back.
As the owner of a lovely restored 1971 240Z and an obsession with these cars, my answer is still no—it isn’t worth the price, even with its impressive history and memorabilia. Even in stock form, the driving experience is wonderful, the exhaust note from that sweet inline-six is blissful, and the reactions you get from people on the street are always wholesome, but not even close to being worth that price. Plus, this car is one of roughly 160,000 240Zs built, not one of 420 units like the Z 432 is.
Obviously, the person who bought this car doesn’t agree with me and is more interested in the collectibility than the driving experience, but a rising tide lifts all boats, and this auction does have a chance of bringing Z values to a whole new level. For a model that was once marketed as an affordable but reliable sports car, this is arguably a bigger offense than the other high-priced JDM icons out there, and a warning of expensive Z sales to come.
What do you think? Is this car worth what it sold for?