Blame it on “The Fast and the Furious” franchise or the United States’ ban on importing vehicles newer than 25 years old, but enthusiasts in the country have always had a love affair with the Toyota Supra and Nissan Skyline GT-R.
Unfortunately, getting your hands on one of those cars to modify is expensive and nearly impossible. But there is one Japanese sports that’s affordable and takes well to modifications that’s gone overlooked for years – the Datsun 240Z.
Unlike the Supra and Skyline GT-R, which are pricey and hard to come by in the U.S., the 240Z – and the larger, more powerful 280Z – is more readily available. Checking out Bring a Trailer’s old auctions reveals that a 240Z can be had for somewhere between $5,000 for a rough example and $38,000 for one in pristine condition.
That may sound like a lot of money, but it’s important to note that Supras sell for more than $50,000 regularly. And the case doesn’t look good for the R34 Skyline GT-R either, as the sports car won’t be legal in the U.S. until 2024.
The 240Z is available now and we recommend going with a mid-priced offering, as project vehicles can be in extremely rough condition. Still, after obtaining an example, the possibilities are pretty endless. All you have to do to get an idea of what’s possible with some love and a lot of money is to look at some of the 240Zs that have been featured on Jay Leno’s Garage.
One of the earliest 240Zs we saw the Denim King drive belonged to Sung Kang. The “Fast and Furious” star’s 1973 240Z is one beastly machine. The classic sports car is wearing a Rocket Bunny body kit and has some JDM touches, which are a necessity when modifying the machine. Power for his heavily-modified rocket comes from a naturally-aspirated RB26DE engine that sounds magnificent.
Kang’s good-looking 240Z isn’t a one-off either, as other enthusiasts have managed to complete builds that are just as amazing. Dominic Le brought an equally-as-impressive 240Z to Jay Leno. The sports car was fitted with wider fenders, JD touches, massive tires, a stripped out interior, and a turbocharged SR20 engine.
What both of these modified 240Zs reveal is that the classic Japanese lightweight takes well to modifications and can handle a variety of components. The engine bay will even accommodate a S50 engine from an E36 BMW M3. And for the truly insane out there, people have managed to shoehorn a V8 into the compact sports car.
The 240Z looks great with and without modifications, can be transformed into a sports car that is insanely fun to drive, and is relatively affordable to purchase. But the classic also has another trick up its sleeve – it’s easy to work on.
A quick search on ZCAR.com reveals that the 240Z and 280Z are relatively easy to fix. You don’t have to be a fully trained and licensed mechanic to wrench on the vehicle and the most important aspect of finding a good model to own is finding a rust-free chassis. If working on cars isn’t your thing, you can get a restomodded one for around $30,000. After spending upwards of $50,000 on a Supra, you probably wont want to work on it.
At the end of the day, every enthusiast would love to have a modified Supra or Skyline GT-R in his or her garage. But that’s out of the question for 90 percent of enthusiasts out there. Getting a 240Z and turning it into a modified work of art is a possibility.
Its classic sports car lines, emphasis on driving pleasure, and ability to accept various modifications make the 240Z one of the best tuner cars on the market today. Buy one while you can because prices are going up for the vehicle and you’re not getting any younger.