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Datsun Drive: Meet the machine

Jeff Glucker July 17, 2012 All Things Hoon, Announcements, Featured 59 Comments

Ladies and Gentlehoons, please allow me to introduce you to my rad red road-trippin’ machine; the 1972 Datsun 240Z. She’s 40 years young, has a slick slather of paint, solid rubber under her feet, and an upgraded engine. Hopefully, she’s up for a 3000-plus-mile jaunt across the country.

Click past the break for some more photos.

The car looks great on the outside. There’s no rust to be found, and the only blemish is one tiny bubble of paint on the front right fender. The black wheels could be an inch bigger, but they fit the car nicely, and look rather nice in contrast to the red skin.

Under the hood, the engine compartment is clean, and the idle is delightfully lumpy thanks to a hotter cam. An aluminum radiator should help keep things cool on my journey, and the aluminum flywheel plucked from a 280Z should keep the motor happy to rev.

Inside, this 240Z is in sharp shape. The seats aren’t excessively worn and remain quite comfortable, which is welcome since my butt is accustomed to modern machines plucked from the press fleets. The gauges all work. Shift action is tight, and the throws are short thanks to an installed kit. Clutch take-up is smooth, but the car grabs a bit early. It’s eager to run. Additionally, this is my first experience driving a car with a manual choke sitting in the center console.

The car heads into the shop on Tuesday for a thorough look through. The mechanic will take a gander at any pieces that could cause concern for someone about to set off on a long trip. I expect there to be no major issues, and the car will also get an oil change while it’s up on the lift.

After that, the plan is to hit the road on Saturday the 28th of June July. I’m sticking with the southern route, and I’ve given myself an extra day to take in the sights. I originally planned on leaving on the following Sunday… but that’s stupid, and the call of the open road waits for no one.

Stay tuned for more as the Datsun Drive unfolds.

  • $kaycog

    What a lovely 240Z you're going to be driving. It sounds like a lot of fun, and I wish you a safe trip. Also…….I see you're still determined to leave the 28th of June. Good luck with that. 😉

    • You are now my official unofficial personal editor.

      • Scandinavian Flick


        • $kaycog

          I now have powers………..unofficially, of course.

  • FrankTheCat

    prep? you have no sense of adventure. the best road trips are spontaneous.

    • PowerTryp

      If it was his own car I'm sure he could be a bit more cavalier with the route, dates and destination. That said, you're not wrong.

  • I believe you mean the 28th of July.

    That's a sharp ride! Just a clean, basic example of the breed, but she looks like a good runner. I am very jealous. I'd love nothing more than to take a long road trip in a cool old car.

    • I'm excited, it should be fun.

      Yes, July… not sure why I am stuck in June.

  • Great looking Z Car. A buddy of mine had one almost exactly like this, and we took it on a few trips. It was a real blast, traveling in that car.

  • dukeisduke

    No fan shroud? I'd be a little worried about stop-and-go traffic, especially if the a/c really works.

    • Whoa, I missed that it has A/C. Looks like an ancient York compressor.

      • dukeisduke

        Yeah, probably some kind of dealer-installed setup, like from Mark IV or ARA.

        • Yup, that compressor was commonly used on lots of dealer installed kits on older import cars.

          • dukeisduke

            And Ramblers.

      • AC doesn't work

        • dukeisduke

          You're in luck (I think). At least you shouldn't have overheating issues.

    • If only there were a company that specialized in affordable replacement components for Z-cars.

      • PowerTryp

        There are so many replies I could make to that comment so I'm giving you this non-reply cause I can't decide which way I want to go with it.

  • sudden1

    Why, Jeff, it does appear to have been running when you took the pictures of the engine. Cool, if not my mistake. Also, cool as in A/C! I have SUs in my MGB so the first bit of travel provides progressive fast ilde speeds; the rest enrichens the mixture. What a great looking ride. (…green with envy.) I fear though that you're going to to be delayed repeatedly by all of the attention you're going to get. All of the page hits and comments but live, not etherville. You're going to have a blast.

    • AC doesn't work at the moment.

      Yes, the engine was running while I was snapping the pics.

  • Jell-US!

  • Plecostomus

    Just watch your speed – all shiny red like I was when I made my trip cross country in a Z – it looks like it's in good shape so you should have a pretty pleasant cruise :]

    have fun bro


    Dude, I want your car!

  • Scandinavian Flick

    Damn, as if I didn't want one of these enough already… Such a gorgeous example. A 240z is definitely in the top 8 choices for my first vintage car.

    Also, despite this being a weak excuse to post my r/c drift car, I will anyway:

    <img src="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-f6a00i0WAvM/TklGe9RpAjI/AAAAAAAABEs/pG8ac72Bus0/s500/IMG_20110813_162854.jpg"&gt;

  • mr. mzs zsm msz esq

    Jeff do you have documentation on the hot cam? The emissions looks sort of funky on this one. I see the hose in the top left quadrant, does that connect to PCV or is there just an oil trap on the crankcase? There should also be some hose to the top of the valve cover running to behind one or both of the carbs. In old Volvos if you use a breather on the valve cover (cap in the Volvo case) and disconnect the PCV, you need a different intake manifold or at least to make the hole intended for emissions smaller. Otherwise you have a rough idle as symptom. I bet there is a reader that knows a lot about Datsun L engines and can offer more specific advice.

    Also post a screenshot of the route you are taking and we can suggest stuff to see on the way better. Good road!

  • rpdred6

    Yessss, keep the story going!

  • Jeff, do you mind me asking what your friend paid for this Z? It is terrific, and I totally want one now.

    • MrHowser

      I would also like to know how many of my pennies I need to save. I very nearly traded my Comanche for a needs-work 260Z, but I think I'd rather wait and get one that doesn't need so much help.

    • I'd rather not say the actual amount.
      It was more than 10k though, and less than 15k.

      • MrHowser

        So, Mazda2 money.

        Hmmm, which one would be more fun?

        • PowerTryp

          I know which one is better looking and invokes a greater feeling instantly. Although with the technology the Mazda 2 could be quicker in the corners.

    • OA5599

      Make an irresistible offer now and kill Jeff's shot at the road trip and the stories. The Pulitzer people will have to wait another year, but so what?

  • MVEilenstein

    I learned to start a 61 F-100 on a cold day with a manual choke, so I imagine this would be pretty easy.

  • pj134

    Southern route?


    • Deartháir

      I second that.

      • pj134

        I'm going to take a road trip to your house and hang out with those hairy chicks you always talk about to spite him.

  • OA5599

    Jeff, are you flying back home, or have you arranged for a press fleet car for the return trip?

    If flying, this might be a good week to do Hooniwrench Asks: What Are the Best Airline-Friendly Tools to Take on a Road Trip?

    • ha, no press car for the return trip.

      I'm flying.

    • jeepjeff

      MAPP torch! Uh, wait, 3 oz MAPP torch in a quart sized zip lock!

  • MVEilenstein

    I don't see the GoPro.

    • The GoPro is gone… I lost it on Ortega Highway while filming the Scion FR-S (which will be ready for the site in early August)

      • MVEilenstein

        It's probably still running. Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

      • That is awesome the FRS is sick. Get another GoPro though.

  • Van_Sarockin

    That's one sweet ride for a cross country trip. You should have a blast. Before setting out, I'd be sure to take it for a quick run up the steepest hill around, to make sure it really doesn't overheat. And while the car's up on the lift getting that oil change, have all the grease fittings lubed, including the universal joints. You probably won't need much choke to get the Z started up – but once it does warm up remember to push it back in, I've forgotten to do that too many times.

    The cockpit of a 240 can be a very warm place between the big windshield and the hatch glass, black interior and no AC. Friends of mine used to travel up the Central Valley with a spray bottle full of cold water and some wash cloths. They'd spray water on their faces, and wet the cloths and put them on their heads. They said the evaporative cooling really helped keep them comfortable on what would otherwise have been a murderous trip. And carry plenty of drinks so you can stay hydrated.

    • I like the wash cloth and bottle idea, thanks.

      A few years back, a friend and I were nearing the end of a cross country trek (East to West) in his four-cylinder Wrangler. While passing through the Mojave, it was probably 110+ outside. We had the top up but the sides off… and the heat on, because the damn thing was overheating. We stopped at a rest top and grabbed a foam cooler, filled it with ice and bottles of water and basically rubbed ice on our faces until we hit the Valley.

      • Van_Sarockin

        Of course, this stops working so well once you get halfway across Texas and the humidity spikes up, slowing evaporation. Rubbing alcohol or witch hazel would also work, though it can dry out your skin and shouldn't get close to your eyes. Maybe bottles of hand sanitizer to rub on?

      • Old time problems require old time solutions, my Opala also does not have an airco (yet).
        <img src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-l-dAJcQWePs/UAXhvAqnlaI/AAAAAAAADDU/9JGVPZguYlg/s659/DSC09679.JPG"&gt;

      • dukeisduke

        I've only been across the Mojave once, and thankfully it was in October, and it was in the 80s. This was in a '68 GTO, sharing a drive (straight through) from Santa Rosa, CA, to McKinney, TX. But, it was 95 in Barstow. Gah!

  • That's a fairly amusing choke pull. Not as amusing as Ben Wojdyla's '64 Continental…

    <img src="http://cache.gawkerassets.com/assets/images/12/2010/07/_stealth_choke.jpg&quot; width=600>

    …which I'm still not sure was completely stock, like yours is.

  • Maymar

    [youtube wFB6FfaNQ40 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFB6FfaNQ40 youtube]
    Whatever route you take, I have the soundtrack for you…

    Also, I like those wheels as they are – an extra inch wouldn't feel as period correct.