Mystery Car 106 is one of my favorite sports cars from my childhood. A neighbor had one which he painted Guards Red and added sheep skin seat covers. It was the coolest car in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, these cars were also known for extreme rust issues. It was not uncommon for them the rust in half … literally! So, what is Mystery Car 106? It is none other than the 1970-73 Datsun 240Z (also known as the Nissan Fairlady Z in Japan).
In 2004, Sports Car International named this car number two on the list of Top Sports Cars of the 1970s. One of the most appealing Japanese cars ever produced, it nevertheless disappeared almost entirely from American roads within two decades, presumably because like most Japanese cars of the time it had insurmountable rust issues. (Wikipedia)
The early cars came with a 2.4L overhead cam inline six cylinder fed by dual carburetors and developing 151 hp. That made them good for an 8 second 0-60 mph time. As a comparison, my 1980 Chevy Monza 2.5L automatic had only 86 hp and a 0-60 time closer to 15 seconds. So, this little car could really scoot.
But it was more than the normal sports car. With a four wheel independent suspension and a quality interior, Car & Driver described the 240z as “quiet and comfortable” with “a generous luggage area” big enough to carry luggage for two people. It sounds like the perfect get away car for a couple who will be celebrating their 17th anniversary in August. (Anybody have one we could borrow?)
One more note: I think this was the car that Dan McDowell owned back in the 80’s which he let me drive in the parking lot of Kroger’s in Columbus. I didn’t have a license at the time but he let me try to shift through the gears at the back of the lot. For the life of me, I couldn’t build up the confidence to switch into third gear! Things have changed since then. 🙂
Nissan S30 by Wikipedia
Datsun 240Z by Road & Track (1970)
Curbside Classic: The Revolutionary 1971 Datsun 240Z by Paul Niedermeyer