This vintage R&T review is being posted in 2018, 47 years after this review was originally written. Grasp that, 47 years, almost 50 years, almost half a century from the review to the present. We can now look at this interesting time with nostalgia, curiosity, and utter fascination of how the 1970 Datsun 240Z overwhelmed the European sports cars at the time. The existing European sports car prestige and price hierarchy was simply swept away by this Datsun.
Until the introduction of the Datsun 240Z, the earlier Datsun sports car had been the body on frame Datsun 1500/1600 Roadster, later 2.0 liter OHC Datsun 2000 Roadster , sports car, considered by many a “less-than” Asian attempt to clone the respected MGB, despite it’s earlier introduction by several months. The Datsun 240Z seemed to come out of left field, unexpected, to become the cream of the crop. The 150 bhp Datsun 240Z (list price, all POE. of $3526) was initially tested by R&T in the April 1970 issue, the very same issue with R&T initial, introductory road test of the just introduced 85 bhp 1970 Porsche 914 1.7.
Road & Track described the Z as setting “new standards in performance and elegance for medium-priced 2-seat GT cars”.
Road and Track said further, “”The basic price of the 240Z is $3526 and at this price it is a super-bargain, with a combination of styling, performance, and handling far ahead of anything else under $4,000.” “What will the 240 compete with? The accompanying Comparison Data panel lists the Opel GT, Fiat 124 Coupe, the Alfa Romeo 1750 GTV, and because of price, the 4-cyl Porsche 914 (tested in this issue) can be included.”
In the R&T test of the 914, the comments were, ” vague shifting”, “performance as rather busy, noisy, torqueless”, “Undoubtedly has a potential for handling that other sports cars in its class don’t have, though that potential isn’t fully realized”, and “a great big disappointment for us, as we thought the 914 was going to revolutionize the field of the 2-seater sports car. Undoubtedly the mid engine is the coming thing but…”
This R&T road test comparison again proves the initial impressions of the 240Z as a game changer, but not as great a game changer as initial impressions thought.
This comparison test was published in the July 1971 issue of the Road & Track magazine
The Fiat 124 Sports Coupe, its high finishing status, second to the 240Z, was a surprise
The Opel GT was third, but not an impressive value for the money, and despite it being a modern car was eventually swept away from the market after it’s last year of production in 1973. The modern Porsche 914, introduced in 1970 as a modern German sports car finished its production run 1n 1976. So two modern German sports cars had only brief lives due to a changing market.
The British cars were outdated and obsolete, as described by R&T as hold-overs from another era, “dead horses”, finishing last in 4th and 5th positions. RIP.