Miniature Curbside Classic: 1970 Datsun 240Z By Road Signature

The Datsun 240Z harkens back to a time when Datsun and its parent company Nissan were lean, mean and just starting to succeed. That success was due in no small part to cars that were practical, reliable and just plain fun to drive. Witness the 240Z: a practical, fun sports car without any European sports car headaches. Naturally, they sold boatloads of them. Also naturally, many, many scale models of the original Z were made. One of the nicest is this 1/18th scale version by Road Signature.

Road Signature is what Yat Ming, an Asian toy company, has called their model car line since the mid 2000s. They have been in business since at least the 1970s. When I was a kid, I had several 1/64th scale Yat Ming toy cars, including a Mercedes 450SEL, a 1975-76 Cadillac Fleetwood, and a Rolls Royce Phantom VI. They appeared to be knockoffs of the highly desirable Tomica/Pocket Cars diecast models. They were just a bit less detailed – and probably a bit less expensive as well.

Starting in the early 1990s, Yat Ming moved into 1/18th scale models. Their earliest models, including a ’55 Crown Victoria and ’57 Chevrolet, were rather crude, but endearing nonetheless. I have several early versions in my collection.

Other 1/18th scale manufacturers, such as Bburago, Maisto and Ertl had more detail, but Yat Ming kept at it, and gradually improved detail and scaling. Our featured Mini CC is one of their more recent releases, the Datsun 240Z. I got my first one five or six years ago, in a very sharp dark green metallic with saddle tan interior. For some reason, only the seats were tan; the door panels were still black, but I liked the model so much I didn’t really care.

As you can see, the proportions are right on, and everything opens. The black and chrome wheel covers are especially well done for a $20-$25 model. It doesn’t have a lot of fancy features, like realistic door hinges, a hood prop, opening glove box etc., but then, it’s not a $60-$80 diecast either. For the money, it’s a nice model.

As you may have surmised, I acquired another ’70 Z. A couple of years ago, I spotted this one in a very unusual silver blue color, with a flat black hood stripe. I really liked it, but I wasn’t home ten minutes before I started taking it apart.

You see, I didn’t like the black interior it came with. I painted the seats white, let them dry, then reassembled it. I didn’t do the door panels because there were several chrome parts attached to them by melting the posts. Plus, my green one had just the seats in tan, so they’d match.

That was all well and good, but I knew the full sized 240Zs weren’t like that. So a couple of weeks ago, I broke down and took the door panels apart, painted them, and re-glued the windowsill moldings and side view mirror. I think white interiors look great, especially on vintage cars like this one.

I did verify you could get a white interior on original 240Zs, for accuracy’s sake. I think the blue, black and white color combination looks really good. Now it looks exactly the way I wanted it. This one is a keeper!

If you’re patient, and don’t tackle any of the high dollar model cars (lots more parts to contend with), it is not too tough to do an interior color change. I’ve done the same treatment to several other cars, including a ’66 Mercedes 280SE in white with white interior, red carpets and dash, and a red convertible boot. Detail painting with silver paint and a brush is also an easy way to spruce up the less expensive (and consequently less detailed) models in your collection.

The 240Z is one of the prettiest vintage Japanese cars ever built. Road Signature did it justice.