We’ve shown a lot of love on this site for the Nissan Fairlady Z – perhaps better known as the Datsun 240Z for many of you. It came in several sizes (240, 260 and 280) and at least a couple of distinct shapes (two-seater and 2+2), and we’ve been acquainted with all of these over the years. As luck would have it though, I found one very special version that never left Japan and hasn’t been on CC yet. Fairladies and gentlemen, an awed hush please for the ZG.
Immediate disclaimer: these are not cars I have any experience of or any in-depth knowledge about. This particular one, which looks like the real thing, could also be a re-creation. Certainly, when I came upon it a few weeks back, I immediately thought it was a heavily modded early 240Z, as it was obvious that no Z ever came out of the factory looking like this.
A quick glance online showed me the error of my ways. In late 1971, Nissan entered the Fairlady into Group 4 racing and homologation rules meant they necessarily had to produce a batch of road-legal cars that shared the rally cars’ characteristics. So they started making these highly unusual long-nosed Fairlady Zs with crazy specs. The external mods are fairly obvious to see, but this was not just about the sizzle.
On the JDM, the standard-issue Fairlady Z only sported a 125-130hp 2-litre engine, as anything above that is taxed more heavily. The ZG, on the other hand, got the same 2.4 litre engine used for the export models, and the L24’s 150hp enabled this Fairlady to reach a top speed of 210kph. The featured car wears 240Z insignia, but it also has a curious twinned tailpipe setup that doesn’t seem stock.
Well, the engine was one thing, but the nosejob was another factor in this increased performance. The pointy fiberglass “G nose,” officially termed aero-dyna nose by Nissan, coupled with the headlight covers, markedly improved the Fairlady’s aerodynamics.
The novel GRP schnozz and acrylic headlamp covers look great and really sell the car’s racing spiel. I’m not as sure about the other additions, such as the (rather crude-looking) riveted wing extensions and the rear spoiler, to say nothing of the unfortunate aftermarket rims. But as far as I can tell, wheels aside, this is pretty much how these cars looked from new.
Of course, that does not mean that this particular one is a genuine example. But it sure looks convincing. These only came in three colours: white, maroon or red. So at least they got it right in that sense. The Recaro seats, on the other hand, should not be there, but the stock seats, after 50 years of use, might not be in great shape.
I have no idea how many ZGs were made exactly, nor for how long. It seems as if Nissan also made a ZG version of the 2+2, as well, which makes no sense from a racing perspective. Because although these Fairladys are highly sought after and known to some English-speaking folks, information about them is not exactly easy to come by on the web. But then this is CC, and I’m sure some insightful CComments will address this post’s inevitable (but hopefully not too numerous) factual shortcomings.
I understand that Nissan did ship over a few G-noses to the 240Z’s main export market, so there are a few US-spec cars with this look out there. But the other ZG mods were not part of the package, so those American long-nose 240Zs are apparently not seen as The Real Thing by Fairlady purists (Fairladists? Zed-heads? There must be a term for those folks).
Concurrently with the ZG, there was another JDM Fairlady that was on the radar of cognoscenti: the Z432. That one did not have the “aero-dyna” look, but it had the same Prince-made 2-litre DOHC 24-valve triple-carbureted straight-6 used on the Skyline GT-R, churning out 160hp. So if you wanted a spicy Z, back in the early ‘70s, there were at least two to pick from: the 432 (4 valves per cylinder, 3 carbs, 2 OHC) or the G (which stands for “Grande,” by the way). Crazy times.
In one of the many 240Z-related posts authored by Paul, he lamented the fact that a great many of these have been uglified, restomodded and donked to near extinction. I haven’t seen many Fairlady Zs in Japan, but I’m afraid this malady is also widespread in this country.
And until I looked into it, I thought this was one of these unfortunate cars. But I now believe that all those silly-looking Zs are trying desperately to look like ZGs. This is what they tried to emulate – the one that was made by Nissan themselves.
CC Outtake: 1974 Datsun 260Z 2+2 – Two Scoops In The Morning, by Joseph Dennis
CC Outtake: Datsun 240Z- Still Hard At Work, Or Still Needing Hard Work, by Chris O’Bryant
Vintage Review: Datsun 240Z. Road & Track. April 1970, by Geelongvic
Miniature Curbside Classic: 1970 Datsun 240Z By Road Signature, by Tom Klockau
COAL: 1978 Nissan Fairlady Z – The One I Wish I’d Kept, by Jim Brophy