Used car buying guide: Datsun 240Z

How to get one in your garage

An expert’s view

Duncan Pearcey, The Z Farm: “There are now very few genuinely restorable right-hand-drive examples, because 45 years of British winters have ravaged bodies to such an extent that most are beyond redemption. We tend to use them as donors and bring in US cars from dry states, such as California and Arizona. Ten years ago, I was buying decent right-hand-drive cars for £7000-£9000 and making a bit of profit. Now those cars cost three times that. Importing also has its risks. Every so often you find a gem, but by the time you’ve got it here, with shipping and duty, any half-decent car costs £15,000-£20,000.”

Buyer beware…

■ Bodywork: The 240Z is a good-looking car from any angle, but kerb appeal is all too often spoiled by the gradual onset of crippling corrosion. Weak spots include (but aren’t limited to) the battery tray, lower front wings, spare wheel well, bootlid surround and floorpan. This may sound strange, but take a magnet to the viewing: it’s the only way to be sure the paint isn’t hiding acres of filler. Some reproduction panels are sold by specialists, including The Z Farm, but others need to be shipped from the US.

■ Engine: The straight six is easy to tune, but performance add-ons can place stress on original components, so it’s best to carry out certain upgrades as part of a package. Hesitant throttle response, misfiring or lumpy idling could be a sign that one or both of the carburettors are running lean. A scarily low oil pressure reading can usually be traced back to a dodgy sensor, while a stiff engine fan can be solved with a bit of lubricant – although replacement with a new electronic item is a better bet.

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