1978 DATSUN 260Z

Background

The replacement for the beloved 240Z, the 260Z only ran for five years between 1974 and 1978. With a bigger, 2,565cc engine courtesy of a longer stroke, the 260Z boasted 162bhp, which is usefully more than the outgoing car’s 151bhp. Torque was up too, and the Datsun could be had with a four-speed or five-speed manual gearbox, or a three-speed automatic.

The suspension was pretty much carried over from the 240Z, as were the brakes. The chassis was a bit stiffer but the changes were gentle evolution rather than anything bolder but that was understandable; the 240Z was widely lauded for its handling and why bother fixing it if it ain’t broke?

Performance is strong rather than vivid with the benchmark 60mph arriving after eight seconds dead on its way to a top speed of 127mph. Mind you, that’s better than two miles per minute, which is enough really, isn’t it?

It also feels faster than the car it replaced, with MotorSport writing at the time “the 260Z feels much more flexible and much quicker than the old 240” before summing it up: “This distinctive beast from the other side of the world is a true sports car in that it is fast, handles well, requires skill to drive it very quickly but is tremendous fun while doing so. On the other hand it is also a true GT car, for two, for it is capacious, comfortable, has a lazy, 120 m.p.h. cruising gait yet has a sensible fuel range. No wonder it sells so well.”

A 2+2, with a 300mm longer wheelbase, widened the Datsun’s appeal still further. A notched roofline to give a bit more rear headroom is the easiest way to spot one, and the transmission tunnel gained proper carpet rather than the quilted vinyl of the two-seater.

Time has been kind to the 240/260Z, and while rust is the biggest issue you’ll face the mechanicals are robust and strong, with 400,000 miles easily possible on the original engine – as long as it’s maintained properly.

Which brings us to this, our next auction…

The Vehicle

First registered in the United Kingdom in March 1978, this wonderful Silver Metallic Datsun 260Z benefits from extensive refurbishment over the past decade, not least in the hands of Glyn Hopkin, the well-known motor industry figure who added the car to his heritage collection in 2015.

The receipts on file, along with the online MOT history, suggests that the 260Z was restored in 2010-13, with the bulk of the bodywork being carried out in 2013 at a cost of more than £7,000. More work was carried out in 2017 in Glyn’s workshop.

The result is a wonderful example of this perennially popular Japanese sportscar that goes as well as it looks thanks to significant recent investment.

On the Outside

As you can see, the restored panels fit very well and suggest many hours of fitting and refitting to get the gaps as tight and even as they. The Silver Metallic (code #306) hue gives it a hewn-from-solid look we love; few cars are prettier than this and yet the colour adds another layer to its (already considerable) appeal.

It’s been well applied, too. Take a look at the photos, or, better still, pop along to see it in the flesh. It really is very lovely and easily capable of winning the odd rosette at your local classic car show if you’re so minded.

The chromework is good too, and the car hangs together very well; some cars fall apart on close inspection but this one reveals itself to be every bit as good as first impressions suggest.

The 14-inch alloy wheels are from a later 280Z, so while they aren’t original they are very rare, selling for four-figures – when you can find them. Part number 40300N3200, they’re fitted with matching 195/70R14 Dunlop Street Response 2 tyres, all of which have good tread.

As we will never tire of explaining, our experience shows that matching high-quality tyres are an infallible sign of a caring and mechanically sympathetic owner who is prepared to spend the appropriate amount in maintaining their car properly. Their presence does not, of course, preclude the need for a thorough inspection - something the vendor would welcome, by the way – but it does perhaps give you a shortcut into their attitude towards maintenance.

And, if you’re still on the fence as to how well the work has been done, then take a look at the details, details like the period-style raised numberplates, the recent badges and front spoiler, the chrome wiper arms, and the edges of the wheelarches, which are bright and clean.

There is some tarnishing to the plastic rear light surrounds (#52), some fading to some of the black rubber (#55 and #56), a tiny amount of surface rust that could do with catching sooner rather than later (most obvious in #155) and the reversing light lens has seen better days (#58) but that this is the extent of the stuff we can find to complain about shows how good the rest of the car is. Not concours, of course (but then no-one other than avid concours exhibitors should ever buy a car that well finished anyway…) but very good nonetheless.

On the Inside

Whether it’s watches, electronics or cars, Japan has a habit of taking established designs and whittling away at them until you’re left with an object that’s as good as it can possibly be, something the 260Z demonstrates perfectly.

Take a look at the interior door releases, for example. They’re mounted at the bottom of the door card rather than the top, the very place your hand naturally falls given the car’s lowdown driving position.

The deep-dish steering wheel also brings the rim closer to your chest, giving you a better driving position than the straight-armed style we were used to.

The high-backed seats are in great shape, with almost no wear. Covered in very of-the-period velour and vinyl, they’re backed up by equally good carpets, door cards, and headlining.

There are Easter eggs galore in there including a twin-spindle Hitachi radio, boot hinges that are stamped ‘L’ and ‘R’, and a choke lever that’s mounted in the centre console. We also love that the switch for the rear demister is labelled ‘REAR DEFOGGER’

The boot is huge, with good vinyl on the sides and good carpet on the floor. Home to the spare alloy wheel, we can’t see anything in there that needs attention bar the installation of the odd missing clip and screw, although if you were to tidy up the boot floor few would accuse you of being unnecessarily fussy. That said, it’s very much a job for tomorrow rather than today.

Other work you might like to consider is equally minor. The steering wheel might benefit from some attention (#212) as would the seat (#217) and seatbelt brackets (#90 ). Oh, and if you found a set of door seals going cheap you’d probably want to snap them up, too (#227).

Underneath

The engine bay was repainted only recently, so is very good and still carries its original build plate.

The 2.6-litre, straight-six breathes through a K&N air filter and while it goes well, the vendor suggests that balancing the carburettors would add even more pep. That’s okay though because anyone looking to buy something like this should welcome the chance to get their hands dirty on a tuning job like this. (And if you doubt the appeal of carbs over fuel injection then I recommend The Gold-Plated Porsche by Stephan Wilkinson; no-one explains the pleasure of owning an analogue sportscar better.)

The underside was also stripped and painted, so is as good as the rest of the car. In fact, it’s still so fresh that even the bolt heads and brackets are clean, and that’s not something you see every day, is it?

History Highlights

The 260Z comes with a bunch of old MOT certificates and tax discs plus a handbook and a wad of old receipts and invoices.

Among them invoices are invoices for parts and labour for its 2010-13 restoration, with the most notable being for a complete body restoration from MCHV at a cost of £7,332 (#302).

More work was carried out in 2017 in Glyn’s workshops. This comprised mechanical work as per the invoice on slide #307. It’s probably fair to say that not many stones were left unturned between the two projects.

The Datsun doesn’t have a current MOT certificate, and while it is exempt by virtue of its age, we would strongly encourage the new owner to have it MOT’d at the earliest opportunity. The cost of an MOT is a small investment when offset against the purchase and upkeep of any classic vehicle, and it gives an independent, third-party assessment of the vehicles condition, which not only provides reassurance to the owner (and any subsequent purchasers) but might also be invaluable in the event of a bump when negotiating with the police and any interested insurance companies…

What We Think

What an opportunity this car presents! When you hear that a man with Glyn Hopkin’s reputation is consolidating his collection and offering one of his personal cars for sale, you know it’s going to be worth a second look – and his heritage Datsun 260Z is every bit as good you’d expect.

Because, if you’re going to buy an older sportscar, then you’re always better off buying one on which someone else has done the heavy lifting. And if you can find one from someone who really knows his stuff, then all the better.

This is one such car.

It’s also a Datsun 260Z in what is arguably the best colour of them all. Really doesn’t get much better than that, does it?

And, it’s not as if it’s going to cost you the earth. We think you might be able to snaffle this for somewhere between £20,000 and £25,000, which seems very reasonable to us given the Z-cars’ ever-growing rise in popularity and the amount that’s been invested in it already.

Speaking of investments, its few minor cosmetic faults also give you the chance to add value as you go, not to mention an excuse to get into your garage and work on a car that’s as beautifully engineered as this.

Of course, you could leave the money in the building society and earn 1.5% a year in interest. Your call…

Viewing is always encouraged, and this particular car is located with us at The Market HQ near Abingdon; we are open weekdays 9am-5pm, to arrange an appointment please use the Contact Seller button at the top of the listing. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below, or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.

Bidders MUST ensure they are aware of the registration situation of a car in auction, and whether it will be possible to export/register a vehicle in their country BEFORE they bid.

All vehicles MUST BE COLLECTED WITHIN 7-DAYS of the auction end. Storage fees of £180 + VAT apply (per week) thereafter without exception.

If needed, Footman James classic car insurance and Classic Concierge offer storage can offer you options, plus we have a list of contacts who can help with transport and shipping both domestic and international.  

BORING, but IMPORTANT: Please note that whilst we at The Market always aim to offer the most descriptive and transparent auction listings available, we cannot claim they are perfect analyses of any of the vehicles for sale. We offer far greater opportunity for bidders to view, or arrange inspections for each vehicle thoroughly prior to bidding than traditional auctions, and we always encourage bidders to take advantage of this. We do take a good look at those vehicles which are delivered to our premises for sale, but this only results in our unbiased personal observations, not those of a qualified inspector or other professional, or the result of a long test drive.

Also, localised paint repairs are common with collectable and classic cars and if they have been professionally carried out then they may be impossible to detect, even if we see the car in person. So, unless we state otherwise, please assume that any vehicle could have had remedial bodywork at some point in its life.

Additionally, please note that most of the videos on our site have been recorded using basic cameras which often result in 'average' sound quality; in particular, engines and exhausts notes can sound a little different to how they are in reality.

Please note that this is sold as seen (Caveat Emptor) and that, as is normal for used goods bought at auction, a return policy does not apply. See our FAQs for more info, and feel free to inspect any vehicle as much as you wish.

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Seller

GH123

  • Location: The Market HQ, Abingdon, United Kingdom
  • Seller Type: Trade
  • Odometer Reading: 43827
  • Chassis Number: RS30-021224
  • Engine: 2565
  • Gearbox: manual
  • Steering position: RHD
  • Colour: Silver
  • Interior: Black Cloth
  • Estimated Price: £20,000 - £25,000

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