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Nissan S30 – The Grandfather of the Nissan Z

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Datsun 240Z

Pictured: Datsun 240Z

The Nissan Z-car has become a well respected sports car, known for its affordability and performance. If you’re a fan of the Nissan 370Z or any of the other Z-cars, take a moment to look back at where it all started.

The Nissan S30 was designed by Nissan’s Sports Car Styling Studio in the 1960s to compete with more expensive sports cars like Jaguar and Porsche. Sold in the US as the Datsun 240Z, it had four wheel independent suspension, front disc brakes, and a 2.4-liter inline six-cylinder engine that generated 151 horsepower through a four-speed manual or three-speed auto.

In 1974, the car was updated to the Datsun 260Z, but that was the only year it was available in the US because of tough US emissions regulations that reduced the power of the bigger 2.6-liter engine to 140 horsepower. It also got some bigger bumpers to keep up with new safety regulations.

1977 Datsun 280Z

1977 Datsun 280Z with the dorky safety bumper.
Photo: dave_7 via Flickr

Nissan updated the car yet again in 1975 to keep up with our stupid, fun-killing regulations, but this time the 280Z’s bigger 2.8-liter engine offered 170 horsepower.

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The S30 may have been just another cheap sports car back in the 70s, but the car has seen an impressive resurgence with turners and tinkerers thanks to its basic setup, lightness, and huge engine bay that is more than accommodating to all kinds of insane motors. The first thing many owners get rid of in the 260Z and 280Z is the ridiculous bumper in favor of the more stylish but less pedestrian-friendly 240Z bumper.

The car currently enjoys a strong aftermarket for body kits and performance parts thanks to a dedicated enthusiast base, and original Nissan S30 examples fetch a premium in the used car market.

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As a bonus, enjoy the video below that illustrates the hilarious fun that a Chevy V8 engine brings to the 240Z: