Japanese automakers lacked credibility and a high-volume market share of the sports car industry in the mid-1960s, and they couldn’t challenge Jaguar and Austin Healey in sales in the American auto market.
But that changed in 1969 when Datsun jumped into the fray with its 240Z, which eventually became the best-selling sports car of the ’70s. With a long hood, recessed lights and muscular tones, it was elegant enough to separate itself from other two-seaters.
With an in-line, five speed transmission and a 6-cylinder engine with twin SU carburetors that produced 151 horsepower, the reasonably priced car quickly became a big seller in America. Eventually the company became Nissan, and newer and more powerful versions of the Z cars emerged with a current offering of the 370Z in 2018. Locally, the Indiana Z Car Club is part of a tri-state regional group that holds its annual car show every third year in their respective states of Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.
This year, the Midwest Z Heritage Car Show was June 16 at the Seasons Lodge in Nashville, Ind., where the temperature reached 97 degrees. The show benefited The Jackson Center in Mooresville, which works with physically handicapped children and adults. I purchased my first Z car, a 260Z 2 plus 2, for $6,800 in 1974. In today's market, a fully restored one would easily command $25,000 to $28,000. Who knew they were destined to become classics? Until next time, happy cruisin’!