Living with a Modified 240Z #blogpost

Living with any 40 plus year old sports car has its ups and downs, but what’s it like to live with one that’s been modified for autocrossing? Here’s what I’ve learned from my experience using a 1973 Datsun 240z as a daily driver.

Living with any 40 plus year old sports car has its ups and downs, but what’s it like to live with one that’s been modified for autocrossing? Here’s what I’ve learned from my experience using a 1973 Datsun 240z as a daily driver.

1. My Chiropractor Loves Me

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As if the suspension on a stock 240z wasn’t uncomfortable enough, I can assure you it doesn’t get any better when you put on a set of much stiffer lowering springs, Stagg Stage 2 shocks and a set of front and rear strut braces. The suspension setup, combined with the larger rims and lower profile tires I run on the car, is great for autocross, as there is minimal body roll and the steering response is immediate. Unfortunately, these upgrades are not quite as beneficial for my lower back. It’s as if every nuance of the road is transmitted directly to my spine to the point that I can provide you with an accurate estimate of how many leaves I ran over the last time I went for a drive.

2. Bring Earplugs if the Drive is Longer than an Hour

Pacesetter header, to a straight pipe, to a Supertrapp muffler. This is a great combo for the Z in terms of power production, but it is excessively loud for street use. Here’s a short sound clip so you can get an idea for what I am talking about.

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The car has relatively short gearing as well, so that doesn’t help the issue. 3,000 RPM at 65 mph is about as bad as you would think. The car does still have a radio, but don’t think you can drown out the exhaust by turning up the volume. Being the original stereo system the car came with back in 1973, it works well enough around town when the engine is at low revs, but turn the radio up too much and the nearly 43 year old speakers sound like they are trying to explode their way out of the plastic paneling in the rear hatch area. Thankfully, foam earplugs are easy to come by and work great to block out the noise on long drives. The longest drive I have made in the car so far was to the 2013 Z Car Club of America convention in New Hampshire. It was seven hours each way. I’m convinced that that trip cost me a bit of my hearing, but I can assure you the experience was absolutely worth it! The topic of long distance drives brings me to my next point.

3. Prepare for the Inevitable Breakdowns

When going for a drive, especially one of any considerable distance, it is wise to always pack some essentials in case something goes wrong. Or should I say for WHEN something goes wrong? For any shorter drives, my go-to items are a set of metric ratcheting wrenches, a few different screwdrivers, a carburetor sync tool and, of course, a set of jumper cables. If I am going for a longer drive, I will strap down my portable toolbox in the back that has about every tool I would need for a roadside repair, and behind the passenger seat I throw in a few quarts of extra oil and extra coolant. I also bring along a set of extra spark plugs ever since I had an unfortunate fouling of my plugs after getting stuck in traffic in New York City that left me stranded in times square until a friend of mine could arrive with a new set of plugs.

4. Even the Most Impractical Cars can be Made Practical

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I do have other interests aside from driving my car, so my 240z needs to be able to do more than just uncomfortably transport a passenger and myself. That’s where the roof rack comes in. It allows me to bring my distance unicycle to the many different bike paths I enjoy using on Long Island (where I live). Not that most people would have a need to transport a 36in wheel unicycle using a 240z, but at least now you know that it can be done!

5. Nothing is worse than when it rains.

As I’m sure many of you already know, Datsuns are not well known for their rust resistance. As the old saying goes, “The 240z would begin to rust if there was a prediction of rain.” I avoid at all costs driving the car if it is raining out. If it is absolutely necessary for the car to be driven in the rain, a good deal of time is spent immediately after in the garage with plenty of towels making sure I dry off every area of the car as best as I can.

6. Summer is both the best and worst time of the year.

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The beautiful summer weather is great because the r-compound Toyo tires on the car grip better than ever. Also, summertime is autocross season! But of course, because racecar, my 240z has no A/C. So packing an extra set of clothes, to replace the ones I completely sweat through on my way to my destination, is an absolute must. Eventually I realized it was more efficient to just wear a bathing suit when driving the car in the summer. That was a real game changer, but not one that my girlfriend is ready to adopt just yet. I’m sure she’ll warm up to the idea eventually…

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7. My girlfriend must really like me.

The only reason I know this is, if she didn’t, she wouldn’t put up with having to go everywhere in a car that feels like the suspension is made out of concrete blocks, ruins the hearing of everyone within a 2 mile radius, and results in the occupants smelling like gas fumes after going for a drive (a common problem with 240z’s because of the aerodynamics at the rear that results in the exhaust fumes entering the hatch area). She even helps me get the car ready for shows!

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As much as I may sound like I hate the car, there could be nothing further from the truth. The 240z has long been my dream car, and my past 3 years of ownership have been incredible. It is a car that warrants attention from people of all ages. I don’t recall having ever gone for a drive when I didn’t receive at least one compliment or thumbs up from a fellow petrolhead. Somehow it manages to function as my daily driver, track car, autocross car, show car, and most importantly, my unicycle transporter. I’m willing to admit that it is not the easiest car to live with, but if that’s what I was going for I would just call it a day and get myself a Prius.

Thanks for reading fellow CTzens! I hope you enjoyed it. If you have any questions for me, drop a comment below.


The Adolescent Petrolhead

As one who is thinking of buying a 240z, 260z, or 280z. What was it like upgrading the car, easy? I feel that the 240’s I6 can’t be too complicated. Lastly, how was it before you modified it, was it reliable stock?

12/15/2015 - 21:51 |
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The beauty of the Z cars is the interchangeability of parts across the model years. In that sense, it makes upgrading them a lot easier than many other cars. For example, my car currently has a 5 speed from a 280z and a rear differential also from a 280z, yet all of this bolts right up to the 240z chassis with almost no modifications necessary. The engine itself is quite simple to work on if you have a general understanding of mechanics, and would be great to learn on. Stock or modified, the Z cars are pretty reliable. Even now, I don’t find myself having issues with reliability. Keeping in mind that even the later 280’s are all nearing 40 years old now it can be expected that every once in a while something will go wrong with them, but when it does there is a great parts availability and aftermarket in the US to get them back up and running right away. Aside from the one time mentioned when I was stranded in NYC for a while, the car has never let me down!

12/15/2015 - 22:02 |
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Great post man, I love it when people are informative and intelligently convey their points.

12/15/2015 - 22:41 |
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Thanks a lot! I really appreciate the compliment, and I’m glad you enjoyed it.

12/15/2015 - 22:45 |
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This post let’s me know what’s coming to me soon hopefully but it’s nice to know that I can share interest with someone who has actual experience at my age

12/16/2015 - 02:43 |
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