The Datsun S30 Timeline

  • Early 1965

    Design Commences

    "Design Project Z" was headed up by Mr. Yoshihiko Matsuo, Chief Designer, Utsuki Chiba who was in charge of interiors and the Assistant Designer, Akio Yoshida.  Who ran Styling Studio No. 4 , the Sports Car Styling Studio.

  • Oct 1967

    Final Design Agreed

    Between 1965 and 1967 many proposals were dismissed before the final clay model, in late ‘67 was agreed upon.

  • Oct 18, 1969

    S30 Announced

    The S30 (otherwise know as 240Z or Fairlady) was announced at the Tokyo Motor Show

  • Nov 1969

    Sales Commenced

    Sales through selected dealers were due to start at the end of November 1969.

  • Nov 1969

    Coming to America

    “For years, I’ve said that it is possible to build a small GT with a generous size engine, fully independent suspension, disc brakes, four or five speed gearbox and decent trim and fittings for under $4,000.
    All it would take, I reasoned, was a manufacturer with some appropriate parts in its shelves and vision to tool up for enough production to pare the cost”
    Ron Wakefield - Road & Track January 1970.

    The British have larger displacement engines but lack the vision to invest capital in such a project. It was left to the Japanese, and somehow we knew a long time ago they would do it.

    They did.”

  • Dec 1970

    SALES in 1970


    America = 9,997
    Canada = 1,201
    Australia = 319
    UK = 2

  • Jan 13, 1971

    Coming to the UK

    The Zs primary market was always going to be America, there was doubt at one stage as to whether the Z would come to Europe at all, but as history states, it did.

    Two Z’s were diverted from the Australian market to the UK sometime in 1970, as these cars were destined for the 1970 Motor Show.

    Datsun UK wanted to test the public’s reaction to a car that was so different from what Datsun had produced before.

  • Aug 1, 1971

    S30 officially imported into the UK

    The 240Z is officially imported into the UK, starting at chassis No 900

  • Dec 1971

    SALES in 1971


    America = 26,733
    Canada = 3,440
    Australia = 894
    UK = 72

  • May 1972

    Voted Reader's Choice

    In the US the Car& driver reader’s choice poll saw the 240Z voted into the top slot of not only the $3-5000 sports car section but also the best all-round car.

    For a number of years, the Chevrolet Corvette had held this title, but times were changing.

  • Dec 1972

    SALES in 1972


    America = 46,537
    Canada = 4,020
    Australia = 362
    UK = 602

  • Oct 30, 1973

    260Z Announced

    The Tokyo show saw the debut of the new 260Z; the range had also been extended with the addition of a 2+2 model.

    Chassis Nos RS30/RLS30 for the 260Z

    Chassis Nos GRS30/GRLS30 for the 2+2

  • Dec 1973

    SALES in 1973


    America = 52,556
    Canada = 2,537
    Australia = 783
    UK = 774

  • Feb 1974

    A new number, two new cars

    The 260Z overcame most of the 240’s shortcomings, but sensibly, with such a popular car, Nissan changed only the things that needed changing.

    The additional 200cc (hence 240 to 260) was to retain the level of performance attained by the original 240Z of 1970, which it did, on paper. The additional engine was achieved through a longer stroke which had the benefit of additional mid-range torque but at the expense of a willingness to rev.

    The 2+2 was an inevitable response to the commercial success of the Z, to provide a continuing increase in sales Nissan had to start to appeal to a wider audience, that wider audience would have small children.

  • Dec 1974

    SALES in 1974


    America = 50,213
    Canada = Unknown
    Australia = Unknown
    UK = 309

  • Dec 1975

    SALES in 1975


    America = 50,213
    Canada = Unknown
    Australia = Unknown
    UK = 309

  • Jun 1975

    Another Year, Another Model

    The L26 engine was already struggling to cope with Californian emission regulations, so Nissan decided to cure all the problems in one fell swoop - enter the 280Z.

    The old L series engine was increased by another 200cc. but it was what had been done at the top that transformed the car, Fuel injection did wonders for the cars driveability and fuel consumption.

    The injection system was made under license from Bosch’s L-Jetronic system.

    In Europe, the 260Z carried on, largely unaffected by the emissions, and therefore not requiring the injection system of its American brother.

  • Dec 1976

    SALES in 1976


    America = 54,818
    Canada = Unknown
    Australia = Unknown
    UK = 399

  • Jan 1977

    Mr Katayama Retires

    Yutaka Katayama was summoned back to Tokyo and he retired not long afterward.

    Katayama achieved a great deal, not only for Datsun but for the Japanese motor industry as a whole, although he received little recognition of this in his own country. In the rest of the world however, his efforts have been recognised.

    Characters like Mr K are few and far between.

  • Mar 15, 1977

    260Z reintroduced to Europe

    Imports of the 260Z 2 Seater started again with Chassis # 015116 being the first to arrive in Britain, equipped with alloys wheels as standard, however, this was only to last a year.

    The 260Zs in Europe had benefited from the revised 5-Speed gearbox from the 280Z, this along with a revised 3.55:1 final drive as well as 6.5J x 14 alloys with 195/70 VR14 tyres and a viscous fan.

  • Aug 1977

    The bounce of the dead cat

    New features for the US 280Z now included elegant new ‘mag’ wheel covers, and the option of an all-new 5-speed manual transmission, a space saver spare wheel, bonnet louvres to counter fuel vapourisation and restyled bumpers, no less than 18 changes in all.

    Power had been improved and was up to 177Bhp, with torque up to 177lbft, however with the 2 seater 100kg heavier and the 2+2 over 200kg heavier than the 240Z, performance had been blunted, the move was toward more luxury, this was the same across all markets, the interior of the European 2+2 had been upgraded to black cord

    As well as power, prices were still rising with a dollar off $7,000 being asked for a 2-seater and $8,314 for a 2+2, Automatic transmission added another $320, while the 5-speed (option) was $165. For California, the local emissions equipment added a further $95 to the basic price.

  • Dec 1977

    SALES in 1977


    America = 69,516
    Canada = Unknown
    Australia = Unknown
    UK = 418

  • 1978

    The most successful year

    Adverts now focused on equipment levels and fuel economy, emphasising the change in direction, whether the change was enforced or planned was still unclear, but it was quite clear that we were in a ‘run out’.

    1978 proved to be the most successful year, commercially for the Z, in the last 9 years, with nearly 65,000 sales in the US and nearly 1,000 sales in the UK.(these number included a few early 280ZXs that were filtering into the US).

    Autosport reported that the 260Z was “a charming road car for any purpose...” But cars like the 2-litre Porsche 924 had appeared on the scene.

    In Britain, it was only about £500 more than the 2+2, but could out-perform the two-seater, offered near-perfect handling and excellent fuel consumption.

    When Autocar tested the 2-seater 260Z, all it could manage was a top speed of 155mph and a 0-60 time of 10.1 seconds.

    The US had decided that the car’s customers were changing.

    More people were ordering their 280Z with automatic transmission and rumour was circling that Datsun was experimenting with power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering.

    As more competitors appeared the Z-car was being moved upmarket.

  • Dec 1978

    SALES in 1978


    America = 64,459
    Canada = Unknown
    Australia = Unknown
    UK = 957

  • Jun 1979

    Gone in the US - Going in Europe

    The 280Z had the most familiar silhouette on the landscape of automotive America but was being replaced by an altogether different Z, the “X” moniker that was added emphasised luxury and the Z had become a luxurious GT in the ZX.

    Only 135 were sold in the UK with the last 2-seater (Chassis # 021383) and 2+2 (Chassis # 021766) were sold in Britain.

    The Z series was to become the world’s best selling sports car, with over half a million made between 1969 and 1978.

    The expansion and technical development of Nissan during and after the world fuel crisis of the 1970s, and the subsequent recession are graphic illustrations of Japan’s industrial resolve.

    Nissan was still expanding at a frightening rate. Construction of the Tochigi Plant had been completed in March 1971.

    Cumulative production passed the 10 million mark in September 1972, with home sales reaching that figure in June 1975.

    Two years later, the Kyushu Plant was fully operational, and car production reached 20 million units in July 1977.

    The S30 series Fairlady Z (all models) sold a total of 5310,601 units - 19,391 more than the MGB, making the Z the best-selling sports car of all time.

    Towards the end of its life, apart from the rather pricey Porsche 924, there were other competitors too - from Triumph, Alfa Romeo and Mazda - most were substantially cheaper.

    Price wasn’t everything, though, as the TR7/TR8 could only manage 115,000 sales over its production run (slightly less than the 924), the Alfetta GTV never managed to top 100,000, although the original RX7 would just break the 500,000 mark after a seven-year run.

  • Dec 1979

    SALES in 1979


    America = 0
    Canada = Unknown
    Australia = Unknown
    UK = 135

In Images

Design #1

Design #2

Design #3

Design #4

Design #5

Design #5A

Design #6

Design #8

Design #9

Design #10

Design #11

Design #12

Design #13

Design #14

Final Prototype

Fairlady Z (JDM)

240ZG (JDM)



260Z 2+2