Datsun 240Z ($2,500 – $8,000)
The 240Z was sold from 1970 to 1973 before it was upgraded to the 260Z, which upped the power from 151 in the 240Z to 162 in the 260Z. Many will debate which was best, but for our purposes, we recommend the 240Z. It’s the first Z classic and few cars drive like it.
Originally called the Fairlady Z (named for the 1956 film “My Fair Lady”), the 240Z is powered by a 2.4-liter inline six-cylinder engine, which was mated most commonly to a four-speed manual transmission. There was a three-speed automatic option but few buyers checked it on the order sheet.
The 240Z was a far cry from its powerhouse American contemporaries like the Torino. Light and nimble, the 240Z would make a 0-60 run in around eight second and still achieve 21 MPG.
In spite of its passionate following, good examples of the breed can still be found under the $10,000 mark. The 240Z is infamous for its reliability, which makes it a great accessible classic. Replacement parts and aftermarket upgrades alike are readily available but due to the strong aftermarket, unmolested examples are nearly impossible to find, as 240Z owners love to customize.
We love the 240Z. But unlike the English and Italian offerings on this list, the 240Z probably won’t ever leave you stranded on the side of a remote country road in a cloud of smoke. That, however, is an essential part of the classic motoring experience. For this reason, it loses some points in our book.