1972 Datsun 240Z Survivor Avoided Rusting Out

UNIONVILLE, CT – Good deeds sometimes get rewarded. So does patience. Ken Griffin of Unionville wasn’t expecting any gratuity some years ago when he noticed a shaggy lawn behind the house of his elderly next-door neighbor and offered to help out.

“I asked him what was wrong and he said he couldn’t cut it anymore, so I said, ‘I’ll do it.’ I didn’t charge him. I just kept doing it whenever it needed it and then one year he showed me the car,” Griffin recalled last fall.

It was a two-door, two-seat 1972 Datsun 240Z sports car. At the time, it was gray in color. “I said, ‘Well, if you ever want to sell it, I’ll put my hand up, but I have two kids in college’ so I really didn’t have many funds around.”

A year passed before his neighbor informed him that it was time to let go of the 240Z. Griffin inquired as to the asking price. “He said, ‘Well, make me an offer.’ I was like, ‘I really don’t want to make you an offer ’cause I don’t want to insult you’ and he said, ‘It’s not about the money.’”

Rather than answering, Griffin returned with cash and a deal was struck. “It went from his garage into my garage,” he said.

See the 1972 Datsun 240Z in action in this YouTube video…

Datsun, as Nissan was then known, built the 240Z from the 1970 through 1973 model years and sold more than 150,000 examples. It offered performance and reliability for a sticker price under $4,000. It also enabled the Japanese brand to expand its offerings beyond economy cars. 

The 240Z was followed in the United States by the 260Z for the 1974 model year and the 280Z for 1975.

Griffin’s 240Z had been sitting for quite a spell when he acquired it in 2018. “It was really dusty and dirty but I cleaned it up,” he said, recalling that he looked under rug behind the seats and learned that the car had come from the factory with a metallic green exterior. 

His goal was to return it to its original look and he even got a bid for minor body work and new paint. A lack of funds slowed the process, “but during Covid the people that gave me a price said, ‘Can you bring the car down?’ ’cause they had nothing to do.” I said, ‘OK’ and he said, ‘Don’t worry about payments yet.’”

The job took three months. Motor-wise, the 240Z was fine and it still has the battery that its former owner put in it. The car has required clutch work and, last year, new struts and brakes.

“I wanted the car ’cause you don’t see them around here,” said Griffin, who also owns a 1994 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 convertible. “This car was actually purchased in Middletown by a kid that got in trouble and his father made him sell it. And that’s when my neighbor bought it, and he had the car for 46 years.”

Griffin has kept two stickers on the rear window that were put there decades ago by his neighbor. “The stickers are from his college days, one of which is even Central Connecticut State College before it became a university. He went there to become a teacher and I think he taught there as well,” he said.

Unlike most 240Zs, Griffin’s has survived the passage of time. “These cars when they came over in the ’70s would just rust. They would just rust away. The motor would keep running but your car would be gone,” he said. Griffin suggested that previous owner’s decision to change the color scheme to gray may have helped preserve it.

Griffin said the Datsun is “very fun to drive. The best gear is third gear ’cause you can go from 30 miles an hour to 60. It’s only a four-speed. I always look for the fifth speed but it’s never there. It’s fun on the corners. It’s an amazing car.”

It’s also rare. Griffin recounted that when it he went add his car to a registry of Datsun sports cars, the database’s overseer told him that his 240Z was the only one in his records with a metallic green exterior and black interior. 

“This car usually came with a butterscotch interior. It being black makes it rare, so this is a gem in the Datsun community,” Griffin said. So eye-catching is the model when parked in his driveway, he’s even had a driver passing by stop and ask him if it was for sale.

Ken Griffin and his 1972 Datsun 240Z

About Bud Wilkinson

Bud Wilkinson writes the "RIDE-CT" motorcycle column and the "My Ride" classic car feature in the "Republican-American" newspaper in Waterbury, CT. A graduate of Vermont Academy prep school, he holds a B.A. degree journalism from Ohio Wesleyan University. He is the recipient of a Scripps Howard Foundation National Journalism Award in 1992 and a 1991-92 regional Emmy Award for commentary. He currently rides a 1987 BMW R 80 RT and a 2014 Triumph Bonneville and drives a 2010 Mazda MX-5 Miata.

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