Lot 231: 1973 Datsun 240Z Super Samuri
Launched in 1969, the Datsun 240Z was destined to become the best-selling sports car of the '70s. What the badge lacked in romance and cachet, the 240Z more than made up for with its well-balanced muscular lines, penned by Albrecht Goertz, father of the beautiful BMW 507. With its long bonnet, recessed lights and those flowing, tense rear haunches, the Z clearly took its styling cues from the E-Type Jaguar fixed head coupe, yet it was pure and elegant enough to have an appeal of its own. A well-equipped two-seater with a rear hatchback, the 240Z concealed few surprises beneath its skin, yet lacked for nothing. The engine, a smooth, punchy, straight-six cylinder producing 151bhp from 2,393cc, drove through a five-speed gearbox to a well-sorted strut-and-wishbone suspended rear end. There were struts at the front too, and precise rack and pinion took care of the steering. The car handled superbly, if traditionally, and went like the wind, topping 125mph with ease. Sales took off and Datsun never looked back, selling 150,076 before the 260Z took over in 1975. The 240Z was thus destined to form a part of any serious collection representing, as it did, the most significant coupe ever to reach the mass market. Built in 1973, this is the original 'Super Samuri' 240Z created by Spike Anderson, the cylinder head specialist at renown race preparation company Broadspeed. Having purchased the Datsun as a modern replacement for his much loved Big Healey, he decided to use his considerable skill to increase its already respectable performance. Engine output was raised from 150bhp to 190bhp, the suspension was lowered and stiffened and racing specification brakes fitted, while on the aesthetic front subtle body modifications were incorporated; the final touches were a highly individual paint scheme of orange over bronze and naming the car Super Samuri, a deliberate mis-spelling of Samurai, the famed Japanese warrior. With performance now close to that of contemporary supercars, FFA 196L was duly featured in both Motoring News and Motor Sport, as a result of which demands for replicas ensued and during 1973 15 240Zs were converted to Super Samurai specification. Meanwhile, Anderson proved the road-legal car's competition potential by finishing second in class in the National Hillclimb Championship despite opposition from lightweight race cars. This led to his acquisition of an ex-works 240Z rally car which was transformed into a lightweight Group 4 Super Samurai competition machine, aptly called 'Big Sam'. Future saloon and sportscar racing legend Win Percy drove the car in its first ever qualifying session in the 1974 Modsports Championship but after problems he had had to switch to the road-going FFA 196L for the race, despite which he still won his class! Between 1974 and 1976 at least another dozen Super Samuris would be built while FFA 196L continued to act as a company demonstrator - a dedicated business had by now been set up called simply Samuri Conversions - a back-up racer, usually in the hands of Rob Grant, and Anderson's personal transport. Following a financial crisis, FFA 196L was sold in 1976 but Anderson was able to buy back the car the following year, after which a 230bhp, 2.6 litre engine was installed, the suspension considerably upgraded and 8in x 14in wheels fitted. So equipped, the Datsun was the subject of further magazine features and during 1978 it would compete in 14 Modsports races, each of which it was driven to and from, and take second in class in the championship. Finally, after a further four seasons - in three of which it again finished .second in class - FFA 196L was retired, having covered 175,000 miles, competed in 160 races, 20 hillclimbs and been featured in 15 leading motoring magazines. By 1987, however, the car was eligible for historic racing events and in 1988, two years after selling FFA 196L, Anderson was able to repurchase it. In the interim the 240Z had completed two seasons of special stage rallying but once again it became a road/race demonstrator. Subsequently, over 1991/1992, it was completely rebuilt and a 270bhp, 2,850cc engine fitted. Known in the Super Samuri world as 'The Godfather', FFA 196L, the first of 75 so-converted 240Zs, has had a quantity of remedial work carried as and when necessary over the years, including fitment of a stainless steel exhaust system. With just three previous owners, during an illustrious racing career, a MoT test certificate and the striking addition of Nissan sport wheels, this great and famous competition Datsun deserves every plaudit and more attributed to this performance icon.
Coys, Sports Racing and Grand Prix Cars
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|Registration number||FFA 196L|
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