by: Carl Beck, IZCC# 260
last up-dated: 18 Dec, 2006
last up-dated: 2Sep.2015
This is a question that I receive at least every month from someone. So I thought I would write up a brief (if there can be such a thing) response.
The first thing that we have to understand and agree to are the "definitions" of some terms, and we have to watch their use closely to avoid misunderstandings. So, for this discussion:
1. Model Year: This is a marketing term, usually it is between 8 and 12 months long and within which, a specific model is considered to be "current". In the U.S. new model introductions in the 70's could take place as much as four months ahead of the beginning of the calendar year. That is to say, the 1971 Model Year Chevy's were introduced to the public and put on sale in Sept. 1970. (in the 90's manufacturers were pushing that new car introduction to as much as 8 months ahead of the calendar).
2. Production Year: the calendar year (Jan./Dec.) that the car was actually produced in. By law cars sold in the U.S. must have their Date Of Manufacture stamped on them. This is to assure compliance with U.S. Safety and Emissions Standards which are implemented by law on specific dates. Thus any cars produced on or after a specific date have to comply with all laws that take effect as of that date.
NOTE: The first 531 Regular Production Datsun 240Z's were produced in Oct. Nov. and Dec. of 1969, and were then, for the most part, sold in the U.S. and North American Markets as 1970 "Model Year" Cars. While Nissan produced a total of 543 units in 1969 - the first 12 were considered Production Prototypes - not sold to the public. However we have found a couple Regular Production units that were sold and originally titled as 1969 DATSUN 240Z's here in the USA.
3. Production Series or Design Series: without regard to production or model year, the over-all styling/design and configuration that mark major visual or mechanical changes.
There Are Four Series Of Datsun 240Z's.
THE SERIES I 240Z's - Produced from Oct. of 1969 through Jan. of 1971. They are identified by the fresh air exhaust vents located on the rear hatch. (some of these cars were also produced in the first few weeks of Jan. 1971 during the transition period) They have plastic covers for tools and jack located behind the seats, steering wheels with indents, rather than holes.
The Series I 240Z's were sold and titled as 1969, 1970 and 1971 Model Year Cars here in the U.S. and North American Markets. (as they complied with all U.S. Emissions and Safety standards in effect for those years. There was not much change in the standards for those years.)
Cars that arrived at the U.S. Ports after Sept. 1 1970, could legally be, and were, sold as 1971 Model Year Cars. (they could also have been, and were, legally sold as 1970 Model Year Cars! - however very few of them were, due to the price increase on the 1971 Model Year cars. ).
THE SERIES II 240Z's were produced from Feb. 1971 through Aug. of 1971. They are identified by the fresh air exhaust vents relocated to the side or "C" pillar of the car, from their prior position on the rear deck lid. The tools and jack were re-located to pockets in the rear deck area and the steering wheels have holes, where the indents were on the Series I cars.
These cars were also sold as 1971 Model Year Cars here in the U.S....So both Series I and Series II Z Cars were sold as 1971 Model Year cars.
THE SERIES III 240Z's were produced from Aug. 1971 through Sept. of 1972. These cars are identified by the re-designed center console with the ash try behind the shift lever (because of the use of the newer "B" style transmissions, cig. lighter moved to the dash.
These cars were all sold as 1972 Model Year cars, because they complied with the 1972 Safety and Emissions standards only.
THE SERIES IV 240Z's were produced from Sept. of 1972 through Sept. of 1973. They can be identified by the 2.5 MPH bumpers which extended away from the body, and had larger bumper over-riders. Also all 1973 model year cars had VIN#'s beginning with HLS30 120xxx as major changes to the emissions and safety laws took place in 73.
So the "actual" answer to the questions, "What Year Is My Z?" or "Is My 240Z a 70 or 71?" is actually determined on the Series I cars, by how the Request For Title was filed by the selling dealer, supported by the original Manufactures Statement of Origin (MSO) and the date of Delivery to the Authorized Dealer.
The answer to these questions, as it relates to the Series III and Series IV cars, was determined by compliance with the changing emissions and safety standards for 1972 and 1973 Model Years cars. So all series II cars were sold as 1971 Model Year cars (because they were produced after Jan.1, 1971). All series III cars were by law (Federal) sold as 1972 Model Year 240Z's and all Series IV cars were sold as 1973 Model Year cars.
Some Interesting Facts and Figures:
It would appear from our records so far, and supported by the research of others, that approximately 10,000 Series I 240Z's were imported and sold as 1970 Model Year cars. The remainder of the 19,000+ units were sold/titled as 1971 Model Year cars.
Z Car HLS30 11618 is the latest VIN that we have found which was sold and titled as a 1970 Model Year car (built date 10/70 and Sold/Delivered 12/70)
Z Car HLS30 05504 (build date 06/70 and Sold/Delivered 08/70) is the earliest car found so far that was sold/titled as a 1971 Model Year Car.
You can see that there is an overlap in the build dates and VIN's of the first two "Model Years", however for the most part, cars built on or after 09/70, with VIN numbers above HLS30 010031, were sold as 1971 Model Year cars.
Is a 1970 240Z more collectable than a 1971 240Z?
As not too many people are fully aware that there are two "Series" involved in the 1971 Model Year cars, for the most part, the answer to that question is YES at the present time. As the Model Year limits the quantity available, the 1970 240Z's will retain more of their value, and will be easier to re-sell over the short term. (three to five years)
However, if the Z Cars follow the patterns established by other imported collectibles, then the Series I cars will, as a group, be recognized as the Original Z design... and for the most part the Model Year under which it was titled, will not matter as much as it does today.
Please send comments/corrections to Carl Beck