Japanese Invasion

No, I am not referring to a planned invasion of the US by the Japanese military during World War II. (By the way, I believe Vince Bagli–subject of today’s first post–served in the Navy during that war.)

On this day in 1958 the first Datsun dealership in the US was opened in San Diego by Ray Lemke. In 1960, 1,640 Datsun vehicles–including trucks–were sold in the US. By 1970, that number had increased to 155,021, also including trucks. In 1980, 516,890 Datsun cars (not including trucks) were sold in the US.

That is simply a remarkable transformation of the US automobile market, a true Japanese invasion. In just the ten years from 1960 to 1970, US Datsun sales increased almost a hundred-fold. Of course, 1970 was also the model year introduction for the legendary 240Z. From Classic Cars, a picture of a 1970 240Z:


See the source image


As I have written before, I think the exterior design of the 240Z is one of the greatest in automotive history. One trend in the market for these cars is, believe it or not, resto-modding. I have seen multiple examples of these cars fitted with Chevrolet small-block V-8s and more modern transmissions, both manual and automatic. Whether the cars’ suspension, brakes, steering, etc. have been upgraded as well, I don’t know. Of course, they should be upgraded both to keep the car safe and to take advantage of the upgraded drivetrain. However, monetary constraints probably have prevented a “full” restomod build in some instances.

I think a 240Z restomod is a great idea, but that should not surprise regular readers. I welcome your thoughts.








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8 thoughts on “Japanese Invasion

  1. Having driven a 280Z 2+2 I can tell you they are a sweet car. Mind you it was freeway driving on the commute home from work in North Phoenix to Mesa, but it was a nice handling car. There are people out there making parts for these cars and one of them is in Mesa, way across town from your future house, Arizona Z Car. Also there are lots of people racing these cars.

    As a side note, with your interest in Pontiacs, my son-in-law has started collecting the parts needed to put an LS3 in his Solstice.


  2. I had a friend in 1983 with a B210 and my uncle always had the latest Z100, 200 on up. How high did they go before Nissan?


  3. I spent time with the Dean at a high school baseball game at Carroll Park in Baltimore. He had a story about watching Al Kaline hit the roof of a distant building in a high school game.


  4. I’m a fan of the ‘original’ Datsun Z-cars, though I don’t know much about them. I’m sure true enthusiasts would point out some are much better than others. Sadly, they seem difficult to find up here in the Toronto area. Saw a nicely restored 240Z in summer 2019 at a Saturday cruise night, and I think that’s the only one I’ve seen in years. I always enjoy when those surprises occur.

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