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Lurch’s ‘Early Girl’ 240Z!

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Yes, I’m a big fat fibber - LOLZ!

My apologies to those who contacted me to see if I was alright – but I was more than OK… :)


Anyway, before I begin I need to go back to the year 1970…






Early in 1970 accountant (& all round car nut) Harry Thorpe is perusing the auto magazines at his local news agent, when he spies a copy of US magazine “Road & Track” in which they have road tested the all new DARRRTSUN 240Zee.

Harry was impressed but the flowing lines of the new ‘Zed car’, & was even more excited about the performance figures...

Now Harry was no stranger to performance sports cars – be had previously owned a couple of very quick Austin Healey’s 100’s, even racing one in the 50’s at Albert Park against the likes of one ‘S. Moss’ in a Maserati 300S…


Anyway, so impressed was Harry with the review’s of the 240Z, he wandered into his local Nissan/Datsun dealer at the time – Novadale Motors – a few months later to enquire about a test drive.

He was rather taken aback when the salesman informed him that no 240Z’s were available for test driving!

Harry then deciding to bite the bullet, then asked to BUY one.

“Not a problem sir – as long as you can wait 6 months” (The US having similar supply issues, as Nissan Japan could not keep up with demand).

6 Months! Very annoyed, Harry left a securing deposit & then went home to inform his wife Dawn that the new car won’t be ready for “a little while”…


December 1970 rolls around & Harry gets a phone call from Novadale: “Mr. Thorpe, your 240Z has arrived & is waiting for you to collect it.”

Excited, Harry raced down to the dealer – only to be disappointed:

“It’s light brown!”

“It’s called Safari Gold actually, Mr Thorpe”

“It’s horrible – do you have another 240Z in a different colour?”

“I’m afraid not Mr. Thorpe – it’s either this car, or you can wait another 6 months”

Begrudgingly Harry paid for the 240Z (he REALLY wanted it badly by this time) in full & drove it home. He was not disappointed…



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For the next 25 years Harry used the 240Z as daily transport, as well as numerous holiday trips to NSW & QLD with wife Dawn beside him.

(Indeed, so potent was the 240Z, that during the 70’s with Harry behind the wheel, it did something quite extraordinary.
Victorians will know that the distance from the Melbourne suburb of Croyden, to Bairnsdale down near the Gippsland Lakes.
Well this particular 240Z did that trip from Croyden to Bairnsdale in 1 hour & 50 mins.
At night).

In approximately 1986, with the body showing its age, Harry finally did something he’d been wanting to do since he bought it.
The body was repaired & resprayed in a bright Ferrari Red (the same colour it wares today).
Fast forward a number of years later & Harry is finding the original L24’s performance has really dropped off,

so Harry asks the man who had been servicing his Z since new to rebuild his trusty L24 & maybe give it a bit of a performance boost while it’s apart.
That great man of Datsun tuning: Gordon Dobie.

Harry’s brief to Gordon was simple: as much power as possible without sacrificing drivability.
And Gordon delivered just that.
Combined with the rebuild, the head was ported & L28 size valves fitted, a DPC spec camshaft, upped CR, performance headers, 280ZX injection manifold & controlled buy a WOLF V4 ECU, the new engine gave new life to the Z & made Harry grin even more so than when he first drove it in 1970…

Years later Harry & Dawn retired to the Gippsland Lakes district & naturally the Zed went too.
Sadly Harry’s health had started to deteriorate & the Zed was used less & less, in favor of a cheap hatchback to run around in.

And THIS is where the story takes a turn…

Edited by Lurch ™
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A few weeks before Easter this year (2010), a mate from the Gippsland Car Club lobs into my work for a quick yack & informs me he’s heard about a 240Z for sale, down near the G/Lakes.

I said “yeah, get me some details” (thinking that nothing will come of it).

Right before I’m due to go on holidays for Easter, said mate lobs back in on a Friday with a phone number for an older bloke called Harry… Hrmm…




I get home that evening & mull over for a few minuets weather or not to call this ‘Harry’.

I give in & make the call:


(Summarizations of the call):


“Hi Harry, my name is Locky & I’m enquiring as to weather you have a 240Z for sale?”

“Umm… well… yes I guess I do”

“OK well, umm, can you tell me some information about it? What year is it?”

“Oh, well it’s a 1970 model”

Bells start ringing in my head & I immediately ask”

“Ahh ok – do you know what Chassis Number it is?”

“Oh it’s 14something – I can’t remember atm”

(At this stage I break out into a cold sweat).

“Right. Is it still registed?”

“Oh Yes – It’s been registed & insured since 1970 – still has the original plates on it.”

(My heart starts racing)

“Oh excellent” (me trying not to sound too excited)

“So how long have you owned it Harry?”

“I bought it new in December 1970 – it took aaaaaggges to arrive from Japan”

(My hand starts shaking).

“So is it in stock condition is it?”

“Well it mostly is, but I had the orignal engine & gearbox rebuilt a few years ago buy a bloke called Gordon Dobie who used to run a workshop called ‘Datsun Performance Centre’. Have you heard of him?”

(I nearly drop the phone)

“Umm, yes the name rings a bell”

“Right, well he rebuilt the engine with a ported head with big valves, cam, & he also fitted fuel injection with one of those ‘Wolf’ computers.”

“Oh right”

“Yes, but it doesn’t run very well – I don’t think it’s been tuned correctly.”

“It’s also got a rebuilt close ratio gearbox in it – it’s magic to shift”

(At this stage I’m nearly a drooling mess on the floor)

“That all sounds excellent Harry – oh, is there much rust in the body?”

“Nope, apart from the bottoms of the guards – they’ve blistered. Damn things, they’re the 2nd set I’ve had on it!”


“Well… umm… (trying to sound composed), that sounds like a very nice 240Z Harry”

“If your home tomorrow (Saturday) would it be possible to come down & have a look at it?”

“Yes, I don’t see why not. But make it after 10am – I’m retired & I don’t get out of bed early anymore unless I have to! (laughs).”


I hang up & sit on a chair in complete disbelief.

So much for nothing coming of that…


The next Day I head down there (2hr drive) & meet up with Harry & his lovely wife Dawn, to inspect the Zed.

I think most of my Christmas’s came at one that morning.

Not only is it an early Chassis number – HS30-00149, it’s also matching numbers! L24 015356

Harry was undeniably nervous about selling it (with good reason!), so a careful negotiation process took up most of the morning.

However fate intervened when I went & started it: a high pressure fuel line burst in the engine bay, spraying fuel all over the garage floor.

I quickly shut it down & this (sadly) was when it really hit home for Harry – the mighty 240Z was beyond him…


Dad & myself shot down after Easter & collected the Zed with the trailer, & we spent most of the day there talking, eating, drinking & socializing - basically making it easier for Harry to separate from the Zed, which he so loved.

He also gave me all the old parts he’s taken off it: the Hitachi carbs, steel wheels with early ‘D’ hubcaps, front under tray, front spook (which he had made in the 70’s for it!) etc etc.

He even gave me the original sales receipt for it, from when he bought it!!!


In the coming weeks after I took position of it, I repaired the rust in the guards, then the floor, chassis rails, foot-wells, inner guard (under the battery tray), firewall… It was a tad rustier than Harry thought…!

Then the panic set in –I was so busy at work, and with only a few weeks to get a Roadworthy (in order to keep the original B&W plates) & transfer it into my name I decided to hand it over to Mike at Spyder Automobiles in Warragul to finish the mechanical repairs & organize the roadworthy.

The roadworthy was achieved with a few days to spare – to say I was stressed during this time would be an understatement…!

Mike is also a Wolf dealer, installer & tuner & had the 240Z running like a Swiss watch – as it always should have been.


And that’s the story – perhaps the greatest find I’ll ever have!


Future plans are to fit new door rubbers (thanks Simon!) then upgrade the brake/suspension/diff & maybe fit some triple throttle bodies (nice easy ‘bolt-on’ modifications)… then see what it does on the track 

This is one Zed that’s never going to be cut up/butchered & is to remain one VERY special Z (at least to me!).


Thanks for reading!











Edited by C.A.F.
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pheeeeewwwww !

I dont know what Im impressed with more, the car or the amount of typing  ;D


do you have the parts to convert the motor back to original sitting nicely somewhere ?

Ive always loved safari gold as a colour.

Whens the next trip to wakefield so we can check her out..

congrats nevertheless !!

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do you have the parts to convert the motor back to original sitting nicely somewhere? Yes i do :)

Ive always loved safari gold as a colour. Im still undecided :-\

Whens the next trip to wakefield so we can check her out... Maybe DatNats 2011 ;)

congrats nevertheless!! Thanks Chris :)


Beautiful mate, are you going to run the L24 or store it and put an L28 in? Oh and you know you've got to put some watanabes on it ;)

The Original L24 can stay put for the moment, as it's quite healthy...

However I want to build up another L24+ for it, so I can remove the orig. L24 & store it :)

Final wheel choice will depend on brake package :-\


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Well done lurch. What a find. I can imagine what your beats per minute would have been during that phone call. Can't imagine there'd be a heap of l24s lying around for your spare engine. Love to see a better engine bay pic to with this efi. 

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well out of the closet Lurch :) so it got a RWC with all the repairs done nice 8)


So brakes and suspension..hmm I would look at it this way......go and get another set of struts thus allowing you to keep the originals for the day that you might want it to go back to 100% original/stock.


Like your engine plans keeping the stock item for that maybe one day. Then with your new struts cut away do coil overs bigger brakes etc go for a bolt in camber plate (I know the K-Mac are $$ and heavy by they do allow a good range of camber and caster with no strut top mods at all and if you don't want to drill new holes of cut/slot etc then this is one solution). If it is all bolt in you can just unbolt and swap it back in a few hours and be back to stock in no time.


So the next question is what size rims do you want to run on the car? I ask and that will make up your mind on the brake setup. The AZC brake kit is good value for the $$ but if 15" is what you want then you are limited to only a select few 15" rims. 16" with the AZC should have no issues.


If you want a good bit of rubber on the road and wide rims are required but now the kicker I assume with this zed you will be keeping the body stock so that means flares are out of the question as would be rolling the lips? So you are now limiting the size of the rim you can run down to 7" with stock spring perches. So coilovers will allow you to run a wider rim up to 8" with the right offset.


Now that brings me around to tyres and what look you want for the car - if you are going to a period type look then you will want taller profile as that was all that was around back then. So this does bring you back to 60 profile for true period correct road look and maybe 50. If you go 50 that does open up the 16" again with the 225/50/16 not looking too big on the zed. But a 245/50/16 is large and requires a large rim and thus they out of the picture at a guess. If 60 is what you want to run then 15" or original 14" sizing is all that is left :( that will not make the zed look over tyred. at 14" big brakes are out can't go much more than the stock sizing maybe vented and add some cooling


So this is what I conclude

16x7 or 16x8 (with the right offset +10 or more + ie upto +20 on the 8" 7" does not matter) with a 225/50/16 and the AZC brake type setup and coilovers for the 8" to clear inside)

15x7 or 15x8 (again offset would be the same) with either a 225/50/15 or a 205/215/60/15 coilovers for the 8" wide rims due to the + offset to clear the stock fenders and then that leaves the brakes. The VT commodore is a good setup I had this on my last 240z and the performance was excellent. So with a 15" you are limited to around 300mm rotors


So Lurch - what size tyres/rims do you want to run I think that is the first question. Then go from there.


Love the car by the way and the story that goes with it and finding a 40 year old car with one owner is a rare find indeed.

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Awesome story Lurch... what a genuinely fantastic find.


I've got to say, the jellybean wheels and big rubber look very cool. Is that front scoop something that Harry put on the car from new? have not seen one of those?


Do you know what sort of HP the engine is putting out?





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Thanks for the comments everyone! :D



Mike, I think some 16’s will be on the cards – just not sure what width as yet  :-\

I know a 9” wide rim will just squeeze under the rear with the right offset rim, lipped arches & coil-overs.

Knowing my future power upgrade, I think a 9” rim might be prudent…

Brakes - I don't know. Your last PM to me regarding that, has made me more undecided than ever  :-[

In any case, I'm going to wait a few months before making any major upgrades/changes.


Awesome story Lurch... what a genuinely fantastic find.


I've got to say, the jellybean wheels and big rubber look very cool. Is that front scoop something that Harry put on the car from new? have not seen one of those?


Do you know what sort of HP the engine is putting out?





Thanks Adam.

I personally think it looks ‘over tired’ with the 65 profile rubber on it.

It also needs lowering further too.


The front ‘spook’ is something that Harry had made up out of 1.2mm steel back in the 70’s

It’s an interesting ‘period’ addition that changes the look of the front of the Zed dramatically (IMHO).


As for engine HP, I think the quoted HP is a little optimistic.

Around 180-190hp at the treads is more accurate.

Don’t be fooled though – it’s no slouch ;)


On ya bro.  So your bringing it up to my wedding yeah?

Yeah – hurry up & send me an invite already!


Mate, I love the write up and look forward to going for a spin it with you behind the wheel.

I’ll have to pop down for breakfast again one Saturday :P


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Better late than never responding to this story...........


Congratulations Lurch, one hell of a story, heritage and car.







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