In 1964, Nissan Motor Company introduced a two-door sports coupe named the Silivia 1600 Sports Coupe. One year later, at the New York Motor Show, the Silvia made its one and only appearance in the U.S. The car was not well received by the U.S. motoring press, perhaps because it closely resembled the wildly successful V8-powered Ford Mustang.
From 1965 to 1968, Nissan continued working on new designs for a Sport/GT model no doubt motivated by the Mustang’s success and Toyota’s introduction of the 2000GT into the U.S. market. During this period, the Sports/GT project was designated as “Nissan Design – Project Z” with youthful buyers of performance cars in the U.S. as the prime target. Influenced by the flowing bodylines of the Jaguar XKE, by 1967, the design had evolved into the body style, which became the 240Z.
In late 1969, the 240Z production line slowly began to produce some cars with a few going to the U.S. to make the rounds of the major car shows, in order to whip up demand from the public. So, was the stylish body, 150-hp six-cylinder engine, independent suspension, five-speed manual transmission all for $3,500, considered a success? Judging by the 156,000 produced between 1969-’75, which exceeded Nissan’s expectations, it definitely was a major success. More importantly, it helped establish the Datsun name in a very important market. In the 1971, issue of Automobile Quarterly (vol. 9 no. 4) they concluded, “The Datsun 240Z hit its particular import market bulls-eye with such a wallop that its competitors will probably never recover. Indeed, the arrival of the 240Z hastened the demise of several competitors in the U.S. including MG and Triumph.