one man. two cars.

zero cash.

"V" comes before "Z"

Like many aussie kids, I inherited the family car not long after I started driving. In hindsight, that car was actually pretty cool - a 1972 Chrysler VG Valiant

And like most teenage boys who acquire a vehicle, I almost immediately set about making the car look "more cool" and "go faster". The quotes are intentional, as it's debatable that any of the work I did on the car achieved either goal. I did rebuild a 265 Hemi that I got Chris Milton Engineering to do a spot of tuning on - shaved head, ported and flow tested, crank balanced / shot peened, and a camshaft ground E49 specs minus a couple of degrees.  I put bucket seats in and managed to get a set of "splat" style mags for it cheap of a mate's mate. I drove it everywhere, but over time I decided I'd like to buy and drive a car of my choice, rather than some hand-me-down. Two cars had caught my eye - the Alpha Romeo GTV6, and the Datsun 240z. 

It wasn't too long before the GTV dropped out of the race, so to speak. They were typically a few grand more than the Datsun, tidy looking ones were fetching close to $10,000 - a fair stretch on an apprentice wage. But when I finally got to test drive one... my god... I hated it. I can't remember the specifics, like which car yard I went to or if it was a private sale, but the car I drove was red, rattley, and just plain dreadful. Around the same time, my dad bought a little Alfetta as a runabout, and it felt exactly the same to drive. I then started to read up a bit on Alfas, and discovered this was all "part of the charm". Apparently. From that point on, I was hunting zeds.

The first couple of "for sale" 240z's I looked at were not great. Even cars that arrived in Australia at the end of production in late 1973 were 12 years old by that stage, and original engines and running gear were getting pretty tired. And the ones I drove felt tired. In addition, many had been thrashed by boy racers trying to outrun V8 monaros through narrow, bendy hills roads. They blew smoke, they jumped out of gear, they clunked loudly from somewhere aft everytime you pressed on or released the gas pedal. Some even had awful V8 Chev conversions ( no doubt to impress Monaro drivers, or at least, beat them in a straight line ), many had amateurish body modications and repairs. Colonies of rust were typically well established, and not at all well concealed.

Finally I came upon a 240z at a private sale up on Benny Ave. at Port Noarlunga, a long drive at the time but now only 5 minuites from where I live. I recall handing the guy the keys to my Valiant, as if it was some sort of insurance. Turned out he was a surfer as  well, and we kinda hit it off, so he really wasn't all that fussed when I disappeared off down Witton Bluff toward Christie's Beach in his car.

It drove pretty well, accelerated smoothly and corned very nicely indeed. On the way back from the test drive, I gave it some stick heading up the hill, hitting around 90kph at the top of Witton Rd. As I rolled down into Port Noarlunga I was smiling like a Cheshire Cat. It was seriuosly fun to drive. When I arrived back at the owner's place, the haggling began - but he'd set a lower limit of $4800 and I could not get him lower. I wracked my brains trying to figure out how to get the money, but eventually concluded it wasn't gonna happen. I'd have to let this one slip through my fingers. I was a bit ticked off, but not devastated. A new round of four or five 240z's usually came up for sale each week, and I was not in a rush. I could wait.

Three weeks later, the car turned up for sale in a yark on Main Nth Rd. I remember my excitement at discovering the price had dropped a fair bit - clearly the guy was more desperate to sell than I'd thought. I shudder to think what the yard gave him for it.

So, one sunny Saturday, I strolled in to Midland Motors on the golden mile at Enfield, pretending to know absolutely nothing about the midnight blue Datsun up on ramps near the front.

By Monday, she was mine.