A sports car under the Nissan Z-car series, the Nissan 260Z was a 2.6-L variant of the first-gen Z-car, which was also known as the Nissan S30. Along with the 280Z variant, the 260Z model represented Nissan’s attempts to offer a true-blue sports car despite changes in emissions regulations and stricter federal standards. Even though this model was only offered for a single model year in the US market, it earned a loyal following among Nissan and Datsun fans.
To understand how the 260Z has evolved, a look back at its predecessor, the 240Z, is necessary. Introduced in 1970, the 240Z was the first S30 model. Its most distinct features were a chrome badge bearing the “240Z” name and a couple of horizontal vents placed below the glass molding on the rear hatch. In the following years, several upgrades were done. The bumper riders for the 1972 units were relocated and emission devices were added for the 1973 models. However, despite these changes, there were still many complaints on the 240Z. As a solution to these complaints, Nissan decided to release a new version of the S30.
The 260Z was introduced to cater to buyers who want a genuine sports car not just in looks but also in performance. However, this was also the time when strict emission standards were beginning to be imposed by the US government. Nissan came up with the 260Z, a more powerful and more equipped version of the 240Z. But since this car has to meet new federal emissions standards, a few more upgrades were performed. It was equipped with a 2.6L engine that produced 139 horsepower but has a lower power peak. A transistorized breakerless ignition system was also added, which resulted in better emissions control and reliability.
For the exterior, only minor upgrades were done so as to retain its predecessor’s classic lines. Since sports cars were given a one-year deferral from the new 5-mph federal regulation, the 260Z featured black rubber nubs on its new bumper assembly. This new bumper system prompted the engineers to add a rear stabilizer bar and stiffer springs. The 260Z was also now equipped with a seat belt/ignition interlock, a newly mandated safety feature that prevents drivers from starting the car if the passengers aren’t secured in place with seat belts.
In late 1974, the bumper size was increased. Units released in the latter part of 1974 also featured an overall length that was 6.3 inches longer than the early models. In 1980, the 260Z model was dropped to make way for the 280Z variant.
The engine of the 260Z was increased into a 2.8-L engine configuration, making way for the 280Z variant. This model was released to cater to the needs of sports car buyers amidst stricter emission requirements. The 280Z was available in two special edition trims: the Zap and the Black Pearl edition. Four years later, the S30 series was dropped and was replaced by the Nissan S130.