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240z, 260z or 280z, chassis/body differences

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I'm almost embarrassed to ask this question, but I'm going to ask anyway.......Is there any difference in the S30 bodies? I mean subtle differences that I haven't noticed so far.....body mark, fender line, door line, etc. (other than the bumpers obviously). The reason I ask, is that I've been bit by the Z-bug, and am looking at buying a second one (a non-stretched version this time :mrgreen: ).....and one that I could drive everyday. I know some of the mechanical advantages/disadvantages between them, but don't see any differences in the bodies.......Right now, I'm not looking for one model in particular and wanted to make sure there's not something I'm overlooking.

 

Thanks in advance.

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I'd go for the 240Z (lighter weight) personally. If you're putting enough power to the wheels that it you are twisting the frame/body, you can brace it with a cage and still keep the weight under what a 280 weighs.

 

My personal, mostly inexperience opinion.

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If youre only looking for a body for a project, I dont think you should concern yourself too much with 240 vs. 280 (260 bodies are really just 240/280 bodies depending on date of manufacture). The basic body lines are all the same. The most important thing is finding something rust free.

 

There are cosmetic differences obviously, such as badging. The interiors also get more "lush" the later the model year. As mentioned above the later models are stiffer (and heavier), but they also have other upgrades like beefier spindles.

 

If you care about the engine, well then you need to decide if you want EFI or carb. There are only carb 240 or early 260's. Somewhere late into the 260 model they switched to EFI. Obviously the later the car the bigger the motor and the more power you can potentially make if you choose to stick with that motor.

 

Anyway, I would keep your options open to all 3 models to increase your chances of finding one in good, rust-free condition. All of the other stuff can be changed. Im assuming since youre here on HybridZ and not "that other forum" that youre not obsessed with stock restoration.

 

 

 

- Greg -

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Model run..

'70-'73 240. '74, early and late 260. '75-'78 280

 

Exterior. As mentioned, body line wise, ’70-’78 were pretty similar. The creases, roof, fender, and hood lines were all the same. Exterior differences were the bumpers of course, taillights changed at the introduction of the 260. The front lower valence on the late 260 and all 280’s is lower, (to accommodate the larger radiator and open up the radiator opening to compensate for the larger bumper), and the late 260 and all 280’s also have the front turn signals in the grill just under the hood instead of the below the bumper in the valence corners as on the 240 and early 260. The very early 240 had the interior vent outlets on the bottom of the rear hatch, late 240 and all subsequent 260 and 280 cars that interior outlet vent was on the "C" pillar behind the badge just behind the quarter light.

Interior. In general terms there were two distinct interior designs. The 240 was one, and then the 260/280 was the other. The 240 didn’t have to many interior changes through its production. The 260 interior was totally revamped. The 280 retained the 260 interior. In ’76, the shoulder belt mount point went from the “C” pillar to the strut tower, (seat belt doesn’t dig into your neck as much on the ‘76+ cars). Also, in ’76, the AMP gauge became the Volt gauge with a fiber optic charge light. In ’77 the only significant interior changes were the font style of the gauges and the doors received a total redesign internally, which relocated the window crank and the door lock switch. The door changes in ’77, (which carried over to the ’78), made for much heavier doors, but the window regulators were much smoother and the actual door striker design was totally different than the earlier ’70-’76 doors. Doors for the ’77-’78 will not interchange with the earlier doors due to the different striker design. In ’78, the speedo received KMH in small blue print. Either in ’77 or ’78, under dash foot well lighting was also added. In ’77, the Z received larger capacity fuel tank which encroached on the spare tire well necessitating the space saver spare, (the 240, 260 and ’75-76 280 received a full size spare tire), and also the ’77-78 rear hatch area now has a raised false floor which was to accommodate the larger fuel tank and that little deflated spare. Depending on which manufacturing plant the ‘77/78 was manufactured in dictated how the that false floor in the hatch area finished out to the rear. Some were flat level all the way back, others kicked up at 45 degrees to the hatch.

 

 

Structural. There were subtle structural differences as well. The late 260 and 280, the trans tunnel was widened substantially at the bottom. For some guys doing V-8 conversions, that is a big plus for exhaust routing. The T/C rod mounts were beefier as well as portions of the frame rails on the late 260 and 280 vs the 240 shell. As mentioned above, the late 260 and 280 had a larger radiator opening and as such, the lower core support dropped.

 

Suspension. Functionally and in basic design, they were all similar. The 280 strut tubes were a little thicker, the 280 had a little more caster, it has been said that the 280 rear control arms are a little heaver gauge material. The front cross member of the 280 is a little beefier as well. Brakes were the same, though the later 280 had anchored dual piston wheel cylinders in the drums vs the earlier sliding single piston wheel cylinder. The 260 received slower steering rack and pinion and the pinion housing was cast iron vs the 240’s aluminum. (The rack and pinion may have been and early to late 260 change, someone else here would know for sure).

 

Power train. The 240 had the 2.4 liter 6 cylinder, 260 had the 2.6 etc. ’70-’72 had the desirable SU carbs. ’73 240 and the 260 received some heavily smogged carbs that people complain about. The 280 received the virtually maintenance free EFI. Electronic ignition was first used on the 260 and carried through the 280 series. 5 speeds became available in ’77. In regards to the engine and trans, due to the cars age and all the previous owners, it could have any engine and trans and any induction system as they all readily interchange.

 

There are other subtle details that I’m sure others will fill in, but that should give some idea as what the major particulars are.

 

Good luck,

Paul

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Man, thanks for the great posts and info guys. You've all confirmed what I was thinking, and what Greg said........Wait for the right "condition" car to come along, not any particular model. The reason I'm researching this (sorry if I sound nit-picky), is because I have a 2+2 now, and I'm going to say this quietly.....I kinda wish I would have gotten a 2-seater. Don't get me wrong, I love my car...fun to drive.....the price was right...good condition....etc.......or maybe I'm just justifying getting another one :wink: . I'll still keep my V8 2+2, I just want one thats a little easier to drive on the street.....oh yeah, and Pressurized :mrgreen:.

 

And Paul, is your post a sticky somewhere? If not, I vote for it...I thought I knew most of the differences, but I wasn't even close! Someone looking for a Z with a pupose in mind....daily driver, road coarse, str8 line, etc. would definitely benefit from your post.

 

Thanks again all!

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Folks, I think we hav the first sticky of the new forum. Lets make this list encyclopedic, since our dear friend Paul was kind enough to give us a HUGE head start!!!

 

Suspension differences: didnt the cars get stiffer sway bars as time went on? i thought that the 240s were lacking rear sway bars and had skinny fronts, or something vaguely along those lines? (my apologies, my facts arent 100% off the top of my head :mrgreen:)

 

then again, there is always the list so conveniently compiled for us by the good folks at Victoria British: http://www.blackdragonauto.com/icatalog/z/0009.asp

 

That link may not be quite right for all perpetuity; but they keep the model history just after the table of contents, so if you are reading this post in the remote future and its not linking to the right page in the catalog, you should be able to find it before the body of the catalog begins, but after the table of contents.

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Suspension differences: didnt the cars get stiffer sway bars as time went on? i thought that the 240s were lacking rear sway bars and had skinny fronts, or something vaguely along those lines?

 

That's right.. unlike the 240Z, the 260Z has a front and rear swaybar standard. Looking at the Energy Suspension bushing kits tells you this ;)

 

http://www.energysuspension.com/pages/nis1.html

 

Great list, Paul. I knew of all those differences but clearly youre better at remembering them all at once!

 

One that was missed was the defroster lines on the early (70-71 IIRC) 240 are vertical while later models are horizontal.

 

 

 

- Greg -

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We have too many sticky's already.

 

Besides, there is a ton more information buried in the 500 other posts on this topic.

 

Now if someone wanted to take BRAAP's excellent post and add some additional details from the archives, then we would have an good entry for the FAQ's hyperlink thread....

 

Having an early 240 I will say you don't appreciate all of the structural differences between the 240's and 280's until you start trying to source junk yard parts. Nissan buffed up quite a number of key components. I can't help but think a lot of the changes were to correct some deficiency in the 240 design. Some of them appear to be safety related, like the stronger steering rack mounts, door latches, control arms, stub axles, moving fuel lines, etc. The forward mounted diff was an obvious mistake also.

 

Fl327 posted some of the best observations concerning the 3 models that I have read. Right down to fumes in the cabin and ripping out spot welds.

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We have too many sticky's already.

 

Besides, there is a ton more information buried in the 500 other posts on this topic.

 

Now if someone wanted to take BRAAP's excellent post and add some additional details from the archives, then we would have an good entry for the FAQ's hyperlink thread.

 

 

And Paul, is your post a sticky somewhere? If not, I vote for it...

 

 

 

I was referring to Pauls post, not the thread.

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We have too many sticky's already.

 

Not in this sub forum.. My point was that with a little effort, all the users can submit bits here that could be integrated into the initial post... and that the S30 forum is the ideal place for such a sticky.

 

The more stickies we have, and the better indexed they are, the easier it is to point people towards all of the abundantly overposted information on the forum. In essence, I am proposing that we as users each make a tiny effort to help build this putative sticky into another place to point people who ask the inane questions rather than search for answers.

 

The easier and more exhaustive we can make the search for their answers, the fewer we will have to deal with the posts (and the more SAVAGE we get to be when we yell at them to SEARCH!!! :flamedevi

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there are quite a lot differents between body shells

280 shell has a totaly different floorpan than a 240 , mutch lower and thicker chassis rail ,front radiator pannel is lower ,

the later type 280 do not have the vent holes on the front innerwing what goes through the top chassisrail ,

the fuel tank is bigger and the sparewheel wel is just about half as high .

the rearstrut towers are about 2,5" higher

this is compared with a 240 shell .

a early 240 do not have the storage compatiments behind the seats

i found out also about the reinforsmentplate for the brakebooster/cilinder

they have changed quite alot there are aready three different ones for the 240

We did lot of researce because we do race and rally Z s i Europe .

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Sounds to be that a lot of the weight difference that accounts for the later S30's versus the earlier is in bolted on parts more than the actual chassis itself. Heck, I wonder what radiator, trans, fuel tank, control arm, suspension and steering rack differences are alone?

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Sounds to be that a lot of the weight difference that accounts for the later S30's versus the earlier is in bolted on parts more than the actual chassis itself. Heck, I wonder what radiator, trans, fuel tank, control arm, suspension and steering rack differences are alone?

 

No; not true at all. Read the post immediately preceding yours for just one detailed comment on the substantial amount of metal added to the bare chassis in stages between 70 and 78.

 

It really was both, and in the end you cannot sacrifice much of the weight without losing the other advantages of the later model car, and winding up with a poorer compromise than either stock choice.

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No; not true at all. Read the post immediately preceding yours for just one detailed comment on the substantial amount of metal added to the bare chassis in stages between 70 and 78.

 

It really was both, and in the end you cannot sacrifice much of the weight without losing the other advantages of the later model car, and winding up with a poorer compromise than either stock choice.

That may be, but I really don't know how thicker steel in the chassis can account for, what is it?, 400 pounds or so? I am sure everyone has preferences and wants to defend the choice they themselves made. I'd just like to see what a race prepped 240 versus a race prepped 280 weighs where all the extraneous stuff has been changed for the sake of curiosity.

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It Seems for those who want more of a road road car, choose the 280z...For drag the 240 seems to be the better choice...The 260 seems to be the middle man....Either one will do though because all will need some newer tech upgrades to perform best....

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Guest lbpd719

From what I can recall (may have been covered already)

 

The fuel door on 70-71 had a little chrome latch that went away in 71. 70's had vents under the hatch window and no "vents" per-say to the sides behind the rear quarter. Correct 70-71 rear hatch windows also had vertical defrosters, which changed to horizontal in 71. 70 had slightly different numbering on the tach and speedo. Console changed in 72 to have the ashtray in the center, rather than up under the radio. in 70-71 the bumper guards up front were more out toward the edge, they moved more inward mid 72. Brackets and mounting for front bumper changed again mid year 72-73 to a more forward design with guards again inward. 70 rear bumper for US delivery was the only one with the "over rider bars". There was an indentation in the dash in 71 where you will find the cigarette lighter in the 72 (70-71 it was in the console next to the ashtray). There were some subtle changes to the indentations of the dash between 72-73 model years where a little sticker would go over the haz switch on the dash too.

 

I compiled a written list about 15 years ago going from car to car of observations, and speaking with other Z folks at the dealerships. When I find it I will type it up and post it. As always if I am wrong on something please let me know so I can be straight..

 

Oh - Dual point systems were on the automatics

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the rearstrut towers are about 2,5" higher

this is compared with a 240 shell .

 

Can anyone confirm if the front struts are any taller? I'm thinking of cutting a front off a 280z and merging it w/ a 240z.

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There's a ton of little stuff, some not worth mentioning, some interesting. Since I can jump from my '77 280Z directly into my '72 240Z, the little things get your attention. For example, the column mounted ignition key in the 240 is much more awkward to find in the dark as it is higher, angled slightly differently, and directly behind the accessory stalk. The original wheels (who has those anymore) on the 240 were only 14X4.5 wide, while the 280 was 14X6. The 280 bumpers required a spotwelded sheetmetal fill panel to close the gap between the rear pan and the heavy bumper. This may have been mentioned already, but the 240 has a smooth hood, while the 280 has the pair of plastic louvers for under-hood heat removal (of course placing the right one right over the fusible links was a design flaw IMHO :) ). I can't think of any other differences worth mentioning that haven't already been covered.

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ok, i have read all of you opinion about the two cars, and I am wondering, if I take a 280z and replace the front and rear bumpers with 240 thing chrome bumpers, and stroke the engine to 3.1 and replace all the EFI stuff with dual/triple carbs and remove any unnecessary interior features (or make the interior look like a 240z), will this setup feel like a clean 240z???

 

The reason i asked is becasue I think I can find much more easily a 280Z in beeter condition than a 240z (I mean rust wise), and I can find a 280Z with a five speed transmission which a lot of people with the 240z swith to.

 

so, my question is will a modified (as above) 280z feel as sporty as a 240z???

thanks

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You also want to get a lowering springs and struts to get the 280Z 2" lower.

 

 

ok, i have read all of you opinion about the two cars, and I am wondering, if I take a 280z and replace the front and rear bumpers with 240 thing chrome bumpers, and stroke the engine to 3.1 and replace all the EFI stuff with dual/triple carbs and remove any unnecessary interior features (or make the interior look like a 240z), will this setup feel like a clean 240z???

 

The reason i asked is becasue I think I can find much more easily a 280Z in beeter condition than a 240z (I mean rust wise), and I can find a 280Z with a five speed transmission which a lot of people with the 240z swith to.

 

so, my question is will a modified (as above) 280z feel as sporty as a 240z???

thanks

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You also want to get a lowering springs and struts to get the 280Z 2" lower.

 

Anything else??? I am just trying to figure out if I am better off with the improvements of the 280z.

How much more weight does a 280z with the front and rear bumper removed weight versus a 240z???

I would imagine that a 280z with a stroked engine (3.1) would compensate for the additional weight of the 280z.

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