A 50-year love affair with Z
Longtime Nissan 240Z owner and super fan, Jim Arnett, helped Nissan celebrate the future of Z when the Z Proto passed through his hometown of Dallas, Texas recently as part of a media event.
Coincidentally, just ahead of the planned event, Arnett saw Nissan’s new TV ad featuring a Safari Gold Z – the exact trim he purchased 50 years ago. The proud Z owner reached out to Nissan through the company’s Facebook page just to share photos of his restoration. To his surprise, he received a response and an invitation.
“Nissan mentioned to me that the new Z Proto was actually in Dallas and asked me if I’d like to see it in person. It didn’t take long for me to say yes,” he said. Within a day, Arnett found himself driving his 1971 Safari Gold 240Z to meet the Z proto. We got a chance to visit with the longtime super fan and ask him some questions about his 50-year love affair with his beloved Z.
What inspired you to buy the 240Z in 1971?
I was a member of a car club that participated in autocross events. Z had come out at that time and I fell in love with it. The problem was, so did everyone else and you had to get on a waiting list and pay a deposit to get one. Also, when your name came up, you had to take whatever Z they gave you, no matter the color or how it was equipped. I almost decided to buy a different sports car when a friend told me one was available at Trophy Datsun and to go immediately to the dealership. I did and it was love at first sight. On March 29, 1971, we became a couple.
It must have been a head turner back in 1971 on the streets of Dallas.
People would stare at this car, stop me — if they could — and ask me endless questions about it. Everybody wanted to know how much it cost and how fast it would go. I would tell them ‘it can go fast enough’. As far as the cost, I did pay list price but there wasn’t a lot of dealer mark up. The real deal was when you showed up to the car club with one of these, there was envy everywhere.
What are some of your fondest memories?
It was so much fun to go through the autocross. One of the things I remember was immediately dethroning the reigning autocross champion, who happened to be driving a Porsche.
Tell us about the restoration.
In 1983, the car had 92,000 miles on it and was burning oil. It needed attention that I could not give because we were building a house. So I put it away until 1999 when I decided to restore it. I took the car completely apart and bagged and tagged every part myself. About 10 years later I was able to start back to work on it. Over two and a half years, I got the body repainted, the engine rebuilt, a new interior and I put everything back together. I have only put 6,000 miles on it since it was restored.
What would you take for it?
I won’t take offers because there is no price I will take for this car.
What do you think of the Z Proto?
It’s a car I would definitely own. The lines on the car are amazing. It is so smooth and sleek; just very elegantly done. There are cars on the market today that are overwrought with styling cues. They have false vents, creases in the sheet metal, and excessive curves. This car is sleek, just like its forbearer. The styling cues it picked up from the 240Z and the Z32 are a beautiful tribute. Everything on this car is exceptionally well done.
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