Evolution of the Z – Part 2: The 260Z

This article is written by Lewis White.

Introduced in 1974, the 260Z was to be the follow up to the world beating 240Z. Equipped with a now bigger straight 6 at 2.6L, as opposed to the 2.4L of the previous car, it had a higher power output of 165 BHP (123KW) at 5600 RPM and 157 lb-ft (213 Nm) of torque. The top speed was also increased from 125 mph to 127mph. Despite it being 5 years since the 240, the 260 still had carburettors and a SOHC.

A modified 260Z at the beach

However, in the US of A, federal emissions regulations forced a reduction in the ignition timing and the compression ratios, this resulting in a lower power output of 140 BHP. There was good news though, halfway through 1974, a 1974.5 version of the 260 was released. Gifted with the full 165 BHP it was just as good as the rest of the world spec cars except for the hideous impact bumpers because the Americans couldn’t be trusted with this new burst of power apparently. This would become the base for the 280Z.

The new I6 engine of the 260Z.

The gearbox choices remained limited to a 4 speed manual or a 3 speed slush box. A 2+2 version of the car was built which featured slightly larger windows and a different roof line. Other than the engine there were no real technical improvements over the 240. It was more interior design and layout that was changed. The climate controls were revised as was the dashboard, centre console and featured new seat trim and door cards. The chassis was also slightly stiffer and a rear sway bar was added.

The 2+2 version of the car

The 260Z was a minor upgrade from the 240Z but the real changes start to happen on the 280Z.