Driving A 240z Rat Rod

This is a loud car. The noise is inescapable, it comes through the rattly doors, through the stained t-tops and through the hole the size of a fist in the firewall. The noise isn't just loud for driver though, a fact confirmed by the heads of tourists strolling around the presidio in San Francisco snapping to as if ordered by the worlds angriest drill Sargent, searching for the source of the sound. It is another gray day in the bay area and the spray on bed liner that covers the flanks of the 240z prowling down the street matches the sky. This isn't a normal 240, this isn't a 240 that would feel at home at a car show where aging boomers trailer in cars that haven't seen a road in years, and this certainly isn't a 240 that you take home to mom. This is a crappy 240, and there is a certain type of childish fun that comes with driving something so broken and so willing to spin its tires while setting off car alarms with its exhaust.

The first thing you notice getting into this car is the hole in the center of the wheel where the wires that are supposed to connect to the horn button go. The wires are supposedly in working order, but the button just isn't around. This could be a metaphor for the car in general. Stuff doesn't work and you can see it. Crossing the Golden Gate bridge into the city the driver window dipped below the sill and refused to emerge, and when applying throttle the engine seems to slip out of gear at high revs and does its own thing until it falls back in. Rust holes are dotted around the body and when you open the doors you can see faded green paint under the rough spray job. Driving a car like this would get you shot on sight at Concours d'Elegance.

At this point, you may be wondering why I would bother making the trip down to San Francisco to review this car, or why I would spend the better part of a day in its battered interior. The simple answer is this car is fun. Its finite nature betters it and helps smooth the bumps. If you had to live with this car for a week, a month, or heaven forbid a year, it would get tiresome. But this isn't that type of car, this car is skydiving or cliff jumping. It is once, it is a rolling experience. This is reinforced by the leaking oil and the owner's admission that without some work it won't be long for this world.

Another part of a car like this is it teaches you to appreciate good cars. A lot of car culture is consumed with rat rods and "zero fucks" and stance, most of which is centered around objectively bad cars. Rattles and clunky gearboxes and shitty paint are all entertaining to some degree, but as I headed home from Mill Valley (where I reviewed the car) up Panoramic Highway and along the coast in my Volvo C30, I didn't want to be driving the 240. Not just because it would never be able to make the same pace, but mostly because driving a good car is more deeply enjoyable. Having the grip to crave smooth turns and having enough power to rocket along the straighter stretches is more enjoyable to me then the fear of having to downshift because you aren't quite sure how much is left in the brake lines. We love anti-heroes and cars like this play that roll pretty well, but at the end of the day I'd rather take home something that is fun because it is good, rather then something that is entertaining because it's falling apart.

The leaky brake lines and the complete lack of grip in the rear ensure this car can't reach greatness. That lack of grip is caused by the combination of an engine making around 200 hp, a curb weight of around 2,300 lbs, and the long straight 6 that sits over the front wheels which doesn't help with the forward weight bias. What I mean by all of this is that objectively this isn't a very fast car. If I had to guess I would say it makes 60 in around 7 or 8 seconds and would lose a Fiesta ST in the corners. Objectively this isn't a very good car either, with the exterior falling apart and the interior not far behind, but as far as flings go, a one day tryst with a rat rod 240z is a pretty good one.

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