Spannerhead Dot

Datsun 240Z Restoration:
VIN Discoveries

July 2, 2012 by Matt

1972 72 Datsun 240Z S30 Registry Snapshot

I’ve never seen this before.

A helpful Spannerhead passerby commented on an older post in my 240Z restoration series, shedding some light on my engine block / VIN mismatch mystery.

To recap, although my dad, the Z’s original owner, swears up and down the engine in the car is original—and I believe him—it remains that the engine’s block number, and the number stamped on the car’s shock tower ID plate do not match. The number stamped on the engine block is 118555, and the ID plate’s number reads 110555. Up until this point, the going theories were, in decreasing order of likelihood:

  1. The original engine was somehow defective before my dad bought the car new, was replaced before he bought it, and the installer made a mistake when applying the number to the block.
  2. The engine was surreptitiously replaced when my dad had it rebuilt in the mid-’90s, and once again, the installer screwed up when scribing the block number.
  3. The Nissan factory made a mistake.

What made that last theory particularly improbable is simply the fact that the block number and ID plate have no other purpose but to match. I mean, that’s their only job, and it stands to reason that the dozens, if not hundreds of pair of eyes that saw the numbers between the time the car was being assembled and the time my dad drove off the showroom lot would have caught something.

However…it now appears the ID plate, not the block, is wrong. Check it out: My car’s VIN is 93069, and according to the registry information provided by the helpful commenter, 118555 would mesh perfectly with the block number range the VIN corresponds with. So, wonder of wonders, the ID plate, stamped from the Nissan factory in Japan, an item with no other purpose but to match with the block, is wrong. It’s like waking up one morning to find a misspelling on your driver’s license… Just bizarre. And surprising.

Editor’s note: This post is Part 18 of an ongoing series chronicling my efforts toward the restoration of my 1972 Datsun 240Z, originally my father’s. Read the other installments here:

Filed under: 240Z Restoration, Datsun, Project Cars, Technical, Tinkering


  1. John D says:

    It’s so much fun figuring out these little mysteries and finding out new things about your own car. I dig it.

    Am finally back from our 3 week hiatus of chaos (family vacation/reunion). We spent most of June traveling around NC visiting family (both Kristi’s and mine), going to a funeral in Chapel Hill (Kristi’s grandfather died, lots of relatives and cousins were seen), 2 beaches (visiting my oldest brother’s family at one and Kristi’s family at the other), the mountains (visiting my parents) and back home. Spent about 7 full days in the car, all said and done. I seriously considered giving you a call to see if we could drop in and say hi, but we were pushing pretty hard as it was. Maybe next year you can give me a ride in your V8-powered, supercharged and mini-tubbed Z-car…oh wait, this is your project…not mine… ;)

    Now off to read a back log of posts…

    • Matt says:

      Glad you guys had a good time! That’s a crazy vacation. Totally understand about not wanting to make a detour this way! And yes, hopefully by this time next year I’ll be able to provide some additional “motivation” for you to make a pit stop. :)

  2. Phillip says:

    Thats crazy, maybe something happened with a defect on the body when made in Japan or maybe it got damaged at port when it was shipped…. But very cool and a good conversation starter lol.

  3. Matt says:

    hi i just baught a 1972 datsun 240z and i was wondering if someone could provide a link to the production info that is pictured above? my vin is hls30-86700 if someone could that would be awsome really looking for more

    • Matt says:

      Hi Matt. Congrats! The info in is a publicly-editable spreadsheet, and I’m a little uncomfortable reposting the link directly, so I’ll just link you to the comment. I’d be careful not to change any of the values and save it.

      Edit: Whoops! Looks like somebody already did. Or there’s something wrong with the spreadsheet; I can’t get past 12/71. That’s a real shame.

    • Alex says:

      Matt #2, if you put your engine compartment tag number on here, I will add it to the 240Z VIN page alone with your VIN HLS30-86700. The best way to determine your Z’s original color is to look under the carpet or in the spare tire well, then tell me what color the original interior was (if it was repainted black, pulling one of the sunvisors should show a remnant of the orig color). If you go to “” you can see what color/interior combinations were available that year. Let me know what you want said about your car (miles, documentation, additional equipment, etc) and I’ll list it. BTW, my ’72 Z is VIN HLS30-74857 and is gradually being restored (money limited due to kid costs). Best regards, Alex

  4. Matt says:

    yeah i just found the old link and its gone for the 72 cars
    what a loss for all of us just getting into these cars to lose something so good and i was hoping to verify the paint color on my car since the paint tag is missing

    thanks matt

  5. Matt says:

    by the way thank you for doing this it is gonna help alot in the attempt to get my 240 running after over 10 years of sitting, however it will need a paint job but seems to have less rust on the car then yours does. One day maybee we can meet up and swap photo’s

    thank you again Matt Wilson from North Louisiana

  6. Alex says:

    Hey Matt and All:
    Great website that I recently discovered. Last night I found your VIN Discoveries page and thought I would comment. I am the guy who updates the Editgrid info page on Datsun 240Zs, and I appreciate the plug from this site. I started dabbling with the page a couple of years ago and put the VINs in numerical order and added the colors to spice it up a bit. BTW, “MLWilliams” started the website and I sort of took over the info additions to it…it is not my site. Most of the ongoing updating is coming from Zs listed for sale on Ebay, and I think the info will be helpful for guys like you who are trying to figure out if their Z still has the original engine. Your car is the first I’ve ever seen with an incorrect engine comp. plate…usually Nissan was dead accurate with those plates. Best reagrds, Alex from Columbus, OH

  7. Alex says:

    BTW, the ’72 Z info is back on the VIN page. It was off temporarilly…sorry!

    • Matt says:

      Hi Alex,

      Thanks for the helpful reply! It is truly bizarre than the shock tower plate would be wrong. If you have any other theories that can account for the mismatch, I’d love to hear them, but at this point, given the spreadsheet data, the block number seems to be the right one. Thanks for keeping that data handy, too. Cheers.

      • Alex says:

        Yes, strange that it would be wrong, but Zs were built by guys who get tired and are longing for “Miller Time” (or “Kirin Time”…LOL) just like we are. BUT, the plate is only off by one digit, and it is even more improbable that your car would have a block that was only off by one digit. Did your dad save your Z’s original paperwork, or give you photos of it when it was new?…those would make a great display board for shows (very few early Zs have any of that stuff). Glad you’re keeping it mostly original, and the return to the original silver is a great call (silver-red is one of my favorite color schemes for early Zs). Perhaps you could have one installment with your Z’s history…I think it would be a hit. Alex

        • Matt says:

          The Z was my dad’s daily from the get-go, and he wasn’t very careful to save the paperwork. I do have a few things, though, like the owner’s manual, a “Datsun” pouch from the dealership and the salesman’s card, along with the original Datsun warranty coupon book. There are a few pictures of it floating around in my parents’ old photo albums, too, back from the early/mid ’70s when it was still silver. My dad drove it away from their wedding, and there’s a photo of that. I should look those up and scan them; good idea.

          • Alex says:

            I have created a display board to lean against my beat-up ’72 at shows (it has good copies of the orig. documents and a couple of photos of it when it was new…it always generates positive comments). I think it is amazing you have your dad’s 240Z, and I look forward to reading more installments of your car’s saga. I bought my Z from the orig. owner’s son…he deeply regretted selling it, but needed money due to being laid off. Hopefully I’ll run into you one of these days at a national show.

            • Matt says:

              That’s a great idea. Something to do while I’m waiting for parts to come in, or on the body shop to do what they need to do. I took what paperwork I had to a local Z club meeting a few months ago; they oohed and ahhed over it a little bit. Thanks again for all the input.

              • Alex says:

                I had a pretty dead evening at work last night and was able to add a lot of new VINs to the 240Z Registry. Your Z is now listed with your dad shown as the original owner and passing the keys to you. I found a list of original 240Z owners that had most of the original engine numbers, as well as where most of them were sold. If you look in the 93,XXX range you’ll see even more confirmation your car has the correct engine (and its data plate is wrong). When will the new installment be online (inquiring minds want to know)?

                • Matt says:

                  Thanks Alex! Listing looks perfect but you might want to link to the restoration series in general:


                  instead of this post in particular.

                  Well, after a couple of months of taking it out every week or so for 15 minutes at a time, I parked it, put it up on jackstands and drained all the fuel, so it’s in official hibernation mode. Once I get the garage the way I want it, I’ll start disassembly, which is when the installments will resume… Dunno when that will be; hopefully soon!

  8. paul says:


    is it possible providing me that nice excel sheet? I’m in a similar situation.

    I would really appreciate it.

    Thank you!


  9. paul says:

    thank you!

  10. PJ says:

    Last instance I found from the website was from late 2013:

    Hope it helps!

  11. Ann Cummings says:

    I live in Colorado. My 240Z VIN is HLS30 41156. My son has had it in New York for about 30 years or longer after I bought it used in Austin, Tx. It is manual 4speed and British Racing Green. A Japanese man who had just arrived at a New York Datson dealership said it was the first Z imported into the US. Cannot for the life of me (at 82)remember the year. Hope you can help. This is the VIN my son just sent me and he has the papers but they will be hard for him to find after all these years. A.

  12. Alexander says:

    I own a 1972 240z with the vin of HLS30-83437. I was wondering what the Factory color
    was because I think it was Black then Silver then now its red. The left quarter panel is black. The hood is silver. I really don’t know what color it was in its past life.

    • Matt says:

      Hi Alexander. I’m not the keeper of the VIN list, unfortunately. Maybe ask over on the forums? Lots of VERY knowledgeable folks over there.

      Re:your question, have you checked under the carpet in the hatch area and under the plastic trim? Very unlikely it would have been resprayed there.

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