This should be a fun one. You utter the words “Nissan 240SX” to anyone even marginally knowledgeable about cars today, and the first thing they’ll think is “drift missile.” But when the S14 debuted in 1995, that wasn’t even remotely the case. This review was aired in June 1994, a full year before Initial D began its 18-year run.
Motorweek was always oriented more towards the mainstream consumer rather than magazines like Car and Driver. Still, it’s kind of hilarious to hear them describe what we know today as one of the most prolific drift platforms of all time in terms of insurance premiums. And, when Motorweek conducts its slalom tests, it’s almost weird not to see the S14 go sideways.
Now, we’re not saying Motorweek should have known about touge battles or Keiichi Tsuchiya; we’re just saying it’s funny in retrospect. The title of the piece is “Evolution Coupe,” another phrasing that sounds odd to modern ears when not describing a WRC or DTM homologation special. But perhaps the biggest chuckle comes when they describe the S14’s target demographic: professional women (also, we didn’t realize being a woman was a career path).
Despite all that, Motorweek actually did have very nice things to say about the S14. They praised its quick and precise steering, superb handling, and excellent grip (har har). It goes from 0-60 in a respectable 7.3 seconds, and returns an even more respectalbe 22 city, 28 highway mpg.
The interior gets mixed reviews. They don’t like the spare IP and Nissan’s signature white gauges. On the other hand, they have high praise for the fact that you don’t need to move the shifter to eject a CD, and easy access to a 12-volt charger for something called a “cellular phone.”
In 1995, a base S14 began at $16,999, with the SE starting at $20,679. Motorweek’s fully loaded SE cost $23,073. Which is pretty much on par with prices for like-new examples today.
At this rate a clean S14 that hasn’t been drifted will be $16,999 before long.
In 2001 I was in need of a car and I went test driving. and came across a ’98 240 SE in teal. This was after driving a Legacy GT, Probe GT, and SVX.
The 240 stuck with me more than the others and if I could have afforded the $13,500 asking price, I’d have bought it on the spot. It was basically the perfect car for me at that point in my life – and probably today if I’m honest.
Then, in 2008, there was an Ebay listing for a ’95 SE located about 12 miles away in beautiful blue with something like 32k miles on it. Again, I was short on cash but more than that I was short on space. I bid it up to $7,000 and lost it to someone who wound up getting it for $7,500.
The 240 has been my white whale.
I remember the 240SX being known as a “secretary special” when they were new, mostly because they were under powered. Those in the know understood what they were capable of. Always made me wince when i heard them being called that.
If you wanted a “real” sports car, you shelled out for a Z32 300ZX.
That was the thinking at the time as i remember it.
And between drifting and rust, you better believe these cars are going to appreciate in value. Buy up clean ones now, they won’t be this cheap again.