SAAC: "History In Our Midst" - Running Into the First Datsun Z-Car Built For Sale to the United States, at the 2011 "North Branford Potato & Corn Festival Classic Car Cruise," Friday, August 5th, North Branford, CT
(this page new as of 4/5/2012)

Quick Links for this page: Background | Transcription of Display Board Story about the Car | Other things that have been published about the Car

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Image from Display Board at North Branford Festival Cruise, August 5th, 2011As this is being  written, it's now the Spring of 2012, and I still haven't really gotten around to studying the many photos I took of the many beautiful old cars and trucks that participated in the 2011 North Branford Potato & Corn Festival's Friday evening Classic Car Cruise. So, nothing left to do except start to dig in and start looking thru the photos...

As this event was necessarily a fun and informal-type of cruise, there was no "registration," per se, and with the result that most of the cars did not contain any visible identification about what make, model, year, etc., nor owner's name, etc. My photos, in addition to the overall-type views, and individual subject type shots of cars that caught my eye, also captured, where available, any sort of display and/or vehicle identification that the individual owner may have cared to create and display with their car.

The evening of the event, Friday, August 5th, 2011, turned out to be positively magnificent. I had driven my '50 Bug to last year's event (2010-my first-ever experience there), and had a positively wonderful time, but this year, with my '70 Convertible Bug running well, I could think of no other car I'd rather drive there for the 2011 version.

If anything, the event seemed to be even more well-attended than I remembered! The field where the cars are arranged is a perfectly flat, grassy manicured basebal field. The incoming cars I think first get placed along the outfield wall, and then successive inner rows are created after the initial outer rows are filled. I got there as the second row was being created, so I ended up with a pretty nice end spot. From there, it was a simple task to get out and about and start taking my pictures--of which I accomplished many! A typical overall view is shown below:

North Branford Festival Cruise, August 5th, 2011

Anyway, getting back to the original thought for how this page came about, as I was going thru my many 2011 North Branford Potato & Corn Festival Classic Car Cruise photos recently, I noticed that I had taken a few shots of one car in particular that had a large and very detailed display board next to it--and luckily, I also took a couple of decent-enough shots of the board, that I was able to read & transcribe what it said! One of my pictures appears at the top right--it shows the upper part of the board, and contains the wording: "First Datsun 240Z Off The Production Floor In 1969."

And another picture of the bottom "text" portion of the display board came out well enough that I was able to read & transcribe it for this page! The story it contained went as follows:

'Lucky 13', Oct/69 240Z, HLS30-00013... Owned by Rick and Kathy Morgan of Connecticut...The First Z Car Built For Sale To The USA

In October 1969, Datsun released a sensational new sports car called the 240Z. When Datsun/USA President Yutaka Katayama ('Mr. K.') imported his first boatload of 20 new 240Zs to the USA, the car started a landslide of sales and caused an automotive phenomenon aroj\und the world, literally putting Datsun 'on the map' as a manufacturer.

'Lucky 13' Datzun 240Z, as photographed at North Branford Festival Cruise, August 5th, 2011

The first twelve 240Zs built by Datsun were not meant for sale. They were used as factory test cars, public relations photo cars, or designated racers. This car, 'Lucky #13,' was the very first 240Z intended for sale on the American market. Thus, this was the Flagship for four decades of Z cars which have followed so far.

'Lucky 13' arrived in the USA at the Hampton Roads, Virginia port. It was transported to a dealership in North Carolina, where it was sold new. About 1975, with fewer than 100,000 miles on it, a collision damaged the nose and radiator. The car was apparently driven in that condition, warpinf the original E31 high-compression head. The car was sold to a NC scrapyard.

Mr. David Nelson of NC found #13 in the scrapyard, waiting to be 'crushed.' Knowing he could fix the nose damage and replace the E31 cylinder head, Nelson bought the car 'for a very low price.' After repairing the bodywork and replacing the cylinder head, Nelson decided to sell the car for a profit.

'Lucky 13' Datzun 240Z, as photographed at North Branford Festival Cruise, August 5th, 2011

In Connecticut, Mr. George Panko saw the car advertised for sale in a car magazine. He notified his friend Rick Morgan, who worked for nearby Bob Sharp Datsun. Morgan recognized VIN #00013 as the first 240Z listed in any Datsun parts or service manuals, and determined to have the car at any cost. David Nelson told Morgan that the highest bidder so far was 'a fellah up your way, name a Bob Sharp.' Rick Morgan bought the car, then drove #00013 sparingly until the late 1970s.

As Rick's 240Z clubs began to close, and he saw fewer and fewer Zs on the road, #13 finally hit 100,000 miles. Thinking he was the only person left who loved the old 240, or who appreciated the very first car imported, Rick sadly but lovingly stored #13 away in his rural Connecticut property for more than 30 years.

Never an internet user, Rick didn't know the popularity of the old Zs were enjoying. He also didn't know that the Z community had been searching the globe for the very first Z car ever imported for sale: his. At a CT car show in August 2009, Rick's wife Kathy casually mentioned to members of the CT Z Car Club that Rick owned car #13. Club representatives raced to see the car and confirmed to the world that the very first 240Z ever imported for sale in the USA had been discovered intact, and in excellent original condition.

'Lucky 13' Datzun 240Z, as photographed at North Branford Festival Cruise, August 5th, 2011

The Z community notified Mr. Katayama, now retired in Japan, that the very first 240Z he ever imported had been found intact. Mr. K. received the news just in time for his 100th  birthday in September 2009.

Immediately upon being 'rediscovered' by the Z community, Lucky 13 won 'Peoples Choice Best In Show' at the 2nd Annual CT Z Car Club Z Show, and became the feature article and cover photo of Nissan Sport Magazine's '13th' issue.

Amazed by the attention his beloved 240 has received, Rick Morgan decided to have #13 freshened up, to 'turn back its mechanical clock.' Working carefully to return Lucky 13 to a safe-driver status, while maintaining originality, all mechanical restoration was performed by Datsun expert Vinny Bedini of Bedini Motorsports, New Milford, CT.

Questions may be directed to Rick Morgan at REMJr12241(at)

What a cool story! With the pictures and the story in mind, we did a little more internet searching, to see what else we could possibly find published about this beautiful and extremely significant automobile. Following are some highlights, the sources of which we'll also be sure to note:

“…According to sources within NISSAN Motors, the first 25 cars produced on a new model production line are not generally sold to the public. Rather, they are used as ‘production mules’ - to train line workers, verify quality control specifications, and then used in destructive quality control tests… HLS30 00013 was the first Regular Production Datsun 240Z sold to the public… (vehicle data): VIN: HLS30 00013... Production Date: 10/1969... Color Body/Interior: Gold/Black... Original Engine Number: L24-02085... Owner: Rick Morgan... City/State/Country: Northford, CT USA... Date Registered: 11 Aug. 09…”

The above was as found on: IZCC's "Classic Z Car Register", URL:

'Lucky 13' Datzun 240Z, as photographed at North Branford Festival Cruise, August 5th, 2011

“…1969 Datsun 240Z HLS30-00013, the first Z made available to the public in North America for sale. Long considered the ‘missing link’ to Z car history, the car was recently discovered in Connecticut after being in storage for over 30 years. The car had been lovingly preserved by its owner Rick Morgan since 1976…”

 The above was as found on:

“…Owned by Rick and Kathy Morgan. Rick says he ‘settled’ for 240Z when he couldn't afford another beetle as a young man. He acquired the oldest 240Z, vin no. 13, when he saw it up for bid in an auto magazine..”

 The above was a caption to a photo appearing on:   - which was a review of a Durham car show on July 24, 2011 benefiting Durham Volunteer Firefighters, ref:

'Lucky 13' Datzun 240Z, as photographed at North Branford Festival Cruise, August 5th, 2011

Hope you enjoyed this story as much as I did! Be sure to look for this historic automobile at classic car shows in the future!

And don't forget to check out the North Branford Potato & Corn Festival--not just for the Friday Evening Classic Car Cruise, but for a weekend-full of entertainment, music, food, and FUN!

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