The iconic sports range celebrates half a century of life. Lets examine how it all started and evolved over the course of last 50 years.
At the Tokyo Motor Show, held in October 1969, Nissan presents the 240Z, realizing the dream of many, within reach of very few. At that time there were no sports cars with competitive price and the benefits and quality needed to be a daily driver. The arrival of the Nissan / Datsun Z range marked a new era in the automotive world, realizing what seemed impossible: that a sports car, in addition to offering style, comfort and power, be affordable for the majority. The success was immediate: more than half a million units sold from the first range marketed over nine years and several victories in competition, such as the 1979 Safari rally. A motor legend was born.
Proof of this is the ZCON, an annual convention that was held for the first time in 1987, where enthusiasts and clubs of Datsun and Nissan Z from around the world pay homage to the Z range. The hobby that these models raise demonstrates that the Z are classic. They continue to thrill even half a century after their appearance.
The Z Range comes to light in late 1969 with the Nissan Fairlady Z in Japan and the Datsun 240Z in the United States. The range of vehicles that sought to revolutionize the market was here to stay. The final product was the culmination of 3 years of research and design that sought to create a spectacular coupe for all audiences.
According to Manuel Garriga, motor journalist and driver of a 240Z in the ClassicSeries championship: “The first Datsun of the Z range successfully fulfilled the objective for which it was created: to be a sports car that everyone could have. If it ended up becoming a benchmark in its segment, it was simply because it did better and was also cheaper than its rivals ”and adds that“ its dissemination beyond North America and Japan has made it today a true role model. ”
The design of this model is characterized by an elongated bonnet, designed to accommodate the 6-cylinder in-line, 2.4-liter block, the rear passenger compartment and the rear cut-off in the style of the great sports cars of the time. Inside, the sports personality was manifested with its three-spoke steering wheel and its iconic set of watches in the central part of the dashboard, which has been preserved generation after generation.
After the success of the 240Z, with 200,000 units sold, Nissan presented the 260Z in 1974, with a new engine, with capacity increase to 2.6 liters and delivering 160hp. Apart from commercial success, due to their effective combination of design, performance and price, both models quickly underpin competition success thanks to a fourth virtue, reliability.
A decade after its launch, in 1979, the second generation of Z was born: the Datsun 280Z. Despite having an exterior that maintained the resemblance of its predecessors, the Z of 79 presented several innovations: its new chassis and the interior surprised the public and set the tone that would define the range to this day . The luxury and performance of high-end sports cars were finally available to all drivers.
Four years pass and the Z range continues rolling on all the roads of the world. That same year, in 1983, the third generation, the Nissan 300ZX (Z31) is presented in the American markets. 300ZX won all the Japan Rally championships in 1985.
Within a society that was advancing faster, the Z phenomenon was unstoppable: it had become an icon of design. Thus, for the ambition to be at the forefront and achieve technical perfection, Nissan developed the fourth generation of the Z, the 300ZX (Z32), also known as the UZ project.
Launched in July 1989 and thanks to the positive reception from the public, it was in production for more than five years, until 1996. This model was perfectly adapted to the expectations of an increasingly demanding customer, providing any driver with the experience of a professional driver.
The Z models had gone beyond the rallies or speed circuits. Thanks to Gran Turismo, the Z Range entered the world of virtual motor racing in 1997. Since then, thousands of fans around the world have been able to enjoy the features and customization capabilities of the Z Range models throughout its history.
The Z range of the new millennium
What better gift to celebrate the arrival of the new millennium than with the fifth generation of the great Z. In 2002 the production of the Nissan 350Z begins, which includes an elegant redesign of the 240Z coupe. It sold more than 250,000 units sold globally. The new 350Z is presented with an block of 6 cylinders in V, 3.5 liters and 286hp, which will evolve in the 2007 model at 313hp.
The sixth generation of the Z Range with the 370Z model (Z34) and a new 3.7-liter V6 engine was presented at the Geneva Motor Show 2009, which delivered more power, up to 328 hp and incorporates Synchro Rev Control technology, which allowed the driver to make “perfect” gear changes. The new chassis, shorter and with wider tracks, increases its rigidity and improves the performance of the car. In 2013, the highly anticipated NISMO version was launched, conceived by the Nissan Motorsports division and that raised the power of the Z to 344hp. This version represents the maximum expression of sportiness of the Z Range throughout its history, with a more sporty suspension and brakes configuration, as well as a better aesthetics characterized on the outside by the rear wing and 19″ wheels and inside by spectacular Recaro seats.
Half a century after the appearance of the first Z model, the Nissan 370Z 50th Anniversary arrives on the market, which brings together the best of all its past generations and the innovation, performance and design of modern racing vehicles. Its value, style and performance have continued to generate excitement and drive innovations in engineering that has made the Z remain a benchmark for the purest sports driving for decades.
The 3.7-liter 6-cylinder V engine is capable of reaching 328hp at 7,000 rpm, allowing it to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in just 5.3 seconds. It is available in three trim levels: Coupé, GT and 370Z NISMO. The 370Z GT model is the basis of the 50th Anniversary commemorative special edition, as a tribute to the true spirit “a sports car for everyone” of the original Z model.
Abel Simón, responsible for product communication at Nissan Iberia and owner of a Nissan 370Z NISMO, tells us how “the 370Z represents the essence of analog driving. A great engine that passes 7000 revolutions, rear-wheel drive, manual transmission and a self-locking differential that helps to transmit all the power to the ground in the most efficient way possible”.
The exterior of the 370Z 50th Anniversary shows the distinctive side stripes of the original BRE (Brock Racing Enterprises) 70s race car and is available in two different paint schemes: white combined with red or silver combined with black. The reminiscences of the BRE design include the two stripe features of the sides and the enhancement color paint (red in the case of black and white in the silver) of the trunk, the hood, the side mirrors and the thin line runs along the side of the car from the headlight to the rear. The package also includes the 50th Anniversary badge on the front flap, rear commemorative badges and special 18-inch alloy wheels with red elements.
The 50th Anniversary edition of the 370Z retains the profile of pure lines that has defined the Z’s of the past, characterized by its low roof line, the inclined design of its rear window and the inclination of the tailgate. Boomerang-shaped bixenon headlamps and LED daytime headlights combine with a distinctive front bumper design to achieve an aggressive yet elegant front. On the back, the integration of the rear lights, the suppression of the rear wing and the wide fins highlight the robust and sporty shape of the car.
The interior, centered on the driver’s position, of the “pilot”, is framed by a deeply rounded instrument panel. An integral console separates the driver’s seat from the passenger’s seat. Among the special details highlights a 50th Anniversary steering wheel lined in Alcantara with a central line inspired by racing cars. The four-way adjustable electric seats, heated and upholstered in leather and suede, equipped with an adjustable lumbar support, feature exclusive seams and the 50th Anniversary logo engraved on the backrests. The entry guards in dark chrome with the Z logo and synthetic suede details inserted in the door panels are also exclusive to this special edition model.
The 50th Anniversary model also incorporates a Bose® audio system with eight speakers (including dual subwoofers), active noise cancellation and active sound enhancement systems.