Retro Spec: The Nissan Z
The Z cemented not only Japanese build quality and performance, it set the bar for all future sports cars.
What a Fair Lady (’70-’77)
Given Nissan’s affinity for naming cars on the feminine side, Nissan chose to change the name from the “Fairlady” to the “Z”, its prototype designation. They debuted with the 240 and was an instant success in the American market. Not only did this lead the way to two even sportier models down the road, it also solidified Japan’s quality difference along with its cousin, the 510… Or the “Bluebird” in Japan.
Put Some X on it (77′-80′)
New for the 2nd gen, the 280ZX looked a little less British and a little more Italian this time around. With the L-Line motor now stretched to 2.8L, an all new 2+2 option and glorious T-Tops, the only thing “80’s” missing from the Z was a Flock of Seagulls haircut.
A Ferrari But fatter (’84-’96ish)
As the Italian supercar scene really started to put posters on peoples walls, Nissan followed the suit. The Z got, lower, wider, more luxurious and more expensive. The American market was the focus once again, and the Z changed up its formula to accommodate Americas wide stretching roads, and rear ends. It was fast and nice, but as the 90’s wore on and the price of the z32 increase from roughly 30k to almost 50k in just a few years, Nissan put the Z to rest, for the time being.
…and Beyond! (’03 onward)
The Z came back after a short hiatus to a warm welcome from the Fast and Furious generation. However, as time went on and Renault ran Nissan into the ground, at least from a performance perspective. I am excited to see what the new 400 will offer this current generation and hope it will help recover some of it’s lost magic.