Why was the mid-80′s 280ZX such a great makeout car? What was it that distinguished it? Even with the stick shift in the way and the non-existent backseat there was something about it. That theory requires some reflection because Nissan is celebrating the Z’s 40th year with the release of a 370Z Anniversary coupe.
First conceived in 1969 as the Datsun 240Z, it was the first affordable two-seater with sports car performance for the everyman and the comparisons with the Porsche 924 and RX7 were myriad. Then came the add-ons and it began to cater to folks wanting a GT cruiser and while its fans were varied, enthusiasts included chicks blasting Def Leppard and cool Dads seeking a little more reliability.
The 90′s Gen 4 series saw the Z’s shift into an über sports car and it was back in Porsche territory, leaving its corvette step-brother in the dust. However, it turned out to be too pricey for some members of its fiercely loyal demographic. The 350Z was a shout out to its origins: affordable and retro, an out-and-out sports cum muscle car for the honest working-man car enthusiast with a bad boy living inside. But the 370Z is the best of all worlds.
Introduced at last year’s LA Auto Show, it was no secret that I was a huge fan of the 370Z’s pissed-off looking headlights, and while the 8 directional navigation system with its 12 button control panel and its tiny print was annoying, I couldn’t get enough of this car. Some of the 370Z’s most distinguishing features hollered back to the tough looking 1972 240ZX with the same angular, geometric shape-highly visible around the B-pillar.
As for the 370Z 40th Anniversary Edition, the Nissan fellas say that it starts out as a 370Z Coupe Touring model replete with manual transmission and Sport Package (including SynchroRev MatchTM, front chin spoiler, rear spoiler, Nissan Sport Brakes, 19-inch Rays forged aluminum-alloy wheels and viscous limited-slip differential) and adds a premium “40th Quartz” exterior color and red leather-appointed interior. Wowza.
My final thoughts are this: Even though the GT-R, with which the 370Z shares some basic muscle features, did win Motor Trend car of the year last year, my guess is that it falls lower on the makeoutability scale than the 370Z. Maybe that’s the reason the 370Z was my favorite car from the show last year. Let’s hope this anniversary edition carries on the tradition.
(Update Dec 9, 2009) Nissan North America, Inc. (NNA) today announced pricing for the 370Z 40th Anniversary Edition, which is scheduled to go on sale in early spring 2010. Created to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the original Datsun 240Z, the 40th Anniversary Edition starts with the 370Z Touring model equipped with Sport Package and 6-speed manual transmission then adds unique special equipment. The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price* (M.S.R.P.) is $38,860 USD. The 370Z 40th Anniversary Edition will be limited to 1,000 units.