The 240Z was not a new idea. Sturdy engineering, excellent performance, low price, attractive styling, and average interior had been achieved by many manufacturers prior to the Z-car. The reason the 240Z car was so great was because it capitalized on all these criteria and perfected the concept of a low-cost, reliable, sports car. Mr. Yutaka Katayama is considered the 'Father of the Z Car' and is responsible for the design and creation of this legendary vehicle. As recognition of his contributions to the automotive world, in 1998 he was inducted into the Automobile Hall of Fame.
The Datsun 240Z was introduced in 1969 as a 1970 model. The engine was a derivation of the Datsun 1600. The Datsun 1600 engine was a copy of the 1960's six-cylinder Mercedes-Benz 220 engine, but with two less cylinders. By adding two extra cylinders in the 240Z the cylinder count was back to six. With 151 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque the vehicle could propel from zero-to-sixty in eight seconds. The independent suspension and the rack-and-pinion steering added to its quick response, performance, and handling. The front disc brakes brought the car to a stop from high speeds in just seconds. With a price tag of just over $3,500, it cost much less than anything else on the market. Due to demand, a year later Kelly Blue Book rated the value of a used 240Z at $4,000.
The 240Z dominated the SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) C-class production category for 10 years ranging from 1970 through 1979. In 1970 and 1971 John Morton, driving for Brock Racing Enterprises, was the first to claim victory in SCCA C-Class production racing using a 240Z. Bob Sharp claimed his first win in that category in 1972 and again in 1973 and 1975. Walt Maas continued the streak in 1974. The Z-car competed in the IMSA (International Motor Sports Association) where it captured many victories, including the IMSA GTU title. In 1982, Devendorf and his Electromotive racing team win Datsun's first ever IMSA GTO championship.
In 1985, Paul Newman set 10 track records in a 280ZX Turbo.
In 1994, a race-modified Z car won the 24 Hors of Daytona and the 12 Hours at Sebring. It also captured the GTS Class at the 24 Hours of LeMans, making it the only car ever to accomplish such a record within the same year.
In 1974, the engine displacement was increased to 2.6 liters and the vehicle was dubbed the 260Z. This brought an end to the 240Z series which had sold 116,712 examples during its life-span. The United States emissions regulations were increasing every year. Thus, the 260Z had less horsepower than its predecessor and was rated at 139.
The 260Z was available in 2+2 configuration. With the fold-down rear seats, the 260Z offered a higher level of practicality over the 240Z. During its first and only model year, 63,963 examples were produced giving it the all-time Z-car sales record to date.
In 1975 the displacement was increased to 2.8 liters and the vehicle dubbed the 280Z. A Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection system was included which helped bring increase the horsepower to 149.
In 1977, the horsepower rating was 170. A five-speed overdrive transmission was now offered, giving the vehicle better performance and fuel economy. The sales of the Z car once again hit a record high, with 67,331 units sold.
In 1979, the second generation of the Z-car was introduced as the 280ZX. It was more refined and luxurious than the previous Z's. The formula was correct and it was named Motor Trends 'Import Car of the Year'. A new all-time sales record was achieved with 86,007 units being sold.
In 1980, over 500,000 cumulative American Z-cars had been sold. It had reached the half-million sales mark faster than any other sport car. A new T-bar roof option was now being offered.
To add to the appeal and performance of the 280ZX, a turbocharged engine became available in 1981. Sales continued to remain strong through 1983.
In 1984 the third generation of the Z-car was introduced and was dubbed the 300ZX. It featured distinct styling and a new 3.0 liter V6 engine. The normal-aspirated engine produced 160 horsepower, while the turbocharged version offers 200 horsepower.
In 1989, the American automotive economy was continuing to evolve. Minivan's and sport utility vehicles were gaining in popularity. In response, Nissan introduced the fourth-generation Z-car in 1990. The new 300ZX featured improvements both mechanically and aesthetically. Under the hood sat an all-new DOHC 3.0-liter engine with a horsepower rating of 222. A twin-turbocharged version of the engine was available and brought the total horsepower output to 300. The body of the vehicle had been improved giving it a more aggressive stance.
Motor Trend awarded the Z00ZXTT 'Import Car of the Year' and 'One of the Top Ten Performance Cars'. Automobile Magazine honored the car with 'Design of the Year' and was added to its 'All Stars' list. Not to be outdone, Road & Track named the car 'One of the Ten Best Cars in the World'. Car and driver named it 'One of the Ten Best Cars'.
During the 1990 model year the one-million sales mark was achieved making it the all-time best selling sports car. The car continued to receive great reviews and awards by Magazines and publications. The year 1995 marked the 25th Anniversary of the Z-car. To commemorate this occasion, a limited edition was produced with the help of Steve Millen Sport Cars.
In 1996, the production of the Z-car ceased in North America. Decreasing Sales figures, and increased smog regulations and production costs were to blame. The price of the twin-turbo 300ZX was priced at $45,000, a cost that was to expensive for most consumers. Production of the Z-car continued in Japan until 1999, although it had undergone a major redesign in 1998.
In August of 2002, Nissan introduced the 350Z. This six-gear, two-seater was the fifth generation of the Z-car. Offered in five trim packages that included Base, Enthusiast, Performance, Touring, and Track Editions, the vehicle was an instant success. Base price was around $26,000 with the fully-loaded Track option costing over $34,000. Aesthetic and performance upgrades were available through Nismo, Nissan's motorsport and performance division.
In 2004, a roadster option was offered. The roadster was available in two trim packages which included the Enthusiast and Touring editions.
A special 35th Anniversary model was released in 2005 featuring twice the output of the original 1969 model.
Sales figures, race results, and satisfied customers have proven this to be one of the best sports vehicles ever produced.By Daniel Vaughan | Jan 2007
Z SPECIAL EDITION ANNIVERSARY MODELS: A LOOK BACKNEW YORK –
When the original Datsun Z debuted in 1969, it was a revelation for the automotive world.
An affordable, reliable sports car with style and comfort that could be used for daily driving was unheard of at the time. With a base price of $3,626 Ú.S., the Z – known as the Datsun 240Z in North America – was a sports car that was accessible to anyone.
In short time, customers around the world were enjoying their newfound freedom to explore their favorite winding roads in style. Sales jumped to more than 40,000 globally in 1970. A legacy was born with the first-generation Z, whose value, style and performance has continued to drive innovations in engineering and excitement, keeping the Z a segment leader for decades.
Over the next five decades, Nissan released several limited edition Z cars to celebrate key milestones:
1980 Datsun 280ZX 10th Anniversary Edition
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the first Z, Nissan released a special edition 280ZX model with a limited production run. The success of previous Z cars opened the opportunity to equip 280ZX models with upscale materials such as leather seats and hi-fi stereos – a departure from the sporty yet economical approach of the initial 240Z.
With only 3,000 made, the 280ZX 10th Anniversary Edition is today considered a highly collectible car. The most popular model package featured a two-tone black-and-gold paint scheme with accent pin stripes, of which 2,500 were made. The remaining 500 wore a red-and-black paint scheme. Each 280ZX 10th Anniversary Edition had a dash plaque with the edition number. (Canadian models came with a Maple Leaf emblem.)
The 1980 Datsun 280ZX was powered by a 2.8-liter inline-6 that produced 132 hp and 144 lb-ft of torque. Power was transferred to the rear wheels via a 5-speed manual gearbox. Other special features include a golden Z hood badge, gold- or black-colored alloy wheels, commemorative wreath decals on the front fenders and hatch, headlight washers, a new style shift knob, tan or burgundy leather seats, a tinted T-bar roof, and a 40-watt, power-boosted four-speaker sound system.1980:
•Top song (Billboard): 'Call Me' by Blondie
•Best picture: 'Kramer vs Kramer'
•Most popular TV show: 'Dallas'
•Other notable Nissan models of the year: Sentra (B310), Pulsar (N10)1984 Nissan 300ZX Turbo 50th Anniversary Edition
The 1984 Nissan 300ZX Turbo 50th Anniversary Edition celebrated the five-decade anniversary of Nissan's founding in December 1933. Only 5,148 of these cars were manufactured for the Ú.S. market; an additional 300 were built for Canada.
The 1984 300ZX Turbo came equipped with a 3.0-liter V-6 that produced 200 hp and 227 lb-ft of torque. The transmission was either 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic. Inside the cabin, drivers were treated to peak '80s design and technologies considered advanced for the time, such as steering wheel audio controls, digital readouts and electronically controlled sport suspension.
The 300ZX 50th Anniversary Edition's features included: 'Nissan 50th Anniversary' commemorative badging, unique front fenders and rear fender flairs, and turbine-style alloy wheels with gold accents on the fins. In the cabin, unique touches included embroidered badging on the leather seats and floor mats, a futuristic digital instrument cluster with a dominant multi-LED sweeping tachometer, speed display and G-force indicator, and a Bodysonic Amplifier with adjustable intensity that added rumble to the front seats based on the sound profile of the music being played from the head unit.
The year 1984 marked not only a milestone for Nissan's history as a carmaker; it also marked the Z as the best-selling sports car in America.1984:
•Top song (Billboard): 'When Doves Cry' by Prince
•Best picture: 'Terms of Endearment'
•Most popular TV show: 'Dynasty'
•Other notable Nissan models of the year: 200SX (S110), Datsun Truck (720)
After temporarily leaving the domestic Japanese marketplace in 2000 (1997 in North America), a new Z took the world by storm in 2003. The first reborn Z was built on the company's innovative FM (Front Midship) platform and powered by a smooth-revving, high-output 3.5-liter V-6. Called the VQ (short for VQ35ED), the engine produced 287 hp and 274 lb-ft of torque.
In 2005, Nissan created a special version to celebrate the Z's 35th anniversary. The Nissan 350Z 35th Anniversary Edition was available in either Últra Yellow, Silverstone or Super Black and came with a suite of performance tuning and upgrades.
Nissan's engineers retuned the engine to produce an additional 13 hp, raising the total to 300. Shifting was performed by a 6-speed manual gearbox. Other special equipment for this commemorative model included exclusive five-spoke, 18-inch alloy wheels, a small front spoiler, Brembo® brakes, special badging, and a Bose® six-speaker premium sound system.2005:
•Top song (Billboard): 'We Belong Together' by Mariah Carey
•Best picture: 'Million Dollar Baby'
•Most popular TV show: 'CSI: Crime Scene Investigation'
•Other notable Nissan models of the year: GT-R PROTO, Frontier NISMO (D40)2010 Nissan 370Z 40th Anniversary Edition
In 2009, the 350Z's VQ engine received a displacement bump to 3.7 liters, prompting the car's name to change to 370Z. A year later, Nissan introduced the 370Z 40th Anniversary Edition. Limited to just 1,000 units, the special edition model was based on the Touring grade, equipped with a manual transmission and Sport Package, which included front and rear spoilers, Nissan Sport Brakes, 19-inch RAYS forged aluminum-alloy wheels, a viscous limited-slip differential and the company's innovative SynchroRev Match® transmission technology.
The car was visually distinguished by a special paint scheme, '40th Graphite,' as well as red brake calipers and 40th anniversary badges. The rich red leather seats featured 40th anniversary seatbacks with a debossed logo, leather door-panel inserts and shift boot, as well as a leather steering wheel with red baseball stitching. Each car came with a commemorative plaque and a premium satin car cover.2010:
•Top song (Billboard): 'TiK ToK' by Ke$ha
•Best picture: 'The Hurt Locker'
•Most popular TV show: 'American Idol'
•Other notable Nissans of the year: LEAF, Juke (F15), Nissan New Mobility CONCEPT
The Z was first conceived in 1969 as an affordable, everyday sports car. This notion has stayed at the core of every Z since. It's no wonder fans today are just as excited when they get behind the wheel as they have been for the past 50 years.Source - Nissan