Incomplete Tribute: The 2020 Nissan 370Z 50th Anniversary Edition

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
incomplete tribute the 2020 nissan 370z 50th anniversary edition

Fifty years ago, Datsun showed New York that Japan was perfectly capable of producing a sporting automobile that offered everything drivers wanted, without breaking the bank. It may not have been cutting edge, but the 240Z was a GT car well worth coveting. Somewhere between the nimble, although sometimes underpowered, European roadsters and clumsy but savage American muscle cars, Datsun’s Z provided a well-balanced package for enthusiasts and racing teams alike.

This week, Nissan’s paying tribute to the vehicle that launched the Z line with the 2020 Nissan 370Z 50th Anniversary Edition. Painted to resemble the No. 46 BRE (Brock Racing Enterprises) 240Z that helped John Morton win back-to-back SCCA National Championships in the 1970s, the Anniversary Edition is the upside of living in the past.

“It’s no secret that the Datsun 240Z started the ball rolling for Japanese sports cars in the U.S.,” said Ivan Espinosa, Nissan’s corporate vice president of global product strategy and planning, in a statement. “Almost as well known in Z history is how Peter Brock’s competition-tuned 240Z changed the American motorsports landscape. After the BRE 240Z debuted in 1970, Nissan/Datsun became one of the most successful companies in American motorsports — with thousands of victories over the past five decades.”

Unfortunately, the liveried 370Z is little more than an appearance package the manufacturer can mark up a bit. This is a common problem with anniversary cars. While not consistently egregious, we typically feel a little shortchanged by them.

The 370Z has been around since 2009, and still fills a familiar role between American muscle and agility-focused imports, but it’s grown dated. It’s still a good platform and a fun car, it’s just old. While that may not have been a major issue for Nissan a few years ago, the reintroduction of the Toyota Supra and America’s latest horsepower race has changed things.

However, as much as we’d have liked to see the manufacturer incorporate a suspension upgrade or powertrain enhancements on the 50th Anniversary Edition, we get why it went with the racing livery — it’ll make the company more money. Z nostalgia is big right now and Nissan can cash in by borrowing the BRE paint scheme. Yet even this gambit is somewhat incomplete. We didn’t expect the automaker to slap on Champion or Valvoline decals to create a near-perfect recreation, but we did expect red and blue stripes. Instead, we only have red-on-white or an alternative silver-and-black scheme.

Additional exterior changes include a spoiler delete and 50th Anniversary badging and a set of 19-inch, forged wheels from Rays. On the inside, customers can expect a premium Bose audio system, more anniversary logos, an Alcantara steering wheel, and some unique accents/stitching.

Based on the 370Z Sport, everything else is standard fare for that particular trim. The car receives the same 3.7-liter V6 making 332 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque, sent through the same rev-matching six-speed manual transmission (or seven-speed automatic with paddle shifters) and limited-slip differential. Brakes are also unchanged, with four-piston 14-inch units up front and 13.8-inch two-piston jobs in the rear.

If all Nissan wanted to do was offer a limited-edition paint scheme dripping with nostalgia, we’d have preferred something aping the Datsun 280ZX 10th Anniversary Edition’s black-and-gold coating (above). It’s at least as iconic as the BRE cars, would have been easier to do correctly, and the automaker just highlighted it in a corporate posting that foreshadowed the 50th Anniversary Edition’s debut.

Maybe we’ll get lucky with the 60th anniversary. Meanwhile, 2020 Nissan 370Z 50th Anniversary Edition should start arriving at dealerships later this month. Pricing has yet to be announced.

[Images: Nissan]

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  • Cantankerous Cantankerous on Apr 22, 2019

    I own a 2005 G35 6MT coupe, the Infiniti variant of the 350Z. Back in 2005 the styling did (and still does) appeal to me much more that that of the Z. I lusted after this car and just had to have one to replace my beloved but aging 1992 Eclipse GSX AWD turbo -- the advertised 298 horsepower sounded like a lot of oomph, especially compared with the mere (and ridiculously underrated) 195 hp of the Eclipse. I took it for a ride with my wife in the passenger's seat and the salesman crammed in the tiny back seat. I wasn't able to explore the car's capabilities the way I would have if I'd been alone, so my first impressions were positive but based on very limited experience of the car's performance potential. I anxiously awaited the end of the break-in period, when I would finally be able to drive this car without reserve and reveal its inner beast. The day finally arrived. I gave the car a healthy dose of right foot and. .. hey, where's all the power that's supposed to be on tap? This thing is no dog, but it's no rocket sled either. My Eclipse, which I hung onto for a couple more years as a winter beater, felt a lot faster and was a heck of a lot more fun to drive. The G35 car was a sheep in wolf's clothing, in desperate need of another 50 to 75 horsepower to give it a level of performance commensurate with its advertised promise. Fast forward 14 years and 185,000 miles. The G35 still sits in my driveway. I made some minor mods early on to give it a little more power. In many ways it's the best car I've ever owned, but I still wish it had more power and weighed a few hundred pounds less. And the Eclipse -- no featherweight itself -- was still a lot more fun to drive that the G will ever be. I can't believe the Z still exists in its current form. If the factory threw a couple of turbochargers on the Z then it would be competitive, but as it is the car is neither fish nor fowl. As JMII observed, it offers neither the tossability of the Miata or 86GT nor the power of even a base Camaro or Mustang. Given the state of the competition, I am nothing short of amazed that Nissan is still able to find buyers for these things. Talk about trading on past glory.

  • Stanczyk Stanczyk on Apr 28, 2019

    .. these cars are old .. ! .. >) .. where is new 370 zet and .. GTR … and where is production version of IDx concept cars .. ?!? ..

  • SCE to AUX I charge at home 99% of the time, on a Level 2 charger I installed myself in 2012 for my Leaf. My house is 1967, 150-Amp service, gas dryer and furnace; everything else is electric with no problems. I switched from gas HW to electric HW last year, when my 18-year-old tank finally failed.I charge at a for-pay station maybe a couple times a year.I don't travel more than an hour each way in my Ioniq 1 EV, so I don't deal much with public chargers. Despite a big electric rate increase this year, my car remains ridiculously cheap to operate.
  • ToolGuy 38:25 to 45:40 -- Let's all wait around for the stupid ugly helicopter. 😉The wheels and tires are cool, as in a) carbon fiber is a structural element not decoration and b) they have some sidewall.Also like the automatic fuel adjustment (gasoline vs. ethanol).(Anyone know why it's more powerful on E85? Huh? Huh?)
  • Ja-GTI So, seems like you have to own a house before you can own a BEV.
  • Kwik_Shift Good thing for fossil fuels to keep the EVs going.
  • Carlson Fan Meh, never cared for this car because I was never a big fan of the Gen 1 Camaro. The Gen 1 Firebird looked better inside and out and you could get it with the 400.The Gen 2 for my eyes was peak Camaro as far as styling w/those sexy split bumpers! They should have modeled the 6th Gen after that.