By on April 16, 2019

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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23 Comments on “Incomplete Tribute: The 2020 Nissan 370Z 50th Anniversary Edition...”


  • avatar
    JimZ

    appropriate, since it seems like the current Z has been in production for 50 years.

  • avatar

    I love how the special seat upholstery reminds owners of a Greek bank note.

    Seriously this sucks, and is lame.

    BLACK GOLD FTW

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    So is there a set production amount?

    Might be entertaining to find one of these sitting on the back of a Nissan dealers lot at the start of the 2021 model year and see what kind of deal you could make.

    (Cause they’re aren’t that many GOT TO HAVE A Z kind of guys still around.)

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Given the silly paint job and ugly seats I guarantee these things will be around unsold. Since its a special edition I except an inflated price which will only enhance the lack of selling.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Right which means it will eventually be last years model and priced like a non-anniversary edition with many of the same features.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Heck, forget the silly paint job and ugly seats – the thing that’ll keep this car gathering dust on car lots is the competition. I can’t imagine anyone buying this over a Mustang 5.0 (or even a properly-equipped Ecoboost one, for that matter).

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Rumor has it you can buy this decal package at Pep Boys.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    I can applaud Nissan for keeping the Frontier minimally changed for well over a decade, the 370z and 350Z however were never much on looks to begin with. This car needed a completely different design a decade ago, today it’s just silly.

  • avatar

    It is for credit challenged types, don’t you get it?

  • avatar
    bodayguy

    Geez, at least use the Nismo body kit or something. The Nissan designers must be dying at the corporate crap here.

  • avatar
    WhatsMyNextCar

    Datsun did not start the ball rolling for Japanese sports cars. The Toyota 2000GT did years before this.

    • 0 avatar
      Gedrven

      2000GT preceded the 240Z by two years, but it was priced way out of reach of the masses. It showed what Japanese automakers were theoretically capable of, while the Z showed what they could practically deliver. I’ve never seen one in the wild (have you?), while at least on the west coast a daily-driven 240/260/280Z is a weekly sight.

    • 0 avatar
      Sceptic

      Toyota manufactured a whopping 351 units of 2000GT. It was a challenge to Ferrari, Maserati and Lamborghini. In other words 2000GT was a super car priced very high. On the other hand the Datsun was affordable and sold in the hundreds of thousands.

  • avatar
    Gedrven

    If it’s a good car (I won’t address how true that is here), what’s wrong with old? Must we have newness for the sake of newness, or do we enjoy a vehicle on its own terms because it’s fun to drive, look at, or whatever your jollies are?

    Old means the bugs have had more time to be worked out and parts should be more available. If they got it right (not saying they did or didn’t), why change a good thing?

    Never even sat in one of these, but I drove this car’s 350 predecessor and left quite disappointed. Much rather have an original Z (ok, with modern power, brakes, and tires) than its fat and ugly descendants.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      The looks kill it for me, looks like an automotive interpretation of an allergic reaction. I’m all for having old vehicles but some things need to go.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Its a decent platform… just heavy. It weights as much as my C7 but has 130 HP less. Infiniti moved onto the turbo charged Q60 with 400HP, but they left the Z behind on the old platform with an old engine. Granted some will prefer this engine since its not a turbo.

      I’ve always said the problem with Z is its in nowhere land – not light like a Miata or 86GT, but not as powerful as a Camaro or Mustang either. Nissan needs to decide what this car should be. My guess is the lack of direction and this silly edition tells you everything you need to know. They don’t care about the Z… its dead.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I can deal with the old styling (which I like a lot), and the old engine (which could use a touch more refinement), but I can’t deal with the circa-2009 interior at this price point.

      When the radio in Nissan’s iconic sports car looks like the one in a Versa, that’s a deal breaker.

  • avatar
    johnny_5.0

    The hood paint just flat out doesn’t work with the design of the headlights. Maybe it would have looked better on the 350, but it’s hideous here. And those seats…Jebus.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Appropriate to mention the 10th Anniversary Edition – the first thing I thought of.

  • avatar
    cantankerous

    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.

  • avatar
    stanczyk

    .. these cars are old .. ! .. >) .. where is new 370 zet and .. GTR …

    and where is production version of IDx concept cars .. ?!? ..


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