I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve gotten excited about the prospect of a new vehicle only to learn it’s going to limited to some lousy country where they don’t even bother to drive on the correct side of the street, have funny-sounding police sirens and/or happen to be involved in some other roadway debacle — like using the metric system on signs, just because it’s easier.
Meanwhile, nobody even seems to notice when we export our best automotive wares. Sure Europeans enjoy the Corvette’s mind-blowing performance and ability to absolutely devour highway miles at an unbeatable price (ignore the Euro-spec C8). But it probably lacks panache or the appropriate level of refinement (whatever the hell they’re looking for) and doesn’t accessorize with the sport coat and bare ankle look they seem so sprung on. Have you ever seen a Corvette in Europe? Of course, you haven’t. They almost never cracked 1,000 deliveries per year because the entire continent hates V8 engines.
Don’t fact check me on that last one because it’s irrelevant to the purposes of this article about petty revenge. All you need to know is that I was just informed that Nissan’s upcoming 400Z (name pending) won’t be available in Europe.
Considering the dire straits Nissan currently finds itself in, I don’t think anybody felt ultra-confident that its next Z-badged performance coupe was automatically going to be a home run. I certainly did not. But then I watched Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida climb out of the prototype as he reminisced about how his first car was a Fairlady Z, noting that it was a “love at first sight” kind of deal.
It was fitting, not just because the Proto Z that debuted on Tuesday is clearly inspired by that iconic model but also because he just unveiled a car that will probably leave a lot of other young drivers feeling the exact same way.
Nissan spent a lot of time parading around Z models ahead of the debut, suggesting that the prototype would be influenced by them all. But it has become clear that the earliest models are the ones doing the heavy lifting. While the squared tail lamps floating on a black canvas covers everything up to the 300ZX, the Proto Z’s overall shape is commensurate with the original 240Z. It also happens to be quite handsome and uncluttered by a lot of the busyness found on modern-day sporting cars.
Nissan has issued another teaser for the impending 400Z with clear intent to alleviate any confusion created by the previous marketing materials. We said it looked like the company planned on offering the sports coupe with a manual transmission and are required to revise our claim. It’s now blatantly obvious that Nissan is planning on producing be-clutched examples. We can only assume that Nissan’s marketing department noticed that everyone had started to catch onto the possibility of there being a manual option in its last posting and simply decided to remove all doubt.
One can even imagine the video conference where management tells the person editing the clips to throw in a bare shot of the gear selector this time. Nissan knows few customers will actually buy one but that the automotive press can’t help but mention the last of a dying breed. Some of us wake up in a cold sweat nightly, haunted by the knowledge that carefully using two appendages to change gears isn’t something future generations are going to put up with.
Nissan has been extremely clear that it has been focusing heavily upon its past for the formation of its upcoming 400Z. Considering how the automaker is faring in the present, casually throwing customers into a sea of nostalgia is likely a 200-IQ play. Vintage Z cars have an obsessively loyal fan base and are awarded rolling praise from practically everybody who remembers them in their heyday.
Your author has always held a soft spot for the 300ZX Twin Turbo, despite his not being the resident Nissan aficionado and the 300 being the most pig-like in the Z-car’s expansive lineage. But plenty of people recall its enthralling performance as turbo lag boost was playfully teased out to make pressing the accelerator feel less like you were about to pass a slow-moving motorist on the highway and more like you were about to launch a Grumman F-14 Tomcat off an aircraft carrier. They also undoubtedly remember its stellar design, especially the Z32, which present-day Nissan has decided to tap into for the upcoming performance model.
Electric crossovers are all the rage, but they might not get blood pumping the way a rear-drive sports car can. Especially one with a heritage like Nissan’s Z.
The subject of much rumor and speculation, the successor to today’s remarkably aged 370Z was already known to be in the works, carefully pored over by a team of fastidious Japanese engineers eager to do the model’s lineage proud. Expected to carry the name 400Z, a prototype is headed our way in just a short time.
While it still makes appearances at tuner events and car shows, the Nissan 370Z has roughly the same marketing heat as a pair of secondhand shoes. Last year, Nissan only moved 2,384 in the United States, with another 701 being sold in Europe — suggesting the decade-old (albeit fun) coupe may have outlived its usefulness years ago.
Its successor remains elusive, but persistent rumors claim Nissan is working on something to replace the venerable Z. Despite the manufacturer withholding any kind of confirmation, details leaked from dealer meetings suggest the brand is going with a heritage-inspired look, tapping vintage Z models for the design.
There’s not much new in the 2018 Nissan 370Z, nor was there much new last year, and the year before that. In fact, this model has been around since Shane was still alive on The Walking Dead.
Like last year, an equivalently priced Mustang or Camaro will be arguably more modern with better technology, especially with the 2018 changes to those models. But, as long-time readers may know, I feel that either of those cars equipped sans V8 is more pointless than ordering a Diet Coke to accompany one’s double Big Mac and supersized fries.
Last fall, we had a typical-for-TTAC slap fight between Bark and Mark, centered around Nissan. I’ve been ruminating on this argument for months, but my conversation last week with NISMO chief Hiroshi Tamura — and seeing what Nissan chose to feature in New York — finally pushed me over the edge.
As I walked through the glass doors in the Jacob Javits Center last Wednesday morning, preparing for my first auto show as a member of the press, the automaker that’s defined much of my motoring life was front and center.
Somewhat inexplicably, Nissan had rented possibly the best, highest-traffic space in the entire hall and filled it with a tribute to a six-figure supercar, complete with a bunch of old cars the U.S. never saw when new.
When an ordinary car— say, a ’94 Camry— shows up in a high-turnover self-service junkyard, most of its parts will still be present when it goes to the scrapper. However, when a seldom-seen-in-junkyards vehicle with an avid following— say, a ’71 Toyota Land Cruiser— appears on the yard, it gets eaten like a roadkill raccoon in vulture country. When I saw this complete and rust-free 1973 Datsun 240Z at my local self-serve yard a few weeks ago, I knew it hadn’t been exposed to parts shoppers for long. Sure enough, look at it now!
In the 80’s, I took a sabbatical from marketing and propaganda, and managed a record distribution company in the U.S. My warehouse manager was Rick, a redheaded bear of a guy who also could have been Master at Arms of the local Hells Angels chapter. Come to think of it, he managed the parts department of a motorcycle store before I hired him. The love of his life were a motor cycle and his Z Car. Rick would have suffered a heart attack, would he have known that his manly Z was a ladyboy. At home in Japan, the Z had a girlie name : The Fairlady.
The Datsun 240 was as a true revolutionary, smashing the long-stagnant sports car market of the sixties into smithereens. It was long overdue too; folks were getting cranky for the messiah: a truly modern sporty two seater with four-wheel independent suspension, a zippy OHC six engine, dazzling styling, all served up at a reasonable price; say $3500 (about $20k adjusted). The hole in the market for such a car was begging to be filled. And Datsun stepped up and delivered, with a grand-slam home run. But like most revolutionaries, the Z was anything but truly original. But then neither was Che nor Lenin; they studied Marx. And Datsun? They took their studies seriously too.
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