When a car is 50 years old and in good nick, it is antique or classic or vintage, depending on who’s doing the naming. When a car model reaches 50, it is a legend, no arguments. You have the Mustang, the Corvette, and of course, the Nissan Z. Legendary cars attract stories and rumours, adding to the universal allure that made them live that long.
Let’s look at some of the stories around the Nissan Z, which as the fresh new 240Z surprised the world in 1969.
It is well known that the 240Z was known as the Fairlady in Japan. But why? In 1961 Katsuji Kuwamata, then president of Nissan saw the play My Fair Lady on Broadway. Somehow that made him think of a sports car and the Datsun SPL213 – the predecessor of the Z – was thus named and the name stuck.
The Z has always been the affordable sports car, while Lamborghini has never been that. But people talked: the front, specifically the headlights, of the 300Z and Lambo Diablo looked very similar. Identical to be exact. So who borrowed from whom? Years later a Lambo driver removed the headlight from his Diablo to settle the argument, only to find a Nissan logo on the back of the light.
Not all Zs have been affordable. The 240X Z432R was fitted with the then Skyline GTR’s engine and given some hectic racing upgrades. Fewer than 50 were made, making it the rarest Z, as well as the most expensive. One sold for $805 000 at an auction.
Paul Newman was a heartthrob and action man actor, who took his action persona beyond the silver screen. He was an avid race and rally driver and took a 933hp Bob Sharp Racing modified 280Z to the 1979 SCCA Production Car Championship. He continued racing and winning with later models of the Z.
In racing, there is nothing more demanding than the brutal Le Mans 24-hour epic. In 1994 a modified 300ZX won its class and finished 5th overall. It won several other endurance races around the world at that time.
Sometimes reality follows fiction, as with the Devil Z in the Anime movie Wangan Midnight. Japanese tuners later recreated this Z, with 600hp and other mods. If you wonder what Anime is, it is a style of animated cartoon very much in the same milieu as Heidi, but darker and without the mountains and goats and so on.
The Z has many other stories – one of the 10 Best Cars 1990 to 96, successful in racing and rally, popular in movies and in real life, where the story is still being written today.
If you would like this timeless ikon to add its lustre to that empty space in your garage, why not book a test drive of the latest Nissan 370Z now?