• Oct 15th 2009 at 12:59PM
  • 17
Nissan 370Z 40th Anniversary Edition - Click above for high-res image gallery

One week from today (October 22) marks the 40-year anniversary of Nissan's Z. Before the Zed, sports cars in North America were usually fragile little carts from Europe with their engines in funny places (or Corvettes). However, once the Datsun 240Z showed up, suddenly us Yanks had access to a fairly priced, good looking little sports car that could run for more than 30 minutes without dumping all its fluids. As the Guinness ad men might say, brilliant!

And, despite a few fits and starts, the Z badge lives on today. To celebrate 40 years of the Japanese sports car, Nissan is releasing the 370Z 40th Anniversary Edition. Here's what that entails, starting with the outside: 40th Quartz paint, "high-luster" smoke 19-inch Rays wheels, red brake calipers and 40th anniversary badges on both the rear hatch and front strut tower brace. Inside you get red leather, 40th anniversary embroidered seats and floor mats, red leather stitching up the center stack (just like the rocking Nismo) and a commemorative plaque. Oh, you get a satin car cover, too.

To which we say: not special enough! Come on Nissan – where's the twin turbos? Or T-Tops? Or a giant wing? What about louvers? Sans serif font? Anything? We appreciate the fact that you're (hopefully) saving your wad for the 50th Anniversary Z (which had better be atomic-powered, BTW) but red stitching and badges? Really? Where's the coke-eye'd Hasslehoff looking dude with the amazing mustache? Oh yeah, he's after the jump, along with his special lady and a very big press release!

[Source: Nissan]

Press Release

Nissan Celebrates Four Decades of Sports Car Leadership With New, Limited Edition 370Z "40th Anniversary" Model

Forty Years After the Debut of the Original Datsun 240Z, the Iconic Z Continues to Capture the Imagination and Passion of Sports Car Enthusiasts Worldwide

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (Oct. 15, 2009) – The 25th anniversary is silver, the 50th is gold. And the 40th? Another precious metal, or more correctly metal, rubber and glass – the Nissan Z. Forty years ago, on October 22, 1969, the Datsun 240Z arrived in North America, heralding a new era in sports car design.

Where previous sports cars were primarily a.) imported from England or Germany b.) expensive c.) fragile or unreliable or d.) all of the above, the new import from Japan offered the performance of a Porsche, the looks of a Jaguar and the price and reliability of, well, a Nissan. The 240Z was a revelation to the automotive world – an affordable sports car that could be driven every day and was accessible to anyone with the $3,626 base price.

And though the price of a new Z might have changed a little in the past 40 years, its unmatched value, style, performance and segment leadership remains stronger than ever. To celebrate, Nissan has created a special, limited production version of the current 2010 Nissan 370Z Coupe, the 370Z 40th Anniversary Edition. It will be available at select Nissan dealers nationwide beginning in spring 2010.

"Throughout the history of the automobile, a rare handful of cars stand apart as vehicles that not only capture the imagination of the world but also embody the essence of the automaker's brand, engineering and ideals. The Z is just such a vehicle," said Al Castignetti, vice president and general manager, Nissan Division, Nissan North America, Inc.

Changing Times – Literally When the original Datsun 240Z debuted as a 1970 model, its design and performance were considered state-of-the-art: a 150-horsepower 2.4-liter single overhead cam inline 6-cylinder engine, 4-wheel independent suspension, 14-inch wheels, choice of a 4-speed manual or 3-speed automatic transmission, and a quarter-mile acceleration time of 17.1 seconds at 84.5 miles per hour. The 240Z was conceived as a closed coupe body, rather than the typical open-top sports cars of the age, to enhance body rigidity and, therefore, improve handling and durability.

Needless to say, a lot has changed. Today's definition of state-of-the-art, as expressed in the sixth generation Nissan 370Z, includes a 332-horsepower 3.7-liter dual overhead cam V6 engine with VVEL (Variable Valve Event and Lift), lightweight 4-wheel independent suspension with extensive use of aluminum components, available 19-inch super lightweight forged alloy wheels, choice of 6-speed manual transmission with innovative SynchroRev Match or refined 7-speed automatic and independent quarter-mile acceleration times of 13.5 seconds at 106.6 miles per hour. And today, the recently introduced 370Z Roadster – with its automatic-operation fully lined cloth top, offers nearly the same body rigidity and performance as the rock-solid 370Z Coupe.

Also, where the 240Z offered what many considered "luxuries" in a sports car – including roll-up windows and radio, today's 370Z is offered with items such as Nissan Intelligent Key with Push Button Start, Bluetooth Hands-free Phone System, XM Satellite Radio and an advanced Nissan Hard Drive Navigation System with touch-screen, XM NavTraffic Real-Time Traffic Information and NavWeather (XM subscription required, sold separately), Zagat restaurant guide, 9.3GB Music Box hard drive for digital music storage and playback and a USB fort for iPod connectivity.

About the Nissan 370Z 40th Anniversary Edition The 370Z 40th Anniversary Edition starts out as a 370Z Coupe Touring model equipped with manual transmission and Sport Package (including SynchroRev Match, front chin spoiler, rear spoiler, Nissan Sport Brakes, 19-inch Rays forged aluminum-alloy wheels and viscous limited-slip differential) and adds a premium "40th Quartz" exterior color and red leather-appointed interior.

Additional exclusive equipment includes a high-luster smoke wheel finish, red brake calipers and 40th Anniversary badges on the rear hatch and front strut tower brace. Inside, along with the red leather-appointed seats are red door panel inserts, 40th Anniversary seatback and floormat embroidery, red stitching on the center stack, shift boot and kneepads, smooth leather steering wheel with red stitching and a plaque of authenticity. Every 40th Anniversary Z also comes with a commemorative premium satin car cover.

Pricing of the 370Z 40th Anniversary Edition will be announced closer to its on-sale date next spring. A Brief History: Six Generations of Z The journey from the original 240Z to the current 370Z, of course, made a number of interesting stops along the past 40 years. Interestingly, the 240Z might not have made the journey to America in the first place, if not for the efforts of one man.

Though many, many people were responsible for the design and engineering of the first generation 240Z, its success in North America can be attributed to Yutaka Katayama, who was president of Nissan's U.S. operations at the time. Known affectionately as "Mr. K," he was convinced that the company's new sports car design would be a hit in the U.S. There was just one problem – the vehicle's name: the Fairlady Z (which is still used in the Japanese market today).

With a name change for this market to "240Z" and some aggressive marketing, including early motorsports success, the Z became an instant hit – bringing attention and buyers not just to Z, but also to the entire brand.

After overseeing Nissan's growth in the U.S. in the '70s, Katayama returned to Japan and remains, to this day, linked to the Z's success here and around the world. On September 15th, 2009, Mr. K celebrated his 100th birthday and received cards and birthday greetings from Z lovers everywhere.

In 1974, as the engine displacement climbed to 2.6 liters the name changed to 260Z. The 2+2 model with an extended roofline and tiny back seat also appeared. In 1975, engine size increased again to 2.8 liters and the name changed to 280Z. Z cars continued to dominate on the racetrack, with Pete Brock, John Morton, Bob Sharp and P.L. (Paul) Newman among the many talented drivers.

Z sales continued to climb with the introduction in 1979 of the new second generation 280ZX. Now priced at just under $10,000, the 280ZX was named Motor Trend "Import Car of the Year" and sales passed 86,000 units. T-tops and a turbocharged engine followed in the early '80s.

In 1984, Z engine displacement increased again, with a 3.0-liter V6 replacing the classic Z inline-6, and the 300ZX was born. Also, a specially equipped model celebrating the company's 50th anniversary and priced at $25,999 was introduced. The 1984 Z was the best selling sports car in America.

The next breakthrough in Z history came in 1990 with the arrival of the totally redesigned, fourth generation 300ZX. Offered in two-seat and four-seat 2+2 models, it offered an unheard of 222 horsepower and a top speed of 150 mph. A few months later, the 300ZX Turbo followed – with 300 horsepower, a 160-mph top speed and a $33,000 price tag.

The 1990 300ZX captured the Z's second Motor Trend "Import Car of the Year" award, along with a spot on Car and Driver and Road & Track "10 Best" lists. The 300ZX also captured Automobile's "Design of the Year" and the first of four "All-Stars" awards.

By the mid-'90s, however, sports car sales in general were slowing and the Z had lost its "affordable" sports car positioning. With Z sales declining sharply and the core "value" positioning no longer part of the "Z DNA," sales of the Z in the U.S. slumped and sales were stopped following the 1996 model year. The last 300ZX imported into the U.S. was inducted into the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.

The next chapter of the Z history came just before the end of the century. In 1999, Nissan and Renault formed what has become the highly successful Renault-Nissan Alliance.

Mr. Carlos Ghosn was assigned by Renault to head the new management team. Among his first tasks was not just to look at the business aspects, but to find the "soul" of the company. In interview after interview, people inside and outside the company brought up one model to him, one letter: Z.

Development of the new Z began later that year, with the return to the values of the original 240Z – a car that sports car enthusiasts would look forward to driving everyday; quick, inspiring and affordable.

In summer 2002, the Z was reborn with the introduction of the 2003 350Z. It was delivered, as promised, with an MSRP of under $30,000.

Following the 350Z's unprecedented success, the sixth generation Z, the 2009 370Z was launched last December. Now the little sports car that could comes full circle with the announcement of the 370Z 40th Anniversary Edition.

"It's almost inconceivable that it has been 40 years since the original 240Z changed the course of Nissan and the concept of affordable, everyday sports cars," said Castignetti. "In a year, 1969, marked by the first man to walk on the moon, the 240Z made a remarkable first step of its own. Happy anniversary, Z."

I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.

    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      That's the most uninspired Special Edition of any car, ever.
        • 5 Years Ago

        It's not my definition, thats THE definition of a sports car. 2 doors, rear or all wheel drive. Performance is not an indicator of sports cars, if that were the case then a Miata would not be a sports car while a Magnum would.

        I'm not taking away from those cars, Evo, WRX, RX-8 are all fine cars, but they're not sports cars.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Then again, Nissan’s never been one to really go all out across the board."

        ARE YOU KIDDING?! Of all the Japanese Auto manufacturers Nissan is the most daring and the one most likely to go "all out" especially when it comes to sports cars. You obviously have no apparent knowledge of Japanese Auto history.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @ Mez Jr.

        Your list makes zero sense to me. It's ruled by such an arbitrary definition. A fat G37 filled with luxuries is a sports car but a low-weight RX-8 isn't? The fact the RX-8 has extra half-doors has little to do with the sporting nature of the car. It handles crazy well and revs to 9000RPM for goodness sake (and enjoys it unlike Nissan's recent V6s). You are actually OBLIGED to rev the car to make it run well. The WRX STI and EVO X both have a sporting soul as well. They love to claw the road and have rally heritage. They may not fit your rigid definition of "sports cars" but these vehicles have near-religious followers for a reason. They perform.

        Meanwhile Nissan has brought us endless heavy as sin cars that are supposed to be sporting. Of the G35/G37, 350Z/370Z and the GT-R, the GT-R is the only one which actually isn't a huge girl's car. I just see these fat, bulbous things and inevitably get a glimpse of someone applying lipstick while in the driver's seat. They have no sport in them, no visceral nature. This isn't a new thing either, there hasn't been a good Nissan beyond the GT-Rs since they were Datsun.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I'm with Merc, Nissan is the only Japanese automaker with high performance cars sold in the US. One of only 2 with any real sports cars at all (the general accepted definition of sports car is RWD/AWD with 2 doors).

        Nissan/Infiniti: GTR, Z, G37coupe.
        Mazda: MX-5 (rx-8 is nice but no sports car, too many doors)
        Toyota/Lexus/Scion: none
        Honda/Acura: none
        Subaru: none (all they have are four-doors, exciting yes, but not sports cars)
        Mitsubishi: none (evo is 4-door)
        Suzuki: none (are they even sold here now?)
      • 5 Years Ago
      I would have preffered a stripped down bare bones model for the cheap. AC..maybe?..power nothing...6 spd man tran...no stereo system...no push button start...no shift light indicator and price it in the low 20's
      • 5 Years Ago
      Was hoping for something more retro. How about 918 orange with classic badging or something?
      • 5 Years Ago
      well i love it
      • 5 Years Ago
      there have been worst anniversary cars.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The black gold commercial was hilarious. Mustaches FTW!
      • 5 Years Ago
      They should have gone with the black gold.. or the black and red.. or the silver and blue.
      • 5 Years Ago
      There is going to be a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth at dealerships because this special edition is manual-only.

      The type of consumer who will love a special edition like this will always drive an automatic.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Let's not forget the Z cars (Datsun) with the rear window louvers.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Why don't they have Mr K edition?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Would have been cool if they went more retro, especially with the hood... but still pretty hot
      • 5 Years Ago
      MMM, black gold, I want me one of those. That 40th Anniversary Edition looks good, that leather really goes well with it.
    • Load More Comments
    Share This Photo X