Happy 40th, Nissan Z!

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I confess-here at The Garage, Gary and I haven’t been exactly shy about our admiration of the Nissan Z, especially in its current 370Z and more potent NISMO Z iterations. Does it help that the current Z is dynamically, and aesthetically at the top of its game? Absolutely. But the Z is much more than simply a great sports car. There is a culture, centered around strong club support, that allows you to enjoy your Z however you prefer-show it, tour in it, or track it.

My admiration of the Z goes back to my childhood. My neighbor had a silver 1981 Datsun 280ZX that never had a speck of dirt on it. I was thrilled anytime he’d let me sit in the driver seat, looking over that long, sleek hood. I am a former Z owner myself. Back in my college days, I owned a navy blue 1986 300ZX Turbo with T-tops. As a guy used to four cylinder VW’s and Alfa Romeo’s, the 300ZX was a revelation, and I have many fond memories of late-night blasts on rural Lancaster County, PA roads with the t-tops off. But the one thing the Z has that no other Japanese manufacturer can boast of is continuity. Forty years ago this October, you could walk into your Datsun dealer and buy a 240Z, and today a 370Z awaits you. There has been fierce competition-Toyota Supra (US sales stopped in 1999), Mazda RX-7 (North America sales stopped in 1995), and later, the Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4 (US sales stopped in 1999). The Nissan Z is Japan’s Sports Car, an icon, as the Corvette is to the US, and the Porsche 911 to Germany. The Z simply outlasted all of its competition. No small feat.

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In celebration of the Z’s 40th anniversary, a limited edition model will be released in Spring of 2010. Based on the 370Z Touring with the Sport Package, the 40th Anniversary Edition will only be available with a manual transmission. The exterior comes in 40th Quartz, accented by 19″ Rays alloy wheels with a high-luster smoke finish and red brake calipers. Inside, driver and passenger are greeted with red leather seats and upgraded trim. No pricing was is currently available from Nissan.

So please, raise a glass, and toast Nissan to another 40 years of Z car goodness!

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