Which Nissan Z-Car Is Best?

Want more articles like this? You’re only seeing a fraction of our content on the website. Read it all in the print edition of Grassroots Motorsports. Click here to subscribe today.


It’s been almost a half-century since a relatively unknown company from the other side of the planet knocked the sports car world on its ear with a groundbreaking release that Road & Track called “the most exciting new GT car in a decade.”

That new-for-1970 Datsun 240Z had Jaguar-level good looks at an equally appealing price. The Z-car’s sticker of roughly $3500, which undercut the Alfa Romeo GTV by about 25 percent, translates to about $22,250 in modern dollars. That bought buyers an overhead camshaft, independent rear suspension, and a top that didn’t leak-all big-deal features back then.

It was a sales success of the highest order: The July 1971 issue of Road & Track reported that Nissan had anticipated moving about 1600 cars per month, but the market demanded closer to 4000 units per month. This led to six-month waits along with Kelly Blue Book values for used examples topping $4000.

That same issue of R&T featured a five-car shootout for GT machines priced right around $3500. The 240Z solidly took the gold metal, beating the already established Fiat 124 Sports, Opel GT, MGB GT and Triumph GT6.

The new 240Z became a track star, too. At the 1970 SCCA American Road Race of Champions–the predecessor to today’s season-ending Runoffs–John Morton famously claimed the championship in a 240Z prepared by Peter Brock’s BRE team. He was trailed to the checker by two more 240Z drivers, Bob Sharp and John McComb. In their wake were a string of 914-6 Porsches and Lotus Elans. The lone Triumph in the race, a TR6 prepared by Bob Tullius’s dominating Group 44 and driven by the team’s patriarch, failed to reach the checker.

Suddenly there was a shift in the American sports car landscape. Class leaders MG and Triumph would leave the American market a decade later.

Almost five decades after its launch, despite a slight hiatus, changing shopping trends and an oil crisis or two, the Z-car is still here with us. Other reasonably priced sports cars have come and gone–sadly, mostly gone–but the Nissan Z-car has endured.

New ones are as close as your local Nissan dealer, while past generations offer something for nearly every taste and budget. Whether you’re into turbos and twin-cams or louvers and loving cups, there’s likely a Z-car for you.

Today’s Nissan hasn’t forgotten this past, either. There’s a special place where the manufacturer keeps its private stash, and we recently raided it to sample a Z-car from each generation.

Has the original Z been superseded by later incarnations? Depends on what you’re looking for. Whatever your fancy, this exercise did remind us that there are few wrong answers here.

240Z: 1970-’73

The Z-car story starts with the 240Z. The first. The most pure. Thin bumpers. Plenty of performance from that 150-horsepower inline-six. The basics would form the recipe for years to come: long hood, lift-back rear, six cylinders, and three displays right in the center of the dash. They got it nearly perfect right out of the gate.

The 240Z’s big change came for 1973: The original SU carburetors were replaced with some emissions-friendly Hitachis. Performance took a slight hit and, as a result, today those earlier cars are the ones that everyone wants.

Prices and Values: Hagerty says that a No. 2-condition 1970 Datsun 240Z–call that an example that’s excellent, but not quite the best in the world–is worth about $35,000. Prices bumped up in 2015, but have been fiat since. Think you found a totally mint one? The classic car insurer says that it’s worth closer to $60,000 these days.

This Car Here: Let’s hop in our time machine and jet forward a few years. In 1996, Nissan wasn’t selling too many Z-cars here in the States, so they dropped the model–their flagship model, of all things. To fill the gap and retain a halo offering in the quiver, Nissan USA President Bob Thomas had a dream: Nissan would sell restored examples of the original 240Z, aiming to rebuild 10 per month. Each would be backed by a one-year, 12,000-mile warranty.

Long story short, between delays and a little something called reality, the project didn’t pan out as expected and only 38 cars were delivered. This 1971 model is one of those restored Datsuns.

Behind the Wheel: The driving experience alone is worth the price of admission. Nissan hit a homerun first time at bat. Without any revisions or updates, the 240Z offers everything you could desire: a comfortable ride, great steering and perfect pedal placement. It’s not going to run down today’s supercars, but for its day performance is spot-on. It’s quick, willing and ready to deliver.

The gearbox might only offer four forward speeds, but the action is nearly perfect. Today we use the Miata’s gearbox as a benchmark, but, really, we should be comparing everything to the original 240Z.

260Z AND 280Z: 1974 (260Z) • 1975–’78 (280Z)

Things on the American automotive landscape drastically changed for 1974, with bigger bumpers and cleaner, more efficient engines becoming the new norm. Performance, as expected, took a major hit.

Datsun responded with the 260Z. As the name suggests, engine displacement was upped to 2.6 liters. The compression ratio was lowered, though, and horsepower fell as well-down to 140 on U.S.-spec cars.

The Z-car lineup was also expanded with the addition of the 2+2 model. A teeny-tiny back seat meant that technically four souls could enjoy the 260Z, provided that at least two of them were rather small.

The 260Z would be a one-year-only model, with the 280Z arriving for 1975. Its big upgrade: Bosch fuel injection feeding a 2.8-liter engine. This bumped the horsepower rating to 149, but new mandated bumpers added weight to both ends of the car.

Prices and Values: The collector market doesn’t place the 260Z on the same plane as the 240Z, with Hagerty saying that an excellent one is worth about $15,000; deduct a few grand for one of the slightly awkward looking 2+2 cars. The 280Z is more desirable than the 260Z, with an excellent one worth almost $20,000.

This Car Here: Among Nissan fans, Yutaka Katayama needs no introduction. After 24 years in Nissan’s home office, in 1959 he was dispatched to the U.S. on an exploratory mission of sorts. He planted the company’s flag and was soon named president of Nissan’s U.S. operations–which carried the Datsun name. Mr. K’s tenure in the States would run through 1977, and during that time Nissan grew into a major force. Two of the brand’s biggest early successes, the Z-car and 510, can both be traced back to his desk.

This 260Z 2+2, fitted with the optional sunroof plus available three-speed automatic transmission, was Mr. K’s personal car. It’s easily spotted as an early 260Z, as the later ones adopted the bigger bumpers also seen on the 280Z.

Behind the Wheel: Where the original Z feels crisp and sharp, the 260Z, especially with the automatic box and extra length, feels kinda lazy. The ride is comfy, but much muted compared to the earlier car. The automatic box actually isn’t that bad, and when placed in context–this car was owned by a Z-loving enthusiast who faced L.A. traffic–it makes some sense.

280ZX: 1979–’83

The Z-car got a reboot for 1978. Yes, it still looked like a Z and followed the same story arc, but up close it was a new animal. And that animal loved disco, as interior options included a sea of velour upholstery punctuated with the latest high-tech gadgets.

T-tops, a popular option, made this an open-air affair. Two-tone paint jobs let everyone know that the party had arrived. In short, the 280ZX reflected the times: more emphasis on looking sporty than being sporty.

The Z got a new name, too: 280ZX. The brand itself also got a new moniker, with Nissan starting to phase out the Datsun name in 1981. Nissan, the parent company, would become the brand name as well.

Think of the 280ZX as a fleshed-out version of the original. The body lines were crisper. Nissan flared in the bumpers. The 2+2 version looked natural this time around.

Engine displacement remained 2.8 liters, but by now that block was covered in a net of hoses, lines and cables. Power was down to 135 horsepower, but remember that this is when a base Corvette made do with just 185.

One bright spot: A five-speed transmission, an option on the 280Z since 1977, became standard. Wait, let’s make that two bright spots: Nissan started offering a turbocharged 28OZX starting in 1981, bumping engine output to 180 horsepower.

Prices and Values: Hagerty says that an excellent 280ZX is worth somewhere in the low teens. Add a few grand for the turbo version.

This Car Here: To celebrate the Z-car’s first big birthday, Nissan sent over 3000 copies of the 10th Anniversary 280ZX for the 1980 model year. In addition to the requisite badges and stickers, all received leather seats, automatic temperature control, T-tops and two-tone paint–2500 wore black over gold, with 500 receiving black and red. We drove the very car that Nissan used for all of that model’s publicity shoots, and it’s bone-stock, down to the original, 38-year-old Goodyear Wingfoot tires.

Behind the Wheel: It’s like a 240Z, but softer and cushier. The injected 2.8-liter engine revs smoothly, but delivers only decent, lazy power. The power steering makes the 280ZX easier to park, though, and the five-speed transmission is a welcome addition in today’s world.

The interior also recalls the original Z-car, but now there are even more buttons, knobs and switches. We wouldn’t call this a 240Z replacement, but it perfectly captures a time when sportiness took precedent over lap times.

300ZX: 1984–’89

After more than a dozen years of evolution, the Z would be all-new for 1984. Where the 280ZX was an evolution of a 1960s design, this new car started with a fresh sheet of paper.

The look was fully contemporary. The sugar scoop headlights were long gone, replaced by rectangular units hidden behind articulated covers–well, half covers, technically. The bodywork became even more chiseled, dominated by a flat, wide hood.

And beneath that hood was a 3.0-liter V6 engine. This was groundbreaking news from Japan. In base form that V6 delivered 160 horsepower; the turbocharged model initially produced 200 horsepower, with that figure eventually bumped up to 227.

That 3.0-liter engine, of course, warranted a new name: the 300ZX. Like its predecessors, the 300ZX was again available as a two-seater or a 2+2.

The 300ZX weighed a touch more than the 280ZX, but more power and a better suspension kept performance near the top of the heap. Car and Driver’s initial review praised the performance, but was less kind to the overall package. “The emperor has no clothes,” Don Sherman wrote, “and the ZX Turbo lacks a pretty face.”

Prices and Values: The newest Z-car listed in the Hagerty price guide is the 1984 model. They say that an excellent base car is worth right at $10,000; add another two grand for the Turbo.

This Car Here: For the 1984 model year Nissan celebrated another corporate milestone with their 300ZX 50th Anniversary Edition; this one received all of the available extras, from the turbo engine and electronically controlled dampers to mirrored T-tops, digital dash display and leather seats. The Anniversary Edition also sported flared fenders, two-tone black and silver paint, and all of the obligatory badges. A few more than 5000 copies were produced and, of course, Nissan has one of these cars in their collection. To date it has only covered a tick more than 11,000 miles.

Behind the Wheel: Call this one of the biggest surprises of the day. While largely ignored by our world, the 300ZX still feels like a Z-car. Thin A-pillars don’t obscure the view, while handling and acceleration easily feel on par with the first model. The touch of turbo whine is a welcome addition. This is a very lovable neo-classic that still delivers the Z-car experience.

300ZX: 1990–’96

The Z again got a redo, and Nissan hit this one out of the park. Dennis Simanaitis’s Road & Track review started with the highest of praises: “I’ve just driven one of the best sports cars in the world.”

The new 300ZX’s sheetmetal could have come from Italy, while the suspension made no excuses–double wishbones up front paired with a four-link rear setup and meaty tires all around. The new 300ZX still relied upon a 3.0-liter V6, but it now featured twin overhead cams along with 24 valves. The non-turbo version produced 222 horsepower. But wait, there was more: a twin-turbo 300ZX to the tune of an even 300 horsepower.

Starting price for all of this goodness? About $30,000 at launch. In today’s dollars, that’s about $56,000–nearly twice the starting price of a new 370Z. But as the ’90s got rolling, Nissan was simply on fire as the much-heralded Z shared showroom space with the 240SX, Sentra SE-R, Maxima SE and NX2000. Convertibles had joined both the 300ZX and 240SX model lines. In short, Nissan offered a performance car for seemingly every taste and budget, while on track their IMSA programs were dominating.

But there was trouble brewing ahead. The dollar-to-yen ratio was tipping against Japan, and in 1995 you’d pay at least $41,000 for a new Z. Consumers had also become more interested in SUVs and the like. Nissan sold nearly 75,000 Z-cars in 1984, and a decade later that figure had fallen to fewer than 5000. While production of the 300ZX continued through 2000, U.S. imports ceased after 1996. Nissan marked the moment by importing 300 Commemorative Edition cars. The end of the 300ZX was just part of Nissan’s problems, as the company had simply stopped turning cars into piles of cash.

Prices and Values: Bring a Trailer shows standard-issue turbo and non-turbo cars fetching less than $10,000, with a 1996 Twin Turbo Commemorative Edition recently bringing in $15,000. Last September another Commemorative Edition, this one sporting just 528 miles, sold for a whopping $90,100 on eBay.

This Car Here: Nissan’s private stash includes a Commemorative Edition car as well, and the odometer shows just 790 miles on the clock. The trip odometer displays 788.8 miles, and we resisted the temptation to reset it.

Behind the Wheel: Low side windowsills and lots of glass make this one feel smaller than you’d think, while the turbo engine is torquey and flexible. The gearbox is nearly perfect. The ride felt a little stiff, but we’re going to blame that on the 20-plus-year-old tires.

350Z: 2003–’08

At the 1999 New York auto show the news was made official: Nissan was bringing back the Z. Renault had righted the manufacturer with an infusion of cash, and after some long, dark days things were looking positive for Nissan.

The 1998 Volkswagen New Beetle ushered in a new era of retro styling, which the reintroduced Z fully mastered. Its new shape recalled the original 240Z, yet was modern at the same time. Call it an homage more than a gimmick. The interior also recalled past Z-cars, down to those auxiliary gauges propped on top of the dash. Power came from a 3.5-liter V6 that produced 287 naturally aspirated horsepower.

The 300ZX had priced itself out of the market, so the new car harkened back to the original 240Z with an MSRP starting at $26,800. The base car was rather stripped, but optional packages added things like a limited-slip differential, bigger wheels and even Brembo brakes.

Buyers responded favorably, with Nissan selling nearly 40,000 units during the 350Z’s first 12 months in the showroom. A convertible joined the lineup in the summer of 2003, further expanding the car’s appeal.

We compared the 350Z to the 240Z in our May 2004 issue. While the 350Z offered superior performance, it didn’t capture all of the charm. “Side by side, the oldest and newest Z cars illustrate the advances that have been made in the past few decades,” we said, “but the 240Z still gets our vote as a superior package, taken in the context of when it was created.”

Prices and Values: Right now we’re seeing 350Z prices starting around $5000, with the late Nismo cars topping out just north of $20,000.

This Car Here: Nissan’s VQ35HR engine, dubbed the High Rev, became standard for 2007, bumping the 350Z’s output to 306 horsepower. Solar Orange was also added to the options that year. If the Nissan collection is going to contain one 350Z, might as well be a Solar Orange 2007 model, with this one originally doing duty in the manufacturer’s press fleet.

Behind the Wheel: While the 350Z felt totally new and modern to us more than a decade-plus ago, today it almost has a retro feel. We’re going to credit some of that to the thin steering wheel rim: Where most everything today has a thick, meaty rim, the 350Z’s almost feels like a ’90s car in comparison. And we’re not complaining.

Performance is still on par for today, and the gearbox still feels like a benchmark. Pedals and seats are right where you want them. If there’s a blemish, while the A-pillars are nice and thin, over-the-shoulder visibility could be better; and that rear tie bar sucks up way too much trunk space.

370Z: 2009–’18

The back-from-the-dead 350Z wasn’t a brief flicker of reanimation: Nissan followed up with the 370Z for 2009. Engine displacement was upped once again, with the 3.7-liter V6 making 332 horsepower. The body also evolved with the times: lower, wider and just meaner. The look to the past was replaced with a stare into the future.

And after 10 model years, we’re still sitting in the exact same place. Aside from some minor changes here and there, plus a very mild facelift delivered for 2013, the 370Z has carried on unchanged for a solid decade. It continues to be offered in both coupe and convertible guises.

Nissan hasn’t tipped its hand about the Z-car’s future, but its U.S. sales numbers do tell a story. Nissan sold 7391 units during the 2015 calendar year; the following 12 months, that figure dropped to 5913. Through the fall of 2017, Nissan shows 370Z sales down nearly 25 percent. (To put things into comparison, the Rogue is Nissan’s best seller in the States, with sales climbing to more than 30,000 units sold this past October alone.)

Prices and Values: A brand-new 370Z coupe starts out at $29,990–a mere $60 increase since the model’s 2009 release–with the higher-output Nismo version covering the top end of the lineup at $46,690. Ten years of unchanged production means that earlier cars can be deals, with prices starting in the low teens.

This Car Here: We sampled a new 370Z Heritage Edition in Chicane Yellow. The $790 Heritage Package basically adds the ’70s-tastic graphics along with some yellow interior accents and gloss black exterior mirrors. Like every other 2018 Nissan 370Z with a manual transmission, an Exedy clutch now is fitted as standard equipment.

Behind the Wheel: The 370Z basically transports the 350Z into modern times. The steering wheel is thick and contoured, the Exedy clutch offers smoother articulation, and the seats feature even deeper bolstering. While the 370Z’s spec box lists more power, around town both cars are still plenty quick.

Those side sills have crept up a bit, though. Add in even less over-the-shoulder visibility, and the 370Z can offer a cocoon-like feel. On track, you learn who to trust; in downtown traffic, the result can be a little stressful.

Picking a Winner

After driving seven cars you’d think that it would be tough to pick a winner, but the star of the day was clearly the 240Z. It’s the first, it’s the most pure, and it’s the one that will always serve as the genre’s benchmark. The driving experience perfectly captures everything we love about the best sports cars of the day.

Thanks to all of its attributes, the 240Z has basically become the Converse All Star of the automotive world: Like the iconic canvas basketball shoe, you can take a 240Z anywhere. It’s still a staple at all kinds of motorsports events, works well at a car show, and makes a fine get-away vehicle. Add a five-speed transmission from a later Z, and it can easily gobble up the highway miles.

Not interested in that vintage charm–meaning that you want a daily featuring air-conditioning and modern rustproofing measures? Then we’re going to recommend a 350Z or 370Z. An earlier 350Z, especially one that you can find for $7000 or so, seems like a lot of performance packed into a usable package.

And we have two honorable mentions, with the vintage sleeper pick going to the original 300ZX. Ignore its reputation as a boulevard cruiser for a moment, as even our own testing back in the day showed the 300ZX to nearly equal the 240Z on track. The 300ZX still delivers that vintage Z-car experience, yet does so with a dash of ’80s style.

Another one to watch is the second-generation 300ZX. Japan offered three iconic supercar darlings during the ’90s: the Mazda RX-7, Toyota Supra and Nissan 300ZX. Supras have always commanded a premium, while the RX-7 has proved to be a bit delicate. If you’re looking to relive those glory years, the sometimes overlooked 300ZX might be the logical pick.

We did learn one big thing from this exercise: No matter what the future holds for the Z, at least time has given us nearly half a century of favorites.



Want more articles like this? You're only seeing a fraction of our content on the website. Read it all in the print edition of Grassroots Motorsports. Click here to subscribe today.

Join Free Join our community to easily find more Nissan articles.
Comments
View comments on the GRM forums
crankwalk
crankwalk Dork
1/5/18 2:40 p.m.

It's always the 240z at #1. Lightest, purest, prettiest. Followed IMO by the Z32 TT for the power potential and importance.

 

The rest all have their place but I think those two really made the biggest statement.

tuna55
tuna55 MegaDork
1/5/18 2:46 p.m.

That was a great article. I really enjoyed it.

Trackmouse
Trackmouse UltraDork
1/5/18 3:04 p.m.

In reply to crankwalk :

Couldn’t have said it any better. For those that would disagree, they haven’t owned a s30 chassis. 

NOHOME
NOHOME UltimaDork
1/5/18 3:06 p.m.

Original 1970 240Z hands down. Mostly cause we had one in the family and it is the car I learned to drive stick on and drift before drifting was invented! ( Cause snow eh)

Patrick
Patrick MegaDork
1/5/18 3:43 p.m.

Mine?  I may be biased.  I do want to drive a 370 to see if i like them as much as i do the s30.  

racerdave600
racerdave600 UltraDork
1/5/18 4:17 p.m.

I grew up with them when my dad placed an order for a new 240z.  There was a 6 months wait and you had to choose a possible 3 colors.  We got the 3rd color choice of white.  I learned to drive in it and a '76 280z.  Later there was a '83zx before the switch to BMWs which the parents still buy.

Personally I've had several Zs including the '83 above, a '71, and a 2011 370.  I loved the 370 and it is much better as a daily, but there is really no competition here, it is 240 all day.  None of the others come close, not even the 260s and 280z's.  The 300's are even further removed, although still nice cars.

mad_machine
mad_machine MegaDork
1/5/18 4:25 p.m.

it was an early 260z that scared me silly with it's speed. I came from a ratty Fiat spider and was driving my father's 260 to work as the spider was waiting on some parts. It was an early sunday morning on a freshly repaved road in early fall. This road had no place for the cops to hide and was arrow straight.

 

I looked down to see an indicated 140 and climbing, and the car was just as smooth at 140ish as it was at half that speed. It wasn't the speed that scared me, it was how smooth and unobtrusive it got there. It simply didn't feel that fast

MazdaFace
MazdaFace Reader
1/5/18 5:09 p.m.

Loved this article in the magazine! First mag I've gotten with my new subscription yes

Fitzauto
Fitzauto Dork
1/5/18 6:12 p.m.

Im partial to the 280zx but I also,love a good s30.

mad_machine
mad_machine MegaDork
1/5/18 7:49 p.m.
racerdave600 said:

 

Personally I've had several Zs including the '83 above, a '71, and a 2011 370.  I loved the 370 and it is much better as a daily, but there is really no competition here, it is 240 all day.  None of the others come close, not even the 260s and 280z's.  The 300's are even further removed, although still nice cars.

the early 260s are not all that different from the 240. They look almost identical with a bigger engine.

wheels777
wheels777 SuperDork
1/5/18 7:53 p.m.

SR-71D  laugh

crankwalk
crankwalk Dork
1/5/18 8:18 p.m.
mad_machine said:
racerdave600 said:

 

Personally I've had several Zs including the '83 above, a '71, and a 2011 370.  I loved the 370 and it is much better as a daily, but there is really no competition here, it is 240 all day.  None of the others come close, not even the 260s and 280z's.  The 300's are even further removed, although still nice cars.

the early 260s are not all that different from the 240. They look almost identical with a bigger engine.

And terrible carbs, different taillight panel and slightly different interior. My 73 240 came with round top SU factory because the local dealer stopped ordering them with problematic flat top Hitachis.

Patrick
Patrick MegaDork
1/5/18 9:19 p.m.
wheels777 said:

SR-71D  laugh

That’s 2nd best on my list 

mad_machine
mad_machine MegaDork
1/5/18 9:34 p.m.
crankwalk said:
mad_machine said:
racerdave600 said:

 

Personally I've had several Zs including the '83 above, a '71, and a 2011 370.  I loved the 370 and it is much better as a daily, but there is really no competition here, it is 240 all day.  None of the others come close, not even the 260s and 280z's.  The 300's are even further removed, although still nice cars.

the early 260s are not all that different from the 240. They look almost identical with a bigger engine.

And terrible carbs, different taillight panel and slightly different interior. My 73 240 came with round top SU factory because the local dealer stopped ordering them with problematic flat top Hitachis.

that I can't comment on. My Father's 260 had webbers, a header, and was cammed. If you got on it too soon in the rev band, it would backfire through the carbs and all sorts of white smoke would billow out from under the hood. Thing was fast though

wheels777
wheels777 SuperDork
1/5/18 9:40 p.m.
Patrick said:
wheels777 said:

SR-71D  laugh

That’s 2nd best on my list 

Ya, ya, ya.... keep it down in the peanut gallery...you need to be working on sharpening the blade in prep for the next duel.

Snrub
Snrub Reader
1/5/18 10:08 p.m.

I tend to think the original 240Z was likely the best.  In the context of it's day, it must have been a complete no-brainer to buy, it had everything; performance, style, value.  It almost had no competition.  I think its style held up over time too.

 

The Z130 and Z31 might be the least well regarded over time, but they sold well.  It's amazing how well sports cars and performance cars sold in the 70s and 80s compared to today.

 

The Z32 certainly looked awesome in it's day and long after, but I think it's starting to look a bit dated  Still, that's a remarkable accomplishement.

 

The 350Z and 370Z are certainly good, but I don't know if they'll be all that remembered 20 years from now.

Tom_Spangler
Tom_Spangler UberDork
1/5/18 10:54 p.m.

I'm the weirdo who still likes the S130.  I know it's not the best, I don't care.  It just has a special place in my heart.

CJ
CJ New Reader
1/5/18 11:03 p.m.

Back in the late '70s, the 'trick setup' in far Northern California was a '71 240z, a 280z block with a 240z head, a 280z  5-speed, and a 280z louvered hood.

Made for a very quick, great looking car

mad_machine
mad_machine MegaDork
1/6/18 7:52 a.m.

and do not get me wrong, I have no love for the z cars. My father's two were fast (260 and 300) but I hated their interiors, especially the digidash on the 300

mikeatrpi
mikeatrpi HalfDork
1/6/18 8:52 a.m.

Great article!  Did I read it right - the 280ZX still has the original tires indecision ?

Nick Comstock
Nick Comstock MegaDork
1/6/18 9:03 a.m.

I've briefly driven a 350z and while I loved the engine note the overall experience didn't really speak to me. 

The choice for me would be the 280zx from the early 80's. It just appeals to me the most.

Trackmouse
Trackmouse UltraDork
1/6/18 10:04 a.m.

https://www.carthrottle.com/post/98x6mqr/

anyone that knows this car, knows just how great the s130 can be. 

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
1/6/18 2:31 p.m.

They will remember the 350Z. It was a return the affordable original. The Z32 priced itself out of existence, and the 350 brought back that attainablitty. It was a car that turned heads and made kids dream.

JoeyM
JoeyM Mod Squad
1/6/18 6:51 p.m.
tuna55 said:

That was a great article. I really enjoyed it.

Same here.  It is nice to see some love for the old L-series engines

simplecat
simplecat New Reader
1/7/18 3:32 p.m.

I've always been a huge fan of the z32, they're heavy, but beautiful. I think the only 90s jdm gt car that aged better was the FD rx7.

wspohn
wspohn Dork
1/7/18 3:57 p.m.

Current model looks like a lump of s..... and a heavy lump to boot.

By far the best was the earliest 240Z - guy I know had a 1969 production Z that he'd added a 5 speed to (ony available in the home market) and it was a beautiful sports car.

dean1484
dean1484 MegaDork
1/7/18 4:30 p.m.

Loved my friends 260. That was a really fun sports car. I later got a 280zx turbo it was a great car but compared to the 260 it was a GT. Still fun and I loved both the interior and exterior styling of that car.  One of maybe a half dozen cars I have had over the years I want to get another one of. 

G_Body_Man
G_Body_Man UltraDork
1/7/18 7:18 p.m.

How did you guys enjoy your project 350Z?

AaronBalto
AaronBalto Reader
1/7/18 9:09 p.m.

Japan offered three iconic supercar darlings during the ’90s: the Mazda RX-7, Toyota Supra and Nissan 300ZX. 

Cough, cough, NSX, cough, cough.

dean1484
dean1484 MegaDork
1/7/18 9:56 p.m.

In reply to G_Body_Man :

The 350 and the 370 just don’t do it for me. When they came out I really wanted to like them. I tried. There is something missing/wrong in the styling.  I can not put my finger on it but I really don’t like the look of them.  Ok to drive but there is to much plain Jain econobox Nissan in them.  They need more Datsun styling put back in them. 

The first generation of the 300zx I liked. They actually made darn good  race cars. The second Jen 300s were not sports cars.  They were full on GT cars.  I would not kick one out of the driveway but the sports car dna from the originals was gone. 

What I have always wanted is for someone to make a modern interpretation of the old 240/260/280z cars. Something like the Eagle that was built as a nod to the jaguar E Type just do it for Miata /MX5 money. Nissan you out there?  You listening to me?  Take a que from the likes of the big three American manufacturers or how about VW? Retro has been selling and continues to sell.  

 

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
1/8/18 7:38 a.m.
AaronBalto said:

Japan offered three iconic supercar darlings during the ’90s: the Mazda RX-7, Toyota Supra and Nissan 300ZX. 

Cough, cough, NSX, cough, cough.

Cough cough, dramatically more expensive, cough cough

edizzle89
edizzle89 Dork
1/8/18 8:05 a.m.

as much as i love my z31 I'd have to go with a z32. The z31's had pretty dated suspension and the styling is hit and miss depending on who you talk to. The 350/370z's are fun but just dont do much for me. The datsun Z's are beautiful but im my opinion take a lot of work to get them work as good as they look. The z32 is the best looking of them all and, even with questionable reliability and difficulty to work on, have the potential for big, easy power.

 

shameless plug for my z31:

Flyman615
Flyman615
1/8/18 1:39 p.m.

I'll still take my 1970 2000 Roadster...wink 

SZ

Carsandbikes
Carsandbikes New Reader
1/8/18 2:10 p.m.

Owned a 280Z, a nice car for what it was.  I would think a 240Z would be even better, though the 280's fuel injection is icing on the cake.

The only ZX I like is the model from the early 90s. Like the first Zs, that car has a style that is enduring.

I suppose folks will point out that other models are better drivers, but I don't care. My "perfect" Z would be a 70s model with a 5 speed transmission.

MazdaFace
MazdaFace Reader
1/8/18 2:27 p.m.

I loved the z31 I had back when I joined the Navy. Drove that thing from great lakes to norfolk, running waaay to much boost with zero fuel management, a super loud 3" Blitz exhaust, and no spare tire. Looking back its amazing I even made it there, let alone drove it for another year after getting out there. Eventually the headgasket went in a gloriously epic display of steam & I sold it to a buddy for $1000

danvan
danvan New Reader
1/8/18 3:22 p.m.

The  S32 300 ZX for me still have a heavily modified 91 in my garage.  I think it's the car i will never sell.

I still vividly remember my dad's cobalt blue '78 280Z, 5-speed, no options other than factory up-sized alloy wheels and A/C (because Oklahoma summers). He owned it from new until 1985. In fact, he taught me how to drive a manual in that car. Then he sold and bought a new '86 Camaro Z28. But even at 16 I liked the Datsun better.

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
1/8/18 3:26 p.m.
edizzle89 said:

as much as i love my z31 I'd have to go with a z32. The z31's had pretty dated suspension and the styling is hit and miss depending on who you talk to. The 350/370z's are fun but just dont do much for me. The datsun Z's are beautiful but im my opinion take a lot of work to get them work as good as they look. The z32 is the best looking of them all and, even with questionable reliability and difficulty to work on, have the potential for big, easy power.

 

shameless plug for my z31:

Love it! I had a white, '88 NA. But it still had the burgundy leather and digital dash and climate control. 

I beat on that car mercilessly through high school and first two years of college. 

westsidetalon
westsidetalon Reader
1/9/18 2:16 p.m.

I had the worst year which really hurt my early college years, a late 73 with the bad carbs and no heater blower motor. Thing was hard to start in Cleveland winters and no defrosters for the early morning commute. 

 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
1/9/18 3:44 p.m.

Glad you enjoyed the piece, and that was a fun one to put together. The coolest part might have been driving Mr. K's personal Z. 

PseudoSport
PseudoSport Dork
1/9/18 4:29 p.m.

Great article! I prefer the 280Z but i'm biased. 

 

kanaric
kanaric Dork
1/9/18 5:58 p.m.

S30 zs.... 

If you have a 280z put euro/jdm bumpers on and you are good. 

Z32 was my childhood dream car but i'd take a RX7, Skyline or Supra now instead. 

300zxfreak
300zxfreak New Reader
7/20/18 12:50 p.m.

The actual answer to the question of which Z is the best is: Whatever one you happen to be driving at the moment.

Patrick
Patrick MegaDork
7/20/18 3:09 p.m.
300zxfreak said:

The actual answer to the question of which Z is the best is: Whatever one you happen to be driving at the moment.

Unless it’s an s30 2+2.  I cannot stand those

300zxfreak
300zxfreak New Reader
7/20/18 3:28 p.m.

In reply to Patrick :You could have a valid point there......

 

kb58
kb58 SuperDork
7/20/18 3:55 p.m.

My  brother had a 240Z which we really liked. Of course, I do have very fond memories of a 280ZX and its female owner :)

californiamilleghia
californiamilleghia Reader
7/20/18 4:42 p.m.

in 1997  Nissan went out and bought a bunch of solid 240Zs and did a "Factory restore"

they were $25k or so  and less than 50 were restored......

I always loved the  early look , and the Baja race look even more :)

 

Steve
Steve New Reader
7/20/18 5:06 p.m.

Great article. I've driven them all and in stock form, the 240 is my favorite. However, my 1977 280Z with a small block chevy in it is my favorite "modified" version.

californiamilleghia
californiamilleghia Reader
7/22/18 10:06 a.m.

Looks like there is a big Japanese car show today at Peterson museum parking lot in LA , 

Just to let you know....

Carbon
Carbon UltraDork
7/22/18 12:20 p.m.
AaronBalto said:

Japan offered three iconic supercar darlings during the ’90s: the Mazda RX-7, Toyota Supra and Nissan 300ZX. 

Cough, cough, NSX, cough, cough.

Ahhhh ahhhhhh aaaasuprachooo! 

Tomwas1
Tomwas1 New Reader
7/23/18 8:12 p.m.

Currently on my 17th zx, a mix of z31 and s130 cars. Picked up a 1980 2+2 5 speed silver blue example with 113k on it in February, it just turned 117k. It's obvious it gets driven, the car garners so many looks, smiles and comments wherever it goes. I've mainly had 2+2 cars, the z31 is a more refined driver than the s130 but both are a joy to drive. I even had an 84ae for a short time, nice turbo acceleration even with the 5 sp. My current 80 is factory rated at 132hp but I feel nissan was rating them low as American makers were doing in the 60s. It just has too much giddy up for 132 horses and the size of the car. To me it's my Japanese jaguar 2+2. I have admired each gen of the z car, although z32s are my least favorite. Was totally pleased when the 350 debuted. With my recent purchase i was looking for another z but all I looked at were junk or i just missed a deal. Was doing 80s 90s bimmers and sold my 4th e30 convertible for this z. Still have a 94 and 95 e36 sedans to satisfy my BMW jones. Loving my new ZX and enjoying the ride for the 17th time.

te72
te72 Reader
7/24/18 12:15 a.m.

84 Turbo was my first experience with a Z, a friend's car. Was the first turbo car I'd ever been in to my knowledge. Was the first car I drove a manual in. Seem to remember it having an awful burgundy interior, but man... after a few years of driving a 94 Cavalier 4 door automatic, this Z31 was a rocket! A pretty cool rocket to me in my early 20's.

 

Then came a 73 240Z powered by a 7m Toyota Supra engine. Running water methanol on a slightly upsized stock housing turbo, this thing dyno'd 487whp... in a car weighing about 2600 lbs. It was properly bonkers, and ruined any sense of speed I might have had for a long time. I still remember the owner running down the drag strip in Las Vegas in flip flops and shorts. After about the 3rd 11 second pass, they finally told him that rookie or not, he couldn't be doing that at their track if he didn't have proper shoes and pants haha. That car was a hoot!

Wizard_Of_Maz
Wizard_Of_Maz New Reader
7/24/18 8:04 a.m.

My mom learned to drive stick on a 280z, so I've always been partial to those since she was the one who taught me to drive! 

But, maybe it's just my age, but the 350z really is a cool car. Probably isnt really the best at anything except being a great platform to get (especially younger) auto enthusiasts into driving. It was just enough of a dream car to reach for but pretty easily attainable. For its widespread reach and role in getting people my age into cars, I'll give the nod to that one.

But any Z is a great Z :) Especially black gold

crankwalk
crankwalk SuperDork
7/24/18 1:40 p.m.
te72 said:

 

 

Then came a 73 240Z powered by a 7m Toyota Supra engine. Running water methanol on a slightly upsized stock housing turbo, this thing dyno'd 487whp... in a car weighing about 2600 lbs. It was properly bonkers, and ruined any sense of speed I might have had for a long time. I still remember the owner running down the drag strip in Las Vegas in flip flops and shorts. After about the 3rd 11 second pass, they finally told him that rookie or not, he couldn't be doing that at their track if he didn't have proper shoes and pants haha. That car was a hoot!

 

Wow, Almost 500 whp on a 7m with a CT26 framed turbo. I've never seen anything like that before.

 

te72
te72 Reader
7/25/18 11:21 p.m.
crankwalk said:
te72 said:

 

 

Then came a 73 240Z powered by a 7m Toyota Supra engine. Running water methanol on a slightly upsized stock housing turbo, this thing dyno'd 487whp... in a car weighing about 2600 lbs. It was properly bonkers, and ruined any sense of speed I might have had for a long time. I still remember the owner running down the drag strip in Las Vegas in flip flops and shorts. After about the 3rd 11 second pass, they finally told him that rookie or not, he couldn't be doing that at their track if he didn't have proper shoes and pants haha. That car was a hoot!

 

Wow, Almost 500 whp on a 7m with a CT26 framed turbo. I've never seen anything like that before.

 

I had a hard time understanding it at the time, and I'll be the first to admit it sounds like BS. Supras Invade Las Vegas 2008, Andy Zimmerle was the fella in question. Far as I know the engine was internally stock, running a 57-trim CT26, with water methanol injection, something which was a bit on the fringe at the time.

 

Wish I had some video of that car that was clear. Pretty sure all I have is a couple cell phone pics. I can ask Andy if he has any online presence in the Z world if you'd like? It's a pretty rad car, and I don't see him having sold it.

crankwalk
crankwalk SuperDork
7/25/18 11:40 p.m.
te72 said:
crankwalk said:
te72 said:

 

 

Then came a 73 240Z powered by a 7m Toyota Supra engine. Running water methanol on a slightly upsized stock housing turbo, this thing dyno'd 487whp... in a car weighing about 2600 lbs. It was properly bonkers, and ruined any sense of speed I might have had for a long time. I still remember the owner running down the drag strip in Las Vegas in flip flops and shorts. After about the 3rd 11 second pass, they finally told him that rookie or not, he couldn't be doing that at their track if he didn't have proper shoes and pants haha. That car was a hoot!

 

Wow, Almost 500 whp on a 7m with a CT26 framed turbo. I've never seen anything like that before.

 

I had a hard time understanding it at the time, and I'll be the first to admit it sounds like BS. Supras Invade Las Vegas 2008, Andy Zimmerle was the fella in question. Far as I know the engine was internally stock, running a 57-trim CT26, with water methanol injection, something which was a bit on the fringe at the time.

 

Wish I had some video of that car that was clear. Pretty sure all I have is a couple cell phone pics. I can ask Andy if he has any online presence in the Z world if you'd like? It's a pretty rad car, and I don't see him having sold it.

No worries. I've just never seen those kinds of numbers on a 7m without being beefed up a little and a larger framed turbo.

te72
te72 Reader
7/27/18 10:18 p.m.

In reply to crankwalk :

Trust me, you're not the only one. We were ALL shocked at the dyno that year. I mean, traditionally, at the time, a 57-trim CT26 was good for about 400whp, and that's all the breath it had to give. Was quite cool to see Andy knock that idea out of the water.

 

I do specifically recall that it would light up the tires (275 wide road race tires of some sort, perhaps Kuhmo V700's? It's been a long time.) when he would boost in fourth gear at 70mph, then, without letting off throttle, kick the clutch and throw it into 3rd. Was quite the neat trick, and would leave 11's on the highway and then pull like crazy.

 

If ever I thought I was gonna die in a car... it was that one.

cgoug
cgoug None
8/1/18 9:52 a.m.

Really good article and brings back a lot of memories. A 240Z turned heads back in the day.

 

sir_mike
sir_mike New Reader
8/1/18 3:31 p.m.

The first years on carbs..

cgoug
cgoug New Reader
8/2/18 10:08 a.m.

In reply to sir_mike :

Those were the days..........just needed eyes and ears, not many tools and some patience!

 

Our Preferred Partners
NDD3vHbH6yGhFxX8xsDw2qG2OGCFVmjQMtIs6aRY3RcfzAu81ot7EtpFOCh1cmxa