The Datsun 240Z was a landmark model that redefined buyers’ perceptions of the brand around the world and launched one of Nissan’s most enduring nameplates.
Famous for the US market, Australia was also a key right-hand drive export market for the fledgling Yokohama brand, receiving some of the early Zed builds. On local soil, the original Zed had a profound effect on owners, with its iconic lineage still reinforced by legions of enthusiasts across the country to this day.
In anticipation of the 2022 Nissan Z, due in mid-2022, we thought we would take the opportunity to give you a taste of Zeds in Australia.
First generation: Datsun S30 240Z and 260Z – 1969-1978
The genesis of Z dates back to a 1964 open-top concept car written by famous designer Albrecht Goertz. The German industrial designer already had BMW’s 503 and 507 Roadsters to his credit and consulted Nissan throughout the 1960s. He is credited with other contributions to the original CSP311 Silvia and a former sports car joint project with Yamaha which resulted in the Toyota 2000GT.
Locally launched in September 1970, the 240Z was a true 200 km / h car at the time, and at $ 4,567 it was priced in line with the Triumph TR6 – a car it could comfortably outperform. Australia was the largest right-hand drive export market, receiving 2,358 units in total, representing the third largest 240Z market in the world, behind the United States and Canada.
The original shipment of 319 cars in 1970 included some of the earliest existing RHD builds. This excerpt from Modern engineThe April 1971 road test included chassis # 4.
Some Zed specialists claim that early production for the Australian market also streamlined development for other RHD export markets. Subsequently, some argue that, without Australia, the 240Z’s global reach and impact would have been significantly reduced.
Melbourne International Motor Show, March 5, 1971
Despite its reputation as a Democratic champion of affordable performance, by the heyday of 1970 the Zed was an expensive machine, exceeding the list price of local heroes like the XW Phase I Falcon, Torana XU-1, and Chrysler E38 Charger. .
Globally, the 240Z was successful, becoming the world’s best-selling sports coupe in three years of production.
Tightening US emissions regulations throughout the 1970s forced an update in the form of the Datsun 260Z.
Again, intended for the US market, the 260Z’s engine was bored to 2,565cc with a 2 + 2 variant introduced with an extended notched roofline and an additional 302mm wheelbase.
Launched locally in mid-1974, amid fears of global fuel shortages and new US safety regulations, only 1,123,260Z were sent down.
The final iteration of the first generation Zed was a US-only 280Z, released from 1975. As the name suggests, it housed a larger 2.8-liter inline-six and introduced the fuel injection in the shape of the existing body. Australia continued to sell the 260Z until 1978.
Second generation: Datsun S130 280ZX – 1978-1983
The second-generation Zed, the 280ZX, hit the local market in 1978 and marked the slow transition from the badge’s sporting roots to a more rounded, large roadster.
The 103 kW from the familiar SOHC L28 didn’t make headlines, but it was seen as a smooth, solid unit and delivered respectable performance compared to the 1,265kg coupe. The speedometer could still reach north of 190 km / h, and local road testers celebrated its exceptional fuel economy. An 80-liter fuel tank provided great cruising range and seemed well suited to Australia as well.
Progress was made with regard to interior materials and equipment, introducing electric windows and mirrors, air conditioning, more comfortable seats and an automatic gearbox. Officially, Australia only received the 2 + 2 long wheelbase body, but some Japanese specification HS130 coupes have been imported over the years.
In February 1980, the brand’s badge changed from Datsun to Nissan and also introduced the optional retractable targa roof panels.
Third generation: Nissan Z31 300ZX – 1983-1989
The Z31 300ZX sported a modern new face but remained largely based on the previous 280ZX, but with a new 3.0-liter VG30 V6, new suspension and a wider stance. He continued to sell himself on his image as an American boulevardier.
Again, Australia’s relatively small market received only one body option: the Targa 2 + 2 roof. Initially, Australian buyers were offered only the naturally aspirated V6 producing a modest 124 kW.
Beginning in 1986, however, buyers were treated to the 155 kW turbocharged version without adjustable shocks that was featured in overseas markets.
At nearly $ 28,000 new, the 300ZX was an expensive machine, offered in one specification with the only options including air conditioning and a digital instrument cluster.
Australia has uniquely donated the âCalifornianâ Special Edition, to commemorate the last 200 units of Series III cars sold in Australia.
Fourth generation: Nissan Z32 300ZX – 1990-1996
1989 was an exceptional year for the Yokohama brand, marking perhaps the most famous debut of the game-changing Skyline R32 GT-R. The same year also saw the release of the all-new Z32 300ZX, bolstering Nissan’s multi-pronged attack on the Japanese sports car market.
Locally, the radically new 300ZX was launched in the early 1990s and represented a welcome return to sporty form.
Like the GT-R, the sleek 300ZX also borrowed heavily from the developments Nissan learned from its Mid4 concept and housed an all-new multi-link suspension, rack-and-pinion steering, viscous differential and anti-lock brakes. . Nissan had a real Porsche beater (928) on its hands.
The VG30 V6 now featured dual overhead cams and variable valve timing, and produced 166 kW as naturally aspirated. Again, the Australian market was only offered the 2 + 2 LWB variant in a naturally aspirated configuration.
A local 25e The Anniversary Edition won a bespoke body kit, 17-inch AVS alloy wheels, and Steve Millen-designed suspension. We believe 122 25e anniversary editions sold for $ 92,995 when new. Sales were slow at less than 100 cars per year. Nissan withdrew the Z32 300ZX from sale in 1996, opening the valves to gray twin-turbo JDM-spec 224kW imports.
Fifth generation: Nissan Z33 350Z – 2002-2009
After the Z32, Zed enthusiasts should wait another six years for the sequel. Nissan USA in the late ’90s tried to keep the buzz going by selling 37 “new” carefully restored copies of the original 240Z for US $ 27,000 with a 12-month / 12,000-mile warranty.
The Z Concept was revealed in 1999, but the economic climate was very different, and it was ultimately deemed “too backward” for a business in desperate need of financial security.
Nissan’s 1999 Z Concept
The Z33 350Z arrived in mid-2002, and was viewed by former CEO Carlos Ghosn as a car that would help the business takeover in the future.
A modern interpretation of the iconic long hood and cropped rear axle silhouette, the 350Z was a dynamic delight, squeezing its way into fourth place to MOTOR 2004 PCOTY. Like many Zs before it, the Z33 has found favor with various tuners and modifiers around the world, and is a compelling case for an affordable âfuture classicâ.
Sixth generation: Nissan Z34 370Z – 2009-2020
The Nissan 370Z represented a significant facelift for the Nissan Millennium Star. The visual links are clear, however, take a closer look and you’ll notice the car is shorter and wider with almost all of the panels redesigned.
The more intensive use of aluminum in the panels, engine cradle and subframe resulted in a weight saving of 110 kg with a significant improvement in torsional stiffness.
The VQ V6 now measured 3.7 liters of displacement and produced 261 kW, making the 370Z the fastest Z car to date.
by Nissan SyncRev match which featured in manual cars from launch, was the first auto-blip feature ever installed on a production car. Over 4,500 have been sold since its local introduction in 2009.
Despite its age, the driving experience still stands today.
Seventh generation: Nissan Z34 Z – 2021
Z’s enduring legacy is set to continue, with the highly anticipated 2022 Nissan Z set to launch in the middle of next year.
Gone is the old VQ37 V6, instead of transplanting the roaring 3.0-liter twin-turbo VR30DDTT from the grandiose Infiniti Q60 Red Sport. On paper, it looks like a winner: a sports car under $ 100,000, nearly 300 kW, rear-wheel drive with the choice of a manual gearbox.
Final details, including local pricing, have yet to be confirmed, but Nissan has confirmed Australia will receive a single-spec lineup, as well as a Z Proto Spec launch edition, with some base specs already revealed.
We love how it looks and will hold judgment until we finally get our hands on it, but the 2022 Nissan Z is already one of the cars we can’t wait to drive next year. As the auto industry continues its march towards a greener future, the 2022 Nissan Z may be the last of its kind we’ve ever seen, and it could very well become a car the auto fraternity will miss long after its demise.