It was surprising enough when Cindy Crawford turned 50 last year, but now it seems that the sexy Nissan Z-car is also approaching its 50th birthday as well.
Nissan, the brand that introduced the Datsun 240Z all those summers ago, is celebrating this milestone with a 2018 370Z Heritage Edition.
They might be jumping the gun a bit, since the car went on sale in 1968 as a ’69 model in Japan as the Datsun Fairlady Z, and made the trip to America as the 1970 Datsun 240Z.
In the early years, the engine grew from the 240Z’s 2.4-liter inline six-cylinder, leading to the 2.6-liter 260Z and 2.8-liter 280Z. In 1978, Datsun veered from the Z’s sporting roots, with the 280ZX, a luxury coupe that philosophically was more Chevrolet Monte Carlo than Monte Carlo Rally, though that didn’t stop Paul Newman from racing them.
The ’80s brought the Nissan name, creased-and-folded edges and digital instrument panels to go with auto-reverse cassette tape decks. Underhood there was a change from the silky smooth inline six to Nissan’s now-legendary VQ family of V6 engines for the 3.0-liter 300ZX.
The 300ZX got less dated styling for the ’90s and added a 300-horsepower twin-turbocharged optional version of its V6, but eventually its cost and complexity led to dwindling sales and its cancellation in 1996. Sales in other markets continued through 2000.
The 300ZX made one last appearance, starring in Nissan’s “Toys” commercial in 1997, where a radio control version of the car ferries G.I. Joe on a date with Barbie.
Nissan revived the model with the simpler, more affordable 3.5-liter V6 350Z of 2003, a car meant to harken back to the original 240Z, and it continues as today’s 3.7-liter 370Z Heritage Edition.
The 2018 Heritage Edition package is offered in two exterior colors: Chicane Yellow with black outside mirrors, gloss black graphics and yellow interior trim and Magnetic Black with gloss silver graphics and yellow interior trim.
“Over the past five decades there have been a number of special Z trim packages that have added a sense of customization straight off the showroom floor,” said Michael Bunce, vice president of product planning for Nissan North America. “The new 2018 370Z Heritage Edition honors that tradition, blending it with the modern design and performance of the 2018 370Z.”