In 1970, the original Datsun (aka Nissan) 240Z quickly became a halo car for all Japanese manufactures. It proved that Japan wasn’t just a country for small economy cars; that they could make vehicles worthy to compete with best in-class sports cars from American and European automotive manufactures… The only way to beat them at their own game was to dominate them on the race track. My Father wasn’t the legendary John Morton or Bob Sharp, but he did race his 1970 Datsun 240Z with SCCA and won the 1973 Mid-Am Championships. I remember hearing stories from my Father, reminiscing about how he would easily win road course races against Corvettes and Porsches despite having less horsepower. The small and agile 240Z was able to outmatch the competition due to hits handling characteristics and comparatively modern overhead cam engine plus disc brakes. The 240Z’s race wins by Z drivers throughout the country made the car famous, but the engaging driving experience is what made cult following for Z cars.
To pay homage to the original Z and John Morton’s National SCCA Championships, Nissan has created a limited production 50th Anniversary Edition of the 370Z. I have been driving it for the past week, and it is spectacular!
The 50th Anniversary Edition of the 370Z feels nostalgic – and that is not because the car feels dated to 2003 (350Z introduction). It may be physiological, but this version feels more raw and pure. There are no distractions, like a big touch screen display, to steal your attention from the open road. My test vehicle came with a buttery smooth 6-speed manual transmission with SyncroRev Match. The togglable rev matching system ensures that the engine slips into gear at the appropriate RPMs every time. It makes amateur stick shift drivers seem like a pro when downshifting…. by the way, thank you Nissan for saving the manuals!
The true magic of this vehicle is in the details of the BRE livery. On the outside from a distance, you have obviously have the unique white and red body. But up close you will also notice 50th Anniversary wreath and a red pin stripe around each wheel. Inside the vehicle are also red stripes on the seats, gear shifter, and floor mats.
Since only 50 of these cars are being made, driving one on the street is like riding a unicorn. Half a dozen people came up to me in a week’s span to tell me a Z story or give me a thumbs up because they hadn’t seen a 50th Anniversary Edition before – the nostalgia by pedestrians is almost a kin to driving an original 240Z around town.
If you are not lucky enough to get your hands on one of these 50 special edition vehicles, you can have almost as much fun in a 2019 or 2020 model. The regular 370Z comes with the same 332 horsepower variable valve engine and transmission. You can also get a 7-speed manual as an option, if you are so inclined. There are also a number of goodies you can order, such as convertible top and a BOSE audio system with active noise cancellation.
If you are thinking about buying the 370Z as a collectible or garage queen, the 50th Anniversary Edition is a must. It’s unique livery is the ultimate expression for any Z fan.