Arguably the most well known Japanese sports car, Nissan’s Z has long ago staked its claim amongst the isles of the automotive industry’s most important vehicles. Even Nissan will admit (happily) that the original 240Z was the vehicle that single-handedly put the company on the map in the United States. Throughout the 1970s, 1980s, and into the early 1990s, the various incarnations of the Z guided the Datsun and Nissan brands into the hearts and minds of American consumers as perhaps the most performance-oriented of all Japanese brands. As the company turned its back on performance and fiscal health, the death of the 300ZX in the 90s signaled to many the immanent death of Nissan in the United States.
|Nissan 35th Anniversary 350Z|
Thankfully, Nissan “found the light” and returned to the path leading towards solid financial results and invigorated vehicles. The Z came back in the form of the 350Z, thanks to Nissan’s art of component sharing – the platform is from Infiniti’s G35 sedan and coupe, and FX crossover-SUV; while the VQ35 V6 engine is offered in just about every Nissan and Infiniti product currently on sale. Now, 35 years after the introduction of the first 240Z, Nissan took to the SEMA Show in Las Vegas to introduce a lightly retuned version of the 350Z to celebrate the occasion.
The most noticeable exterior difference is the available “Ultra Yellow” color, with which Nissan utilizes a new high-luminance and high-chroma pearl pigment and three layers of top coat (with separate color pigment and pearl pigment layers) for what Nissan calls an “almost liquid” surface look. It’s nice, if you really like yellow. Unique 5-spoke 18-inch cast-aluminum wheels, front and rear spoilers, and special badging round out the exterior changes. Optional black-and-tan leather seats pretty much sum up what’s different on the interior side.
What matters most are the performance enhancements, and the 35th Anniversary 350Z has a few. An additional 13 horsepower gives manual-transmission models a full 300hp thanks to revised pistons and camshaft and electronic exhaust valve timing control. These upgrades will be offered on the 2005 Track model early next year.
|Nissan 35th Anniversary 350Z|
All 2005 350Zs get a standard tire-pressure monitoring system, heated outside mirrors, wider side mirrors, and a front seat lifter. Automatic transmission models have downshift rev matching for smoother shifts and manual transmission models feature a clutch with reduced pedal effort. The optional navigation system now has a faster system processor.
It’s hard to say whether or not the 35th Anniversary 350Z will do anything to reverse the model’s overall sales slide (down almost 20% this year despite the introduction of the roadster), but at least Nissan is still around to celebrate 35 years of the Z. Let’s just hope that we’ll all get to see another 35 years of Z goodness. Oh, and by the way, if you want to drive a 350Z but can’t afford it, check out the upcoming game Need for Speed 2 from Electronic Arts, which debuts November 16th – the 35th Anniversary 350Z will be a featured model.