History of the Z-car!


Nissan identifies a market for a new kind of sports car. Its product planners envision an agile, compact GT whose performance and comfort would outrun its price. Nissan engineers begin work on a prototype, which would become the 240Z.


The 240Z goes on sale in the U.S. on October 22, 1969. It features a 2400cc six-cylinder, 150 horsepower engine and delivers a 0-60 time of under nine seconds - all for a price tag of only $3,526.


Less than a year after its debut, demand for the 240Z is so high that the Kelly Blue Book rates the value of a used Z at $4,000.


At the close of the 240Z's fourth and final model year, all-time sales reach 116,712 units.


The engine displacement of the 1974 model is increased to 2.6-liters, and the car is renamed the 260Z. Due to stricter emissions requirements, horsepower is down to 139. 1974 also brings the introduction of the 2+2 body style, which accommodates fold-down rear seats. In its only year of existence, the 260Z sets a single-year Z-car sales record at the time, with 63,963 units sold.


Needing increasingly complex technology to meet even tougher emissions regulations, Nissan boosts the Z-car's displacement to 2.8-liters and adds a version of Bosch's L-Jetronic fuel injection, creating the 1975 280Z. Horsepower rating is increased to 149.


A five-speed overdrive transmission is added to the 280Z and horsepower climbs to 170. 1977 is also the Z's highest sales year to date (at the time), with 67,331 units sold.


An all-new, second generation Z car is developed, named the 280ZX. The 280ZX offers a higher level of luxury to meet the growing demands of the sports car customer. MotorTrend named it "Import Car of the Year" for 1979. The 280ZX then sets the all-time sales record for the Z line with 86,007 units sold.


A new T-bar roof option is introduced. Cumulative American Z-car sales reach 500,000 units. The Z-car reached the half-millions sales mark quicker than any other sports car, including the Corvette, making it the fastest selling sports car in history.


A turbocharged engine is offered for the first time on the 1981 280ZX.


The third-generation Z, the all-new 300ZX, makes its debut. The 300ZX offers sleek new styling and a powerful new 3.0-liter V6 engine, elevating the car's performance image to even greater heights. The normally-aspirated 300ZX produces 160 horsepower, while the turbocharged version offers 200 horsepower. The 1984 model becomes the second-best selling Z ever with 73,652 units sold.


Toward the end of the 1980's, the overall sports car market faces a downturn due to a significant increase in consumer demand for multi-purpose vehicles such as minivans and sports utilities. Back-to-basics is the name of the game when it comes to sports cars, and for Nissan, it means a return to a more performance orientation during the development of the next generation Z-car.


In response, the fourth-generation Z - the dramatic 1990 300ZX - takes on tighter proportions and a much more aggressive stance. The all-new DOHC 3.0-liter engine offers increased output of 222 horsepower for the normally aspirated model, and 300 horsepower for the 300ZX Twin Turbo. The 1990 300ZXTT is named the MotorTrend "Import Car of the Year" and "One of the Top Ten Performance Cars." American Z-car sales reach the one million sales mark in the 1990 model year - making it the all-time best selling sports car.


A race-modified Z wins both the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours at Sebring. It goes on to win the GTS Class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, making it the only car ever to accomplish such a record within the same year.


1995 marks the 25th Anniversary of the Z. Nissan, working with Steve Millen Sports Cars, produced a limited edition 25th anniversary 300ZXTT, the SMZ.


Nissan will be selling the the 300ZX in 1996 even with 1994 sales of just over 6000 units and 1995 sales reported to be even slower. According to Nissan, in recent years, the 300ZX/300ZXTT has outsold the Mazda RX-7, Toyota Supra, and Acura NSX combined.