Oldies may remember Z Cars and Dixon of Dock Green as the tough approach to criminals and their capture but the slick Datsun was more than just looks.
Think again youngsters, the Datsun ‘Z’ car made its illustrious debut just as astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin stepped onto that thing in the sky called the moon.
Designed and touted as the ‘affordable’ and reliable sports car, this stunning adrenaline pumper could be used for the daily shopping run and at the base price of US$3,626, the Z – known as the Datsun 240Z in North America, could also turn even the most arthritic of necks around
The powerful success of the first-generation Z gave its excited customers a new lease of life, thrashing around country bends whilst retaining style and elegance, something difficult to achieve prior to that time for that price range.
Sales were so strong the innovating Z was boasting a global 40,000 plus sales tally in 1970, which kept the tenacious looking daily thrill seeker ahead of its snapping rivals for decades.
Limited Edition Z Cars
Fast forward 50 years and Nissan had released several limited editions of the Z Car, celebrating significant landmarks in their history:
1980 Datsun 280ZX 10th Anniversary Edition
Celebrating a decade of the first Z, the Japanese marque went a step further and released the now desirable 280ZX model with a limited production run. The car edged towards luxury motoring with upgraded leather seats and quality hi-fi stereo system, embracing both the sporty and opulent feel.
With only 3,000 produced, the 280ZX 10th Anniversary Edition is now a highly collectable car demanding top dollar as and when they eventually trickle under the auctioneer’s gavel. The most frequently spotted variant featured a two-tone black-and-gold paint scheme with accent pinstripes, of which 2,500 were made.
The remaining 500 were dressed in a flamboyant red-and-black paint scheme with each 280ZX 10th Anniversary Edition proudly displaying a prominent dash plaque with the edition number. (Canadian models came with a Maple Leaf emblem.)
A 2.8 Litre inline-6 powertrain gave the spritely 1980 Datsun 280ZX 98kW and 195Nm of torque. Power was transferred to the rear wheels via a 5-speed manual gearbox.
Impressing the Filofax sector was easy with a host of features that included golden Z hood badge, gold- or black-coloured alloy wheels, commemorative wreath decals on the front fenders and hatch, headlight washers, a new style shift knob, tan or burgundy leather seats, a tinted T-bar roof, and a 40-watt, power-boosted four-speaker sound system to blast out those 1980 Blondie renditions we all remember so well.
1984 Nissan 300ZX Turbo 50th Anniversary Edition
The 1984 Nissan 300ZX Turbo 50th Anniversary Edition celebrated the five-decade anniversary of Nissan’s founding in December 1933. Only 5,148 of these cars were manufactured for the USA market, with an additional 300 built for the Canadian market.
A powerful 3.0 Litre V6 was connected to either 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic, giving the purist something to shout about when racing home from the cinema in his or her 1984 300ZX Turbo, whilst checking their ‘G-force meter.
Inside the cabin, drivers were treated to peak ’80s design and technologies considered advanced for the time, such as steering wheel audio controls, digital readouts and electronically controlled sport suspension.
The 300ZX 50th Anniversary Edition’s features included: “Nissan 50th Anniversary” commemorative badging, unique front fenders and rear fender flairs, and turbine-style alloy wheels with gold accents on the fins.
Once again pilots were treated to all the gadgetry available at the time including embroidered badging on the leather seats and floor mats, a futuristic digital instrument cluster with a dominant multi-LED sweeping tachometer, speed display and G-force indicator, and a Bodysonic Amplifier with adjustable intensity that added rumble to the front seats based on the sound profile of the music being played from the head unit.
1984 marked not only a key milestone for Nissan’s history as a carmaker but also marked the Z as the best-selling sports car over the pond.
2005 Nissan 350Z 35th Anniversary Edition
After temporarily leaving the domestic Japanese marketplace in 2000 (1997 in North America), a new Z took the world by storm in 2003.
The first reborn Z was built on the company’s innovative FM (Front Midship) platform and powered by a smooth-revving, high-output 3.5 litre V6. Called the VQ (short for VQ35ED), the engine produced 215kW of power and 372Nm of torque.
In 2005, Nissan created a special version to celebrate the Z’s 35th anniversary. The Nissan 350Z 35th Anniversary Edition was available in either Ultra Yellow, Silverstone or Super Black and came with a suite of performance tuning and upgrades.
2010 Nissan 370Z 40th Anniversary Edition
In 2009, the 350Z’s VQ engine received a displacement bump to 3.7 litres, prompting the car’s name to change to 370Z. A year later, Nissan introduced the 370Z 40th Anniversary Edition.
Limited to just 1,000 units, the special edition model was based on the Touring grade, equipped with a manual transmission and Sport Package, which included front and rear spoilers, Nissan Sport Brakes, 19-inch RAYS forged aluminium-alloy wheels, a viscous limited-slip differential and the company’s innovative SynchroRev Match® transmission technology.
The car was visually distinguished by a special paint scheme, “40th Graphite,” as well as red brake calipers and 40th-anniversary badges. Each car also came with a commemorative plaque and a premium satin car cover.