In the classic-car world, Z-cars are red hot. Interest is high, and there has been a surge in values over the last 10 years, as baby boomers and Gen-Xers, fueled by their inner high-schooler, are paying up for top-quality, well-preserved examples. First-generation Datsun 240Zs, sold from 1970 to 1973, and twin-turbo Nissan 300ZX models from the 1990s are leading the charge.
Last year, in an attempt to boost interest, Nissan added the Heritage Edition to the options list of the Z’s top-selling base model. Inspired by the ZAP package available on the 280Z in 1977, the $790 option brings black outside mirrors, gloss-black exterior graphics, yellow stitching on the interior, and yellow leather accents on the steering wheel, shifter, and center console. The Heritage Edition is offered in yellow, blue, or black.
The V-6–powered 370Z smokes the Mazda in a straight line, hitting 60 mph in 5.0 seconds and covering the quarter-mile in 13.6 at 106 mph. That’s more than a second quicker than the Mazda in both tests (as well as the Subaru BRZ). Incredibly, the 370Z accelerates at almost exactly the same rate as the 300ZX Turbo we tested in August of 1991.
There’s also plenty of torque right off idle, which makes the Z easy to drive around town. If you’re feeling lazy, you can lug it through traffic in second or even third gear. The six-speed is geared short with tight ratios, so the V-6 never falls off its powerband if you don’t want it to. Even out on the highway at 80 mph in sixth, the engine is revving at more than 3000 rpm. Passing rarely requires a downshift.
Unfortunately, there’s far too much vibration in the shifter and clutch pedal, especially over 4500 rpm, which keeps the Z’s powertrain from feeling like it was designed in this century. The shifter’s stroke also is too heavy, and like the clutch there’s a rubbery quality to its action; we suspect Nissan attempts to dial out some of the engine’s harmonics with sloppy rubber bushings.
Balance and Grip
Z-cars have been laying down rubber on Los Angeles’s notorious Mulholland Highway for five decades. The twisty two-lane, which connects Hollywood to the Pacific, was a street racer’s paradise in the 1970s, and it’s still a good place to push a sports car. At seven-tenths the Z can put a smile on your face. The chassis, which is fortified with a three-point front strut-tower brace and a bar across the cargo area, feels solid, even over bumpy bits, and the Nissan’s balance is right despite having 55 percent of its 3327 pounds over its front tires.
Replacing the 370Z does not seem to be in Nissan’s future product plans any time soon. As far as we know, work has not yet begun on a seventh-generation Z-car. In the meantime, the long-awaited reintroduction of the Toyota Supra, developed in partnership with BMW, is just around the corner.