Many people over the years have
slammed questioned my much maligned opinion on Nissan’s 370Z since its introduction to the market back in 2008. Â I had theÂ privilegeÂ of driving a production model 370Z before the official public unveiling at the L.A. Auto Show that same year and due to a rather unfortunate series of events (for which I accept fullÂ responsibility) I was able to “fully” evaluate the limits of the car. Â The performance of the vehicle was on-par with my expectations yet the styling and overall presence of the car left many things to be desired.
I am a HUGE Nissan fan and daily an ’07 350Z while previously owning three 240SX’s and a Z32 Twin Turbo. Â Over the years I haveÂ supported Nissan with nearly all of their vehicle offerings sans a few recent attempts to blend crossovers into something they really are not. Â But like many other vehicles on the road that roll off the production line looking a bit fugly (Murano CrossCabriolet), polarizing (Juke), or downright shark-like (370Z), things can be fixed by the aftermarket. Â Or in the case of the Juke-R, they can even be fixed in-house at NISMO. Â And although Nissan has steadily made improvements to the Â 370Z’s performance, even offering it in racing trim for those highly ambitious individuals who, for one reason or another, love the styling or the performance or even the rev-matching transmission, the car remains….well….ugly.
The Z lineage has had its share of design failures soon after the success of a previous model. Â The s30 chassis for example (I prefer the 240Z specifically) is a stunning vehicle even by today’s standards, and will go down as one of Nissan’s finest designs. Â The follow-up to this car, the S130, I personally saw as less appealing although it was a success in terms of overall sales and market impact. Â The Z31 300ZX was on the other hand a complete design failure and although it was again a market success, Nissan really turned things around by unleashing the Z32 – an instant design classic that sold over a million Z cars in it’s first year. Â Returning to the sports car market in 2002 with the Â Z33, the modern 350Z will forever remain close to my own heart, as it struck a chord with meÂ from the moment I first laid eyes on it back in 2002 at the 240SX National Convention at Nissan’s (then) headquarters in Gardena, CA.
The Z34 then is in a lot of ways similar to the S130 or even the Z31. Â From a design standpoint I appreciate their subtle incorporation of the s30 heritage along the rear quarter windows and the GT-R inspired roof-line, but that is where my praise will always end. Â Canadian designer Randy Rodriguez often attributes the “boomerang” head and taillights to a sharkâ€™s tail and dorsal fin and has gone on record as stating he was on a Shark Week binge while penning the design.
Randy, all we can say is next time you are penning the next generation ANYTHING, lay off the Discovery Channel. Â Luckily, we have aftermarket companies such as ZELEÂ who can at least partially correct your mistakes:
Author’s note: I took this opportunity to revisit a series of images I photographed for the cover of Autosalon Magazine nearly three years ago. Â In the magazine feature the post processing methods they used actually colored the car yellow, while the real color of the car is actually Lamborghini Orange Pearl Mica. Â I felt it should finally be reworked and presented in it’s truest possible color corrected glory here and now, for all to see. Â Special thanks to Steve Wu and the former workers of the (now defunct) Dromo 1.