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Nissan 370Z marks Z car's 40 years with special edition

Thu, 15 Oct 2009

Forty years ago, America was introduced to the Z car. It gave Datsun--now Nissan--a performance pedigree in the United States. And it elevated to revered status Yutaka "Mr. K" Katayama, the man who fought his bosses in Japan to replace the Fairlady name with 240Z. Katayama celebrated his 100th birthday on Sept. 15 in Japan.

Nissan is commemorating the Z car's arrival in the States with a 40th-anniversary model that goes on sale next spring.

The anniversary Z is a 370Z Touring coupe with the six-speed manual transmission and the Sport package--which adds automatic rev-matching to the shift system, a limited-slip differential, bigger brakes and 19-inch Rays forged wheels. Added to that are red leather covered seats and door inserts, red stitching throughout the cabin and a handful of commemorative badges inside and out. Each anniversary Z is painted in "40th Quartz" and comes with a red satin car cover.

The engine is the Z car's standard issue 332-hp, 3.7-liter V6.

The price? Nissan says we'll find out next spring.

Z car milestones

Oct. 22, 1969: The Datsun 240Z (Nissan Fairlady Z in Japan) goes on sale in the United States.

1974: The inline six-cylinder engine grows to 2.6 liters and the name changes to 260Z. A 2+2 model is added.

1975: The engine grows to 2.8 liters and the name changes to 280Z.

1979: Second-generation 280ZX is introduced.

1981: 280ZX Turbo joins the lineup.

1984: Nissan launches third-generation 300ZX with 3.0-liter V6.

1990: Fourth-generation 300ZX arrives, with 222 hp. 300ZX Turbo follows with 300 hp.

1996: Nissan drops Z car from U.S. market.

1999: Nissan shows a 240Z concept at the Detroit auto show. But it is rejected for production.

2001: Nissan shows a reworked Z Concept at the Detroit auto show. Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn says the car will go into production.

2003: Fifth-generation 350Z goes on sale with 3.5-liter V6.

2008: Sixth-generation 370Z unveiled at Los Angeles auto show.

2009: A convertible version of the 370Z goes on sale.

By Dale Jewett