Z-Cars Come Back To Life

Nissan turns back the clock with Z-car restorations.

By Scott Oldham

The Z-car was Nissan's Corvette. A halo car, used more for brand image and showroom traffic than sales and profits. For 26 years, 1970 to 1996, a Z-car was sold in the United States, first as the Datsun 240Z and finally as the Nissan 300ZX. During that time, the Z-car won many racing championships in the SCCA and IMSA competitions with men like Bob Sharp and Paul Newman at the wheel, and more than a million units were sold. Basically, the Z-car put Datsun on the U.S. map.
The car's demise, due to slowing sales and the cost of modifying the 300ZX to
A mountain of parts are cleaned and refurbished for each car remanufactured.
meet new government regulations for emissions and side impact safety, left the company without its halo. Suddenly Nissan had only sedans to sell. So for its newest Z-car, Nissan turned back the clock. It started buying up 1970 and 1971 240Z models from owners and restoring them. The Vintage Z-Cars program now sells these restored cars through 10 authorized Z Stores (see list), Nissan dealers that are interested in the program and have earned the privilege through high Z-car sales back when the car was available new.
The restoration includes full disassembly of each vehicle, inspection and inventory of each part, bodywork, powertrain overhaul, suspension overhaul, brake component replacement, interior replacement or reconstruction, outside trim and glass replacement as well as some improvements over the original model, such as a modern paint process, radiator, fan assembly, undercoating, and powdercoating of suspension parts to improve durability and performance. Basically the cars receive body-off restorations, and the 150hp 2.4-liter inline 6-cylinder and 5-speed transmission get complete rebuilds. The cars should have no problem duplicating the original's performance of 0 to 60 mph in under 9 seconds.
After restoration each Z is put through a 200-mile test drive and inspection. Price for a Vintage Z is $27,495, quite a bit more than the $3526 sticker price the car carried 26 years ago. That price includes a 12-month, 12,000-mile limited warranty. This silver Z is the first car to go through the process. It's owned by Nissan Motor Corp, and is often on display in its U.S. headquarters in Gardena, Ca.

Each car is taken down to bare metal and repainted as new.

After the painting and prep work, the cars are completely reassembled.
Here a Nissan worker tweaks an engine.

Z Stores

Jake Sutherlin Nissan, Tampa, FL
Sutherlin Nissan, Marietta, GA
Esserman Nissan, Miami, FL
Coggin Nissan, Jacksonville, FL
Universal City Nissan, Los Angeles, CA
Performance Nissan, Duarte, CA
Stevens Creek Nissan, Santa Clara, CA
Bankston Nissan, Irving, TX
Courtesy Nissan, Richardson, TX
Brown's Fairfax Nissan, Fairfax, VA