The Z brand is in trouble.
The 370Z will blow out seven birthday candles this year and the only hint of a replacement has been the lacklustre Gripz Concept, a hybrid crossover designed to appeal to a younger generation – Yutaka Katayama, the architect of the Z brand’s success, would turn in his grave (he died in February 2015).
Drastic action is required, and there’s no better place to find inspiration than the car that made the brand a legend in the first place, the 240Z. You might remember the 997-series Porsche 911 Sport Classic of 2010 that followed a very similar theme, applying retro design touches to modern mechanicals.
Nissan has prior form here, too. In 1996, as the 300ZX entered its twilight years, Nissan America restored a bunch of 240Zs to factory specification and sold them through dealers to remind everybody of its sports car heritage.
Our limited-edition retro Z would achieve much the same outcome, with the added benefit of a much lower entry price courtesy of the relatively mild modifications.
And what would we call it? That’s easy, the Nissan 370Z Classic.
Here’s how we’d do it
1. Easy does it
Without the need to reinvent its performance, the Classic would score the uprated 3.7-litre V6 found in the NISMO 370Z. Outputs creep up from 245kW/363Nm to 261kW/375Nm fed through a six-speed manual only. A freer-flowing airbox and exhaust gives the sometimes gruff VQ37 the vocal chops it deserves.
2. Body building
Key to the car’s appeal would be its retro body mods, including pop rivet-style wheelarch extensions, carbon aero mirrors and ducktail spoiler, jutting front lip and, of course, a full 1970s colour palette, including orange, green, red and, yes, brown.
3. Stance off
Two wheel/tyre options to choose from: deep-dish Watanabe-style rims measuring 17 x 9.0 (front) and 17 x 9.5-inch (rear) and wearing Yokohama Advan Sport rubber; or lightweight Rays wheels of the same size wrapped in sticky Bridgetsone Potenza RE11S tyres for the track day enthusiast.
4. Inside story
In keeping with the back to basics theme, there’s little in the way of luxury in a 370Z Classic. Then again, the standard 370Z isn’t exactly overendowed with toys in the first place. Material quality improves, however, with leather-bound, hip-hugging Recaro seats and an Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel.
5. Your shift
Nissan has cut a fair chunk out of the 370Z’s price over the years, which gives us room to move with the Classic. Limit the build number to, say, 1000 worldwide and we reckon you could slap a $70,000 price tag on it without too much difficulty.
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