In the fall of 1969, Nissan Motor Company introduced a two-seater sports car to the automotive world. It had European styling, American power and Japanese build-quality. It was an immediate hit and began a following among sports car enthusiasts that has become almost cult-like. The car was the Datsun 240Z and here’s the story of this amazing car.
Following World War II, Nissan Motor Company had been the standard for Japanese industrial progress. In the 1950s and 1960s, Nissan’s Datsun-brand automobiles were perceived as forerunners of modern design, reliability and value. In the late 1960s, sales growth around the world was phenomenal, and at the time, Datsun was the top-selling Japanese brand in the United States. In this economic climate, Nissan introduced the 240Z, the first Japanese sports car to be introduced into the United States.
Upon the car’s unveiling at the 1969 New York International Auto Show, Yutaka Katayama, the president of Nissan Motor Corporation in U.S.A, said, “The 240Z represents the imaginative spirit of Nissan and was designed to please a demanding taste that is strictly American. Nissan offers this spirited car with affection. Its heart is Japan and its soul is America.”
The arrival of the 240Z in the 1970 model year cemented Nissans reputation as a maker of leading-edge cars and trucks. From the stylish, great-handling, affordable 510 sedan and wagon to the durable, tough-as-nails Datsun mini pickup truck, Nissan was becoming one of America’s favorite brands. By the mid-1970s, Datsun had passed Volkswagen as the best-selling import brand in the U.S. Datsun was well on its way to selling a million Zs worldwide in just two decades.
Every model of subsequent Zs have been developed with passion. In developing the 350Z, for example, the operative phrase they used to describe it was, “Lust, then love.” Chief Product Specialist John Yukawa explained. “The customer wants to purchase the Z at first sight because of its excellent design, And afterward, he goes on to love the Z forever because of its high performance.” It was this overriding principle that was to guide the 350Z’s design journey.
Today the Z lives on in the wonderful 370Z models. If you live in NH and want to see a Nissan 370Z for yourself, by all means visit Team Nissan in Berlin and you will be in for a treat. Forty years of successful innovation have produced quite a sports car.