History

The Z-car is a series of sports cars manufactured by Nissan Motors Ltd.. The original Z was sold in October 1969 in Japan as the Nissan Fairlady Z and was exported as the Datsun 240Z. Since 2009 Nissan has manufactured the newest Z, the 370Z. The earlier models of the Nissan Z were built at the Nissan Shatai plant in Hiratsuka until 2000, while the later models (350Z and 370Z) are built at Oppama (2002–2004) and Tochigi (2004–present). Enthusiasts praise the cars for their looks, reliability, performance, and affordability. Nissan Z cars currently hold the record for the best selling sports car series of all time with over 2 million cars sold. Every Z car has been sold in Japan as the Fairlady Z and elsewhere under the names 240Z, 260Z, 280Z, 280ZX, 300ZX, 350Z and 370Z.

Nissan was a relatively small company when in the 1960s it partnered with Yamaha to design a new sports car prototype. Nissan executives saw the prototype as a halo car that would improve their company’s image in the minds of consumers. By 1964 Nissan realized that Yamaha’s DOHC 2.0-liter engine was not meeting Nissan’s expectations and the project was scrapped. Yamaha later finished a prototype and took their design to Toyota, resulting in the Toyota 2000GT. Yutaka Katayama, the president of Nissan USA at the time, realized the importance of an affordable sports car. Nissan had already produced the successful series of Fairlady roadsters that competed mainly with English and Italian roadsters, and product planners envisioned a new line of GT cars that would be stylish, innovative, fast, and relatively inexpensive through the use of interchangeable parts with other Nissan vehicles. Prototype work began in 1966 with a clay mockup.

The 240Z design project was carried out primarily by 10 people:

Mr. Yutaka Katayama (President of Nissan USA, known as “Mr. K”)
Mr. Teiichi Hara (Manager, Nissan Design and Development)
Mr. Kazumi Yotsurnoto (Manager, Passenger Car Styling Section)
Mr. Yoshihiko Matsuo (Chief of Design, Styling Studio #4)
Mr. Akio Yoshida (Assistant Designer on Exterior Design)
Mr. Sue Chiba (Interior Design)
Mr. Eiichi Oiwa (Styling Studio Assistant)
Mr. Kiichi Nishikawa (Styling Studio Assistant)
Mr. Hidemi Kamahara (Design Engineer)
Mr. Tsuneo Benitani (Design Engineer)

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