Many people over the years have
slammed questioned my much maligned opinion on Nissan’s 370Z since its introduction to the market back in 2008. I had the privilege of driving a production model 370Z before the official public unveiling at the L.A. Auto Show that same year and due to a rather unfortunate series of events (for which I accept full responsibility) I was able to “fully” evaluate the limits of the car. The performance of the vehicle was on-par with my expectations yet the styling and overall presence of the car left many things to be desired.
I am a HUGE Nissan fan and daily an ’07 350Z while previously owning three 240SX’s and a Z32 Twin Turbo. Over the years I have supported Nissan with nearly all of their vehicle offerings sans a few recent attempts to blend crossovers into something they really are not. But like many other vehicles on the road that roll off the production line looking a bit fugly (Murano CrossCabriolet), polarizing (Juke), or downright shark-like (370Z), things can be fixed by the aftermarket. Or in the case of the Juke-R, they can even be fixed in-house at NISMO. And although Nissan has steadily made improvements to the 370Z’s performance, even offering it in racing trim for those highly ambitious individuals who, for one reason or another, love the styling or the performance or even the rev-matching transmission, the car remains….well….ugly.
The Z lineage has had its share of design failures soon after the success of a previous model. The s30 chassis for example (I prefer the 240Z specifically) is a stunning vehicle even by today’s standards, and will go down as one of Nissan’s finest designs. The follow-up to this car, the S130, I personally saw as less appealing although it was a success in terms of overall sales and market impact. The Z31 300ZX was on the other hand a complete design failure and although it was again a market success, Nissan really turned things around by unleashing the Z32 – an instant design classic that sold over a million Z cars in it’s first year. Returning to the sports car market in 2002 with the Z33, the modern 350Z will forever remain close to my own heart, as it struck a chord with me from the moment I first laid eyes on it back in 2002 at the 240SX National Convention at Nissan’s (then) headquarters in Gardena, CA.
The Z34 then is in a lot of ways similar to the S130 or even the Z31. From a design standpoint I appreciate their subtle incorporation of the s30 heritage along the rear quarter windows and the GT-R inspired roof-line, but that is where my praise will always end. Canadian designer Randy Rodriguez often attributes the “boomerang” head and taillights to a shark’s tail and dorsal fin and has gone on record as stating he was on a Shark Week binge while penning the design.
Randy, all we can say is next time you are penning the next generation ANYTHING, lay off the Discovery Channel. Luckily, we have aftermarket companies such as ZELE who can at least partially correct your mistakes:
Author’s note: I took this opportunity to revisit a series of images I photographed for the cover of Autosalon Magazine nearly three years ago. In the magazine feature the post processing methods they used actually colored the car yellow, while the real color of the car is actually Lamborghini Orange Pearl Mica. I felt it should finally be reworked and presented in it’s truest possible color corrected glory here and now, for all to see. Special thanks to Steve Wu and the former workers of the (now defunct) Dromo 1.