Nissan 350Z Passes 1.5 Million in Sales; Enhanced for 2006 Model YearGARDENA, Calif.--Aug. 15, 2005--As Nissan North America, Inc., prepares to unveil the refined 2006 Nissan 350Z sports car to a group of enthusiastic owners at the 18th Annual International Z(R) Car Convention in Syracuse, New York, the Nissan Z(R) - at age 36 - shows no signs of slowing down. As one of the true international success stories in the automotive industry, the Z(R) today is sold in more than 80 countries, with over 1,535,000 cumulative units sold to date.
The first four generations of the Z(R), which debuted in the United States in the fall of 1969 as the 1970 Datsun 240Z, have accounted for 1.38 million sales. The fifth generation Z(R), the 2003 - 2006 Nissan 350Z, has already chalked up nearly 150,000 sales. Two-thirds of those sales have been in the U.S., where the 350Z has consistently ranked as the first or second best selling sports car in the nation and enjoys a nearly 20 percent share of the sports car market.
More than just numbers, the Z(R) has captured the imagination of sports car enthusiasts worldwide, along with a global-sized trophy case of awards. Among the awards have been numerous "Car of the Year" and "Best Cars" titles from publications such as Automobile, Car and Driver, Road & Track, Maxim Magazine, and African Americans On Wheels Magazine (U.S.); Automobile Journalist Association of Canada (Canada); BBC Top Gear Magazine, Auto Trader Magazine, Scottish Motor Writers, and Auto Express Magazine (United Kingdom).
Additional publications and groups honoring the 350Z include the Car of the Year Committee 2002 - 2003, Automotive Researchers and Journalists Conference, Sports Nippon and Nikkei (Japan); EVC Magazine, Italy; Sport Auto Car Magazine (Germany); Wheel & Gear Magazine (Lebanon); and New Zealand Herald Magazine (New Zealand).
The 350Z has, like its predecessors, been featured in numerous movies, television shows and music videos. The Z(R) has appeared or is scheduled to appear in shows such as Desperate Housewives, C.S.I., The O.C. and Las Vegas in the U.S.
The Z(R) has also emerged as a starring player in the growing electronic gaming industry around the world, with the 350Z featured in no less than eight major video game titles including Gran Turismo, Fast and Furious, Forza, Juiced and the upcoming Midnight Club Racing III, L.A. Rush and Test Drive Unlimited.
"The Z(R) has become part of the culture of the world, an instantly recognized symbol of Nissan's performance, technology and design leadership," said Fred Suckow, director, Nissan Marketing, NNA. "It's always been the first and last letter in sports cars, a statement that has grown even stronger with the introduction of the 2006 350Z."
2006 350Z Makes Z(R) Convention Debut
For the 2006 model year, the 350Z receives its first comprehensive updating since it was introduced three years ago. The new 2006 Z(R) features a revised front end appearance, enhanced interior, LED taillights, a new vehicle speed-sensitive power steering system, refined optional navigation system and available super lightweight 18-inch front/19-inch rear 5-spoke forged aluminum-alloy wheels (Track and Grand Touring Coupe only).
For 2006, the 350Z is again available in Coupe and Roadster body styles and in an array of models - five for the Coupe, including a new Grand Touring model, and three for the Roadster (including a new Grand Touring automatic transmission version).
Other enhancements for 2006 include standard 18-inch cast aluminum-alloy wheels (except Track and Grand Touring Coupe models), increased brake rotor size for non-Brembo(R) models, standard bi-xenon (low and high beam) headlights, and mp3 CD capability for the available Bose(R) audio system. Three new exterior colors (eight total) are available for 2006: Silver Alloy, Magnetic Black, and Interlagos Fire.
Every 2006 350Z(R) comes with a standard 3.5-liter DOHC V6 producing 300 horsepower(a) and 260 lb-ft torque when equipped with the 6-speed manual transmission, or 287 horsepower and 274 lb-ft of torque for all 5-speed automatic transmission models. Grand Touring models include Brembo brakes, rear spoiler (plus front spoiler on Coupe) and Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC).
The 2006 350Z is being shown publicly for the first time August 15 - 19, 2005 at the Z(R) Car Convention where more than 500 Z(R) owners are expected to attend with their vehicles, most of which have been meticulously restored or modified. This year's Z(R) Convention is sponsored by the Z-Car Clubs of New York, including chapters in Rochester, Syracuse and Albany.
Highlights of this year's gathering of Nissan and Datsun Z(R) owners from around the world include a track day at the historic Watkins Glen Road Course, an autocross competition, car show and an appearance by Yutaka Katayama, the 95-year old "father of the Z(R)" who is making his annual appearance at the event.
Katayama, who is known by Z(R) enthusiasts as "Mr. K," served as the first president of Nissan Motor Corporation in U.S.A. and was a driving force in bringing the original 1970 Datsun 240Z to the United States.
A Storied History
The original Z(R), the Datsun 240Z, arrived in the U.S, on October 1969 and helped establish Nissan as an innovative, performance-oriented company in the world's largest automotive market. Like all Z(R) designs that followed, the first generation Datsun 240Z featured a front engine/rear-wheel drive drivetrain configuration, two-seat interior, a powerful 6-cylinder engine and, of course, a simple and honest design.
Horsepower was set at 150 and the list price was $3,526 when it went on sale as a 1970 model. It was an instant hit, with prospective owners having to wait nearly six months to get one.
The model designation was changed to the 260Z in 1974 following an increase in engine size to 2.6-liters. In mid-year 1975, a new 280Z replaced the 260Z. The 280ZX, introduced in 1979, was named Motor Trend "Import Car of the Year." T-top roofs were introduced in 1980 and by year's end, half of all ZXs were so equipped. In 1981, the 280ZX Turbo went on sale. Then in 1984 the Nissan 300ZX was introduced with a major facelift. The 1984 300ZX sold 73,101 units, becoming the top-selling sports car in America.
In 1990, the 300ZX, with a completely new body and interior, debuted with 222 horsepower. A turbo 300ZX went on sale later in the year with 300 horsepower. American Z(R) sales surpassed the 1 million-sales mark in the early 90's, becoming the all-time best selling sports car. Nissan offered the first Z(R) convertible in 1993. In 1996, 300ZX production for the U.S. ended; the last imported 1996 model 300ZX was inducted into the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. Then in 1999, a special Z(R) Concept debuted at North American International Auto Show in Detroit. A production version of Z(R) was shown at Tokyo Motor Show and the 350Z name was announced.
In August 2002, the current generation 350Z went on sale as a 2003 model, followed by the 350Z Roadster in July 2003.
In Europe, the Z(R) followed a similar path, with initial sales starting with the 1970 Datsun 240Z - in time to participate in the 1970 RAC Rally. As a precursor to its international racing success, the 240Z regularly competed in Europe's most prestigious rallying events, winning the East African Safari Rally in 1971 and 1973 and finishing third in the 1972 Monte Carlo Rally.
The next three generations of Z(R) continued to carry Nissan's banner in Europe, setting the stage for the introduction of the 350Z Coupe in October 2003, followed by the 350Z Roadster launch in March 2005.
In Japan, the Z(R) carries the "Fairlady Z(R)" name, honoring one of the company's first sports cars, the Datsun Fairlady. As an interesting footnote to the Z(R)'s history, Katayama felt so strongly that the "Fairlady" name was inappropriate for the U.S. market that he personally removed the Fairlady badges from the early 240Zs as they came into the port.
The 350Z was launched in Japan in 2002 and has established a strong following among driving and racing enthusiasts. A special 35th Anniversary 350Z was issued in Japan in 2005 (and also in the United States), and one of Nissan's top test drivers served as an "adviser" to the creators of the popular Sony Playstation video game, GT2.
The Z(R) has been successfully campaigned in the past two years in Super GT (formerly JGTC) competition in GT300 and GT500 classes, taking the 2003 GT300 drivers' championship and 2004 GT500 drivers' and team titles. A 350Z also won the inaugural U.S. Super GT race in 2004.
Z(R) owners in Japan show their support at Super GT races and also at owner gatherings - such as the assembly of 700-plus Z(R)s in 2005 in Mr. K's hometown of Haruna, Shizuoka.
In 2005, Nissan celebrated the 35th anniversary of the Z(R) with a special commemorative edition. Now, as the Z(R) enters its 36th year, it is taking another step forward with its enhanced styling and features, larger wheels and tires, and revised color palette. Standard horsepower (manual transmission models) has doubled from the 1970 240Z's 150 hp to the 2006 350Z's 300 hp.
"Despite all the changes, today's Z(R) remains true to the heritage of the generations that have gone before - offering the same great combination of performance, style and affordable value. That's why as Z(R) enthusiasts gather each year to celebrate and display their individual vehicles, they have a respect and appreciation for every other Z(R)," said Suckow. "The Z(R)'s impact on the automotive world continues to grow."
(a) All horsepower ratings are per SAE J1349 JUN19, 200595