The Z-Car Legend TimelineGet an inside look into the Z-Car Legend Timeline and gain a better understanding of where this superior car came from.Category > The Z-Car Legend Timeline See the entire timeline of the Z-Car, from the beginning until today. Trace the history of this well known, adrenile pumping icon.
Look back and witness the storied history of the beloved Z-Car. Brush up on your facts so that you will know where this Nissan Legend came from. Z-Car TimelineFollowing is a timeline gleaned from the Nissan Motors website, chronologizing the history of the Datsun/Nissan Z-Car legend...
• 1966 - Nissan Motors identifies a market for a new kind of sports car. Its product planners envision an agile, compact GT, whose performance and comfort would outrun its price. Nissan engineers begin work on a prototype, which would become the 240-Z.
• 1969 - The 240-Z goes on sale in the U.S. on October 22, 1969. It features a 2400cc six-cylinder, 150 horsepower engine, and delivers a 0-60 time of under nine seconds -- all for a price tag of only $3,526.
• 1970 - Less than a year after its debut, demand for the 240-Z is so high that the Kelly Blue Book rates the value of a used Z at $4,000! Bob Sharp and Pete Brock take the Datsun 240-Z to the race track in SCCA competition -- driver John Morton wins the C-Production national championship for Brock Racing Enterprises.
• 1971 - John Morton wins his second straight C-Production national title.
• 1972 - Bob Sharp drives a 240-Z to the first of his two consecutive C-Production national championships.
• 1973 - At the close of the 240-Z’s fourth and final model year, all-time sales reach 116,712 units.
• 1974 - The engine displacement of the 1974 model is increased to 2.6 liters, and the car is renamed the 260-Z. Due to stricter emissions requirements, horsepower is down to 139. 1974 also brings the introduction of the “2+2” body style, which accommodates fold-down rear seats. In its only year of existence, the 260-Z sets a single-year Z-car sales record at the time, with 63,963 units sold. Walt Moss extends Datsun’s Z-car dominance by claiming the C-Production national championship.
• 1975 - Needing increasingly complex technology to meet even tougher emissions regulations, Nissan boosts the Z-car’s displacement to 2.8 liters and adds a version of Bosch’s L-Jetronic fuel injection, creating the 1975 280-Z. Horsepower rating is increased to 149. Sharp moves up to the IMSA GTU racing circuit, winning eight races and capturing the championship. He also wins his third SCCA C-Production title.
• 1977 - A five-speed overdrive transmission is added to the 280-Z and horsepower climbs to 170. 1977 is also the Z’s highest sales year to date (at the time), with 67,331 units sold.
• 1979 - An all-new, second-generation Z-car is developed, debuting as the 280-ZX. The 280-ZX offers a higher level of luxury to meet the growing demands of the sports car customer. Named Motor Trend’s “Import Car of the Year” for 1979, the 280-ZX sets the all-time sales record for the Z line with 86,007 units sold. The Z-car captures its 10th consecutive SCCA C-Production national championship. Don Devendorf wins another IMSA GTU title for Datsun.
• 1980 - A new T-bar roof option is introduced. Cumulative American Z-car sales reach 500,000 units.
• 1981 - A turbocharged engine is offered for the first time on the 1981 280-ZX. Sales remained brisk through the 1983 model year.
• 1982 - Devendorf and his Electromotive racing team win Datsun’s first ever IMSA GTO championship.
• 1984 - The third-generation Z, the all-new 300-ZX, makes its debut. The 300-ZX offers sleek new styling and a powerful new 3.0 liter V6 engine, elevating the sports car’s performance image to even greater heights. The normally-aspirated 300-ZX produces 160 horsepower, while the turbocharged version offers 200 horsepower. The 1984 model becomes the second-best selling Z ever, with 73,652 units sold.
• 1985 - Paul Newman, splitting time between the SCCA’s professional Trans-Am series and the amateur ranks, sets 10 track records in his 280-ZX Turbo and leads the national championship race wire-to-wire to win his third title.
• 1986 - Newman wins his second straight SCCA GT-1 national crown.
• 1988 - Scott Sharp, son of the legendary Datsun racer Bob, wins his second straight SCCA GT-1 national championship, and his third title overall.
• Late ’80s - Toward the end of the 1980s, the overall sports car market faces a downturn due to a significant increase in consumer demand for multi-purpose vehicles such as minivans and sport utilities. Back-to-basics is the name of the game when it comes to sports cars, and for Nissan, it means a return to more of a performance orientation during the development of the next generation Z-car