Nissan Z: From ’69 to Now and Rankings

While I’m not particularly a Nissan know it all, I still like their “Z” cars that have served as solid sports cars for half a century. Known to be fast yet affordable, today we’re diving into the history of what has brought us our modern 370z.

The Olden Days

On a crisp fall day in 1969, the first of many Nissan “Z” badged cars were released to the public. Named the Fairlady Z in Japan and the 240z in the US, it was a large success in both countries. Minor engine and part changes were applied to the car throughout its life cycle. In recent years there has been an uptake of people trying to get a hold of the car, as less and less are being found on the market. This article from Automobile goes more into the subject. If I had to rank the different generations of Z cars, this would get a respective second place, for starting a long lasting group of sports cars, and for its unique looks.

Following the success of the 240z, the early 70’s held the same gen successors, starting with the 260z. The power had to be lowered by US regulations, but other countries received a better engine within. Shortly after rolled out the 280z, making minor improvements.

Building off of the sales from the first three cars, the second generation 280zx arrived. While it appeared very similar on the outside, almost every feature of the car was made to feel more luxurious, and a T top model released alongside it. There were multiple engine configurations, one including a new turbocharger. I rank this car sixth, for looking nice on the inside but ultimately for not changing performance or looks too drastically.

End of Century Zs

The year ’84 yielded the new 300zx with its completely redesigned sheetmetal and bigger, better engine. I’ll say that I personally do not enjoy the look of this car. It looks a little too much like the 70’s Rx7, and its front just juts out like the ’91 Camaro. While it was greatly praised by its performance and even became the fastest Japanese car at the time, I can’t get over its looks. It gets fourth because the sale and performance numbers don’t lie; it was a truly amazing car in its time, despite looks.

Nissan transitioned into the 90’s with a completely remade 300zx, with a slightly better engine and smoothed out body. I give it first place because the looks this time around are my favorite by a mile. New engines made it stronger in performance later in its life cycle as well. Out of all the car people I’ve asked, no one really likes the fourth gen 300zx. I’m not sure why it appeals to me so much, it just does. It was highly praised like its predecessor, but inflation in price at the end of its life cycle substantially dropped sales.

The “Out of it” Z

While the Z series is known to have six generations as of now, I’m adding this car to the rankings as it stood out as a sort of sore thumb, and didn’t exactly belong to a specific generation. There was a short period in the late 90’s where Nissan stopped sending Z cars to the US, as their focuses lied elsewhere. As a drastic measure to have some sort of resemblance of a sports car at their dealerships, Nissan took many old 240zs and restored them to what I believe to be an unremarkable vehicle.

It’s almost as if Nissan took a 240z and softened its looks, muted its engine, and made it appear as a regular coupe. It was cast aside after a couple of years and never sold from dealers again. I give it seventh place, because of everything in this paragraph.

The Zs of Recent

After the 240z restorations, a new concept came out, the “Z Concept”. Renault had taken leadership of most Z related things, and this concept was definitely a step in a new direction, as far as design. In 2002 the Nissan 350z debuted, priced at a lower point than the late cycle 300zxs, using the engine within the current Skyline. This generation greatly improved everything from the 300zx, and multiple variations were released, including a powerful Nismo edition and a 35th anniversary model. This car gets third place from me, for not only improving the aspects of the 300zx, but for also being my favorite car at one point.

In 2008 the first 370z was released, becoming the fastest unmodified Z car Nissan has ever produced. It brought minor improvements and sharper looks to the table. It’s a great car and looks good, but the problem here is that it has overstayed its welcome. While the other generations of Zs lasted for a little under a decade, the 370z is approaching 13 years on the market, with little visual change. It gets fifth for being a decent improvement, but for not seeing any major changes throughout its extended lifetime. There is, however, a teaser for the new Z car, which looks promising enough.

Results

The Nissan Z generations have always been some of the most successful Japanese cars on the market and most likely will continue that way, as long as they move to a new generation soon. Also if you didn’t read the article here’s the final results of my ranking lined up.

1st: 300zx: Looks amazing in my opinion, performs exceptionally.

2nd: 240z: The one that started it all.

3rd: 350z: A new look and better driver.

4th: Initial 300zx: A very popular sports car, blowing all of the competition away.

5th: 370z: A refined 350z, starting to overstay its welcome.

6th: 280zx: Basically a luxury 240z, little additions in other areas.

7th: 1999 Nissan 240z Concept: An under powered 240z with unremarkable looks.


Image Credits

350z GT-S Concept: Nissan, Mad4Wheels

280z: Mason B., on Unsplash

300zx: Nissan, Mad4Wheels

370z: Nissan, Mad4Wheels

Bentley Continental GT: July’s Car of the Month

Bentley’s Continental GT wins the Car of the Month award for its essential contribution to bringing Bentley back.

Ah, Bentley. Most know the company to either be an expensive luxury car manufacturer or the company that made “the fast, green car”, aka the Speed 8, which won the 2003 24 Hours of Le Mans. That win is most likely what boosted Bentley back on the map of the automotive world in the 21st century, after a near six decade absence. The Continental GT holds some of Bentley’s racing past in its tires and adds it to their newer luxury status. Here is how it has earned the title of Car of the Month…

The Roots of the Car

After winning Le Mans around five times in the 20s, Bentley was absorbed by Rolls Royce and their parts were used in their cars. Later on the company Vickers bought the Bentley name and began releasing luxury cars under it. A decent amount of cars were released including the models of today like the Continental and Mulsanne, but also with lesser known cars like the Brooklands and the Azure that never made it past 2003. Well, they did have short lived revivals in 2006 but that’s out of the question. This is where the GT’s legacy begins.

Different versions of the Continental began coming out, such as the Continental R, which became one of the most expensive production cars of the early 90s. Sub models of the R were released later, including the S and T Continentals which provided more performance. In the late 90s, Volkswagen acquired the company, along with other popular names like Lamborghini and Bugatti. (I seriously doubt that the Continental GT has Huracan door handles, hope you’ve read that article)

The GT is Born

In the same year that the Speed 8 Race Car won 24 Hours of Le Mans, the first generation of Continental GT was born. Bentley priced it around half the price of the R model from the 90s, which opened it up to people with “less” money. It shed its former sharp, blocky appearance for a sort of sloping body style, complete with large back lights, and equipped with a bold front grille.

The GT led Bentley forward into the luxury car market by springing off many sub models such as the Continental GTC (Grand Touring Convertible) and the Continental Flying Spur, which went off to become a main Bentley model later on. Higher performance versions also arrived later, such as the Supersports edition.

Gen 2 arrived in 2011 and was dethroned as a flagship model by the new and improved Mulsanne. That certainly didn’t stop it from spawning a dozen or so more special editions, even joining the GT3 category of racing in 2013. The gen 3 version of the GT was introduced in 2018 and further refined all of the car’s aspects, making it look much more premium.

Why it’s the Car of the Month

The Continental GT deserves to be the Car of the Month because of its large role in bringing Bentley back. The original Continental outlasted all of the many other Bentley models from the 90s, and used the trail that the Speed 8 Race Car started to build the company back up as a performance tinted luxury brand. It took the name of Bentley and added to its meaning, essentially making it July’s Car of the Month.

Congratulations, Continental GT.

The Scoring Board

Performance: 6 | Luxury: 8.5 | Looks: 9

Performance: Why it gets a 6…

The GT gets a 6 in Performance because it packs an extra punch with the luxury Bentley is known for, but the car’s immense weight holds back the W12 engine inside from going all out.

Luxury: Why it gets an 8.5

The GT gets an 8.5 in Luxury because its interior is mostly handmade, with all sorts of fabrics and patterning made manually each day. While the inside isn’t exactly a Rolls Royce interior, its exterior definitely stands up to the competition in terms of unique and premium design choices.

Looks: Why it gets a 9

The GT gets a 9 in Looks because in my opinion I love the exterior and its slope-like ways that make it differ from the boring rectangular 90s Continentals. The only reason it didn’t get a 10 is because I prefer mid size coupes over its large form.


Image Credits

Dark Gray Bentley Continental GT: Jannis Lucas, on Unsplash

Blue Continental GT: Cam Bowers, on Unsplash

Audi R8 and Lamborghini Huracan: Similar Yet Distant Relatives

If you’re fluent in the automotive world, a common piece of knowledge is how the Audi R8 and Lamborghini Huracan share the Volkswagen V10 engine. While that may seem like an unimportant relation, connections between the two supercars go deeper than that. Are the cars even that different when these connections are present?

The Cars

The Audi R8 is currently in its second generation at the time of writing, still going strong as a supercar that has a well balanced performance/luxury ratio. Its roots date back to 2003, when the Audi Le Mans Quattro concept car hit the showroom floors, celebrating Audi’s three year streak of wins at 24 Hours of Le Mans. The body styling has traces of the other two concepts that Audi built that year, the sleek Pikes Peak Quattro SUV and the rather beefy Nuvolari Quattro coupe. The Le Mans Quattro evolved into the R8, with barely any changes in design, and a less powerful engine.

Our second car, the Lamborghini Huracan, has seen less time on the road coming out in 2014, but its widely known as the successor to the Gallardo. The V10 inside is tuned so that it can squeeze out around 600 hp, but the overall performance is close to the R8.

Early Connections

You can notice that I mentioned the Gallardo above, being the predecessor to the Huracan, and it was released around the time of the first gen R8. Since Volkswagen owns both Audi and Lamborghini, these two cars shared many parts and systems with each other. This included the V10 engine, segments of the chassis, and… door handles? (Incoming exaggerated rant below)

That seems to be an oddly specific part on both cars, so it must have just been cheaper to throw any unique styling out the door and mass produce the same type of handle. Since Volkswagen is putting the same parts into multiple brands, who knows where else that door handle will appear? What other parts are shared? If I had a Huracan would it have a reliable mileage count that wasn’t fraudulent? (Looking at you 2015 Volkswagen)

Current Connections (and differences)

Ok, so door handles aside, the Huracan and gen 2 R8s took the connections to a higher level. Both cars are made on the same platform now, with the main physical differences being interior design, sheetmetal, and acceleration. Is this enough to make the cars appear all too similar beyond the exterior shell? In my opinion, no. While both Audi and Lamborghini are owned under Volkswagen, the reason they are so similar is also the reason that they are so different: I think that the two companies have very different goals when it come to their supercar.

First of all you have Lamborghini, and selling high performance cars is their main goal (aside from making money, as that’s #1 for all car manufacturers). The Huracan is one of their “cheapest” cars. Its definitely not as fast as the Aventador. Audi on the other hand, specializes in making luxury cars that aren’t solely focused on performance, but the R8 is their only supercar as of right now. Even though its their most expensive car, its still cheaper than the Huracan. The Huracan is built to be an entry gate into the world of high performance cars, while the R8 is fast but retains the sense of Audi luxury. Just look at the interiors!

In Conclusion…

…both the R8 and Huracan resemble different symbols in the automotive world, despite their mechanical similarities. Choosing which one is the “best” would be difficult, since they are manufactured with different goals in sight. The Huracan is best for someone who wants raw power at a less intense level, while the R8 is more of a luxury primer with a coat of performance.


Image Credits

Lamborghini V10: Joshua Naidoo, on Unsplash

Audi R8: Blake Meyer, on Unsplash

Lamborghini Huracan: Gilly, on Unsplash