Explore Nissan Z's 50-Year History as the 2023 Z Debuts

Nissan 350Z Roadster
Nissan made the 350Z in a Roadster variant. Nissan Motor Corporation

The 2023 Nissan Z has debuted giving the world a look at the heir to the Nissan sports car throne. The history of the Z began over 50 years ago and the impact of seven generations of Z design are shown off in the new, seventh-generation model.

The Z-Series began in the 1969, for the 1970 model year with the Fairlady Z in Japan and the Datsun 240Z in the US. These models were developed after three years of research and design to create a modern-styled, two-seater six-cylinder coupe for the North American market."

First Generation

Nissan Z432
The S30 generation of the Z was sold from 1969 to 1978. Nissan Motor Corporation

Nissan Fairlady Z and Datsun 240Z, 260Z, 280Z (S30)

The Fairlady Z premiered in 1969 as the first generation of Z Cars in Japan. The "Z-Car" was manufactured for nine years selling roughly 520,000 units around the world, which was a record for sports cars within a single model.

Americans got their take on the model the same year, rebadged as the Datsun 240Z. It featured a 151-horsepower, 2.4-liter inline-six engine. An upgraded version of the model, the 260Z, was released in 1974 and yet another take came in 1975 when the 280Z was introduced.

1977 Nissan S31Z
The 1977 S31Z featured what would become known as signature Z looks. Nissan Motor Corporation

Second Generation

Nissan Fairlady 280ZX and Datsun 280ZX (S130/Z30)

The second-generation Z was launched nearly a decade later in the 1979 model year keeping the Datsun name for the U.S. market and retaining the Fairlady moniker in Japan. With new interior and exterior styling, the Datsun 280ZX attracted more luxury interest to meet the growing demands of the sports car customer. The 280ZX offered four wheel disc brakes, came in a Turbo model and was the first Z to be offered with a T-top. Its design, engineering and drive dynamics were extremely popular with critics and customers.

Third Generation

1985 Nissan Fairlady 200 ZR-II
The 1985 200 ZR-II featured a T-bar roof. Nissan Motor Corporation

Nissan 300ZX (Z31)

By 1983, Nissan had started over again, reworking the Z in from a clean sheet. The third-generation 300ZX (Z31) was introduced to American markets the same year and manufactured through 1989. This version of the Z-Car brought standard air conditioning, leather upholstery and offered a more affordable option for sports car enthusiasts. However, the hottest new addition to this model was the newly designed turbocharged V6 engine, which played a big part in the model winning the 1985 All Japan Rally Championships.

Fourth Generation

1992 Nissan Z32 300ZX
The 300ZX had sleek styling that featured many of the sports car trends of the day. Nissan Motor Corporation

Nissan 300ZX (Z32)

The fourth-generation Fairlady Z, known as the Nissan 300ZX, was released in 1989 with a completely new design with the only holdover from the previous model being the engine. This version of the car was wider and sleeker than the previous models with its wide, low-proportioned style, distinctive front end with slanted headlights and the short overhang that increased maneuverability and performance. T-tops were standard and a convertible option was available beginning in 1993.

Fifth Generation

Nissan Z33 350Z
The Nissan 350Z's era extended into the 2000s. Nissan Motor Corporation

Nissan 350Z (Z33)

The Nissan 350Z tee'd off production for the fifth generation of Nissan Z-Cars 2002, ending a six-year production hiatus in the U.S. The 350Z showed off a sleek redesign of the original 240Z. This car rejuvenated Nissan's market presence by offering the model a a modest starting price of $26,000. Adding to the allure, Nissan sold the model in a wide variety of trim levels and upgraded the engine in 2005 and 2007.He

Sixth Generation

Nissan 370Z (Z34)

The Nissan 370Z coupe remained one of the staples of the Nissan vehicle lineup when the next-gen car was introduced in 2008 as a 2009 model year vehicle. The sixth-generation Z was equipped with a 3.7-liter V6 engine and a seven-speed automatic transmission under the hood. A manual transmission was available. A roadster version of the car was made available for sale.

Seventh Generation

2023 Nissan Z Sport
The 2023 Nissan Z marks the beginning of the seventh generation of the car. Nissan North America

Nissan has introduced the new Z, a two-seater coupe that features design inspired by the heritage of the model, coupled with a powerful engine and modern amenities. For the new generation, Nissan has returned to the Z name, simply calling the new model the "Nissan Z". It is expected to arrive stateside in early 2022.