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2005 Nissan 350Z 35th Anniversary (Video Clip)

Coupe de Highway Automotive columnist: , Updated:

* Click HERE to see a video on the Nissan 350Z *

Coupe de Highway

Photo: Mathieu St-Pierre
Sports cars have come and gone. Normally, I would add "and they are back" but sadly, this is not the case. The Nissan 350Z is one of the very few RWD sport coupes that have returned from extinction. Other than the Mazda RX-8, which is not exactly a coupe, only the Mustang GT and Chevrolet Corvette remain in the affordable medium to high performance group. With the demise of the Toyota Supra, the Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird, the Nissan Z car is in a class of its own. Perhaps, the fact that it endures has to do with the car's history.

In late 1969, the 1970 Datsun 240-Z made its appearance. It was an immediate hit. In 1974 came the bump in displacement, from 2.4L to 2.6L, and therefore a new name came to be: the 260-Z. The next year came the first version of the 280-Z which was followed by the second generation and very popular 1979 car. The 3rd generation of the Z arrived
Photo: Mathieu St-Pierre
in 1984 with a new normally aspirated or turbocharged 3.0L V6. 1990 signalled the peak in price, performance and sales of the forth generation Z car. By 1990, Nissan/Datsun had sold 1 million Zs, making it one of the best selling sports cars in the world. The final 300ZX got its bragging rights from the revised 3.0L V6 then making 222 hp or 300 hp with the aid of twin-turbos. 1996 was the final year of production for the ZX. Fast forward to 2003 and the arrival of the 350Z, the flavour of the week.

The price range for the 2005 350Z Coupe was of $45,698 to $48,698 (the price of the tested 35th Anniversary model) and of $53,198 to $55,698 for the roadster. For 2006, the prices have climbed slightly to $45,998 for the Coupe up to $53,498 for the deleted top version.


Photo: Mathieu St-Pierre
The present generation Z is not an immediate looker. Sure, if the car is Redline red or Ultra Yellow with the 18" alloys, it will attract attention but somehow, it does not strike onlookers as much as a 1979 280-Z did. In my case at least, I clearly remember the first time I laid eyes on a gold/black 1979-80 280-Z and almost going blind by the car's beauty and striking styling. The exterior shape, although curvaceous and flat at the same time, is bold however not as "in-your-face" as the last Toyota Supra or the Dodge Stealth. It is nonetheless very slick. A 0.29 drag coefficient allows for stealth-like highway cruising. To improve grip and reduce lift, the 35A is dressed up with rear under body diffusers, a rear lip and front chin spoiler.

The interior of the Z is inviting enough so long as you do not spend too much time concentrating on the door panels and dash plastics. What is important is a selection of controls that are easy to operate and consult. The plastic Bose radio though is simply too cheap feeling and looking although the sound is quite good. The instrumentation is large and clear and it sports a good-sized center-mounted tachometer with a
Photo: Mathieu St-Pierre
programmable shift light. The upper-middle portion of the dash is where the signature triple-pod gauges are located. The first one on the left will give you everything from the outside temperature to tire pressure. The other two indicate voltage and oil pressure. Each 35A edition is identified by a numbered plaque. I was handed the keys to number 179.