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1969 Nissan Fairlady Z

Nissan enthusiasts certainly have a lot to draw from when it comes to the history of the brand - but for today I'm going to narrow down our focus to the history of the Nissan Z-car. If you've had a chance to swing by a Nissan dealership between 1969 to 2000 and then from 2002 through to the present you probably have a pretty good image in mind but we're here to learn so let's get down to the finer details. Also be sure to check out our Nissan GTR for sale

Way back in 1969 Japan's automotive scene was irrevocably changed with the introduction of the Nissan Fairlady Z. That same model went on to have a remarkable career overseas carrying the name "Datsun 240Z".

Constructed at the famous Nissan Shatai plant in Hiratsuka (a location that would build all subsequent models up until 2000) the world hadn't really heard much about Nissan in those days. In fact, Nissan was such a small automaker that it had to lean on and partner with Yamaha for collaboration efforts to realize their visions.

However, early into the development process Nissan recognized that the engine provided by Yamaha - a 2.0-litre DOHC engine - was simply incapable of meeting their requirements and by 1964 the project was cancelled. As an interesting note - Yamaha would go on to complete that original design and took the completed prototype to Toyota. This resulted in the Toyota 2000GT - a vehicle that is often cited as being the first 'real' collectible Japanese car on top of earning the status of being the first Japanese supercar.

What may have been seen as a missed opportunity for some could not be said for Nissan - after stepping away from Yamaha, Nissan's president, Yutaka Katayama, set his sights on the international market with the vision of creating a new, stylish edition of their well-recognized Fairlady roadsters.

A team of 10 came together to design what would become the 240Z.

1972 Nissan Skyline 2000 GT-R for sale

The first generation 240Z went on sale in October 1969 and was offered in two model options - a model that was tailored to the Japanese market and one that was developed for foreign markets. The Japanese Fairlady Z was equipped with a 2.0-litre SOHC L20A inline-6 engine that offered 130 horsepower while the foreign model was equipped with a 2.4-litre L24 inline-6 engine with twin Hitachi SU-type carburetors that stepped up the game to an impressive 151 horsepower. A lesser-known third model was also available and shared the same stats as the Nissan Skyline 2000 GT-R.

When it arrived across the Pacific Ocean to the Americas at the end of October the same year sales figures quickly exceeded 40,000 models, and sold well through to 1974 at which time Nissan released the 260Z. This vehicle had a lower horsepower figure to keep aligned with emission regulations and vehicle standards.

The following year the 280Z was released and replaced the SU carburetors in favour of the Bosch fuel injector system that resulted in 170 horsepower and was further improved with luxury finish and premier comfort highlights in the cabin.

By 1978 the Nissan/Datsun brand had really made a name for itself - and released a second generation called the 280ZX - not to be confused, though, understandable if it happens with the 280Z of the previous generation.

Earning Motor Trend's Import Car of the Year award, and boasting a record of over 86,000 units that first year was proof enough that their decisions had lead them down the right path. The third generation that came in 1984 was a complete redesign - called the 300ZX, which would go on to really make a name for itself with turbo options along with becoming the second-best selling model Z in car history.

On the other side of the Z-car line we have the Skyline models - starting production at the same time as the Z-car cousins, these marvels were produced from 1969 through to 1973 and provided drivers with powerful engines that culminated in them earning the nickname "Godzilla" (sometimes written in Romanized form from Japanese as "Gojira") because of their outstanding track record and successful racing history.

Such a tour-de-force is the Nissan GTR lineup that BBC's Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson went has suggested that they are among the best cars in the world. Designed by Shinchiro Sakurai for the first two generations, the rebirth of the GT-R came with in 1989 with a 2-door coupe model laid out for front-engine, all-wheel drive coupled with the outstanding 2.6-litre twin-turbo I-6 engine produced to get you moving thanks to 313 horsepower. 1995 saw the fourth generation add a 4-door sedan option, while the fifth generation reverted to 2-door coupe-only.

Nissan GT-R for sale

Stepping back for a few years, a new breed of GT-R launched in 2007 - backed by the 3.8-litre engine twin-turbo that has carried over the "Godzilla" nickname. With a potential for up to 478 horsepower on models produced between 2007 and 2010, well, you get the idea!

Fast-forwarding to 1999, we find Nissan stepping out ahead of the competition with the launch of the fifth generation - the Nissan 350Z - with seven trim levels and a variety of remarkable features including a coupé and convertible options. The sixth generation would follow-up with a similar look to its predecessor with the powerful 3.7-litre V6 engine that offers between 328 and 350 horsepower.

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