QotW: What’s your fondest Nissan Z-Car memory?

By tomorrow night the world will know what the long-awaited seventh-generation Z-car will look like. It’s been over 50 years since the debut of the original, so let’s take this opportunity to reflect on our fondest memories of the Z, no matter which generation.

For me, personally, it was probably receiving a Bluestreak toy from my aunt as a birthday present. Transformers, though, were flying off store shelves and nearly impossible to get. My aunt didn’t even know what they were, just that they were “popular with the kids.” I’ve competed in a TSD rally in a good friend’s 240Z, gone camping with my wife out of a 370Z, driven a sub-200-mile Z32, and attended the Z’s 50th birthday party at the hotel where the original 240Z was unveiled, but I will never forget this toy. At the time my peer group was outgrowing Matchboxes (but not cartoons created as 30-minute toy advertisements targeting children) so it was no longer “cool” to like toy cars. Bluestreak not only made me realize there was something special about the Z, but rekindled my love for cars of all sizes, a passion that I haven’t strayed from since.

What’s your fondest Nissan Z-Car memory?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “If you could only own one car from each Japanese marque, what would your garage look like?

Last week’s question provoked some truly fascinating answers. We know it was tough, but that’s what made it a fun question. Ginkei Garage, for example, created a garage of top-notch classics with almost no practicality. Tim was forced to use his Nissan slot for a tow rig, so no Skyline or Z for him! Teddy Fleming does get a Skyline, but an R31 Wagon as a kid hauler and chooses a surprising zero sports cars on his list. Ellis went all-out for his Toyota slot, grabbing no just any 2000GT but the Carroll Shelby SCCA race car, yet filled his Subaru slot with a 1969 Sambar Van.

We could go on and on, but you should really just read them all because every single answer is interesting and good. It was nearly impossible to pick a winner, but in the end we went with Land Ark, because even though we imposed no budget or attainability restrictions, the list was comprised mostly of cars that were nostalgic and personally meaningful:

I’m going to stick to the currently un-American rules of a JDM only car needing to be 25 years or older to be allowed in the collection.

Subaru: I already own my dream Subaru – a 2007 Legacy GT wagon. It’s exactly how I want it minus the SPEC B 18″ JDM wheels. Though when the 22B becomes federalized, I might have to change my mind.

Honda: A buddy of mine has a beautiful teal EJ Civic coupe. It had a big motor with a big turbo in it and it blew up and it’s just been sitting for a few years. I’d love to put a B18 in it and run it like they did in the late 90s – early 2000s.

Mazda: FD RX-7. I’d prefer Touring, black interior, Montego blue. Perfection

Mitsubishi: 1999 Eclispe GS-X in teal. I really love teal. There are lots of Mitsus that might be better, but I lusted after the Eclipse when I was younger and they have not stopped looking great. Though a close second would be a final year Starion.

Toyota: 1970 Celica GT – with fender flares and Watanabes. It’s tough, Toyota has a lot of great cars to pick from. But the Celica just seems to stick with me. In about 19 years I may change it to a Crown Athlete – one of my favorite contemporary cars.

Nissan: R33 GT-R V spec in gray – more specifically the first Skyline I ever saw in person which I also got to sit and and start up. It was at a small used car dealer just outside the gates of Yakota air base in Ushihama. It was my first trip to Japan to visit my buddy and that car has stuck with me since. It’s now legal to import but it wasn’t at the time. And if it had been I would have found a way to do it. It wasn’t perfect but it was 95% stock and had just over 91k km and the dealer was asking 1.28m yen (right around $12,500 at the time).
They say you always remember your first – and they’re right.

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16 Responses to QotW: What’s your fondest Nissan Z-Car memory?

  1. Banpei says:

    Almost 10 years ago to the day, I found a chase scene from a Dutch TV children show called Bassie en Adriaan on Youtube. In this scene the bad guys are driving a 260Z and chase down the protagonists (a clown and a acrobat) in their Simca Ranchero on Zandvoort circuit. The 260Z is going sideways many times but fails to overtake the Ranchero. Why they were doing 360s every now and then is a mystery but they finally spin out at the exit to the paddock. Spoiler: they finally loose the bad guys by locking them inside a car wash! Unfortunately the video got removed from Youtube due to copyright claims, but recently it has been uploaded on their official channel:

    The two protagonists are two brothers, Bassie and Adriaan, and they made the TV series on a shoestring budget. The Ranchero was their stage car (they used it IRL to travel to the circus) and the 260Z was Adriaan’s (the acrobat) personal car. The stunts were performed by the instructors of the sliding/skid school (Rob Slotemaker) located next to the track.

    As a kid I’ve seen this TV show many times and somehow this particular scene stuck in my mind. I couldn’t remember which car the bad guys drove, so I was happily surprised to see it was a Datsun 260Z! After watching this scene so many years later I seriously considered getting a 240Z or 260 myself!

    The original Z-car (S30 based) is definitely one of the highest ranking cars in my want-list, but for some weird reason I’ve never been able to get one when they were still cheap. Which I of course regret as these cars are now well in 5 digits territory. Even the S130 is increasing in price, so the only “cheap” Z-car left is the lesser loved Z31. Maybe I should reconsider and get one of those and do a lap on Zandvoort myself!

  2. teddy says:

    Zero sports cars?! *cries in b4*

    My favorite Z memory was probably getting that postage stamp set you guys posted about a year ago, my aunt lives in Japan and sent me it. Love it

  3. Negishi no Keibajo says:

    I owned a Z from 1976 until about 1986. I was in the midst of a career cross country move. Being strapped for time, my retired parents offered to move my car back to Seattle. About midway through the journey, I found a message on my “answering machine”; my parents will be late as they were pulled over by some trooper in Texas for having out of state plates & god knows what other reason. My dad said the “bemused” look on the trooper’s face was priceless as he stared at a couple of elderly nomads driving a sportscar in the middle of nowhere.

  4. Lee L says:

    When I was a kid my grandfather bought an S130. It was a 2-tone blue and silver 2 seater N/A Auto.

    Here’s one with the same paint – https://www.zdriver.com/forums/members/turboz-21545-albums-280zx-turbo-60-picture-a-416.jpg

    I used to actually ride around in the hatch area, though only for very short drives and I remember it having that distinct Z interior smell and the signature chime. He passed away when I was 13 and the car sat at my grandmother’s for a few years. Unfortunately no one in my family including myself understood how easily those cars could rust and the car essentially rusted away over the course of 3 years sitting in the grass.

    Riding around in that car is definitely my fondest Z car memory. A few years later I found a 1986 Z31 for sale and I got in to test drive and it had that same smell and similar door chime and it brought me back to riding around in my grandfather’s Z.

  5. Mike Bonanni says:

    For me it has to be walking out into my grandparent’s garage to see his new-to-him (Z31) 300ZX. Gold over tan just as you would expect in the late ’80s. It is the earliest moment in my life that I can remember admiring a specific car. I was probably 8 or 9 years old. As a kid I was always obsessed with Hot Wheels and Micro Machines but never really honed my interest into a specific car until that point. It probably had a lot to do with the day he brought it home. This was the first car in the family that everyone made a big deal over. My dad took us all over there and it was revealed to us sitting all alone in the middle of a newly cleaned out two-car garage. I will never forget walking through that door and seeing it, the adults making a big deal of it, and my grandpa bursting with pride. He unfortunately didn’t have it long as he was soon after diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and no longer able to drive.

    While that car was gone and forgotten for over a decade, when I was able to purchase my first sports car in 2004 it had to be a Z, a new-to-me 2003 350Z Track Edition. That Z quickly became my first track car, evolved into my first race car, and sparked a 13-year racing “career” beginning with the early years of US time attack and ending in endurance racing (although in BMWs by then). That 350Z was sold to BC Racing North America and has been sitting somewhere in their warehouse since 2009 and you better believe I still keep close tabs on it if the owner ever wants to sell it again.

    Over the years I also was able to get the first 6MT Nissan 370Z to arrive in Las Vegas back in 2009, drove that daily for 6 years, and more recently built an S30 280Z. So the Z marque is definitely deep rooted into my heart and I am excited to see the next generation!

  6. F31Roger says:

    My Z ownership story has always bugged me.

    In the Honda era of 2000s, I had a co worker who was staying with his brother in law. Tom was originally from Alaska, but moved the Washington for work (and family members joined Jobcorp training). I had just recently branched out of Honda with an 89 240sx fastback and 86 Mazda RX7 GTU.

    Tom picked up a 280z and 280zx 2+2 from some old lady. He had the cars towed to the backyard of his brother in law. For months we worked on both cars, cleaning them, junkyard runs and trying to get the cars to run with minimal engine work (as it was expensive for us back then).

    Tom also had an issue of being irresponsible… so he would quit a job if it got to demanding. Instead of being productive, he would love to drink and be lazy. This eventually took money away from fixing the car totally.

    Then out of nowhere, he moved back to Alaska. His brother in law, said he doesn’t want the cars. Tom said I could have them.

    Remember, 2000/2001, only people really taking care of these cars were the true Datsun enthusiasts and muscle car guys swapping in SBC 350s.

    I was excited as it lead me to hit up some Datsun specific shops and resources to learn more.

    When I went to get everything going, Kiet (Tom’s brother in law) said he never saw any paperwork. He talked to Tom and in true form, Tom got lazy and never got the paperwork and do anything with the DMV. We tried to find the old lady, but she had moved and was gone.

    I was so devastated.. we parted as much as possible before scrapping. I was 22yrs old with 2 Civic, RX7 and 240sx fastback… so I didn’t want the extra stress of trying to find loopholes to register.

    That was a huge regret. Now that Datsuns have hit a renaissance since the late 2000s, it’s more difficult. As an enthusiast, it is great to see these cars get the love and appreciation they deserve… but also to see quite a few companies focus and make stuff for these older cars.

    If I can say anything about the Z line.. I absolutely love pretty much all of it. Yes, even the 2+2 versions that everyone seems to hate (I’ma comfort person, so my cars have to feel comfortable). Z31, Z32, 350z, 370z… besides people clapping em out for drifting, I absolutely love these cars in stock form. I’m kinda excited for the new Z.

    Part of me enjoying Z cars, especially the older ones, was to visit some of the shops I dreamed of visiting back in the days.

    Avante in Yokohama.

    Z32 Zone in Yokohama.

  7. F31Roger says:

    While I gave my personal accounts on S30 and S130….

    One of the best stories I read on forums years ago was about the Primadonna Z.
    Hand built in the 80s in an apartment parking lot.

    No personal attachment, but it is bucket list to see one in person and take a picture with it.

  8. HotWheelsAndFriedChicken ! says:

    My favorite memory of a z car would be the trip to buy a 300zx z32. I found the car on ebay in California for a bit to much money. Especially considering it had never been garaged. On the bright side it only had 75,000 original miles. Over a couple of months I managed to get an ok deal together, so I flew down from oregon to get it. Guy selling it was a bit odd, but never mind. I bought the car, completely with cash, and immediately got the struts replaced. I stuck around California for a few days eating pho and staying with a family friend. It was a 750ish mile journey from the area in Cal. Where I was to my home in oregon. I set off and the first few hours went well, but then after possibly going to fast through the twistys in Shasta I had a blow out. I should have known better since the tires were dry rotted. Anyways the spare should have worked, but if course it had to be flat. 2 hours waiting on the side of the road for AAA. With no radio because it was broken. AAA comes and fills up the tire so that I can drive to my hotel. I end up driving an hour on a donut spare ti Ashland where tires could be fitted. Lucky me they didnt have the right tires and had to transport them from 30 miles away. Waiting, I had the worst Mexican food ever, and walked around a graveyard till they finished. The rest of the trip went fine except the occasional stall because I’m used to auto trans. All in all one of my very favorite things I’ve ever done.

  9. Geoff says:

    It’s a toss-up.

    1) When I was at Zcon 2017, and Yoshihiko Matsuo came for an in-depth look at my 240Z in the parking lot, got to the webers and gave me an approving thumbs-up


    2) Finishing the Touge California 2016 at Corona Del Mar beach after driving up the PCH at sunset in the same ’71 240Z, just before heading to the Mazda NA HQ.

    Both still give me tingles when I think about them, but for different reasons.

  10. Kathy says:

    Couple of memories (1) seein how many kids wr could fit in the back answer 5.
    (2) Our dad Pat Daily challenged a friend that he could beat his time in automatic 1971 240Z, the friend 15 yrs younger in a manual 240Z. Of course dad did. SCCA Datsun club

  11. TheJWT says:

    Back in college I had a job in NYC at a classic car club that had a 240z with a stroked Rebello 3 liter and some other fancy stuff on it. It was broken for much of my time there, but after a year or so we got word that it was ready to be picked up from the shop it was at in Newark.

    I went out there with my coworker and pretty much begged him to let me drive it back since I had never driven a true JNC before, and thankfully he obliged. After seemingly forever it warmed up enough to head out (it was February or March and the carbs weren’t happy). The thing that stuck with my most on the drive back to Manhattan was definitely the sound. To this day that car is in a league of its own in terms of the best sounding cars I’ve driven. It also felt surprisingly modern to drive on the often scary NJ Turnpike, and I’m pretty sure there was a hole in the firewall because there was a jet of ice cold air blasting my feet.

    Sadly that was the only time I was able to drive the 240, but that experience has always stuck with me… Banging through the gears coming out of a toll booth, dropping down a gear in the Holland tunnel, having to rev the engine at stoplights to keep it from stalling for the first 10 minutes or so…

    Here’s an older video of that very car-

  12. Steve says:

    I have a friend who had a 1979 280ZX. He bought a set of Appliance Wheels, now nicknamed “snowflakes”. The thing about Appliance Wheels though, is that they required special Appliance Wheels specific shank-style lugs that had fatter shanks than other mag wheels of the time (similar to some current Toyota factory mags that only use fat Toyota factory shank lugs). My friend tried to save a few bucks and didn’t order a set…

    So, after getting tires mounted on the wheels separately from the car, he and I brought them home and bolted them on. Then we discovered the shanks on our collections of lugnuts were too small, but he figured, “if we carefully center the wheels (by eye!) and torque the lugs tight enough, the wheel should stay centered” (they were just normal cast aluminum wheels so they weren’t hub centric). I didn’t think it would work but, hey, he was convinced it would and it was his car…

    After tightening the lugs, we dropped the car down as gently as we could and… success!!! The wheels stayed centered!

    We jumped in the car for a test drive and it drove great… for about 10 feet. Then itstarted to bob up and down like a clown car as we drove down the block. We had a good laugh, reinstalled his old qheels/tires, and drove to the wheel shop to buy the correct set of lugs.

    I remember that incident EVERY time I see:
    1. a 280ZX or
    2. a vintage set of Appluance Wheels Snowflakes

    p.s. hub centering rings would not have helped. The wheel would still slip circumferentially…

  13. Jeremy A. says:

    Summer, 2002. I was about to start my senior year of high school. I was walking down the main drag in my little town, and I saw the most eye-catching car I had ever seen. Long nose. Hatchback. Sugar scoop headlights. Painted in a dark blue metallic with orange flames. I wanted that car. No, I needed it. So I went to the lot’s office, and with but a signature, it was mine. It was a 1980 280ZX 2+2, though I knew nothing about it at the time. But that car allowed me to roll into the first day of high school in THE coolest car on the lot.

    That car turned me into the S130 faithful that I am today. But that was my fondest memory of a Z: Becoming a Z owner.

  14. Ellis says:

    It was some time in the year 2000 in a small hick town in New Zealand. I was at my dads work waiting for him to give me a ride home (I’d have been 11 or 12 at the time) but he was busy to asked a colleague to do it.

    I wait at the front and he pulls around in a yellow 2+0 Z32 Twin Turbo. And in an instance multiple boxes were checked off on my list of car firsts.

    First turbo car I’d ever been in. First 2 seater car I’d ever been in. First automatic car I’d ever been in. And at the time no doubt the fastest car I’d ever been in. (No offense to my dads Cortina at the time)

    I get in and the first two things I notice are – the steering wheel is wrapped in leather(!), another first for me, and how damn low I was sitting…followed by how steeply raked the windshield seemed to be.

    We take off and before long we are going well over the speed limit. My house was about a 10 minute ride away but we were there in what felt like the blink of an eye.

    I hopped out and watched him drive off in what I had now decided was the coolest car in the world! The next day at school I told every single one of my friends about it. Sadly my dad switched jobs not long after and I never saw or got to ride in that 300ZX (or any 300ZX for that matter) again.

    It wasn’t until nearly a decade later that I got to experience another Z car, this time my dads brand new 350z. A big step up from the cortina.. and just as exciting as the 300zx from all those years earlier.

    And thanks to that 300zx I became a fan of the Nissan brand and ended up with a S14 Qs which is still one of the best cars I’ve ever owned (and the one I made the most memories in).

  15. My_Fairlady_ZFG says:

    To date, my fondest Z memory was picking up my very own 1973 240Z, also known as Eliza because she is “my Fairlady”. A friend of my fathers had it sitting in his yard without a title, and wanted to sell it. I had known about it for a few years, and would hear about the attempts to get it running. At a certain point though, he just wanted it gone, and he was willing to let it go for cheap. So when someone offered him a wood splitter and a chord of wood for it, he jumped at the deal and agreed. This individual was going to put a small block V8 in it or something, but thankfully, that was the last he ever heard from the guy; he never showed up with the chord of wood. My Dad mentioned it to me, and I decided I would do it. I paid the price, which was astonishingly low, and a few weeks later I went up with my Dad to pick it up. It was a few weeks before I was able to bring it home (I was able to store it at another of my dads friends houses, who very graciously stored it in his garage for me). We went up on a warm august day in my Dad’s 1970 Chevy Suburban with a dolly trailing behind us to pick it up and bring it home. On the way up, we had a nice wake up when the right front brakes locked up and almost pulled us into the next lane. My Dad was able to wrestle it under control, but it was a scary experience and brought up the valid question of why we were still using a 50 year old truck as our tow rig. And the answer is because it’s way cool that’s why. Anyway we picked it up, and took it to a junkyard to take off the old rear dry rotted tires and replace them with new(er) tires, for a friendlier dolly experience. We then stopped at my grandmas house and spent some time with her, where I took my first pictures of my new car. After that, we set off for home. It was a miracle we got home WITH the car AND our lives, as the brakes still pulled madly to the right. It was a memorable and special day. A lot of the work I have done in it already can also probably count as some of my fondest Z memories. It’s all definitely part of the journey. I hope to be driving it soon. There is still some work yet to do before it is road legal. Or at least road worthy. I hope getting it drivable will become my next fondest memory.

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