Nissan has had a great history with its iconic Z sports car. After the excellent 300ZX was discontinued in 1996, and before the 350Z was introduced in 2002, Nissan came up with an odd and underpowered concept that thankfully never made it to production.
The ‘90s were good times for a variety of reasons, but they were especially good for Japanese sports cars. All the hard sought after collectibles today like the MKIV Supra, FD RX-7 and NSX were born during this time. Also among them was the gorgeous Z32 Nissan 300ZX. While it was a bit heavier than the others, the futuristic styling still looks good today and the one to get was the twin-turbo V6 model with 300 horsepower. Unfortunately, the 300ZX was on the pricey side and sales dwindled. Nissan stopped importing them into the U.S. in 1996, but the car continued on in Japan for another two years.
Desperate for a replacement, Nissan had its California Design Studio sketch up a concept that would be revealed at the 1999 North American International Auto Show. The car went from drawing to concept model in only 12 weeks. What came out was the 1999 240Z concept that seemed to be a look back at the original 240Z, but the design language was a conflict between retro and futuristic elements. Under the hood was not a six-cylinder motor as everyone expected, but rather a 2.4-liter four-cylinder lifted from the Nissan Altima that made 200 horsepower.
Even though critics and Z fans were not overly impressed, the 1999 240Z concept did generate some excitement for a next generation sports car. In 2000, Nissan president Carlos Ghosn announced that an all new Z would become part of a plan to revitalize the brand. In 2002, Nissan launched the 350Z with a proper V6 and classic sports car proportions.