The Nissan 370Z is one of the oldest new cars you can buy in 2020. The sixth-gen Z34 platform hasn’t been significantly revised since it was introduced circa 2009, so it’s hard to justify recommending you go out and buy a brand new one. But this week, used 370Zs are my favorite thing to window shop for.
Like many of you, probably, I spend way too much time thinking about cars I’d hypothetically own for X or Y reasons. As regular readers may recognize, it’s usually trucks and SUVs I end up lusting after. But I also like long road trips on pavement and vehicles that can hold their own on windy roads without feeling liable to tip over. I prefer a low-tech automotive experience over digital displays, appreciate long hoods, and don’t plan on procreating... all this to say, I get excited about grand touring cars pretty often.
Lately, I’ve fantasized about replacing my old 300ZX and Acura TL with things like a low-spec V8 Dodge Challenger, an older Mercedes C63 coupe, an E92 BMW M3, or even a Maserati GranTurismo.
But realistically I know I’m never going to have the financial fortitude to maintain a high-end Italian car. I’ll probably have to hold out ’til I inherit my dad’s Fiat to scratch an approximation of that itch. Same goes for a used AMG, although the noises they can make are a special kind of seduction to me. (No manual transmission option though, borderline dealbreaker.)
There’s a decent chance of an aging M3 in my future, but mainly because I’m close with my wife’s stepfather who happens to run a BMW dealership. And I will always love the current iteration of the Challenger, even though every one I take a close look at seems to have some tasteless embellishment somewhere on the scale of “mudflap girl” to “Punisher skull.”
To be fair, it’s pretty common to see goofy cosmetic treatments on 370Zs in the wild as well. But as I’ve been pondering selling the 1984 300ZX I currently own this week, I’ve been looking at retrospectives on the car’s predecessors and successors. My old friend Doug DeMuro’s year-old video, ironically about how the 370Z’s “overpriced and outdated,” made me realize just how much I actually love the current version of Nissan’s semi-attainable sports car.
The moment where Doug makes fun of the calculator-style info display next to the gauge cluster, it hit me: Holy hell, this car is right up my alley and I haven’t spent nearly enough of the last decade thinking about it.
I have driven both the standard and Nismo versions of the 370Z... in 2015. Frankly, I can’t remember what they were really like. (I also drove a GTR Nismo the same day, so, just about anything else would have felt underwhelming anyway.)
But the more I look at specs and pictures, the more I feel like a reasonably maintained six-speed 370Z might be one of my next cars. The look’s a lot more appealing to me than the angular 350Z, maintenance can’t be too brutal on a mass-produced Japanese car, center-mounted tachometers turn me on, and there’s a healthy aftermarket to keep the car interesting for a long time. (Or make it faster, if necessary.)
Complaints about the 2020 Nissan 370Z being old and expensive are justified, it is both things. But one of the benefits of it surviving so long is that a decent supply of used ones now exists. And maybe, if I ever scrimp up the coin and courage to spend five-figures on a car, a Z34 would be my pick right now.
If that does happen, I’m still going to be sniffing around below $20,000. At that price point Toyota 86s are fun, but they’re a little small and stiff for my taste. WRXs and Civic Sis aren’t rear-wheel drive (another thing I’m really into) and anything European is going to be at least somewhat arduous to keep alive or automatic-trans only.
Meanwhile, the 370Z has all my favorite anachronisms (three pedals, hydraulic steering, no screens) and the only modern automotive technology I, personally, really care about (heated seats, airbags.)
Shoot... I’ve talked myself into liking these cars even more after writing this. Guess the one I bought in Forza Horizon 4 will have to be a holdover until somebody, or Nissan’s press fleet, lets me borrow theirs. Or who knows, maybe my savings will build up faster than I think since I’m not splurging at bars or restaurants for a bit.