One of the brightest spots in all of motoring over the past 10 years, the Nissan 350Z was a charismatic sports car with a distinctive design, excellent performance and best of all, an affordable price.
Nissan’s single most direct successor to the original 240Z from the 1970’s, the 350Z was the fifth generation of Z cars from the company. After the 240Z was introduced, the model grew larger and heavier with each generation. The 240Z eventually evolved from a sleek two-seat sports coupe into a bloated Grand Touring car with odd proportions.
That is, until the introduction of the 1984 Nissan 300ZX.
The ultimate iteration of the concept of a Z as a GT car was universally praised, but it was also considerably more expensive than any Z before it. Despite this, it sold well for a while. But the booming economy in Japan and the strong Yen of the day continually pushed the price of the 300ZX ever higher. This factor, in combination with the then-blossoming love affair with the SUV, which led to a shrinking sports car market, pushed the 300ZX farther and farther off the table.
Eventually, Nissan had to discontinue it in 1996.
With the version of the Z introduced in 2002 as a 2003 model, Nissan took the concept all the way back to its roots. This new Z eschewed bloated GT aspirations and was instead a pure sports car. Designed around Nissan’s front mid-engine platform, the 2003 350Z was endowed with outstanding agility. The VQ series Nissan V6 engine, roundly regarded a paragon of smoothness and tractability, was chosen to power the model. This engine embellished the remarkable agility of the 350Z with strong acceleration, a delightful exhaust note, and a high top speed.
An improvement in every measure over the preceding Z cars, the 2003 Nissan 350Z found ready favor among enthusiasts — along with a voracious market and strong sales. The Nissan 350Z ran from model years 2003 to 2009.