This car only happens every 40 years: The 2010 Nissan 370Z 40th Anniversary Edition.
The two-seater sports coupe pays a respectable homage to an original car in whose place it now stands: the 1970 Datsun 240Z.
Back then, it was quick and nimble and powerful. Its 2.4-liter inline six-cylinder engine could pump out an amazing 150 horsepower and rip through the quarter mile in 17.1 seconds.
But over time, thankfully, the car improved: The 370Z has a 3.7-liter V-6 under its aluminum hood and manages 332 horsepower, sprinting the quarter mile in 13.5 seconds.
More to the point, this limited edition 370Z has all the heritage of the Z cars, just with a distinctive look. It rides and handles as well as any other Z -- which is pretty good to start -- but will be on sale for just a few more months. (It arrived in February, and Nissan will only build 1,000 units.)
So what makes the 40th Anniversary Edition more Zed than Z?
Mostly cosmetics: The anniversary model begins as a 370Z Touring model with a six-speed manual and sport package, which includes Synchro Rev Match, front and rear spoilers, bigger brakes and 19-inch wheels and a limited-slip differential.
Then add "40th" badges inside and out, some special floor mats, smoked rims, red brake calipers, red stitching on the seats and leather-wrapped steering wheel, a graphite color exterior and a silver car cover and you've got it: Happy anniversary.
The overall look is understated and sleek -- just like all of the other 370Zs out there. Nothing feels over the top. The red interior may surprise you at first, but even that feels normal looking after a few days.
Mostly, that's because the 370Z is so much fun to drive, you don't spend that much time looking at the interior; instead, you look at the next curve.
The 370Z may have a small, light body and a powerful engine, but it always feels perfectly balanced on the road.
The six-speed manual clicks through the gears short throw after short throw, and the low ride makes you feel like a race car driver. The SynchroRev Match adds to that experience by automatically matching the engine's rpm on downshifts, giving the car a smooth throttle blip and eliminating that lurching feeling you can experience downshifting too early. It also just sounds cool when coming up to a stop sign.
There is a seven-speed automatic available on the 370Z which is one of the few automatic transmissions that is fun to drive with the paddle shifters.
The ride is just as smooth as the regular Z with its independent suspension. The bigger brakes, however, mean you have to learn quickly how to softly press the brake pedal or find yourself locking up your seat belt as your body jerks forward. (It took about a day of stopping short to figure out the right amount of pressure.)
It has the same amount of road noise as the regular Z, which, when cruising along the highway is enough to make you turn up the stereo or speak a little louder to the person sitting next to you.
But those are some of the prices you pay with a small sports car. You can either talk or drive -- just not both at the same time. Muscular and luxurious
The 40th Anniversary Edition keeps the muscular good looks of the regular 370Z and all of the luxury trappings inside.
The car includes a push-button start and intelligent key that lets you unlock the car door without ever pulling the key fob out of your pocket. There is also an easy to use Bluetooth connection for your cell phone, a navigation system with a 7-inch touch screen and a 9.3 gigabyte hard drive to burn music to if you don't want to use the USB port to play your personal music device directly.
While many customers enjoy navigation systems, I tend to think they are overrated and overpriced. When the 370Z doesn't have a navigation system, Nissan installs a big closing box in the center of the dash that is great to hold a phone or other things. It doesn't cost anything extra and I still know how to drive to work every morning.
Perhaps the toughest thing about the 370Z is getting out of it. Hopping in is easy enough, just open the door and kind of twist and fall into the comfortable bucket seat. But getting out requires you to kind of roll out and push up off the door sill with your arm to maintain your balance. The seat doesn't look that low, but it feels that way when you get out of it. It also forced me to open up the door really wide to accommodate my less than graceful body. If I had parked too close to another car, I don't know if I would have been able to get out of it.
A special vehicle
Ingress and egress aside, the 370Z 40th Anniversary edition remains a very special vehicle and a fantastic representative to the Z badge.
Its looks may not stand out much compared with other 2010 370Z models, but it doesn't have to. The fact it maintains the Z's performance capabilities is the best way to celebrate a birthday.
Entering its sixth generation, the Z still turns heads and still wows drivers. And that's about the best way to celebrate an anniversary.
Sburgess@detnews.com (313) 223-3217
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