The next Nissan Z set to take on Camaro, Mustang as market dynamics shift
Retro is always a big risk when it comes to design schemes of new cars. For every Chrysler 300, which took its looks not from Chrysler heritage so much as from Rolls Royces and Bentleys with a 70s/80s vintage, you have the Plymouth Prowler. One sold through the roof and helped reestablish a once-cherished brand (the 300) while the other was part of the final death rattle of a marque that had irreparably lost all relevance years before.
But in recent years, one segment that has proven to be the perfect place for a retro confluence is hot rods. After all but dying out – at least in spirit – following the gas crisis and emissions frenzy that changed how Detroit did business in the late 70s and early 80s – cars that bear the name Mustang, Camaro and Charger reentered the market over the past decade living up to not only the performance of their ancestors but bearing an uncanny family resemblance to their most attractive predecessors ever.
When talking about the best muscle of the 60s and 70s, most hot rod fans probably think only of American marks. But even Chevy, Ford and Dodge devotees will attest to the greatness of the one pure hot rod that bore a Japanese a label, the Datsun Z.
Recent reports – accompanied by a few bad-ass renderings – have indicated that Nissan will be resurrecting the silhouette of the revolutionary 240Z for a revamped version dubbed the Z35 by insiders. It will feature a stunning long snout and pinched front fascia not unlike the 1969 Datsun model but with all-new technology under the hood, including a 6 and four cylinder engine option.
Nissan originally brought back the Z back in 2003 with the Z33 model, which was a huge sales hit thanks to satisfactory performance, pleasing, if not a little too "burner-y," looks, and an asking price in the mid-$30,000 range. There was little not to like about the model, but when Nissan redesigned it a few years later to compete with the upscale BMW Z4, Audi TT and Porsche Cayman, the car was simply out of its league and not worth the $40,000-plus asking price.
Now, Nissan is backtracking and embracing their heritage, going after American marques instead of the European brands they had long fought for relevance to compete with.
Nissan seems to be ahead of the curve in chasing the American carmakers, as brands like Chevrolet, who have lagged behind the exports when it comes to cars over the past few decades, appear to be stirring from their slumber. Once resting on their dominance in the truck market, new models like the Camaro and recently redesigned Imapala (which, as we reported, has been lauded as one of the best sedans to hit the market in decades by the media) are helping this automaker reclaim significant chunks of market share. Now, American models are closing the gaps when it comes not just to performance coupes but even Nissan's bread-and-butter line of economy sedans.
Do you think by embracing the heritage trend Nissan will take down the exciting (at long last) batch of American models currently setting the market on fire? Or do you think that the days of foreign-made dominance are over? Leave your thoughts below: