Even with their good looks, reliability, and strong performance, they have been remarkably affordable automobiles. The Nissan Z cars also currently hold the record of best selling sports car series of all time with around 1,685,000 in five generations.
Nissan was a relatively small company that had visions of greatness. In the early 1960s, Nissan had partnered with Yamaha to design a new sports car prototype. As no strangers to the sports car game, company executives rightfully saw it as a halo car that would improve its image in the minds of consumers. By 1964 Nissan realized that Yamaha's DOHC 2.0-liter engine was not meeting Nissan's expectations and the project was scrapped. Yamaha then later finished a prototype and took their design to Toyota, and the result was the building of the Toyota 2000GT. Yutaka Katayama, the president of Nissan USA at the time, had realized the importance of an affordable sports car. Nissan had already produced the successful series of Fairlady roadsters that competed against English and Italian roadsters, and product planners envisioned a new line of GT cars that would be stylish, innovative, fast, and relatively inexpensive by sharing parts among other Nissan vehicles. Prototype work began in 1966 with a clay mockup. The 240Z design project was primarily comprised of 10 people.
- Mr. Yutaka Katayama (President of Nissan USA, known as "Mr. K")
- Mr. Teiichi Hara (Manager, Nissan Design and Development)
- Mr. Kazumi Yotsurnoto (Manager, Passenger Car Styling Section}
- Mr. Yoshihiko Matsuo (Chief of Design, Styling Studio #4)
- Mr. Akio Yoshida (Assistant Designer on Exterior Design)
- Mr. Sue Chiba (Interior Design)
- Mr. Eiichi Oiwa (Styling Studio Assistant)
- Mr. Kiichi Nishikawa (Styling Studio Assistant)
- Mr. Hidemi Kamahara (Design Engineer)
- Mr. Tsuneo Benitani (Design Engineer)
First generation (S30)
Main article: Nissan S30
Production of the Nissan Z Car started on October 1969, with 2 separate versions: one for the Japanese market and one for the US market. The Japanese Fairlady Z featured a SOHC L20A inline-6 producing 130hp (97kW), while the US 240Z had a L24 inline-6 with twin SU carburetors that produced 151hp (113kW). A third Z, the 432Z(PS30) shared a performance version of the DOHC 2.0 liter S20 engine with the Skyline GT-R.