Concept: The Nissan Z

The Z Concept, another one of Nissan's latest concept cars, was unveiled at the 1999 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The reveal included a walkaround by Jerry Hirshberg, president, Nissan Design International, Inc. (NDI) and video images from the three decades of the Z-car's existence.

The Z Concept was a difficult challenge for the designers at NDI.

"Our goal in designing the Z Concept was not to merely update a 30-year old design," said Hirshberg, "but to take some of the elements that made the original car special and integrate them into a totally new design. Sort of a fresh riff on a great old tune."

A classic 240Z, owned by an NDI designer, was brought into the studios to be used as a reference point. A long hood, with sweeping front fenders and characteristic headlight treatment, suggest the lines of the original, but is not copied.

"This vehicle is the antithesis of the current Īcab-forward1 school of design," said Tom Semple, director of design, NDI. "We want the casual onlooker to know that this is a powerful front-engine, rear-wheel drive vehicle and we think this concept does just that."

Unique headlights and a prominent radiator cutout in the front bumper give the Z Concept an aggressive, sporty look. The front end leads to a two-passenger cabin with wide doors, which are electronically opened. Front and side glass is tinted. The interior is trimmed in cloth and leather, and uses special materials for the backrests.

Around the short-deck rear is a glass hatch with twin gas-struts and wraparound rear taillamps with a unique lens design. The word "Nissan" is recessed the rear bumper cover.

The Z Concept is fully operational. It utilizes a balanced and blueprinted 2.4-liter DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder engine rated at 200 horsepower and 180 ft-lbs of torque. Modifications include a racing profile camshaft, lightweight pistons, 10.7:1 compression ratio, reprogrammed electronic controls and custom dual exhaust. The Z Concept also features a 5-speed manual transmission, lightweight flywheel and lowered independent suspension. Stopping power is provided by racing-style brakes from the Japanese-market Skyline GT-R supercar, while 18-inch alloy wheels mounted with 215/40ZR18 front and 225/40ZR18 rear tires makes sure the Z Concept sticks to the road.

The car was taken from the original drawings to a running vehicle in just under 12 weeks.

"We are honored to be the design team responsible for the creation of the Z Concept," said Hirshberg. "It1s not every day that we get to bring back a legend."R&D