2018 Nissan 370Z Roadster Podcast Cover Image

2018 Nissan 370Z Roadster The legendary Z Car soldiers on toward its 50th birthday

It’s nice to get a two-seater convertible just in time for Indian summer. I haven’t had the top up on this thing since it arrived. It’s a Z car; the Nissan 370Z—in this case, the top-of-the-line Touring Sport version, with a sticker price of almost $51,000.

If that seems like a lot for this car, you can get the basic, starter model for just over 30 grand. That one won’t have a convertible top, or a touchscreen and navigation and seat heaters and all that, but it’ll have the important bits—the same 332HP V6, the same choice of an automatic or a manual transmission, the same performance and the same curvy shape.

That’s what the Z car is all about, after all—enjoying the road and the ride. Sure, the visibility out the back is terrible, at least with the top up, and there’s no room for child seats or even groceries, but that’s part of the deal with a car like this. In performance, the Z falls somewhere between the Miata - BRZ niche and Porsche – Corvette territory, and it’s all alone in its price bracket too. (Unless you compare it to Mustangs and Camaros, which feel like totally different animals to me.)

The original Z, the 240, came out in 1969. Nissan was Datsun back then. In Japan the Z was called the Fairlady. Imagine trying to sell a sports car called a Fairlady here? I remember drooling over one parked at the bar where I hung out in college. It was silver-gray and it looked so good. It was relatively affordable, too—a lot cheaper than a Porsche. Then the 240 became the 260Z, then the 280 and the 300 . . . and for a couple of years Nissan stopped making them entirely.

I have to remind myself that this version of the Z car is now nine years old, and it’s been five years since Nissan gave it any serious upgrades. Normally this would make me suspicious—don’t they care? But then again, if Nissan went all modern on the Z, with self-parking phone apps and pedestrian-detection alerts and lane-keeping, it might not be a driver’s car any more. So maybe it’s OK that Nissan is busy with its sedans and crossover SUVs instead. And don’t forget: 2019 is the Z car’s 50th birthday . . . maybe we’ll get a nice surprise then.