I’m going to do my best to give you a bit of a history lesson while we talk about the 2020 50th anniversary Nissan 370z. The 50th anniversary 370Z was revealed at the 2019 New York Auto Show, and celebrates 50 years of the Z car while at the same time it is also an homage to the BRE Championship winning 240Zs.
Now before we talk about BRE we have to talk about the man behind BRE Pete Brock. Everybody knows Pete Brock for different reasons. To Corvette fans he’s the guy who penned the lines of the original StingRay racer and by extension, the ’63 Corvette “split window”. To Cobra fans meanwhile, Pete’s the guy who took the Shelby Cobra roadster and turned it into the Cobra Daytona Coupe. Now onto Datsun devotees who love to remember Brock Racing Enterprises.
Taking a step back to talk about Brock Racing Enterprises, better known as BRE. In December 1965 Pete Brock started his own design firm and motor racing team, Brock Racing Enterprises which worked with Hino, Toyota, and Datsun. GT cars Brock designed for BRE clients included the Hino Samurai, the Toyota JP6 and the Triumph TR-250K. Brock continued to race, driving his own Lotus 11 MKII and paid rides with a TVR and Mercury in the NASCAR series.
Brock began performance development on the Hino 900, which then evolved into their Hino 1300 Contessa. When Toyota took over Hino, Brock designed for them the JP6 Prototype. Toyota planned to give BRE several Toyota 2000GTs for use in Trans-Am racing, but when Toyota instead gave the cars to Carroll Shelby, Brock approached Datsun to discuss racing the 2000 roadsters after no luck stateside Brock ended up making a deal with the President of Datsun Japan and a partnership was born. The cars were secretly flown to Los Angeles for BRE and prepared in complete seclusion. When they showed up at tech for the first SCCA race of the ’68 season, their appearance was a complete surprise to everyone that didn’t work at BRE, including all the management at Datsun here in the United States!
Shortly thereafter, the BRE Datsun 2000 won its first race and Yutaka Katayama (Better known as Mr. K), then president of the western half of Datsun North America, was informed of the Datsun’s amazing recovery on the racing scene. It was a successful combination that put Datsun on the map in the USA. Peter Brock and his talented driver, John Morton, went on to dominate US club racing. BRE became the west coast Datsun factory race team and competed in 1969 in the SCCA DP class with Datsun 2000 roadsters, in 1970 and 1971 in the CP class with the 240Zs (SCCA National Champions ’70-’71) and later in 1971-72 the 2.5 Trans-Am Series races with the Datsun 510s. A fun fact the race team was disbanded at the end of the 1972 season when Pete Brock decided the hang gliding life is where his future lay.
Back to the 370z, the 50th anniversary edition comes in two color schemes for the livery silver and black and pearl white and red. The bonnet or hood, the mirror coverings the a-pillar caps and the rear hatch are all painted while everything else on the car is a decal. The forged wheels are from Ray’s Engineering, but what is important is that they are 19 by 9 up front 19 by 10 and the rear. One little easter egg we found that we are rather partial to is the rear fog light built into the rear diffuser, ten points if you can figure out how to turn it on.
Now you may be wondering why we are talking about a car that seems like it has been around for ages, and well that is true, it debuted in 2009 and the Nissan Z Proto was just released recently as to what might be next in line for the Z. I do think the 370z has aged well, and driving this around town I get thumbs up, people looking at it think it is something special, and from the outside especially with the duck tail spoiler we certainly agree with them.
Inside, I’ll start on the positives, the seats are great, not only do they feel great to sit in, they look great, and that design is carried across to the doors. The steering wheel lets you know you are in a sports care, and that handy little red leather section is to let you know you are going straight. Another win on an “older” platform is the actual real handbrake. Another benefit of the Z car is how much room you have inside if you want to take this on a trip you can, you have space behind the seats and in the back, it actually would be a nice little GT car for a road trip, maybe in the future Nissan? We really like the less is more focus of the car, what causes us to raise an eyebrow is the stereo with a CD player, I mean is anyone really carrying cd’s around with them anymore? If you are, let me know in the comments which cd’s I need to be listening to. Another “throwback” is the gauge cluster, things move on but importantly in this case while it is “vintage” it shows everything you need to see clearly.
Driving, this is where you enjoy yourself, the car rides really well and it has more than enough grip for a good time. You always know exactly where you are because of how much feedback you get from the car that you just don’t get from some of the newer rivals. Another win is the power delivery which stills comes all the way till you hit the red line.
When it comes to power we have the Nissan VQ 37V it is the same 3.7 liter naturally aspirated all aluminium v6 that has had used since 2009 that produces 332 horsepower at 7000 RPM and 270 pound feet of torque at 5200 rpm that is down on the NISMO variant which would have been a nice addition but it is certainly more than enough power for you to enjoy yourself. What does carry across from the NISMO are the brakes and my word do they work well the driveshaft components and the SynchroRev Match means synchronized Downshift Rev Matching that mitigates the need to do the heel-toe dance on the pedals and it works beautifully. While “purists” might balk at this electronic assistance, it makes a regular driver focus more of what’s in front rather than what is by your feet.
Of course like anyone I am really excited to see the evolution of the Z car, the new Nissan Proto Z looks great, and it touches on the key aspects of a Z Car, and when we look at this 50th Anniversary special, while it doesn’t have the latest and greatest it is still a great two seater sports car that looks good and most importantly is fun when you get behind the wheel. While you do miss out on modern conveniences that we are generally accustomed to that make driving easier, that is not what a Nissan Z car is known for, when it comes to the Z you think about its simplicity and its spirit and this is where the 50th Anniversary hits home it is an old school sports car and I do think in time this will be looked at as a future classic.