The spirit of that pioneering 'Z' lives on in the latest Nissan 370Z. Like the 240Z, the 370Z - launched in 2009 - is powered by a six-cylinder engine and provides genuine excitement thanks to its performance oriented rear-wheel drive chassis. Like its forebear, its name indicates the size of engine under the bonnet: the original had 2.4-litres while the 370's V6 power pack displaces 3.7-litres.
The Nissan 370Z GT Edition offers more for less. As well as 19inch RAYS forged alloy wheels in place of 18inch wheels, special body colours and unique GT stripes, the GT Edition actually costs less than the standard car.
As the name implies, the GT Edition highlights Nissan's presence in GT racing on the world stage. As well as its continuing commitment to Super GT in Japan, Nissan has been one of the leading lights in the new GT1 World Championship, winning the prestigious Tourist Trophy in 2010 with the fearsome GT-R. The Nissan Z family has been a race winner in the FIA GT4 European Cup since its inception and competes annually in various 24 hour races - the highlight being the Nürburgring 24 hours.
The Nissan 370Z GT4 Cup race car has raced toe to toe against competition from Aston Martin, Porsche and BMW across Europe in the real world while it is also the racing gamers' vehicle of choice in the virtual world.
An innovative link with Gran Turismo 5 game for PlayStation® 3 has seen cyber racers compete against each other to win a drive in a real 370Z GT4 cup car. The 2011 GT Academy series is about to start with on-line gamers ready to swap the virtual world for the real thing.
The best will become part of the Nissan GT Academy, a motor racing ladder that could take top drivers from local series through the European Blancpain Endurance series right the way to international GT1 World Championship.
The Nissan 370Z GT Edition recognises its heritage with a nod to the 1970s and the birth of the original Z car: special side stripes.
Grey 'GT' stripes running along the flanks of the car contrast with the each of the special edition's three body colours - metallic black, pearl white and Black Rose, the latter shade exclusive to GT Edition. The exterior is set off by the standard 19inch RAYS forged alloy wheels, which are finished in a dramatic anthracite colour.
The Nissan 370Z GT Edition introduces a number of significant suspension and equipment improvements which have also been adopted by the standard Coupé. In deference to the higher average speeds routinely enjoyed in Europe, the changes have been engineered by technicians from Nissan Technical Centre Europe (NTCE). The principal modification has been to retune the dampers to provide the ideal balance between ride comfort and high-speed handling.
Equipment changes include the arrival of a rear view parking camera as part of the Nissan Premium Connect satellite navigation option and the standard fitment of a tyre pressure monitoring system. The advanced seven-speed automatic option now has a snow mode which, when applied, sets the car off in second gear and controls engine revs to prevent wheel spin on ice or snow. Refinement is enhanced by revisions to underbody insulation to reduce road noise.
Unchanged is the Nissan 370Z's exceptional 3.7-litre V6 engine. A development of the unit that powered the 350Z, the all-alloy 24-valve twin cam not only develops more power and torque but is also more response, more refined and more fuel efficient.
The addition of VVEL (Variable Valve Event and Lift) technology helps deliver electrifying performance, the engine developing 328PS and an impressive 363Nm of torque. It is coupled to a short throw six-speed sports manual gearbox or a seven-speed automatic.
Sensors on the clutch and on the gear lever itself monitor driver actions to blip the throttle on down shifts and maintain constant engine revs when changing up. As the sensors detect clutch pedal movement, the SRC system is primed, coming into operation when the gear lever is moved. By matching this information to vehicle speed, SRC knows whether the driver is slowing for a corner or changing up through the 'box.
The Nissan 370Z's chassis is a car enthusiast's dream: double wishbone front suspension and a multi-link rear end makes the most of Nissan's agile FM (Front Midships) rear-drive platform.
With a shorter wheelbase, wider track and stiffer shell than its predecessor, the Nissan 370Z has starred on track as well as on road. The innovative GT Academy programme takes computer gamers who have become Gran Turismo experts on PlayStation 3 and turns them into real race drivers. Now in its third season, winners will again race for a place on the grid in a GT4 race prepared Nissan 370Z at the Dubai 24 hours in January 2012 and, perhaps, on to the GT pinnacle, GT1.