Photos: Nissan Z Proto Precursor to New Sports Car

© Nissan North AmericaNissan Z Proto
Nissan builds a wide range of sedans, crossovers and trucks, but the most noteworthy model in the lineup is the legendary Z car. In its current iteration as the 370Z, this iconic sports car celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and what better way to celebrate the past than by providing a glimpse of the future? Today Nissan did that with the Z Proto debut.

© Nissan North AmericaDrive-In Reveal
In a unique drive-in experience that kept attendees at safe distances from one another, hundreds of Nissan Z owners and enthusiasts in North America gathered near Nashville, Tennessee, to watch the debut of the Z Proto from their cars. The event was broadcast on giant video screens from the official reveal at the Nissan Pavilion in Yokohama, Japan.

© Nissan North AmericaNext One Is Coming
“The Z represents the joy of driving in its purest form and has helped shape Nissan’s DNA as a passionate, innovative challenger,” said Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida. “Ever since the first generation, it has captured the hearts of car enthusiasts all over the world. That’s why we’re so excited today to be able to say to them: Yes, the next one is coming!” Uchida enthused.

© Nissan North AmericaClassic Lines
The Z Proto is instantly recognizable as a Z car thanks to its long hood and roofline that flows smoothly from the top of the windshield to the squared-off rear end — much like the silhouette of the first-generation Z. The bright yellow paint is also a tribute to the past; the color was part of a popular paint scheme on the first-generation 240Z.

© Nissan North AmericaPast and Future
“Our designers made countless studies and sketches as we researched each generation and what made them a success,” said Alfonso Albaisa, head of design at Nissan. “Ultimately, we decided the Z Proto should travel between the decades, including the future,” Albaisa noted.

© Nissan North AmericaFront-End Styling
Up front, the squared-off grille of the Z Proto is similar to the current 370Z, while teardrop-shaped LED headlights look much like those on the original 240Z. In a nod to the future, side skirts, a front lip spoiler and rear valence are constructed from carbon fiber. Stylish 19-inch alloy wheels add to the overall look.

© Nissan North AmericaClassic Headlights
“The LED headlights have two half-circles that hark back to the Japan market-only 240ZG of the 70s,” Albaisa explained. “The ZG has clear dome lenses over the headlight buckets, which under light give off two circular reflections over each headlight. We liked that unique characteristic and discovered that it naturally fit with the Z’s identity,” observed Albaisa.

© Nissan North AmericaRear View
At the rear of the Nissan Z Proto, LED taillights take inspiration from the 300ZX, set within a section of black body that spans the rear and wraps around the outer edges of the car. A dual exhaust adds to the sporty nature of the prototype.

© Nissan North AmericaPurposeful Cockpit
The deep-dish steering wheel of the Nissan Z Proto has a retro style while integrating quick-access controls for the driver. A thoroughly modern vehicle, the Z Proto puts a 12.3-inch digital display in front of the driver, making all vital information available at a glance.

© Nissan North AmericaIncorporating Color
Inside the Z Proto, the bright yellow color continues as accenting throughout the cabin, including stitching on the instrument panel and piping on the seats.

© Nissan North AmericaTwin Turbo
Although exact details about the Z Proto’s powertrain have not been released, it will boast an enhanced twin-turbo V6 engine with a 6-speed manual gearbox. Given that the most powerful version of the current Z car produces 350 horsepower, expect the new model to have at least that much.

© Nissan North AmericaDisclaimer
An important disclaimer arrived with this new Nissan prototype’s press materials, stating that the Z Proto is a development study vehicle and does not confirm or reflect production model specifications.

© Nissan North AmericaComing . . . Eventually
“The United States is home to one of the most devoted and enthusiastic Z communities in the world, with nearly 1.35 million total sales over the model’s 50-year history,” said Mike Colleran, senior vice president of Nissan U.S. marketing and sales. “With new models like Sentra and Rogue opening new eyes to our brand, Z Proto is our loudest statement yet that Nissan will continue to bring vehicles that thrill to U.S. showrooms,” Colleran confirmed.

© Nissan North AmericaNissan Z Proto
Sporty interior.

© Nissan North AmericaNissan Z Proto
Proper Z car silhouette

© Nissan North AmericaNissan Z Proto
Nissan sold the original Z car as the Fairlady Z in Japan.

© Nissan North AmericaNissan Z Proto
Sculpted hood

© Nissan North AmericaNissan Z Proto
Z car badging

© Nissan North AmericaNissan Z Proto
A proper sports car

© Nissan North AmericaNissan Z Proto
Familiar taillights and dual exhaust

© Nissan North AmericaNissan Z Proto
Classic grille with modern carbon fiber splitter

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