Once upon a time in the 1990s, with the 300ZX dead and the Nissan line up looking about as sexy as a hospital gown, the powers that be came to landmark decision: the Z car was going to be revived for the 21st century, and its halo status would help resuscitate the firm's ailing reputation.
Have you seen the first attempt? The 1999 Nissan Z Concept, shown at the North American International Auto Show, was a bit naff. It rode too high, looked too plain, and was fitted with a 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine. A four-cylinder Z car! Perish the thought. Still, in February 2000, then-recently appointed CEO Carlos Ghosn (whatever happened to him, etc) insisted that Nissan pursue a sports car project with the greatest vigour, to turn Nissan’s collective fortunes around. Alright, so the later crossovers would do more for the bottom line, but never underestimate the benefit of having a rear-drive sports car in the showroom.
A couple of years later an updated concept was shown, and the 350Z as we know it was launched in Britain in 2003. It was an instant hit: good looking, fast, great value and decent to drive, it was the ideal sports car for those who found a TT a bit limp and a Monaro just a bit too hairy chested. This is years before the Porsche Cayman, don’t forget. The 350Z left an impression that its successor, the 370Z, never quite lived up to, despite employing a broadly similar template. The 350 was the right car at just the right time for Nissan.
Then, for the 2005 model year, Nissan created a 35th anniversary 350Z, in much the same way it’s doing a 50th anniversary 370 now - to mark the birthday of the original 240Z. Only this one was a little bit different to any special edition Zed created before or since, because it was also available to drive in Gran Turismo 4, which was launched on December 28th, 2004 (belated happy 15th birthday to a brilliant game). As the UK 35th Anniversary cars were sold with a PlayStation 2 and a copy of the game as part of the £2,500 premium that also included another 20hp - now that’s what you call value - the car very quickly became known as the 350Z GT4.
Over here we received 176 cars, either Ultra Yellow or Kuro Black. Unsurprisingly, the car was received well at launch, because it was basically just another 350Z. Only now with 300hp, instead of 280. But this particular GT4, #72 of 176, is especially notable, as it’s covered a paltry 11,000 miles in its 15-year life. As such it’s listed at POA since, well, what is a special edition 350Z with basically a year’s worth of driving on it actually worth? (As a point of reference, the same dealer also has a yellow one available, showing 68,000 miles and with an £8,680 asking price.)
Although it’s hard to imagine the GT4 becoming much more collectible than any other 350Z (unless Kazunori Yamauchi starts buying them all up in an enormous vanity project), the car serves as a welcome reminder of the 350Z’s merits - and just what a huge deal Gran Turismo was. Perhaps it still is, but in the same way that the 350Z was launched at an ideal time, so the GT4 couldn’t have arrived at a better moment for the appreciation of both car and the game. There’s a suspicion, too, that the 350Z’s old-school appeal might be a little more charming than that of a PS2 and Gran Turismo’s 15-year-old graphics, though it would be fun to find out for sure. Wonder if they’ll be able to throw a console in as part of the deal?
SPECIFICATION - NISSAN 350Z GT4
Engine: 3,498cc, V6
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 300@6,400rpm
Torque (lb ft): 260@4,800rpm
First registered: April 2005
Recorded mileage: 11,000
Price new: £29,500
Yours for: £POA