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Nissan Introduces New Z-Car

February 9, 1989

CHICAGO (AP) _ Nissan Motor Corp. on Wednesday introduced the newest in its line of Z- cars, a redesigned 300ZX, aimed at competing with Porsche and other snazzy European sportscars.

Nissan officials said new 300ZX coupe, to be in showrooms in April as a 1990 model, is the fourth-generation of the car originally introduced by Datsun Motor Corp., Nissan’s ancestor, in the fall of 1979 as the 240Z.

″Nissan underwent a complete metamorphosis and the new Z-car was developed,″ Katsuo Yamada, Nissan’s general manager for product development, told a news conference at the Chicago auto show.

″In redesigning the new Z-car, we were determined to return to its standard,″ he said. ″We received complaints from true sports car enthusiasts saying it had become just a sporty-looking luxury car.″

Sales of Z-cars rose annually from the introduction of the 240Z until 1979, when sales of the 280Z reached 71,983 cars. Sales later slipped to about 24,000 last year.

Bob Thomas, vice president and general manager of the Nissan Division of Nissan Motor Corp. in U.S.A., predicted that sales of the 300ZX would total about 3,000 a month, or 36,000 annually.

With the 300ZX, Nissan eliminated all digital instrumentation, replacing it with traditional dials and gauges. The engine was beefed up to a 3.0-liter, V- 6 with 222 horsepower, 17 more than the current 300ZX.

The 1990 version’s overall length is shorter than the ’88′s, while the distance between its wheels has been increased. And the car is narrower, making it appear squattier than its predecessor.

Thomas said the decision to stay with the 300ZX name stemmed from the size of the engine.

″We felt the car would stand on its own,″ he said.

Auto analyst Ron Glantz of Montgomery Securities Inc. in San Francisco said there should be no confusion between the two cars, despite the same name.

″The market they’re going for is one that intimately knows what this car does,″ he said. ″It’s a very sophisticated market.″

Thomas said some of the 300ZX buyers would be Porsche shoppers along with others looking at European ″exotics,″ such as Jaguar and, possibly, Mercedes-Benz. But he guessed that the bulk of 300ZX buyers would come from curent or former Z-car owners.

The coupe is to be introduced in April, with an estimated base price in the middle or high $20,000 range. The 300ZX four-seater is to be introduced in late July or early August and a turbo-charged version will be available in the fall. The price of the four-seater is expected to be slightly more than that for the coupe, and the turbo will cost more than $30,000, Thomas said.

When it was introduced originally, the 240Z carried a base price of $3,526 for a car with a 2.4-liter, in-line six-cylinder engine. It boasted 150 horsepower.

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