Though the Nissan 350Z did not show up on the American market until 2003, the maker's Z line of cars began in 1969. The 350Z took the place of the aging 240Z in the lineup and was met with general praise. Consumers and critics liked that the two-passenger sports car was available as both a two-door coupe and roadster, but the original five trim levels did not differentiate themselves from each other enough for many buyers.
Originally, the Nissan 350Z was only available with one engine level, a 287 horsepower 3.5L V6. A five-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission was offered, and buyers could also pick from either the coupe or roadster versions. It was not until 2005 that Nissan introduced a new engine, a 300 horsepower RevUp 3.5L V6. However, Nissan only provided the one engine selection for buyers, a cause for concern among critics. The 2007 model year brought about a boost of six horsepower, but not much else was changed except for a new hood design with a raised center line.
The Nissan 350Z is used in several different racing competitions and has placed in many prominent races. While the 350Z has won much acclaim on the racetrack, it has also received numerous awards from international media outlets. In 2007, TopSpeed Magazine named the Nissan 350Z the "Japanese Performance Car of the Year", while the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada awarded the sports car with the Best New Design for the 2003 model year. Other awards range from Motorweek's commendation for "Driver's Choice Best Performance Car" in 2003 to "Most Sex Appeal" from Road and Travel Magazine in 2003.
This popular model has been featured in a wide variety of television shows and feature films as well. Television shows that have highlighted the model include the CW's primetime drama "Gilmore Girls", Comedy Central's "Chappelle's Show", Showtime's gruesome series "Dexter", "CSI: Miami", the teen detective hit "Veronica Mars", and "One Tree Hill". The 350Z was even animated on an episode of "American Dad". The 350Z's big screen performances include Christopher Guest's "For Your Consideration".
Rumors are flying that the Nissan 350Z will soon get the addition of a fully-retractable hardtop. Other gossip outlets claim that the 2009 or 2010 model year will bring a complete overhaul including a more powerful engine and exterior makeover. Also being talked about is the possible addition of a new Z line model called the 450Z.