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Byline: Brian Twomey

FOR a company that once built the Cherry, Sunny and Laurel, Nissan have a surprising amount of experience in building cars your Mum and Dad wouldn't approve of.

In the mid-sixities Datsun made the Fairlady which was similar to an MGB only it was fast and it didn't break down.

Although a hit in America it failed to do the business in Europe.

The breakthrough came in 1969 when, looking for a bit of credibility, Datsun launched the 240Z.

Powered by a 2.4 litre straight-six with 151bhp and looking every inch the rakish sports-coupe, the 240Z was a huge hit throughout the world.

An accomplished rally car and often likened to a big Austin Healey, the 240Z was more expensive then the Ford Capri but it was also faster and more sophisticated.

It gave way to the 260Z in 1975. Now with an option of two extra seats the 260Z was an attractive car, similar in style to the 240 but more refined, slower and less exciting.

The Z cars dragged on into the 1980's with the 280ZX. Pop up headlights and removeable roof panles couldn't disguise the lack of excitement so Nissan, as Datsun had now become, got the finger out and turned 1989 into a classic year with both the 300ZX and the mighty Skyline.

The Skyline appealed to those who regularly took to the track and with big power in a high tech, user friendly, chassis.

The 3.0 litre twin-turbo 300ZX offered 300bhp in a car that looked like it was worth swapping a Porsche 911 for.

The Skyline had HICAS four wheel steering and a complex, multi-link suspension which gave it towering road manners. Many mourned its premature departure from these shores.

In 1994 the 300ZX was dropped after failing to meet EU emissions regulations.

In the US (which also got a nice convertible version) and elsewhere it lived on until 1996. The 350Z is Nissan's latest addition to the line of famed Z cars.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 19, 2004
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