Back when rock ‘n’ roll George ruled in his Holden 48-215 other lads – and some lasses – motored around in MGAs and Bees, Triumph TRs, Austin Healeys and Sprites with the odd Morgan, Lotus and Jaguar in the mix.
Many of these sporting machines of the 1950s and swinging ‘60s weren’t always as fast or well-bred as touted.
Many were culled from catalogues as Monaros, Falcon coupes and the Chrysler Charger thundered into showrooms.
And it was left to the Japanese to counter with the likes of Toyota’s Celica and Datsun’s 2000.
It was the Japanese, too, who in 1989 paid proper homage to open-topped British classics, such as the Lotus Elan, with the playful Mazda MX-5, now in its fourth generation.
Then there’s the Z car, Nissan’s long-standing answer to the likes of hairy-chested Austin Healeys.
The 240Z coupe appeared in 1969 and was followed by the 260Z, 280Z, 300Z, 350Z and 370Z in 2008. And the Zed’s not dead, not by a long shot.
Now known simply as the Nissan Z coupe, this remains a long-nosed, bob-tailed, real-wheel drive sports car, these days with extra retro styling cues to honour a 50-year heritage.
It’s not, perhaps, a two-seater for picking up grandkids from school, maybe not for practical folk.
But this is a $73,00 car to dream about, nestled in beside the sensible family car, to be wheeled out for weekend trips to the beach or a trot to the top of Mount Glorious for coffee with mates.
This is the car to bring back memories of long drives down quiet roads; one to recall days when cars had some mumble-grumble and, dare it be said, more macho to the soul.
This Z is an old-fashioned concept of sporting machines well-tweaked for the 21st century.
Maybe the low-slung cabin means cutting back on after-dinner choc mints for less-awkward access but the reward is snuggling into a cockpit designed for a driver – comfortable but firm seat, gear stick easy to hand, a full range of instruments plus extras on the dashboard – one to tell how much the turbochargers are helping out.
For up under that low, sleek bonnet is a three litre, twin-turbocharged V6 with 298kW to send to the back wheels (sitting not far behind driver and passenger.)
There’s a six-speed manual or automatic gearbox. The auto comes with steering wheel paddles to shift between ratios, the manual shift is a bold affair, demands respect and recollections of balancing engine revs and the sweet spot where the clutch bites.
The Z goes, steers, handles and rides with superb confidence, brings smiles as the driver drops a gear, turns into a corner and the car squats a tad as it’s powered out. Change on up.
It’s a mighty handsome car for old-fashioned sporting fun, albeit kitted out with all today’s safety and convenience features to enhance .
That’s it. I’m off to buy a Lotto ticket.