Perhaps more than any other sports car, the Nissan Zs reflected their own era. Few cars are more representative of 1970s sports car design than a 240Z; few are more 80s than a first generation 300ZX; few are earlier than the 350Z. But for the new car, simply named Z, Nissan is back on file. We spoke with Z’s designer about why he went for a retro design.
Immediately there was a catch. Alfonso Albaisa, Nissan’s senior vice president for global design, says the word he uses for this design is not “retro.” It is “memory”.
“We want to wake up people’s memories of the cars they love,” he said. Road & Track. “Because it’s not literal. ‘Retro’ is very specific; it literally wants to feel like a car from another generation. We didn’t really want that. We want to be a car of today, of tomorrow. But we wanted people to do it. to feel these other things. “
His career as a designer was shaped by his first experience seeing the hero 240Z in Miami. Born in this city long before it was the epicenter of consumer culture, Albaisa has not seen many sports cars grow. Once he did, he fell in love. Then, at age 22, he made his first trip to Japan to see the clay model of the upcoming second-generation 300ZX. These memories defined his relationship with the brand.
“So when I had the opportunity as a design manager to do a Z, I needed to capture those two things. I wanted a 240 feeling, but I was so impressed with the minimalism of the 300[…] All [on the new Z] it’s very simple, ”he told us. “There are no weird lines; everything is a straight line. But the car is romantic. “
The car is anchored to these two points in Z’s history as well, from its 240-inspired oval headlights and gaping mouth to smoked 300ZX-style taillights. That was never the strategy of the Z, a car never as obsessed with the past as, say, a Corvette or a Mustang. But at the end of the day, there’s a simple reason Nissan – a company trying to reinvent itself after a tumultuous and unremarkable decade – went in this direction.
“I think it’s really because of the business situation, losing your way,” Albaisa mused. “And when you lose your way, you start to think about your story.”
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