The 2023 Nissan Z is the sort of enthusiast’s sports car that instantly turns heads. It combines a lot of historical subtlety with contemporary elements, giving fans of the Nissan Z something to salivate over. But the new model year from Nissan is as much about the future as it is the past. This is something that Nissan has even included as part of their marketing for the new machine, letting old-time fans know that they haven’t abandoned them to chase ghosts and dreams, just the same as they have enough new content featured in the Nissan Z to lure in potential shoppers looking for a sleek, new sports car.
Nissan talked a big game about the illustrious history of past generations influencing the Z nameplate, and they also briefly discussed how some of those elements influenced specific design language for the new model year. They even gave us a glimpse of some of those influences using a visual infographic timeline, so enthusiasts could see how the previous model years helped shape the newest iteration of the popular nameplate. And that’s the beauty of pieces like this, where we can deep dive into the history of the Z and outline how the past helped influence the future in a fairly significant way.
First-Generation 240Z Front Nose
Maybe you saw it, or maybe you didn’t, but the front nose of the first-generation Datsun 240Z is probably the most standout feature of the 2023 Nissan Z when you first see it. For some people, it might be hard to spot due to the concave headlights of the 240Z and the large metal bumper that obstructed the grille on the front fascia. However, I assure you that there is a strong similarity there between the 2023 Z and the 1969 Z.
In fact, if you take the original model, remove the bumper, and flatten the headlights into a marquise shape, you can see the startling similarities between the new model and the original Z. In fact, even the newer generation headlights are still a call back with their half-circle LED designs. The main difference is that the hood isn’t as long, and the air dam helps add that modern twist to the new outing. It’s not all just a retread of past design influences, though.
You’ll note that the new 2023 Nissan Z adds some unique twists to the hood coming off the nose, with a crease in the center of the hood passing through the Nissan logo and up to a flat trillion-shaped surface in the center. The design is both an homage and an improvement over the original 240Z hood, but with added curvature on the sides to make it more appealing to present-day drivers.
Fourth-Generation 300ZX Tail Lights
The engineers at Nissan bounced around to different generations to find inspiration for the 2023 Nissan Z. It wasn’t just that they decided to take everything from one generation and update it for the current one. You might notice that the front fascia may be reminiscent of the original 240Z, but the rear is chiefly based on the fourth-generation 300ZX. It’s quite apparent once you get a glimpse of the two and make the comparison.
The second and third-generation 280ZX and 300ZX had separated taillights with the license plate in between. The rectangular blocks of lights took up the majority of the rear fascia just above the equally square bumper. The build was very similar to the 1985 Camaro Z28 and other sports cars of the era. The fourth-generation 300ZX took a decidedly different approach from its past iterations and nearest segment rivals. The taillights and fascia were connected in a continuous panel, creating a very streamlined look.
That same streamlined look is what the 2023 Nissan Z goes for, with a simple-looking break between the bumper and the hatch spoiler. This clean body language without any separation or isolated pieces within the rear tail light panel creates a flush look that accentuates the fluid lines of the 2023 Z. The simplified nature of the rear fascia doesn’t necessitate that the rear is bare-bones, though. There are a lot of understated stylistic choices implemented into the Z, such as the subtle rear diffuser, the etched notches within the inner rings of the dual exhaust pipes, and the trunk lever located within the actual Nissan logo. It’s all so seamless, perfectly combining the past and the present with a very high level of refinement.
First and Sixth Generation Lines
The silhouette of a vehicle isn’t always something we’re quick to think about when it comes to the exterior design, but it’s an extremely important factor for many vehicles, including the 2023 Nissan Z. In fact, you can very readily see how the old meets new with the lines of Nissan’s new performance vehicle. It’s not just some complete redesign of the past or a complete overhaul for the future. It fits in between the generational model years with some nice nods to various designs along the way.
The most obvious influences you can see come both from the first-generation Datsun and the sixth-generation 370Z. The long hood and slightly squared away rear end definitely share a lot in common with the original 240Z, but you can also see how the rounded edges, low profile, and wide stance are a call back to the 370Z. It’s that perfect marriage between two vastly different eras.
The look of the 2023 Nissan Z is such a perfectly sculpted representation of the past and present, the old and the new, the historical and the futuristic. The proportions are just right to give the new Z that sleek silhouette of the classic 240Z and 300ZX while also maintaining the more compact elements of the extremely popular 370Z. The silhouette for the 2023 Nissan Z is probably the best the Z has ever looked, and it’s hard to argue against the mouthwatering lines of the redesigned sports coupe.
An All-New Generation With All-New Styling
Even though there are a lot of callbacks to previous generations and references to the foundations on which the nameplate was built, there are still a lot of brand new elements to the 2023 Nissan Z that help distinguish it as an all-new generation. The air dams in the front and back, along with the marquise headlights, are decidedly new features for the Z. There’s also the large 19-inch wheels with the special edition bronze-colored aluminum alloy wheels and signature yellow calipers. Those are all new for the Z.
Another element that it adds that’s entirely new is the two-tone color scheme. The glossy Super Black roof offsets the solid body color, which makes this iteration of the Z something unique all its own. It’s rather obvious that it’s Nissan’s way of separating the 2023 model year from past generations. And that’s not even getting into the actual interior and performance, all of which have also been souped up for modern drivers.
If you’ve been a fan of the Fairlady and all of its subsequent generations leading up to the present day, the 2023 Nissan Z is probably already at the top of your shopping list. But even if you haven’t been a fan of the past iterations of the Z, it’s hard to ignore the presence that the new model projects with its stance and style. It’s very reminiscent of the way Ford approached the Mustang’s overhaul in 2005 or how Chevy handled the Camaro’s 2010 revitalization, borrowing a lot from the classic years while introducing something completely new. But what do you think of the new 2023 Nissan Z and its mixture of past meets present?