LIVE LONG, NISSAN Z
This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Tue, Aug 9, 2011
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
Some 40 plus years ago, there was a Twilight Zone episode (Long Live Walter Jameson) with Kevin McCarthy as the soul that never aged, even as those around him did. 40 plus years after the first Z, the Nissan sports car is as youthful as ever. Alas, the same can’t be said of our Editor-at-Large, as he takes the wheel of the latest version of the Z—the 370Z Roadster Touring. By Zoran Segina Dear Mr. Ghosn: I am writing to you not as a car reviewer to a president of a car company, but as one middle-aged guy to another. Recently, your staff in California gave me a 2011 Nissan 370Z Roadster with an optional Touring package and a six-speed manual transmission to drive and review. You and I are about the same age. Although I do exercise regularly, my body bears the witness of the fun I had over the years. So, it is not surprising that my ankle, nay, the entire left leg hurts from pressing a clutch pedal that is stiffer than I was on my first driving lesson. My right shoulder aches from working the six-speed manual transmission.
The beautiful burgundy bucket seats are either two sizes too narrow, or I am fifteen pounds overweight (it is likely the latter). After a daily traverse of the pot-holed Los Angeles roads my sacroiliac and other transmission parts are remembering the ride for hours afterwards. Please thank your engineers for the remote start and stop ignition feature, so I don’t have to search for keys. Once they are in my pocket, they shouldn’t be able to periodically de-materialize. Unlike my glasses and other stuff. The blinker indicators need to be larger. Or louder. I cannot see or hear them especially with the top down. I am one of the few who follow the almost forgotten custom here in Los Angeles, namely, to signal when I am changing lanes. Old habits you might say. Thank you for the automatic feature that turns on headlights in the dark. With so many control buttons in the car, my short-term memory is not what it used to be. Where was I? Ah yes, the blinkers and the top down. This is how this car ought to be driven all the time. At least here in Los Angeles. Which brings another point - a large tube of 30 SPF sun block as standard equipment. It is summertime, and I already went through half of my supplies. I left (i.e., forgot) the sun block it in the center compartment for the next guy. At our age skin cancer is no joke.
My stiff shoulder is helped immensely by the 3.7-liter six-cylinder engine with so much low end torque that I can easily up-shift by skipping gears. First, third, fifth. I can crawl in freeway traffic in third or fourth gear with ease. Saves on the joints. Mine, not the Roadster’s. On a hot California day with the top down, the air conditioned seats provide just the kind of relief my sciatica needs. As for impressing the younger crowds with the Roadster, there still exists a problem with ingress and egress. There is undoubtedly a cool way to getting in and out of the car, but so far I haven’t found it. My exit strategy is a sorry sight, akin to dumping a bag of potatoes. The rear view camera helps my stiff neck a great deal because I don’t have to crane when parking. In fact, this Roadster comes equipped with so many accouterments—satellite radio, navigation, car status, road info—that I needed a magnifying glass just to read the list.
On the other hand, I am ready to commit myself to additional anti-inflammatory medications for as long as it takes just to be able to drive this car. For that king-of-the-road feeling any time I get behind the wheel. For shaving ten minutes of my commute in heavy freeway traffic because the 332 horses in the Roadster slice through the traffic at the slightest touch of the gas pedal. In any gear. For the retina-detaching deceleration when the performance brake pads grab the 14-inch disks. For the 19-inch Bridgestones that make the Roadster corner so sharply, as if I were piloting a giant slot car—and also leave my ribs bruising.
For that predatory character of a pure track car, deftly masquerading as a street-legal cabriolet. For the wonderful morning with my pal Ralph who owns a thirty-four year old 280Z with over six hundred thousand original miles. For a mischievous grin on Ralph’s face, after we go for a test drive, and he admits that owning this Roadster with so much power would just get him into trouble. Why don’t I get a different Nissan, perhaps the one more softly sprung, with bigger seats, you ask? Because every time I push that handy outside button to lower the burgundy tonneau, I hum the lyrics from the “Grease.” You remember the song…“You’re the One That I Want, Uh-Uh-Uh…” The Roadster is fifteen years too young for me, but my heart longs for it. The problem is that the rest of my body cannot afford it. Though, I could lose fifteen pounds, increase my daily dose of Advil, and tap into my retirement fund.