Celebrating The California Z Car Culture
A message from one of the organizers
This past summer, Group Z Sports Car Club (widely known as Group Z), hosted the 36th Annual International Z Car Convention.
By Guest Author: Jeff Agner
Sat, Oct 28, 2023 10:32 PM PST
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ZCon 2023 - Los Angeles
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This was the first time in almost a decade that this yearly pilgrimage for Z Car owners and enthusiasts brought the celebration west of the Rocky Mountains and the first time in nearly 20 years that the Los Angeles area played host to the event. Back then, Nissan North America’s headquarters were still located in Southern California and a freshly minted Z car, the 350z, was re-invigorating the Z Car legacy. The depiction of the Datsun (then Nissan) Headquarters building on the ZCON 2023 convention poster and related artwork is one of the many homages to the Z Car’s roots in Southern California.
Group Z’s roots in Southern California go almost as deep. The world’s oldest active Z Car club, Group Z was founded in 1970 as the Datsun 240z first landed on US soil and was incorporated as a non-profit/mutual-benefit organization the following year. Since that time, Group Z has been a steady presence in the Southern California car community. This consistency is largely due to the alliances that Group Z has formed with other Datsun, Nissan and Z-Car-specific clubs and organizations in Southern California. On any given weekend, you can find Group Z members supporting some automobile-related activity in the southland. For over three years, on the first Sunday of every month, Group Z members and friends have conducted the Cars and Coffee Classics morning car show in Anaheim, California. While this event specifically celebrates vehicles of Japanese origin, all makes are welcome a different marque is showcased each month. This event is family-friendly and has grown to become one of the premier monthly car events in Southern California.
Later each month, another popular car community affair, State of Speed, Los Angeles, is organized to gather automotive enthusiasts of both domestic and import persuasion. This event is held at the former Datsun/Nissan headquarters (now the home of TireCo/Milestar Tires) which provides a huge gathering area and a storied (and storeyed) backdrop.
Aside from these and many other weekend events, Group Z holds their monthly board meeting and member meet-up the second Thursday of each month. This provides a forum to communicate club information and to plan activities. This is also where the planning work started for ZCON 2023 which was based out of the DoubleTree Hotel in Ontario, California from July 31st-August 5th 2023.
Each year, a different Z Car club in a different US State or Canadian Province plans and executes the week-long Z Car Convention. In early 2022, the Group Z board, led by PreZ, Jeff Agner joined forces with the national (Ohio-based) Z Car Club Association (ZCCA) team, directed by Chris Karl. For an event of this magnitude, which featured multiple car shows, numerous motorsports events at multiple racetracks, and various social and informational events at different venues spanning 4 different Southern California counties, an 18-month planning window is absolutely necessary. Fortunately, over the last 36 years, the ZCCA team has developed a comprehensive playbook to organize ZCON planning activities and their support of the local club is critical to the success of the convention.
Even with Group Z’s dedicated active member body and the expert support of the national team, more able hands were still needed, so Group Z reached out to many of its California-based sister clubs to join the fun. Mike Rocha and Empire Z, Linda Williams and Z Owners of Northern California (ZONC), Mike Montag and Z Club of San Diego (ZCSD), Mike Rivers and Z Car Club of Inland Valley (ZCCIV), David Johe and West Coast Datsun, Oscar Arias and Zociety, and Tony Anaya and SoCalZ.net all chipped-in, lending their time, membership and industry connections to support the ZCON cause. ZCON 2023 brought organized car clubs, special guests, dedicated sponsors/vendors, and individual enthusiasts together for an action-packed week in celebration of the Z Car. Nissan North America also gave their support for the convention and the community and used the ZCON festivities to conduct public reveal of the 2023 Nissan Z Nismo.
As with most large-scale events, ZCON 2023 was not without its challenges. The convention welcomed attendees from across the country, including Canada, South America, Europe and Japan with some uniquely California fun: a flash midsummer rainstorm, a nearby ash-flinging forest fire, a midnight power outage, rush hour freeway traffic, triple-digit temperatures, along with some of the highest retail prices in the country. The ZCON team worked hard to mitigate these challenges and provide the most enjoyable experience possible.
ZCON is the largest gathering of Z Cars and Nissan/Datsun/Infiniti enthusiasts in the country and Group Z was honored to host it this year. In Japanese, the number 23 is pronounced “Ni-San”, which is uniquely significant to the Nissan brand of vehicles and, with the release of the 2023 Nissan Z (and the reveal of the 2024 Nissan Z Nismo), it was a great time to be part of the international Z Car community and Southern California was the perfect place to celebrate.
About The Author
Jeff Agner is a Los Angeles native and automotive enthusiast. He is the President of Group Z Sports Car Club and was the Chair of the 2023 International Z Car Convention. Jeff is active in the Los Angeles car community as he supports many of the monthly meets such as the Anaheim Cars and Coffee Classics and Los Angeles State of Speed meets, annual shows such as the Japanese Classic Car Show and the Purist Group Winter Drive, and administers numerous online automotive forums and Facebook Groups.
About The Author