IF IT HAPPENED THIS MONTH, IT’S IN HERE
New Z-car? Yes please. Plus the latest at the Fox Car Collection and hotter Ford GTs
downforce over the rear axle.
The Sport variant is fitted with dark-finished 18-inch aluminiumalloy wheels with Yokohama ADVAN Sport rubber, while the Performance sits on 19-inch RAYS forged aluminium-alloy rims with Bridgestone Potenza S007 hoops.
The new Z rides on a 2550mm wheelbase, exactly the same as the outgoing 370Z which suggests that the underpinnings are a straight carryover of the FM platform, the roots of which can be traced back to the 2001 V35-series Skyline.
For many, the styling will be enough to sell them on the idea of the Z. The cab-back silhouette is faithful to its Z-car heritage, with a long bonnet, teardrop glasshouse and a squat rear stance.
The design team was headed up by the irrepressible Alfonso Albaisa, Nissan’s global head of design and a Z-car fanatic. “We found ourselves gravitating towards the sketches that touched the high points of certain decades while remaining true to our vision of the future,” said Albaisa. “Ultimately, we created a Z that travels between the decades while being completely modern.”
While not all of the car is what we’d describe as completely modern, maybe that’s not such a bad thing where the Z-car’s niche is concerned. The bluff front end of the car retains the twin semi-circle LED lighting from the show car, which gives it a distinctive rear-view-mirror presence, that particular design cue coming from the Japanese market-only 240ZG longnose, while at the rear, the capsule graphic of the later Z32 300Z is reprised in 3D-effect LEDs, a shape also featured in the front grille.
Perhaps the most striking connection to the 240Z is in profile, where the roofline descends from the top of the windscreen, eventually meeting at the trailing edge of a belt line that’s lower than the front wheelarches. The clever use of a chrome detail strip also gives the visual effect that the Z’s rear pillars are a good deal more delicate than they actually are.
Inside, the cabin has come on a long way from the 370Z with a clean centre stack, three analogue pod gauges on the dash, an 8.0-inch touchscreen audio display in the centre and climate control switches behind the shifter.
Nissan Super GT500 driver Tsugio Matsuda was employed to offer feedback on driver information settings for the 12.3inch customisable digital meter. This can be shuttled through Normal, Enhanced and Sport settings, the latter prioritising the tacho and shift light, while also offering a boost gauge or G meter.
Nissan aimed for a ‘vintage aesthetic’ with the deeply dished steering wheel, while suede in the backs of the bolstered sports seats will help keep the driver in position while exploiting cornering forces, which are claimed to be 13 per cent higher than the 370Z.
Nissan hasn’t overlooked convenience features in its quest for dynamics. The Z offers refinements such as a push-button start, adaptive cruise, rear-view monitor, Type A and Type C USBs, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and front and rear parking sensors. The Performance model adds a 9.0-inch touchscreen with navigation and – in some markets – a Wi-Fi hotspot. It also receives an eight-speaker Bose stereo with active noise cancellation.
The US market is being treated to a 240-car (get it?) run of the One special edition, celebrating the distinctive Z Proto. Here in Australia we’ll get our first look of the Z next year. While exact trim levels and pricing have yet to be finalised, it looks certain to give the sub-$100k coupe market a good shake.
YOU MAY NOT know Gregor Piech. Born in 1994, he’s the youngest of Ferdinand Piech’s eight children. Yes, that is the late Ferdinand Piech who used to run Volkswagen. Gregor’s great grandfather was Ferdinand Porsche so he’s a proper Porsche blue-blood.
Blue is a bit of a theme within Porsche. Ferdinand Piech’s 1967 development version of the 911 R was finished in Scarab Blue and he professed that blue was his favourite colour for cars. For Gregor’s 19th birthday, his father bought him a Breitling wristwatch, with a silver-blue dial and a blue leather strap.
The next birthday gift was even more special. Realising that it was 50 years since Ferdinand Piech had worked on the original 911 R, Gregor’s mother Ursula decided that her son’s Skoda Citigo wasn’t really up to snuff and bought him a Porsche 911 R. That’s right, the 991 version that’s worth more than the GDP of some African nations. Gregor’s specification for it was exacting.
Finished in metallic Sapphire Blue, the car was decorated with British Racing Green stripe details, a subtle hat tip to Ferdinand’s acquisition of Bentley for the Volkswagen Group. The interior was finished in a special Black Watch Tartan, framed with royal blue leather and Noto green
accents, continued across the dash and door panels. It was also fitted with custom ‘One of One’ illuminated sill finishers to greet you when you opened the door.
There’s no doubt the car is utterly beautiful. Young Gregor must have been beguiled by the effect because he then did something slightly berserk, but in a good way. He decided he wanted every one of the most desirable versions of the 991-generation 911 finished in exactly this specification.
So, aside from the 2017 911 R that got the whole thing started, Gregor also took delivery of a 2018 911 GT3 Touring, a 2018 911 GT3 RS, a 2018 911 GT2 RS, a 2018 911 Targa 4 GTS, a 2019 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series, a 2019 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series Cabriolet and a 2020 911 Speedster. This would have made one heck of a garage, if a little lacking in bandwidth. To rectify that, Gregor added a couple more Sapphire Blues to the mix.
First up was a 2020 935 Flatnose. These are rare at the best of times, with only 77 being built. Four have come to Australia, with three of them housed at Fox HQ. The naked carbon car is quite something, but the highlight is the Sapphire Blue one-of-one. That was followed by a 918 Spyder.
Despite wearing issue number 135 of 918 vehicles, the Spyder was the last vehicle to be delivered, leaving the factory in 2020. We’re not quite sure how this happened, but if you’re a Piech, it’s reasonable to assume you can pull some strings. This car features Sapphire Blue laser cut rims spokes and matching brake calipers.
All of these cars now live in Melbourne. Lindsay Fox has acquired the collection, lock, stock and barrel from the Porsche family and they’re the highlight of the newly-renovated Fox Classic Car Collection.
We’re not sure why Gregor divested himself of these cars, but his loss is your gain. The recently reopened Fox Classic Car Collection features an entire upper floor devoted to Porsche, with pride of place going to the jaw-dropping Sapphire Blue collection.
If you’d previously tried to visit the Fox collection and found the opening hours to be a bit idiosyncratic, you’ll be pleased to learn that the hours are being extended, the building open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
Because exhibits are rotated in and out to keep the museum display fresh, it’s fair to assume the Sapphire Blue collection won’t be on display forever. It’s worth getting along to, if only to marvel at one man’s temporary bout of monomania.
Just try picking a favourite. It’s surprisingly hard.