By Steve & Tamami Laser
A trip to Memphis, Tennessee wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Elvis Presley’s Graceland mansion, the National Civil Rights Museum, Sun Studio where Elvis, Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison recorded songs, and of course the mighty Mississippi River. This week Memphis played host to a different kind of Americana – the 2015 International Z® Car Convention.
To celebrate its rich sports car heritage, Nissan North America hit the highway for the 28th Annual International Z Car Convention (ZCon), hosted each year by the Z Car Club Association. Nissan enthusiasts and road warriors joined employees and VIPs for a 220-mile road trip from Nissan headquarters in Franklin to a Beale Street celebration in downtown Memphis.
The festivities began at Nissan’s U.S. headquarters at 1 Nissan Way in Franklin for a casual “cars and coffee” gathering prior to departure through the byways of middle and west Tennessee.
The caravan of Datsun and Nissan models stopped traffic wherever they went including this bridge (for a photo session) on the road to ZCon. The feature car of the drive was the late Yutaka Katayama‘s (“Mr. K”) last U.S. Nissan lease vehicle, a 1974 Datsun 260Z 2+2, customized by the factory with a full-metal, retractable sunroof.
Joining road-tripping Nissan owners on the drive to Memphis were Hiroshi Tamura, Nissan Chief Product Specialist, GT-R, Z® and NISMO, as well as other members of the Nissan Marketing, Social Media, Motorsports, Communications and Product Planning teams. Also along for the ride were former GT Academy U.S. winners (now professional racers) Nick Hammann (2014) and Bryan Heitkotter (2011).
Part of Nissan USA’s Heritage Collection, this 1971 240Z was restored under the ZStore Restoration Project in 1996 and 1997. It was one of 38 restored and was used by Nissan for brochures and marketing. Nissan says it also had plenty of drive time as a very popular press car.
“ZCon is a great opportunity to showcase some of our most exciting vehicles – past and present – and celebrate Nissan’s sports car heritage alongside an outstanding group of enthusiasts,” said Pierre Loing, vice president, Product Planning, Nissan North America, Inc. “With this year’s event so close to Nissan’s North American headquarters, it’s only fitting that we join Nissan fans on a road trip.”
The 2015 International Z® Car Convention ran from July 14-18 and included an all-day car show and an evening awards dinner banquet. It also featured events and activities such as an autocross competition, raffles, driving tours and more.
This beautifully restored Z evokes memories of Brock Racing Enterprises BRE team and its cars driven by the likes of legendary racer John Morton in the 1970s.
Nissan also introduced a new model at the convention with an “amazingly low price.” The highly innovative, completely radical Nissan GT-R LM NISMO racecar didn’t win the race at the recent running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but it did win the hearts of motorsports enthusiasts worldwide for its efforts.
A smaller version made its debut at ZCon. Nissan says the new 1/43rd scale model, available in limited numbers at the yearly meeting of Nissan enthusiasts, is also on sale, with a suggested retail price of $41.00 (USD) at Nissan dealers nationwide.
The scale model carries the solid red livery of the number 23 GT-R LM NISMO driven at Le Mans by Jann Mardenborough, Max Chilton and Olivier Pla. A suspension issue forced its retirement one hour before the end of the race. Another GT-R LM NISMO, number 22, completed the full 24 hours.
While the full-size GT-R LM NISMO adopts a radical front-engine, front-wheel drive layout and special hybrid propulsion system that mates a powerful, super-efficient and compact V6 twin-turbo engine with a mechanical flywheel Energy Recovery System (ERS), the scale model is for display only and includes NISMO box-art and stand.
News source and photos courtesy of Nissan
Story (commentary) © 2015 CarNichiWa.com