Whenever the word ‘Z-Car’ is mentioned, the first thing most gearheads think of is the Nissan Z models, which has been in production since the late ’60s and has spawned many fantastic cars. Nissan Z-cars are adored worldwide for their fantastic designs, power, reliability, affordability, and the fact that they are some of the best project cars you can buy.
However, Nissan isn’t the only manufacturer with Z models, BMW also has a Z-car range that’s been in production since 1989. BMW has made several awesome Z-cars, but they’re not really as iconic as the Nissan Z-cars. Let’s explore five decent BMW Z cars versus five Nissan Z cars we’d rather buy.
10 Awesome BMW Z Car: Z8
When the Z8 debuted in the early 2000s, every gearhead was in awe. The Z8 is definitely one of the most beautiful European convertibles ever, which isn’t a surprise since its design was inspired by the 1950s 507.
The Z8 wasn’t just beautiful – it had the power to match, thanks to a 4.9-liter V8 rated at 395 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. Despite all its positive features, the Z8 was criticized for being too expensive and being terrible to drive due to chronic understeer and a soft suspension.
9 Nissan Z Car We’d Rather Own: 240Z
If beauty is what you’re after, look no further than the awe-inspiring 240Z – the first Nissan Z-Car. The 240Z debuted in the ’60s and instantly wowed gearheads with its style. To date, the 240Z is still considered as one of the most beautiful Japanese cars.
Powering the 240Z was a 2.4-liter six-cylinder generating 151 hp, enough to give it decent performance. While this is a lot less than you get in the BMW Z8, we prefer the 240Z since it’s more iconic and reliable. The 240Z also makes a great project car since it’s fairly affordable and parts are readily available.
8 Awesome BMW Z Car: Z1
In the late ’80s, BMW introduced the first model in its Z car lineup – the Z1. The Z1 was originally developed as a concept car to test new technologies, but a considerable demand forced the automaker to put it into limited production.
The Z1 had several interesting features, but the one that impresses us to date is its doors – or lack thereof. Instead of the traditional outward-swinging doors, the Z1 had vertically sliding doors that dropped into the door sills to allow entry.
7 Nissan Z Car We’d Rather Own: 400Z
In 2018, rumors started circulating that Nissan was working on a new car to replace the aging 370Z. Two years later, the rumors were confirmed when Nissan’s official YouTube channel uploaded a short video showing its updated car lineup, including a new Z-car.
Dubbed the 400Z, the new Z-car looks largely similar to the 370Z, but has several design tweaks to make it look more futuristic. According to Nissan, the 400Z will be powered by a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 producing up to 400 hp. We can’t wait to drive this beast when it finally hits the dealership floors next year.
6 Awesome BMW Z Car: Z3
In the ’90s, BMW needed a new cheap sports car to compete with the growing number of cheap Japanese sports cars. After half a decade of development, BMW introduced the Z3 in 1995.
The Z3 was available in coupe and roadster body styles. However, most gearheads prefer the roadster as the coupe was ugly, especially that side profile that looked like a clown shoe. The Z3 was powered by various four- and six-cylinder engines, with the best producing up to 228 hp.
5 Nissan Z Car We’d Rather Own: 300ZX
The 300ZX impressed gearheads when it debuted in 1983. It still had a great design, affordable price, excellent driving dynamics, and, unlike other Z cars built before it, it came equipped with a V6.
The 300ZX was produced in two generations, each with a different design. Our favorite is the Z32, which was introduced in 1985. The Z32 was powered by a 3.0-liter V6 engine cranking out 222 hp, making it a blast to drive.
4 Awesome BMW Z Car: Z4 (G29)
The G29 is the current generation of the Z4 and, in our opinion, the best. The first thing we love about the G29 is its design. Inspired by the Z8, the G29 is a thing of beauty and only comes in roadster form.
The G29 was developed out of a partnership between BMW and Toyota and used the same sports car architecture as the fifth-generation Toyota Supra. It’s powered by a 2.0-liter turbo-four producing 255 horses and 295 lb-ft of torque, giving it a 0-60 of just over 5 seconds.
3 Nissan Z Car We’d Rather Own: 370Z
After the huge success of the 350Z, Nissan followed it up with the 370Z. Looking at the 370Z, it’s hard to tell that it was a new car as it looked almost exactly like the 350Z.
The 370Z is also powered by an evolution of the 350Z’s engine – a 3.7-liter VQ37VHR V6 producing up to 350 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque. A 0-60 of 5.1 seconds is not fast by modern sports car standards, but the 370Z is still the fastest Nissan Z Car ever.
2 Awesome BMW Z Car: Z4 (E85)
After the success of the first mass-produced Z-car – the Z3 – BMW went back to the drawing board and developed the Z4 as its successor. The first-generation Z4 was unveiled at the 2002 Paris Motor Show, and just like its predecessor, it was available in coupe and roadster body styles.
The most powerful first-generation Z4 had a 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine under the hood producing 261 hp and 232 lb-ft of torque, giving it a 0-60 of 5.6 seconds.
1 Nissan Z Car We’d Rather Own: 350Z
The 350Z caused a huge wave of excitement across the auto industry when it was introduced in the early 2000s. The biggest difference between the 350Z and its predecessor – the 300ZX – was in the design department. The 350Z looked completely different from the 300ZX.
The 350Z was equipped with a masterpiece of an engine – a 3.5-liter V6 producing 306 ponies and 268 lb-ft of torque. The 350Z has earned a cult following over the years thanks to its peppy engine, ease of modification, and overall character.
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