The year was 1949. The car was a 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88, the first American “muscle car,” according to Car Digest, and who are we to argue.
What was a muscle car? It was exactly as its name suggests, a lightweight car with a whole lot of muscle, usually a powerful engine capable of taking on all competition in a street drag. They were quite popular in the United States during the 1950s, 1960, and even early 1970s. Then the oil embargo hit, and the new hot words were “economical” and “fuel-efficiency,” and the muscle cars disappeared from the American roads.
Every major American car manufacturer made one, from Ford to Chevy, from Plymouth to Dodge to even AMC, but it wasn’t until 1969 that the Japanese entered the muscle car market, and they called their design, ominously enough, the Z!
The Z was a series of sports cars manufactured by Nissan. The original design was patterned after the Nissan Fairlady Z, sold exclusively in Japan. The Z brand hold the record for the best-selling sports car series with over two million sold to date, excluding the Mustang and Camaro, which fall under a different category.
The first Z to hit America was the 240Z, which featured a 2.4-liter inline-six cylinder engine with twin Hitachi SU-type carburetors that produced 151 horsepower. That may not sound much compared to the 427s that roamed American streets, but the 240Z could pick them up and lay them down against most competition.
The 240 Z was released on October 22, 1969, and was produced until 1974, when the 260Z was released. The 280Z was released in 1975, and in 1978 they introduced the 280ZX, which was a whole other kind of animal, and later the 350Z.
And that was pretty much it for the Japanese entry into the muscle car segment. By the late 70s, the muscle car had gone the way of the dinosaurs, never to be seen again.
Well, that’s not entirely true. The Zs are still on the roadways of the United States. Many collectors are still driving these fine automobiles, and for all of you out there in need of replacement parts for your Nissans, may we suggest All Import Auto Parts? No matter what you need for your Nissan, you can find it at All Import Auto Parts. Why pay more for Nissan replacement parts at an auto parts store when All Import Auto Parts has what you need at discounts as big as 50%?