What Does 350Z Mean?

The 350Z is one of Nissan’s most popular sports cars of all time, and is increasingly viewed as a bona fide ‘modern classic’. 

Loved by many for its combination of muscular-yet-retro looks, strong V6 engine and great driving dynamics, it has been an enduringly popular choice of sports car since its launch (if you would like to learn more about the origins and history of the 350Z, then read our Nissan 350Z buyers guide and model history here).

But what does the name 350Z actually mean?

Nissan has historically named many cars using “proper” names e.g. Skyline, Pulsar, Safari etc (although they do also have a track record here with other number/letter names e.g. 300ZX and 180SX). In the Japanese Domestic Market, the 350Z was actually sold as the Fairlady Z. You can learn more about the origins and meaning of the Fairlady name here. However, many of us know it as the 350Z.

In this short edition of Car Facts we explore the meaning of the 350Z name.

Breaking Down The Name

The 350Z name consists of two key components: 350 and Z.

The 350 is a reference to the car’s engine displacement, which is a 3.5 litre V6.

You could argue in that case that the car should either be called the 35Z, or maybe the 3500Z if CCs are used. However, we all know that threes sound nice (350Z has a much nicer sound to it than the alternatives) and it is also in-keeping with some of Nissan’s historical naming conventions, e.g. the 300ZX that has a 3 litre V6, or the 180SX that could be purchased with a 1.8 litre engine.

In this vein, the 370Z name conveys the fact that Nissan chose to upgrade the engine displacement for the 350Z’s replacement to 3.7 litres. You might like to read our Nissan 370Z buyer’s guide and model history for more information.

In fact, all of the various Z-Cars from Nissan’s lineup have used a three digit number as reference to the engine displacement; at least in export markets. For example the 280ZX had a 2.8 litre engine. The only exception is the upcoming 400Z, which breaks with tradition by having a 3.0 V6 that produces 400hp (hence the 400).

In the Japanese Domestic Market the current Nissan Z-Car is always sold as the Fairlady Z. Learn more here about the origins of the Fairlady name.

But what about the Z?

This is in reference to Nissan’s long line of Z-Cars.

Long story short, the Z-Car name refers to a single line of sports cars that has been produced since the late 1960s (there have been six generations so far, with a seventh to be heralded by the arrival of the Nissan 400Z). We have an older article on the origins and meaning of the Z-Car name, which you might like to read here.

Any car that forms part of the Z-Car lineage gets a “Z” tacked on the end of the name (although the 280ZX and 300ZX also got the X, which was intended to refer to the additional luxury and comfort features included on those cars).


The Nissan 350Z name is a simple combination of the traditional three digit reference to the car’s engine displacement, plus the Z to indicate it is part of the Z-Car family.

This tradition continues with the latest, upcoming instalment in the Z-Car family – the 400Z. However, the difference here is that the “400” does not refer to engine displacement (which will be 3.0 – engine technology and emission requirements have moved on) but instead refers to the approximate number of horsepower that the car produces.

If you’d like to learn more about the Nissan 350Z, then read our 350Z buyer’s guide and model history here. This will help you to find, inspect and buy the best possible example of the 350Z for your budget.

Feel free to leave a comment below if you require any clarification, or have any questions or concerns.


  • Sam

    Sam focuses mainly on researching and writing the growing database of Car Facts articles on Garage Dreams, as well as creating interesting list content. He is particularly enthusiastic about JDM cars, although has also owned numerous European vehicles in the past. Currently drives a 3rd generation Suzuki Swift Sport, and a Volkswagen Touareg (mainly kept for taking his border collie out to the hills to go walking)

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