Predicting the future is notoriously difficult.
Many great minds throughout history have tried, to varying degrees of success.
Even predicting the weather seems challenging enough (if the accuracy of our local forecasts is anything to go by).
While some things are harder to predict than others, one area that is definitely on the more challenging end of the spectrum is predicting whether or not a particular car will become a classic. However, we are embarking on a new series at Garage Dreams where we look at the “classic potential” of cars that we have covered in this site with our buyer’s guides and other articles.
We recently looked at whether or not the Nissan 300ZX will become a classic, and in today’s article we are looking at another member of Nissan’s Z-Car family, the 350Z (also known as the Fairlady Z in some markets – read our article here on the differences between the 350Z and Fairlady Z for more information).
Please note that we cannot offer definitive advice as to whether or not a car will become a classic. Do not sell your house on account of our recommendations and then invest all your money into a fleet of Nissan 350Zs in the hope of riding the current classic car capital gains frenzy.
However, when a number of factors are considered we think there is strong potential for the Nissan 350Z to become a classic and go up in value over time.
Even by today’s standards, the Nissan 350Z is a strong performer.
This is important, as performance cars do have a greater tendency to become classics. It’s hard to think of any performance car built in the past few decades that hasn’t eventually seen an increase in prices after bottoming out thanks to the effects of depreciation.
In a recent article we looked at whether or not the 350Z is a fast car, and with 0-60mph dispatched in anywhere from 5-6 seconds (depending on who you ask, exactly which model you test, and how you test it) nobody in good conscience can claim that the 350Z isn’t a good performer. In that article we compared the 350Z to the Honda Civic Type R; in terms of straight line performance there isn’t much to it. The Type R is what most people would consider to be a strong performer and a fast car, so why wouldn’t you consider the 350Z in the same manner?
Even if we look at Nurburgring lap times (which are a bit of a meme in our view) the 350Z still holds its own well. The new generation Type R debuted with a Nurburgring Time of around 7 minutes 45 seconds, whereas the 350Z managed 8 minutes 26 seconds. While that is a substantial difference when measuring from the perspective of pure motorsport performance – where every millisecond counts – for the average buyer and driver the 350Z still puts in a good showing. Would you really notice that kind of difference on a day-to-day basis when driving to the conditions and rules of the road? Probably not!
In fact, when compared to cars from the same era it really was rather impressive. For example, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VII managed 8 minutes 25 seconds, so the 350Z was only a second slower than an AWD performance monster!
While the more modern crop of sports cars – and even hatchbacks and station wagons – have surpassed the levels of performance that the 350Z can attain (at least without modification) it is still a powerful car with great acceleration, a commendable top speed and sound handling characteristics, although it can be a challenge to inexperienced drivers and in inclement weather conditions, leading to the 350Z being one of the most statistically-dangerous cars on American roads.
It’s no great secret that stylish and attractive cars (or visually quirky ones) tend to have a higher chance of becoming classics.
While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and it is a subjective topic, we believe that the Nissan 350Z is a good looking car.
It has somewhat “art deco” lines, and is an instantly-recognisable sight on the roads, especially from the rear.
It is a purposeful, muscular design that looks as good as it did the day it rolled off the production line, if not better. We feel the 350Z’s styling is superior to that of the 370Z as well.
The 350Z manages to pay homage to the designs of bygone Z-Cars, but retains its own unique character and personality.
In our view, the attractive and timeless styling of the 350Z will help it to become a classic one day.
Another factor we reckon is worth considering when it comes to assessing the future classic potential of a car is how much of a loyal fan base/following it has.
The more passionate the fan base, the more likely the car is to become a classic as there will be a die-hard cohort of enthusiasts.
On this front the Nissan 350Z scores well. There are many great enthusiast websites and other groups (both online and offline) in many countries.
Some of the best examples we could find include:
- My 350Z Forum – https://my350z.com/
- UK 350Z Forum – https://www.350z-uk.com/
- 350Z Club – https://www.350zclub.org/
This doesn’t even include general Nissan enthusiast websites and clubs. Depending on where you live, there is a high chance you might find a local owners club or meet-up. Cars with this kind of following tend to be more likely to become classics.
Long story short, the 350Z has a bit of a cult following that will help its potential to become a future, bona fide classic.
The other thing to bear in mind with the 350Z is that it is another instalment in Nissan’s cherished Z-family of sports cars (read our article here on the history of the Z-car line and name, and what it actually stands for). We can’t think of a single previous Z car that isn’t a desirable classic in its own right – some worth more than others – and although the old investing adage is that past performance is no guarantee of future performance, there is a solid “pedigree” with the Z-car name. It’s a bit like how every Ford with an RS badge tends to become a classic to some degree or another; the Z-Car name will do the same with the 350Z.
This helps to contribute to the likelihood that the Nissan 350Z will become a classic.
While this is very much an esoteric measure (as is everything else in this article to be honest) we strongly believe that the 350Z is overall a highly desirable motor car.
This is especially the case in a world where finding “pure” sports cars with simple, powerful naturally-aspirated engines, rear-wheel drive and manual gearboxes is becoming harder and harder. It is unlikely that many cars like the 350Z will be produced in the near future, let alone long term.
In some respects, it represents (along with the 370Z that superseded it) the “end of an era”.
As we covered in a recent article on the pros and cons of buying a 350Z versus an Infiniti G35, the 350Z isn’t the best buy in the world from a practical perspective. However, if you want an attractive, competent and exciting sports car with a simple nature (in a good way) then the 350Z is one of the best options on the market today.
This is what helps to make it a very desirable vehicle, and contributes to the likelihood of it becoming a future classic.
Give it a few more years, and a car like the Nissan 350Z that is simple, tactile and “mechanical” will seem even more compelling. While we are excited for what the future holds with regards to car technology and the inevitable march towards electrification, an experience like the Nissan 350Z can afford will soon feel very special indeed, and well worth the price of admission.
Conclusion – Will The Nissan 350Z Become A Classic One Day?
In our view, the 350Z has strong classic potential. In fact, it’s probably arguable that it is a “modern classic” already in its own right, and recent price activity seems to support that notion.
The 350Z ticks a number of boxes that help to determine whether a car is more likely to become regarded as a classic. It is good looking, still offers great performance, and has had a dedicated and loyal following since its launch almost 20 years ago. Age and mileage are now taking their toll in the 350Z fleet, which is another tick in the potential classic box (as rarity is likely to improve the classic potential).
What is good about the 350Z (at the moment) is that it is still relatively affordable and relatively available. Finding a good 300ZX, for example, is substantially more difficult than finding a good 350Z, especially within anything representing a reasonable budget.
With a bit of patience – and armed with the right knowledge and budget – you can probably find a 350Z to suit your needs and have a car with strong future classic potential that is still usable. If we look at cars like the R34 GT-R, they are getting to the point where they are just so expensive that unless you are rather well-heeled, they are out of reach.
Furthermore, even if you could buy a six-figure R34 GT-R, would you actually want to drive it much? (certainly it seems that many of the people who are buying cars like that are treating them as “Garage Queens” and investments to be stored away hopefully for resale down the track at even higher values).
That is what we love so much about the Nissan 350Z. It is a car that “ordinary people” can still buy and enjoy on a daily/weekend-use basis, that is affordable to run and maintain, and which has the potential to climb in value from here. However, because it is still at that accessible point in the market you don’t need to buy one and depend on it going up in value … you can buy and enjoy, and if prices appreciate then that is a nice added bonus.
If you buy a $150k classic and prices do fall, then you might be put into a precarious financial position. If you buy a $10k 350Z and drive it regularly and get enjoyment from it, then even if prices go down you have still enjoyed substantial value!
Will the Nissan 350Z Go Up In Value?
The main reason many are interested in whether a car will become a classic is because they want to see their investment appreciate from a financial perspective.
As we have made clear throughout this article, predicting future price activity for cars is challenging. At the moment, rational buying behaviour seems to have stopped dead in its tracks, as people bid up the price of everything from housing, to lumber, to classic cars. As such, there are “distortions” in the marketplace, and a rising-tide effect in the car market that seems to be lifting all boats. Even mundane commuter cars are going up in price, and dealers cannot source enough stock of new or used cars.
However, this “everything bubble” may not last forever. While it feels like it will never end at the moment, at some point the euphoria and FOMO will have to stop.
Will Nissan 350Z values continue to rise thereafter?
It’s hard to say. However, there are two things working in this car’s favour:
Firstly, as we have covered in this article there is lots to support the argument that the 350Z should become a classic. It is a great performance car with attractive looks, a sound reputation and a loyal fan-base. From that perspective, it ‘ticks the boxes’.
Secondly, because values aren’t crazy inflated like the Japanese hero cars of the 1990s (e.g. the Toyota Supra or Honda NSX) even if the bubble bursts in the short/mid term, chances are you will have been able to pick up a 350Z at a price where you can afford to daily drive it or at least use it regularly, and you won’t have to put too much money into buying one. Basically, prices at the moment are at a point where you can buy a 350Z to drive and enjoy and then any price appreciation is an added bonus, not a requirement to make the purchase stack up!
If you’re looking to buy a 350Z, then it’s important to get a good example.
With prices rising and good examples of the 350Z becoming increasingly difficult to find, you don’t want to wind up with a “dog” that leaves you disappointed.
Make sure you read our Nissan 350Z buyer’s guide for more information on sourcing yourself the best possible 350Z for your budget. We have put together what we think is the most comprehensive and accurate buyer’s guide for this popular car (it also covers the JDM-spec Fairlady Z as well – learn more here about the differences between the 350Z and Fairlady Z if you’re interested).
What do YOU think about the future classic potential of the 350Z? We would love to hear your opinion. Leave us a comment below and get the discussion started. We always welcome any input, whether that is agreement or disagreement!