What do Tennessee, Jack Daniels and the Nissan Z have in common; how about the 23rd Annual International Z Car Convention held right on the front lawn of Nissan's North American headquarters in Franklin, Tennessee? Don't let the 23rd anniversary of this sports car gathering fool you, the Z has been around a lot longer; 40 years to be exact. The Datsun 240Z made its debut at the New York Auto Show in 1969. Under the hood was 2.4 liter, inline six cylinder engine good for 150 hp. Back then, a new Datsun 240Z would have cost you about $3,500.
The weekend of July 31, 2010, all sorts of Z cars dotted the lawn in front of the large Nissan HQ building. There was an autocross and drift exhibit on Friday followed by a car show on Saturday featuring the widest assortment of Nissan/Datsun Z cars we've ever seen. Even a few non-Z cars like the old school Nissan Patrol and Nissan Figaro were parked on the lawn. Nissan also set up factory tours at the Smyrna plant and a road trip out to the Jack Daniels distillery in Lynchburg – samples for passengers only we're betting.
Thankfully, Nissan's racing heritage wasn't forgotten, Paul Newman's Bob Sharp Racing Z was on display as were various other road and rally racing Zs and ZXs. Road-going Zs included the first 240Z imported into the US, a few 1980s Turbo models, more than a handful of 350Zs and several impressive, still awe-inspiring 90s era twin turbo 300ZXs. Over the years, so many great Zs have thrilled US buyers and are such a part of the American automotive experience, the cars hardly seem like imports.
We're not sure we see the Z connection but Nissan took the Z Car Convention as an opportunity to show off the refreshed 2011 Nissan Rogue. Changes include a more sculpted nose with a larger Nissan badge and a classy looking chrome strip that runs down each side from wheel to wheel. New 18-inch wheels are also available on the Krom and SL models and the Rouge gets a 1 mpg boost in fuel economy thanks mainly to low-rolling resistance tires. The Rogue continues to be powered by a 2.5 liter four cylinder engine making 170 hp. The Rogue's Fuel economy has improved by 1 mpg for 2011. Front wheel drive models show a small gain for highway driving while all-wheel drive Rogues see a 1 mpg improvement in city driving. The new EPA estimates are 22/28 mpg City/Highway for Rogue FWD and 22/26 mpg City/Highway for Rogue AWD.