The 1990s Japanese-sports-car boom was a time we all loved, partly because there was so much cool stuff to choose from: the Nissan 300ZX, the Subaru SVX, the Acura NSX, the Toyota Supra, the Mitsubishi 3000GT, the Mazda RX-7 and even some ancillary models like "Si" versions of Hondas, the Nissan 240SX and the Acura Integra Type-R. These cars also had a few especially weird variations.
One of the weirdest variations was the Nissan 300ZX Convertible, which was sold from 1993 to 1996. The 300ZX Coupe came out for the 1990 model year, and Nissan apparently thought a convertible was so important that it spent three years in development before being released to the buying public — who promptly ignored it.
Admittedly, it wasn’t that surprising that they did it. Although convertible sports cars seem to belong in the higher-end domain today, back in the 1990s most sports cars had convertible variants — including the Mitsubishi 3000GT, a top competitor to the 300ZX, which had a fully retractable power hardtop. But it wasn’t just the 3000GT: The Toyota Supra and the Acura NSX both had removable roof panels, suggesting that many 1990s sports-car buyers wanted to drive around with the wind in their hair.
The weird thing about the 300ZX, though, was the styling. It looked like a normal 300ZX, except there was a massive fixed roll bar beneath the cloth soft top. The roll bar fulfilled several purposes: safety in case of a rollover, anchor points for the seat belts and structural rigidity to mimic the rigid feel of the coupe.
As mentioned, the 300ZX was largely unpopular — partially because of this unusual styling detail, partially because of a general downturn in convertible popularity — and it was canceled along with the rest of the 300ZX lineup after the 1996 model year. Every so often, I see one on the road and I’m mesmerized by the "forgotten" 300ZX.
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