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Although it was long ago, I still remember my college friend’s very cool sports car and the accompanying envy that went along with it.

The Datsun 240Z was owned by Alan Ameche Jr. His father was the 1954 Heisman Trophy winner who scored one of football’s most famous touchdowns, a 1-yard end zone plunge in overtime to give the Baltimore Colts a victory in the 1958 NFL Championship game.

But being a passenger in that sleek sports car was cooler than knowing I was driving around with the son of Alan “The Horse” Ameche.

The memory of those innocent college days came back recently while driving the Nissan 370Z. In case you didn’t know, Datsun became Nissan and the Japanese automaker smartly kept the legacy of the “Z” car going. The Z is now more than four decades old.

The 2013 Nissan 370Z is the type of car you want to drive for no other reason than its fun. Commute to work, short errand to the store, or a day of simply cruising with no true destination in mind – it’s all good in the Z. And with its large, 19-gallon tank and 18-26 mpg, one can seemingly drive all day with no pit stops for gas.

The Nissan 370Z coupe is a classic two-seater with rear-wheel drive, light curb weight (just over 3,000 pounds), and looks stylishly long and sleek. It possesses a very high performing 3.7-liter, V-6 engine with 332 horsepower that produces 270 pound-feet of torque. The base model Z is not all that expensive, with a starting price of just over $33,000.

Note that like most cars, the sticker price can rise quickly with a Z. The Roadster touring model that was test driven here had its share of extras and goes for $43,905.

2013 Nissan 370Z

  • Performance: 3.7-liter, V6, 332 horsepower
  • Mileage estimate range: 18-26 mpg
  • Price: $33,120 to $43,020
  • Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain 5 years/60,000 miles; roadside assistance 3 years/36,000

With any sports car, driver self-control is a must. Drive foolishly in a vehicle that goes 0-60 mph in 5.1 seconds like the Z and you can become a target for a speeding ticket. Thanks to the engine/exhaust producing a unique deep pitch growl, it’s always very tempting to exceed the speed limit.

The 370Z is definitely quick and fast, and also handles scary good. It’s scary in the fact that it gives the driver the confidence that one can maneuver proficiently in any situation, whether it is a tight turn or wiggling in and out of traffic. Not so cool is the sizable blind spots due to thick rear roof pillars that can make passing a tentative act at times.

Like most sports cars, this one is made for driving, not hauling around stuff. Still, it’s roomy for two passengers and the trunk space can be accommodating on a small grocery store run.

Most casual fans of the 370Z probably won’t detect the small design tweaks that arrived in 2013. They include a new front lip spoiler that’s sleeker in appearance. Other changes include LED daytime running lights at the front corners and new red reflector located below the license plate.

With any sports cars, one has to make the ultimate decision: Is this a vehicle you want to utilize on a daily basis? Since the Z has been around for more than 40 years, it’s apparent that enough people are answering that question with a resounding yes.

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