Nissan showcases 370Z Special Edition at April lunch

By: Ron Beasley - Photos by Pepe Delfino & Ron Beasley

A beautiful new special edition 40th anniversary Nissan 370Z sat at the entrance to the Marinheiro Restaurant for the April luncheon of the Southern Automotive Media Association.
About 35 SAMA members turned out for the April 28th luncheon, held for the first time at the Marinheiro Restaurant, 1155 Brickell Bay Drive, in Downtown Miami and sponsored by Nissan North America.

Southeast region corporate communications manager Darryll Harrison brought along that special edition of the 370Z sports car for the auto writers to examine up close and personal, strategically positioning the sleek and sexy vehicle on the driveway ramp just outside the front door of the restaurant.

SAMA President Paul Borden brought the meeting to order shortly before 12:30 p.m. and recognized Treasurer Marcello Serrato, who noted that membership renewals were progressing very well, with most members tendering $50 checks for another year’s dues. He urged members who had not paid their 2010 dues to mail their membership renewal checks to him at 6601 Lyons Road, Suite I-3, Coconut Creek FL 33073. Marcello also noted that the SAMA treasury is healthy, with a bank balance of about $4,000.

Borden then told the gathering that work on the green vehicle event – now dubbed Green Tech – was progressing well and that Homestead-Miami Speedway will be the location for the program. He called on Green Tech event chairman Juan Robbin for an update.

Robbin took the podium and told the group that he and Angelo Serrato had met with Homestead-Miami Speedway representatives Al Garcia, Matt Becherer and Jay Rand and they had worked out some details and selected Sept. 29 is the date for the event, designed to lead up to the Indy Race at the track on Oct. 1-2. The objective of the event will be to bring together the latest fuel-saving “green” vehicles – plug-in electric, hybrid, diesel, hydrogen fuel cell – for viewing and test driving in a closed environment by the local, national and international press. Robbin said early interest in participation has been expressed by Toyota, Nissan, Ford and General Motors. He added that the program would include morning press conferences by manufacturer’s representatives to discuss the technology they would have on display, followed by a walkaround of the vehicles on the track tarmac, then a break for lunch, to be followed by controlled drives on the track in the afternoon.

A post-event dinner for the participating manufacturers and invited guests is being considered. Stay tuned for more to come on this. Borden then recognized introduced special guests Ray Jimenez, Nissan’s South Florida Dealer Operations Manager, and Paul Hawson, from Nissan’s Product Planning Department, then turned the meeting over to Darryll Harrison.

Harrison told the group that Nissan’s national sales were up 44 per cent in March, a marked turnaround from 2009. He also noted that sales in the southeast region, including Florida, recorded an even more dramatic turnaround with a 78 percent sales increase in March.

Harrison also told the group that reaction to Nissan’s new Leaf plug-in electric vehicle, slated to go on sale in September, has been strong and that the company’s goal was to sell 25,000 units in the first year. He said 120,000 consumers visited the Leaf website and asked for more information on the vehicle shortly after the site was opened to the public on April 20th, and that 6,600 online sales reservations for the car were taken in the first 24 hours.

Harrison then turned the microphone over to Hawson who recapped the 40-year history and seven generations of the Z car in the U.S. He told the group that the latest version of the 370Z was available in both coupe and roadster body style, and also as a performance oriented model with 350 hp. Hawson said the new Z is true to its DNA, with a nice balance of performance, design and value. He noted that the new Z is 95 pounds lighter and slightly lower and wider than its predecessor, but four inches shorter, which he said all adds up to a better handling vehicle. Hawson said that the new 370 Z has improved performance thanks to a new 3.7 liter engine that delivers 332 hp for a better power-to-weight ratio. Other upgrades include an improved, higher quality interior.

Hawson said that only 1,000 of the special edition 40th anniversary 370 Zs will be built. Those cars will have special anniversary badging and special paint, synthetic suede seats and a commemorative plaque on center console, and come with a custom-fitted car cover and a signed letter of certification. The car will cost just under $40,000.

Following Hawson’s remarks, Paul Borden thanked Nissan for sponsoring the April luncheon. Before adjourning the meeting, he noted that details for next month’s luncheon have not been finalized. He told members to be on the lookout for an email with the time and location of the May luncheon.


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