Z Fest 2014

On a glorious Sunday in August, Team RedlineNorth headed to a very unique car show we never have actually attended before in person. This year’s Z Fest event took place at the Canadian Heritage War Museum located beside Hamilton’s International Airport which played the part of an excellent backdrop. Since after walking through the hangar filled with some of the most famous warplanes ever built you soon entered rows and rows of restored Nissans parked and shining on the tarmac.

Organized by members of the Ontario Z-Cars Association, Z Fest is an annual event here in Ontario for Z model Nissan enthusiasts to show off  their Nissan and Datsun vehicles. The event’s aim is to celebrate all Z-cars from the early Datsun models through to the current Nissan name plates and this year’s event did not disappoint. This year’s event was slightly larger than in years past since it was the 20th annual Z-Fest. While on site there was a whole array of Z-cars (Fairlady Z in Japan) from present to past including the 240z, 260z, 280zx, 300zx, the 350z, and 370z not excluding the odd G series, GTR, and Skyline.

Nissan 300 ZX Twin Turbo

1990 Nissan 300 ZX Twin Turbo

We were lucky enough to bump into one of our local correspondents who actually covered the 2012 Z Fest event for RedlineNorth. Unfortunately for us he was not reporting from the event this year since he had his “pride and joy” entered in the show and shine. He currently owns a stunningly clean but heavily modified 1990 300 ZX Twin Turbo which is pushing over 400 HP at the wheels.

Nissan 300 ZX

Cooling down the turbos

Back end of 1990 300 ZX

Back end of 1990 300 ZX

Here’s a glimpse of some of the other cars…..So many nice ones to choose from.  Although we did primarily focus our attention on the 300 ZX models.

Nissan 300 ZX

Awesome 90s Nissan 300 ZX

Nissan 350Z

Nissan 350Z Convertible

 Nissan 300 ZX

1989 Nissan 300 ZX

North American International Auto Show 2014 Recap

Now that the North American International Auto Show is over for another year, RedlineNorth takes a look back at the highlights of this year’s show, identifies some trends as well as personal favourites.

Over 800,000 people visited the NAIAS this year, an eleven year high. Along with the 5,169 journalists in attendance and an estimated $365 million it brought to the local economy it’s fair to say Detroit is back!

NAIS-11

Plug-in Electric Vehicles were more prevalent at this year’s show, from the newly released BMW i3 (available as both a pure electric and with a back-up gasoline engine) to the plug-in version of the Porsche Panamera to the Cadillac ELR, the availability of plug-in vehicles across manufacturers as well as product lines is visibly increasing. From zero electric vehicles being available in the market only five short years ago, to upwards of twenty different models in 2014, consumers are the big winner here in terms of choice. The real challenge going forward is for manufacturers to offer an affordable plug-in SUV/CUV. Mitsubishi may be first out the gate in North America with its plug-in hybrid electric Outlander.

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Cadillac ELR

NAIS-8

Porsche Panamera

The next significant wave of technology to hit showrooms beyond electric drivetrains is likely to be the autonomous, or self driving vehicle.  This technology can fit well with electric vehicles and at the show Nissan had on display a right hand drive Leaf fitted with autonomous vehicle technology, along with a video showing the self driving vehicle in action on the streets in Japan. While we don’t expect to see fully autonomous vehicles to hit showrooms within the next five years, its encouraging to see the realm of the possible being stretched by the OEMs. 

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An Autonomous Drive Nissan Leaf

Overall, OEMs are on the whole offering a number of models with significant fuel economy savings from currently available electric vehicles to fuel cell concept vehicles as well as weight saving technologies such as Ford’s new aluminum body for its F150, shown below incognito when it was run in the Baja 1000.  

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2014 Ford F150

There were a number of North American and World debuts at the show this year including the 2015 WRX STI from Subaru (shown below).  With a 305 hp turbocharged engine, 67% faster steering response, and matted to a 6 speed manual gear box this car is a rocket. It’s also nice to see Subaru reverting back to the more classic sedan style STI.NAIS-9

There was plenty of eye candy on display in Detroit this year – we’re referring to the cars of course – from the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 to the Lexus RC F and the Dodge SRT Viper (shown below), raw power in the form of performance cars stole the show.

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SRT Viper

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Porsche 918 Spyder

One of the star’s of the show was this beautiful Porsche 918 Spyder, which unfortunately was displayed behind glass so we could not get up and close.  However, another darling of the show was the new 911 Targa which incorporates all the elegance of the 1970s Targa model with the latest Porsche technology and design.

911 Targa

911 Targa

Finally it wouldn’t be an auto show without some concept vehicles including this one from Nissan.   The square front end of this concept reminded us of BMW styling cues from the 1980s.

Nissan Idx Concept

Nissan IDx Concept

Overall, this year’s North American International Auto Show had something for everyone, which judging by the surge in the number of visitors this year, resonated well with the general public.  It’s always a pleasure visiting the NAIAS, especially given the hospitality of the host city of Detroit. Despite is tenuous financial footing, Detroit is on its way back.  It’s down, but definitely not out.  RedlineNorth is already looking forward to 2015.

Sources: CBC

2015 Nissan GT-R Nismo

Initially introduced at the Tokyo Motor show, the 2015 Nissan GT-R Nismo, was re-launched to the North American public at this week’s LA Auto Show.

Usain Bolt with GT-R Nismo

Usain Bolt with GT-R Nismo

Leveraging the world’s fastest man, Usian Bolt as pitchman of their premiere sports car model is a smart move by Nissan as this 600 HP monster is one of the fastest production vehicles ever made. With an incredible 0-60 mph (96 km/h) time of in the two seconds range it’s faster than pretty much anything on the road including a Porsche 911 Turbo or a Ferrari 458 Speciale. This thing is not for the faint of heart that’s for sure.

Nissan GT-R Nismo 2015

Nissan GT-R Nismo 2015

It’s other major claim is equally amazing as it recently achieved the fastest lap time of any production car on Germany’s Nordschleife track as it broke the 7 minute and 10 second record.  Check out the video as proof that Nissan means business with its Nismo series.

The Nissan GT-R Nismo will land in Canada and US middle to late next year and although North American pricing won’t be released until much closer to its availability here the Japanese car starts at 15,015,000 yen, which works out to around $150,000 USD depending on exchange rates. Yes, we know that is a lot of money for a car but seriously, as one of the fastest cars ever mass produced we think the Nissan GT-R Nismo is actually a bargain compared to its competition.

Japan’s car culture

Until 2004 in Japan, all domestic autos were required to have less than 280 HP.  This legislation was set up by the Japan Automotive Manufactures Association as an environmental and safety measure. However, the reality was there were some ways around this restrictive policy. In fact, the main way was the Japanese aftermarket tuner scene since enthusiasts would often purchase a domestic model and then have it modified at a local speed shop right at purchase time if they wanted more horsepower. One of the models which was commonly used was Nissan’s Skyline model, now considered one of the best Japanese sport coupes ever built. It’s legacy and technology can be seen in today’s supercar the Nissan GT-R.

2002 Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R

2002 Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R

In addition, imported cars were not subject to the legislation so many enthusiasts purchased European or North American cars as an open loophole. The interesting thing that resulted from the legislation was Japan became a car focused culture where horsepower was truly appreciated.

Many of these imported foreign models were purchased by the tattooed class of Yakuza gangsters or Japanese mafia who could be seen driving around Japan’s cities in their Italian suits and imported cars like this one below.

Typically modified imported Yakuza style car

Typical modified imported Yakuza style car

As Japan is considered the birthplace of the auto racing sport “drifting” it is a good time as any to profile a story we wrote last year on the history of drifting.  Many of the famous drifting cars are now iconic Japanese models which are sought after by enthusiasts all over the world.

Nissan Silva

Nissan Silva

Today in North America, you can easily purchase an older right hand drive model from Japan as a result of all the drifting hype of the last 15 years.

1993 Toyota Supra RWD

1993 Toyota Supra RWD

Nissan Leaf warranty to now include battery capacity loss

Nissan USA announced yesterday that all existing and future Nissan Leaf’s sold in the US will have the battery covered under warranty for capacity loss for the first five years, or 60,000 miles of ownership. That is, if the battery capacity declines by over 30% (providing less than 9 out of the available 12 bars on the gauge), the battery will be fixed or replaced under warranty.  Nissan is the first electric vehicle manufacturer to offer such a warranty and could be a game changer.

Nissan Leaf owners to gain warranty coverage for battery capacity loss

Nissan Leaf owners to gain warranty coverage for battery capacity loss

The longevity of the battery contained within electric vehicles has been a concern for some consumers and could have a negative impact on purchases.  Like the batteries powering today’s smart phones and laptops, over time the capacity of the battery will decline due to the nature of the battery technology itself.  This is a common occurrence and depends on a number of factors include but not limited to type of use, extreme temperatures and the number of charge cycles.

While replacing a mobile phone or laptop battery can be expensive, it’s no where near the cost of replacing the battery powering an electric vehicle which makes up a significant amount of the cost of the vehicle itself.   By offering this warranty Nissan is differentiating itself in the electric vehicle market.

Time will tell how much impact this will have on the sales of the Leaf, which to date have not lived up to initial expectations. That being said one could argue the initial expectations for all electric vehicles sales over the short term were exaggerated to begin with.

It will also be interesting to see if any other electric vehicle manufacturer will follow Nissan’s lead and start covering battery capacity loss under the warranty of the vehicle. The Nissan announcement did not include any information on how much this new warranty coverage will cost the company.

Further details on the new Nissan warranty coverage will be communicated in the new year.

Read the original announcement

Source: Automotive News, MyNissanLEAF.com

Z-Fest

On Saturday August 18th, members of the Ontario Z-Cars Association brought their Nissan and Datsun vehicles to Brantford Nissan for the 18th annual Z-Fest. Its aim is to celebrate all Z-cars from the early Datsun models through to the current Nissan name plates.  The whole array of Z-cars (Fairlady Z in Japan) were present including the 240z, 260z, 280zx, 300zx both early and late versions, the 350z, and 370z not excluding the odd G series, GTR, and Skyline. One of our local correspondents kindly attended the day long event to capture Nissan’s unique history as the maker of Japan’s “Corvette” models.

Nissan 240z’s

Awards at Z-Fest are given to both stock and modified classes of cars.The show consisted mostly of early Datsuns, primarily 240z’s.

Nissan 260z

In contrast to all the modified 350s and 370s, most of the 240, 260, and 280 cars were stock with only minor personal touches.

Nissan 280zx

It was very inspiring to see the spotless, rust-free engine bays of these 30 year old cars.

Modified Nissan 240z

There was quite a poor showing of the Z31, the 1984-1989 version of the Nissan Z. And of the models that were present, most were stock and in fact, many were “Garage Queens” as their owners professed to how little they are actually driven. This would account for their stellar paint and unmolested interiors.

1985 Nissan 300zx

As always, there was a good showing of the 1990-1996 300zx. Although there were not as many heavily modified Z32s as in year’s past, there were many bone stock and very low mileage cars including a 30,000km 1990 model. The Z32 model provides a solid platform to create a variety of looks in regards to engine performance and exterior styling.

Nissan 300zx

Nissan 300zx

Modified Nissan 300zx

Having been equipped with a twin turbo system from the manufacturer, it is quite easy and relatively inexpensive to build up the 300zx engine to incredible power levels with the innovative parts targeted at the enthusiast.

Nissan 300zx z32 engine

There seems to be more and more 350z’s and 370z’s on the road all the time, and this was evident at Z-Fest.  Although the 350z and 370z come standard with 287 hp and 332 hp respectively, their engines are non-aspirated.  However, many companies have since released turbo and/or supercharger kits to transform these models into true Japanese, fire-breathing dragons.

Nissan 350z’s

Nissan 370z convertible

With all the Nissan models parked side by side, it was easy to identify the 240z’s sleek and timeless lines. Originally introduced to the North American market in 1970, it truly was ahead of its time.  Similarly at the event, it also became apparent Nissan’s styling was not iconic during the late 70s and mid 80s. However, with the release of the Z32 in 1989, the Z-car lineage got its Mojo back with the rebirth of the iconic Z design which has been continued through to the current 350z, and 370z models.

Today, Nissan has a new model which has been taking the sports car world by storm – the Nissan GTR also known as “Godzilla”. Built with the highest technological innovations available, the Nissan GTR is able to compete on the track with any of today’s supercars while only costing the price of a top of the line Corvette.

Nissan GTR

Make sure you check off next year’s date for the Z-Fest event as it is a must see for any Nissan enthusiast.

Electric Vehicle (EV) Day Sunday August 12th – Toronto, Ontario

For those readers in the Toronto area who have been wanting to test drive an electric vehicle here is your chance.  On Sunday August 12th, Yonge and Dundas Square will be home to EV Day.  Starting at 10 am you’ll be able to test drive some of the newest electric vehicles and learning about re-charging infrastructure.  Invited exhibitors include:

Azure Dynamics
Audi – A3 e-tron
GM – Chevy Volt
Fisker – Karma
Ford – Focus EV
Nissan – Leaf
smart – ED
Tesla – Roadster and Model S
VIA Motors

More details can be found here at Plug ‘N Drive Ontario.

 

Stretched Nissan Leaf All Electric Vehicle

How’s this for a riding in style with no-tailpipe emissions to boot?


The Tennessean recently reported a local hotel has acquired a modified all electric Nissan Leaf to shuttle guests around town.  It took seven weeks to modify the vehicle which can now accommodate 8 passengers (up from 5) and operates on the stock battery.

As part of the job mirrors, plush leather and cedar paneling were all added to the vehicle.

It’s a novel way to attract customers to your hotel.

Stretched Nissan Leaf. Photo source: Nissan.

It should be noted the North American head offices of Nissan, maker of the Leaf, is less than a mile away from the hotel.

Stretch and Poke May 2012

On the last Sunday in May, the RedlineNorth Team cruised up to Toronto’s Downsview Park to check out the first of the Stretch and Poke event series.   Stretch and Poke is a group of enthusiasts within the tuner scene who focus on creating cars with aggressive wheel fitment set-ups.   The event does not discriminate by brand or model and it showed as attendees came in all different styles of sedans, convertibles and trucks. Whether your thing is donks, lowriders, drifting, modified tuners or track cars there is a scene for everyone today in the Greater Toronto Area.

Here are some photos from the solid season opener event.  It’s not for everyone but you do have to respect the time, money and hard work that goes into fabricating these modified machines.

For more on the Stretch and Poke scene be sure to check out their official website and video.

Ertefa Meet

Ertefa – The word apparently means “stance” in Farsi the Persian language.  Well, that may be the actual translation but it also means well organized, respectful and very popular car show/meets.  Organized by a group of auto enthusiasts based in the Toronto area, the Ertefa meets take place on Thursday nights from 9PM – 12 PM and attracts a wide range of cars at all different levels of modifications from clean and stock to ultimate track machines.  With on-going communications with the police, the event has rules in place so not to bring unwanted trouble to the car show.  Having attended a few times in my S2000, I can say it is a bright light in the local car scene.

If you are interested in the auto scene at all these are a must see event in the GTA. On a typical evening, you will see all types of cars including; Lambos, Porsches, BMW’s, Japanese cars, American muscle, as well anything you have ever imagined on two wheels including the baddest tow truck around.

Catering to the car folks in the massive suburbs of the 4th largest city in North America, the turnout is impressive with over 450-500 cars coming out weekly.  Growing up in a small town in Southwestern, Ontario, I could not have imagined seeing something like this regularly as these types of events only happened in California or aired on the SPEED Channel.

If you are ever in the GTA and looking for a local auto event come by and check it out.  The location does move around but currently it is in the Toronto suburb called Woodbridge at the Dave & Buster’s Restaurant parking lot so make sure to check out their Facebook page to confirm the location.

Photos courtesy of Auto Moto Foto blog and Behnood Javidirad.