The Best Nissan Sports Cars To Buy Used In 2021

The Best Nissan Sports Cars To Buy Used In 2021

It all began with dinner and a show. Or so the story goes.

While visiting New York in the 1950s, Nissan’s then CEO Katsuji Kawamata took in a Broadway musical – “My Fair Lady,” specifically – and was apparently so impressed by the performance that he decided to name an entire line of sports coupes in its honor.

Enter the Fairlady Z, or as it's known outside Japan, the Nissan Z line.

The first generation of Zs – the 240Z – arrived in the United States under Nissan's then export name badge, Datsun, in 1970. And before long, the two-door, two-seat coupe had officially driven itself into the hearts and racing fantasies of sports car aficionados both stateside and around the world.

Over the years, the 240Z gave way to the 260Z, the 280Z, the 300Z, the 350Z and finally – the most current model – the 370Z. A legacy that’s now more than half a century in the making, its look and feel has evolved with the times, all the while remaining true to the original concept: a car that’s simply fun to drive and doesn’t break the bank.

Rumor has it that Nissan is currently putting the final touches on the forthcoming Z edition, which will be the seventh generation. Still in the works with no confirmed release date, it's expected to be released within the next two years or so.

Until then, race fans have six generations of this sports car icon – more than 50 years' worth – to keep pacified.

Nissan 350Z

If you want to know Nissan's legacy of sports cars from A to Z, just remember that it's all about the Z. Specifically, the Z line.

The Nissan Z series first debuted half a century ago with the 1970 model year, way back when the Japanese automaker was still branding itself outside the homeland not as Nissan but as Datsun. It wouldn't be until 1986 when Nissan would finally phase out the Datsun name in all foreign markets, switching to full use of the Nissan name.

Known as the Nissan Fairlady Z still to this day in Japan, the Z line consists of two-door, two-seater coupes with different number badge names for varying model years.

2005 Nissan 350Z Touring (from $13,950)

2005 Nissan 350Z Touring (from $13,950)

The 350Z specifically refers to fifth-generation models that were manufactured between 2002 and 2008 and originally came in five and then later seven different trim package options: base, enthusiast, performance, touring, grand touring, track and Nismo.

Under the hood in earlier models – those manufactured between 2002 and 2004, specifically – is a 3.5-liter V-6 engine with a brake horsepower of 287, while 350Zs made between 2005 and 2008 –commemorating the Z line's 35th anniversary, no less – pack a brake horsepower of 300 bph. Rear-wheel drive comes standard on all Z models, too, which adds to the car's sporty playfulness and handling on the road.

When they hit the market in 2002, new 350Zs retailed for around $30,000, which, given that Nissan took most of its inspiration from the Porsche Boxster, is impressive to say the least.

These days, used Nissan 350Zs can be found for around $18,000.

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2005 Nissan 350Z Touring (from $13,950)

The 350Z specifically refers to fifth-generation models that were manufactured between 2002 and 2008 and originally came in five and then later seven different trim package options: base, enthusiast, performance, touring, grand touring, track and Nismo.

Under the hood in earlier models – those manufactured between 2002 and 2004, specifically – is a 3.5-liter V-6 engine with a brake horsepower of 287, while 350Zs made between 2005 and 2008 –commemorating the Z line's 35th anniversary, no less – pack a brake horsepower of 300 bph. Rear-wheel drive comes standard on all Z models, too, which adds to the car's sporty playfulness and handling on the road.

When they hit the market in 2002, new 350Zs retailed for around $30,000, which, given that Nissan took most of its inspiration from the Porsche Boxster, is impressive to say the least.

These days, used Nissan 350Zs can be found for around $18,000.

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Nissan 370Z

The sixth generation of the Z line and the 350Z's successor, the Nissan 370Z badge refers to Z models manufactured between 2009 and 2020.

For the most part, at first glance the 370Z seems to share much of the same overall aesthetic as the 350Z. But first impressions can be deceiving. Similar in design, it also sports rear-wheel drive and a front mid-engine, albeit a 3.7-liter V-6, which makes it slightly larger than the 350Z's 3.5-liter V-6. It's also a bit wider, shorter and lighter, and cleaner curves make for a more aerodynamic shape, too. Stiffer stabilizer bars and springs also make for a more solid ride all around.

Those minor modifications make the Nissan 370Z the fastest member of the Z series to date, with a horsepower of 300 for the coupe and roadster variants and 350 for the race-ready NISMO edition.

Keeping true to the Z line's classic street race vibe, the Nissan 370Z comes with either a six-speed manual transmission or seven-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, which launch the car from zero to 60 mph in 4.6 and 4.7 seconds, respectively. Unique to 370Zs with manual transmissions is a system that Nissan calls SynchroRev Match, a series of sensors that automatically blips the throttle to match the engine's rev to the car's speed and keeps it from jolting when downshifting.

2014 Nissan 370Z (from $22,700)

2014 Nissan 370Z (from $22,700)

New 370Zs start at just under $31,000, while used models depending on the model year go for significantly less. Early-year 370Zs hover in the low $20,000s, while more recent editions run in the mid $20,000s.

Regardless of the specific number that precedes the Z, any member of the Nissan sports coupe Fairlady family is sure to have you feeling like Speed Racer on the road.

The Fairlady Z series is a legacy in and of itself, and a trailblazer not just on the road. The car's success and timeless popularity has no doubt over the years inspired Nissan's competitors to come up with their own sports coupes.

Mazda has the Miata. Lexus has the RC. Toyota-backed Scion doubles up with the tC and the FR-S. Hyundai has the Genesis, and Subaru has the BRX. All are priced to compete with the Nissan Z line, too, with used models hovering between $15,000 and the mid $30,000s.

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2014 Nissan 370Z (from $22,700)

New 370Zs start at just under $31,000, while used models depending on the model year go for significantly less. Early-year 370Zs hover in the low $20,000s, while more recent editions run in the mid $20,000s.

Regardless of the specific number that precedes the Z, any member of the Nissan sports coupe Fairlady family is sure to have you feeling like Speed Racer on the road.

The Fairlady Z series is a legacy in and of itself, and a trailblazer not just on the road. The car's success and timeless popularity has no doubt over the years inspired Nissan's competitors to come up with their own sports coupes.

Mazda has the Miata. Lexus has the RC. Toyota-backed Scion doubles up with the tC and the FR-S. Hyundai has the Genesis, and Subaru has the BRX. All are priced to compete with the Nissan Z line, too, with used models hovering between $15,000 and the mid $30,000s.

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Nissan Juke

First released in 2010, the Nissan Juke is technically a crossover SUV built on the same B platform as the Nissan Versa. But despite the fact that it's a crossover, the details of the Juke's overall aesthetic exude a spunky, sporty sense of individuality, with a center console setup that's on par with that of a motorcycle and gauges that look like they've been lifted out of a rally racer.

Broad wheel wells and a raised waistline of the body contrast with the slender side windows to make for a fresh take on the iconic "Coke bottle style" body design that was popular among sports cars of the 1960s and 1970s sports cars like the Corvette Stingray and Buick Riviera, which featured narrow centers with flared fenders.

The Juke is available in three trim options, the S, SV and SL. All come standard with a 1.6-liter, 16-valve engine that makes for a peppy ride while maintaining a decent fuel economy of 27 mpg on city streets and 32 mpg on the freeway. Jukes come standard with front-wheel-drive, but all-wheel-drive is an optional upgrade on all trims, too.

2011 Nissan JUKE S (from $9,100)

 2011 Nissan JUKE S (from $9,100)

Fun fact: in 2013, Nissan's rally race-happy design team unveiled an insanely sportier special limited edition of the Juke, the Juke-R. Under the hood is Nissan's twin-turbo V-6, 545 horsepower engine known as the VR, which is the exact motor that hurls the Nissan GT-R super sports coupe from zero to 60 mph in less than three seconds. Nissan manufactured only 23 Juke-Rs, so needless to say they're extremely rare, not to mention

While the newest addition to the Nissan family, the Kicks, replaced the Juke in the North American market after the 2017 model year, plenty of used Juke models are still available stateside for around $9,000.

Shift certified mechanics run an extensive 150-point inspection on each of its cars, which also come with a complete vehicle history report, too. So you can be sure your used sports coupe – be it a Nissan or not – is ready to race as if it were new.

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 2011 Nissan JUKE S (from $9,100)

Fun fact: in 2013, Nissan's rally race-happy design team unveiled an insanely sportier special limited edition of the Juke, the Juke-R. Under the hood is Nissan's twin-turbo V-6, 545 horsepower engine known as the VR, which is the exact motor that hurls the Nissan GT-R super sports coupe from zero to 60 mph in less than three seconds. Nissan manufactured only 23 Juke-Rs, so needless to say they're extremely rare, not to mention

While the newest addition to the Nissan family, the Kicks, replaced the Juke in the North American market after the 2017 model year, plenty of used Juke models are still available stateside for around $9,000.

Shift certified mechanics run an extensive 150-point inspection on each of its cars, which also come with a complete vehicle history report, too. So you can be sure your used sports coupe – be it a Nissan or not – is ready to race as if it were new.

30-Day warranty
Free 7-day return
Free 7-day trial return
30-days warranty
No-Contact Test Drives
No-Contact Test Drives
Shop Used Nissan JUKE

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Author
Shift Editorial Team