2023 Nissan Z Redesigned by the Legendary Chip Foose: Did Nissan Screw Up?

Article Highlights:

  • Chip Foose makes the already retro Z even more retro
  • Foose fixes the portly door lines of the new Z car
  • The Nissan Z doesn’t need much redesigning

Chip Foose makes an excellent point at the start of the video below. Japan has given us some incredible coupe shapes, from the Toyota Supra (not the 2022 Supra) to the Nissan GT-R (especially the R35 generation). But before all that was the Nissan 240Z. It’s an iconic shape that makes its way into the modern age thanks to the 2023 Nissan Z. But how much of that classically beautiful styling got shoved out in favor of modernity?

Who is Chip Foose?

Chip Foose and Jay Leno stand in front of a bright green Plymouth Prowler concept on The Tonight Show
Chip Foose and Jay Leno on “The Tonight Show” | Paul Drinkwater via Getty Images

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But who the hell is Chip Foose to comment on the design of one of the most lauded sports cars of all time, and the design of its successor? Looks might be subjective, but Chip is as qualified as it gets. He’s graduated with honors from the prestigious Art Center College of Design, and has built a number of cars for TV and movies like Blade Runner, RoboCop, and Gone in 60 Seconds.

For those of you that aren’t aware, Chip’s YouTube show with Hagerty is basically him critiquing and redesigning cars both old and new. Now, it’s the 2023 Nissan Z’s turn. As Chip Foose points out, the new Z keeps a lot of elements from the older design. Retro nods have long been a part of the modern Z’s arsenal, and that’s extremely evident here, especially in the roof and door lines.

The 2023 Nissan Z won’t rest on its retro laurels

A low rear 3/4 shot of a dark blue Nissan Z at night
Nissan added plenty of retro nods | Nissan

To touch on the mechanical gubbins of this car for a moment, the 2023 Nissan Z clearly aims to bring the Datsun Z car into the future at a bargain price. There’s going to be more than 400 hp from a familiar VQ-derived V6, and a manual transmission helping to spin the rear wheels. While the formula is old, the tech is new, a philosophy that, as Foose points out, is complemented by the car’s design.

As crash standards evolve, it’s almost impossible to replicate an old car in the modern age. That’s why it’s important to point out that where Chip is unrestrained by mechanical hardpoints, Nissan’s designers were. That said, it’s clear from Chip’s sketches and Nissan’s design that the brand tried to keep as much of that retro Z styling there as possible. The front is an obvious callback to the 240Z, and the rear tail lights just scream 300ZX. As we said before, Nissan keeps much of the side profile from the original car, but Chip thinks the headlights get in the way of it all.

Did the new Z ever need to be redesigned?

A blue 2023 Nissan Z shot from the high 3/4 angle at sunset
Nissan’s new Z | Nissan

As for Chip’s redesign of the 2023 Nissan Z? It’s pretty much flawless. Obviously, Chip addresses his complaint with the lights, which now flow elegantly into the fenders. The doors are a hair longer, helping to level out the proportions in the car’s profile too. Finally, he’s also brought the roofline more in, well, line with the 240Z. We were pretty happy with the new Z car, but Chip’s design makes us think twice to be sure.

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