Hidden below the brick-lined floor of the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, a fleet of the world’s strangest automotive obscura wait in a sprawling basement. Continue walking between the rows of dusty Renault 5s, Citroen BTX4s, and Saab rally cars, and you’ll encounter an inconspicuous garage door flush against the far back wall of the catacomb. It’s in this hidden white-walled garage where Nissan keeps its heritage collection—more specifically, the U.S.A collection, reserved for vehicles that were originally sold in the States or raced by American drivers. We recently visited this collection, and picked eight of our favorite cars.
1984 Newman/Sharp Trans Am 300ZX
Gotcha! This isn’t the real Newman/Sharp 300ZX that ran during the 1984 and 1985 showroom stock series. This is a special demonstration model built for promotion, presumably rotated amongst prominent dealers, auto shows, and corporate functions.
1999 Nissan Z Concept
For longtime Z enthusiasts, the late 90s and early 2000s were full of heartache. After the 300ZX left our shores in 1996, we watched from afar as Japan enjoyed the smooth coupe uninterrupted until its discontinuation in 2001. Halfway through this six-year drought, Nissan unveiled the all-new Z Concept in 1999, highlighting what the future of Nissan’s sports car could look like. Gone was the powerful V-6, turbocharged or otherwise, supplanted for a 2.4-liter four-cylinder. The orange concept mashed the Z32’s soap-smooth styling with classic styling features from the 240Z, incorporating slightly scalloped headlights and a long hood. It proved controversial, and three years later, the well-received 350Z filled the void. Now, the Z Concept remains a forgotten footnote in Nissan’s history, spending the rest of its days hidden from public view.
1978 Datsun B210 GX
Landing on U.S. shores on the heels of the 1973 oil crisis, the lightweight, efficient, and affordable B210 proved quite popular with consumers who were looking to escape the two-ton gas-guzzling albatross from major American automakers. When equipped with the 1.4-liter four cylinder and the five-speed manual, the B210 was rated at an impressive 50 highway mpg.
1968 Nissan Patrol
Remember, this collection is comprised of only models sold on U.S. soil, so don’t go looking for and JDM weirdoes among the rows of pristine Infinitis and Zs. Because of this, the Patrol left us confused. Despite the droves of Toyota FJ40 Land Cruisers that populate car shows, we’ve yet to see a single Patrol in the wild. This bright blue example is bone stock, and reportedly “drives more like a truck than an actual truck.” We’re big fans.
1961 Datsun Fairlady 1200
Nashville was rainy when we visited, but this maroon Fairlady roadster reminiscing back to when we drove this exact car in sunny California. With 59 hp and 67 lb-ft of torque from the 1.2-liter four-cylinder, it wasn’t the quickest car, but it made up for the lack of motivation with oodles of charm. Good luck finding one, though—only 217 SPL212 were produced.
A Pair of Nissan Hardbody Pickups
The collection of Zs were great fun, but a large portion of the garage was filled with low-mileage trucks. Nissan has a long history with the pickup truck market, and it was fun to see an abridged evolution of its truck lineage, ending with a pair of mint-condition D21s. These trusty haulers are affectionately known in the States as the Hardbody, so-named for its rugged construction and double-walled bed. Few D21s have escaped wear and tear from over two decades of hard work and off-road excursions, so peeking inside these wrapper-fresh examples was almost eerie.
Nissan R35 GT-R
Settle down, fanboys—here’s the lone GT-R in the collection. It’s not special at a surface level, but once you stick your head through the window, you’ll notice the steering wheel, is on the wrong side. This was the first Nissan GT-R shown in the U.S., currently serving as the only right-hand-drive GT-R in the country—legally, at least.