This Forgotten Nissan is Bizarre and Beautiful
Look beyond the pixelation, of which there’s much, and what do you see? If you’re thinking “concept car” you’re on the right track—the coupe has all the outrageous telltale signs—but amazingly this is no concept. This is the shape of a Nissan Autech Stelvio Zagato, a very real production car built by Nissan subsidiary Autech in 1989 and 1990, and styled by—you guessed it—Italian coachbuilder Zagato. In its short lifespan an alleged 104 were built, a long ways short of its expected 200 car yield, making each one of these remarkably rare. The car pictured below, however, recently surfaced on eBay in the United Kingdom, only to be sold a few days later. And it’s claimed to be chassis number 40 of that exclusive club. RELATED: This Nissan GT-R Wagon is Real, and It's in the USA
So how does such a car come about? Teamwork. At the time, Nissan’s Autech subsidiary set its sights on creating a high-end, luxurious, and unique coachbuilt car—Autech is both in-house tuner and engineering firm—so it turned to Zagato to help make the project possible and selected the Nissan Leopard (US-market Infiniti M30) as a starting point.
The production flow saw Autech first prepare each car’s bare chassis, which was sent to Zagato in Italy. Zagato would then hand-build each of the Stelvio bodies out of aluminum, outfit a finely crafted cream leather interior, and install the lot at its production facility, before sending the fully-clothed cars back to Japan—polarizing styling and all. Those bumps in the hood? Those are actually the mirrors. It all has a very Alfa Romeo SZ feel to it, which makes sense given Zagato penned that car as well.
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From there, Autech would finish off each car by installing all the latest in late ‘80s gadgetry and tuning-up the turbocharged Nissan V6 to around 320 horsepower, sneakily passing the Japanese “gentleman’s agreement” on power output. A four-speed automatic transmission came standard.
The cost to buy an Autech Zagato Stelvio at the time was monumental—17.8 million yen, about $130,000. Nevertheless, over 100 customers did, and at some point that exclusivity will likely pay off.
This point of rapid appreciation seems like it hasn’t set in quite yet, though. This UK example with around 40,000 miles on the clock looks to have sold for £28,000 (about $39,000).
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Lead Image: Autech.co.jp