Wheels

Randy Rodriguez, Nissan America


Rodriguez

Photograph courtesy of Nissan

When car companies develop a new model, hundreds of designers compete for the sketch-to-reality crown—and breakout success is rarer than a '62 Ferrari GTO. But fresh-faced Randy Rodriguez entered a Nissan contest and clinched that uncommon victory with his reimagining of the Z. His take makes its debut this spring, just in time for his 32nd birthday. Ian Daly

Q: I've heard of designers' being inspired by Aston Martin or Porsche—but Datsun?

A: My first car was an '80 380Z, then I had a '77 280Z. All my girlfriends thought I loved the car more than them. In design school they said, "Why are you always drawing Datsuns?"

Q: What sets Japanese car styling apart from European design?

A: I think it's a little more techno. You know, they're into anime, robots, and Gundam—and the cars reflect that. They're really aggressive.

Q: So how did you translate that to the new Z?

A: I'm attracted to things that are powerful. All the Zs were good race cars. I imagined them more flared out—so I added flares and giant wheel forms. I took inspiration from jets and Shark Week.

Q: I assume you got a raise?

A: Ha! Unfortunately not. And no free car!


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