Thursday, January 17, 2013

Randy Rodriguez and the Nissan 370z

FROM 2002–2009, Nissan manufactured the Nissan 350Z, a sports car that was sold as both a coupĂ© and roadster. An open competition was launched within the Nissan Design Studios around the world to come out with a design for the new generation in the Nissan Z Car Line. Then in 2009, the 370Z was unveiled -Nissan’s all-time iconic Japanese model sports car. The new Z made its debut in Downtown Los Angeles during the LA Auto Show, and the winning designer of the thoroughly modern, sexier, sleeker, lighter Nissan 370Z was introduced to all – Filipino-Canadian Randy Rodriguez.
The young Rodriguez caught the eye and interest of the international press and has since been 
featured in several auto industry magazines and in the web be- cause of his winning car design.  Randy beat 
out fellow Nis- san designers within  the global Nissan De- s i g n Studios, with  his version of the  3 7 0 Z . 
“I’ve been  d r a w -
ing Z’s my  whole 
life, that’s  w h y 
the 370Z  theme 
came out  quickly 
and natu- r a lly ,” 
said Randy  w h o admitted to be- ing a huge Z-fan, having owned a dozen Nissan Z cars since he was 14 years old.Born in Surrey, British Columbia, Randy Rodriguez credits his love of cars to his family: his father was a truck driver and auto mechanic who owned a gas station and garage, and his brother owned a Datsun Z. In an interview with Import Tuner Magazine, Randy related, “When I was 14, I followed in my older brother’s Z footsteps when my dad bought me an ‘80 280ZX complete with massive whale tail and turbine rims... but I don’t really consider that Z my first car because I never drove it. My older brother blew the engine street racing it and we ended up giving the car to a friend. He felt bad about it and ended up buying me a ‘77 280Z before I was 16…To me, that car felt super fast and sounded tough with its Monza exhaust and headers-I could never take my eyes off of it, and it instilled in me a passion for the Z that has never left.”
After studying sciences for a year at the University of British Columbia, Randy decided to turn to automobiles, and was accepted at Detroit’s College for Creative Studies. He interned at Toyota and GM 
but his love of Datsun and Nissan products provided the urge to work for the automaker. So, a 
few weeks after graduation in 2002, he joined Nissan Design America in San Diego, California, where he now lives. Since then, he’s sketched and had clay/digital models on a full range of different projects for 
both Nissan and Infiniti-small cars, SUVs, full size trucks, to more exploratory conceptual products.
“I decided to work with Nissan 
because I have such a strong 
connection with the Z, and I 
think that car kind of made me 
want to be a designer. It’s the 
first car that I fell in love with, 
and I think that gave me an 
advantage when it came to 
designing the 370 because I knew so much about 
the car’s history,” 
said Randy.In his early 30s, Rodriguez believes that his youth gives him an edge. “You don’t have these 
preconceptions of what you can and can’t do. I say ‘I want to do this,’ and you try to do what 
you want. Now that I’m more experienced, it’s an advantage in that I’ve done the 370Z and other 
products, and I feel like I have a whole career ahead of me still to do more things.”Prior to the 370Z, Rodriguez was also one of the designers of the Nissan Actic concept car which was debuted at the 2004 North American International Auto Show.  The Actic is a futuristic design incorporating many novel features. The interior glass roof panels display video images of the outside environment. Intelligent door handles 
sense a nearby hand and electronically present themselves to the user. The Actic also features a 
key fob containing all the drivers interior preferences and settings, such as AC and audio tracks 
and settings, the device also holds e-mail and navigation information.
Randy said regarding designing the Actic concept car, “You always dream of doing a concept 
car in design school, and luckily for me, I had the 
opportunity to do so.”
Asked to describe his exterior design of the 
370Z, Randy said, “The 370Z is shorter, wider 
and lower than the 350Z-all the things a designer 
would want. I applaud the engineers and planners at Nissan for making that happen. The 350 
is beautiful, but a little friendlylooking to me, especially in the 
front. I wanted to turn up the 
anger a few levels and inject the 
car with some steroids. The 370 
is more dynamic and emotional with a bigger chest, flexed 
muscles and a more aggressive 
Randy shared that he is influenced and inspired 
by different things when working on his designs. 
“As a designer, you admire all sports cars and 
wide bodies and all of that, but I drew a lot of 
inspiration from other things. Actually, the Discovery Channel had Shark Week going on while I 
was working on the 370, and I took a lot of inspiration from that.
If you look at the beltline and the belly of the 
370Z, you can see the shark influences: it’s built 
like a torpedo and it screams speed and power. 
Other imagery of animals running with powerful 
rear legs and strong stances were influences, as 
were the muscles of the athletic, toned body of a 
sprinter. I also looked at fighter jets and motorcycles. I have a collection of bikes and was restoring an MV Agusta F4 while working on the 370, 
which gave me a lot of ideas for new surfaces and 
mechanical details.”
Determined to excel even more in the field God 
put him in, Randy revealed that he is currently 
working on “some pretty futuristic stuff. Working 
on some Infiniti concept car things. Yeah, we’re 
just crazy busy right now. The industry is picking 
up a little bit, so there are a lot of projects. There 
are a lot of cool things coming from Nissan and 
I can’t really tell you what I’m working on but I 
have some exciting things in the works.”
Yes, a Pinoy has done it again- given honor to 
our homeland and our people. Go, Randy- and 
more power to you