2009 Nissan 370Z. Click image to enlarge
Manufacturer’s web site
2009 Nissan 370Z
Toronto, Ontario – So how does a young man from Surrey, British Columbia end up having a hand in one of the all-time iconic Japanese models? For designer Randy Rodriguez, it was a “dream come true” to work on the newest incarnation of the Nissan 370Z.
“When I first saw it in real life, I was blown away,” Rodriguez said. “You sketch and draw and design things all the time, and you wish and hope that one of these things will become real. It’s different when you sketch it and it’s a cool piece of artwork, but when you can touch and feel and drive it … every time I see somebody enjoying that car, it’s just going to make me all warm and fuzzy.”
Although he’s only 31, Rodriguez feels that his youth gives him an edge. “You don’t have the experience when you’re younger, but I find it’s an advantage,” he said. “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.”
Born in Surrey, B.C., 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 – as did Rodriguez, whose first car was a 1971 version. After studying sciences for a year at the University of British Columbia, he decided to turn to automobiles, and was accepted at Detroit’s College for Creative Studies. He interned with General Motors and Toyota, but his love of Datsun and Nissan products provided the urge to work for the automaker, and the feeling was mutual: a few weeks after graduation, he joined Nissan Design America in San Diego, California, where he now lives. “There are competitions during school that are sponsored by Michelin and PPG,” he said. “I won some of those, and it caught the attention of Nissan before I graduated. They called my school looking for me.”