Autech was founded in 1986 as a subsidiary of Nissan. Nissan named Shinichiro Sakurai, the former general manager of the company's Advanced Vehicle Design Department, as the first president of the new company. The company sells the cars through Nissan dealers rather than through other means.
Partnership with Zagato: On 27 May 1987 Autech and the Italian company Zagato signed an agreement to jointly produce a luxury sports car aimed mainly at the Japanese market. Autech was responsible for the engine and chassis, and Zagato of the interior and exterior design. The new car used the platform of the Nissan Leopard and was called Autech Zagato Stelvio AZ1. It was unveiled in 1989, with 203 cars planned to be made (three of which were prototypes). Costs kept increasing during development and in the end 104 units were produced.