Nissan 300ZX

In the current issue we tell the story of the Nissan 300ZX Z32 – the car that took on Porsche and beat them – but ended up being a forgotten hero. On its 30th birthday we believe it shouldn’t be forgotten – read on to find out how you can put one on your drive.

W

We spoke to Simon Parsons about running a 300ZX Z32. He helps run the UK 300ZX Owners Club and is also involved with the US Z Owners Club. He’s owned his own Z32 for 15 years.

What’s it like to run?
Parts are not as hard to get hold of as many people think, although it can take a bit of effort. It's true that parts are being discontinued at an alarming rate - however, there is huge aftermarket support in the US from companies like Z1 Motorsports in Georgia and SpecialtyZ in California, who ship internationally (both OEM and upgraded products).

UK Nissan dealerships can still get things, although sometimes they’re frightfully expensive. Many trim parts have gone no longer available (NLA), but all service parts are easily obtainable (best to go in with part numbers if you're buying from a dealership - lead times can often be a few months). There are a couple of specialist companies like jp-carparts in Japan who have access to quite a substantial inventory of new-old stock, a lot of which would have already gone NLA through Nissan sources.

Parts are not cheap – just because Nissan made the cheap and cheerful Micra doesn't mean that parts for the Z32 are inexpensive. After all, it sold in drastically lower numbers than most regular production cars. The hardest parts to get hold of, bearing in mind the age and the UK market (rust), are replacement panels. You can get some of these through ZCentre and all service parts/servicing and mechanical upgrades by PowerZed.

Are you seeing a move towards preservation rather than modification these days?
Definitely more toward preservation, but there is still emphasis on modification, but for stuff that lies beneath the skin. Most folk are what I'd consider 'OEM+' in terms of a visual aspect. The general consensus these days is that the Z32 has a fairly timeless shape. Long gone are the huge swathes of horrible fibreglass kits that you could glue on. These are still available though and the odd few aftermarket parts places still sell them. The car has come of age though and has become an accepted member of the retro-classic scene, which is generally more geared toward preservation.

300zx.jpg

How much would you pay for a good manual Twin Turbo, and is it worth importing a fresh one from Japan?

UK manual Twin Turbos in good condition are few and far between and really hard to put a value on as they just don't come up. Rust was the biggest killer of these cars and while many Japanese models that have been here for a long period of time have long since turned into the ferrous ore from whence they came, UK ones got there a littler earlier and were scrapped when they were right at the bottom of their depreciation curve. Most good ones are generally owned and have been for a long period of time, although low mileage and/or good condition UK cars do occasionally pop up once every few years. On the other hand, if you're looking for a basket case as a project, you'll get a UK car every few months.

It is a similar story for Japanese-market models too, the influx of grey imports killed UK values in the early to mid-2000s, but many have been abused and there are plenty of NA models, which in my opinion aren't the ones to aim for. Go for the full red-blooded Twin Turbo. Some nice Japanese models pop up, certainly more than UK models, however the really nice ones are also owned and have been for long periods of time, but I'd say really examples pop up a couple of times a year.

Values are creeping up in Japan, but it still makes financial sense to look at a fresh import. Fresh Japanese cars are generally rust-free. Half the country lies in very mild climates and the other half that gets snow, doesn't get subjected to the yearly gritting onslaught that UK roads get each winter. There are still quite a few out in Japan and if you're prepared to wait, you can find exactly what you're looking for. Avoid 89 and 90 cars though as some early examples had issues with soft valves. Nissan addressed this with mildly revised cylinder heads and different valves for 91.

My pick of model year would be between 93 and 95, (although mine is a 91, albeit comprehensively revised) – they're generally the better-equipped cars. Early models have a rather dowdy tweed trim; 93 did away with that and the specifications were generally slightly higher. 95-97 did away with a boost gauge, 95+ had thinner carpets, less sound deadening and underbody protection. 97+ cars came without variable valve timing (slight torque change and a shift over to OBDII). Most late cars came without the fancy digital climate control and cruise control, even special models like the Version R.

300zx engine bay.png

In terms of differences between UK and JDM models, there's not much really. After 91 or 92, NMUK arranged for the Z32 to be shipped over with what was known as the 'lux pack' which is basically 'all options ticked' – this included heated leather as standard. If you select the correct JDM Z32, you'll find it is available with almost the same specifications. Everything else (other than some minor trim and glass tint differences, thicker ARBs and a transmission cooler on UK cars) is pretty much the same.

    Prices for poor/non runners between £1000-£2,500

    Prices for average TT manual models are between £2,500/£5k

    Prices for good TT manual models are £5k+

    Exceptional examples £10K+

    NAs and Autos can skew the overall average values a little.

    Finally – what's the best bit about a Z32?

For me, there really is no 'best-bit'. The car has the perfect balance of looks, performance and driver appeal. If, like me, you've owned the car for a considerable amount of time, it becomes very much a great social aspect if you get yourself involved. That goes for any Z. I'm heavily involved and on an international level and have seen and met some incredible things and people around the globe. Some of my greatest friendships have been forged by way of owning this car. It's a great hobby, it's a big deal socially, it's more than just a car, it's very much a lifestyle.

If you’d like to be part of the 30th anniversary celebrations for the 300ZX, or fancy talking to owners about ownership, the 300ZX annual meet is on Sunday 14th July at the British Motor Museum in Gaydon, Warwickshire. There’s a pre-event meeting on Saturday 13th at the Woodlands Grange hotel with a run out to the British Motor Museum the following morning. More details at https://www.300zx.co.uk 

To buy the latest issue, with our profile of the 300ZX’s rise and fall, click below:



Lewis Plumb300ZX, Fairlady Z