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Nissan (Datsun) 300ZX

Nissan (Datsun) 300ZX Car 1985


1985 Datsun 300ZX

The Nissan 300ZX, also known as the Nissan Fairlady Z, is a sports car produced by Nissan. It comprises the third and fourth generations of the Z-car line-up, given the chassis designations Z31 and Z32.

The 300ZX name followed the numerical convention put forth by Yutaka Katayama, then President of Nissan Motors USA. This was used in the North American, European, and Australian markets. In Japan Fairlady Z is used.


300zx Meeting Belgium 2005

Video / Movie

The Z31 and Z32 feature a 3.0 liter, V6, naturally-aspirated or turbo charged engine. Although both motors are from the same VG series and having the same displacement, the output of the Z32 is greater than the Z31.

The naturally-aspirated Z32 has 222 hp and 198 lb-ft of torque versus the Z31 with 160-165 hp and 174 lb-ft of torque. The twin-turbo Z32s have 300 hp and 283 lb-ft torque versus the single turbo Z31, which has 200-205 hp and 227 lb-ft of torque.

The main difference in the newer motor is the addition of dual overhead camshafts, and for the turbo charged version, dual inter coolers and variable valve timing.

The Z31 chassis was designed after the previous Z-car, the Nissan 280ZX, and had two special editions. The 50th Anniversary Edition focused on luxury to celebrate the company's semi-centennial in 1984, the Shiro Special, released 4 years later, boasted performance-oriented upgrades.

Styling would be completely redesigned with the release of the Z32, This tended towards finer curves and more efficient aerodynamics. The newer chassis also featured four-wheel steering, called Super HICAS, in its top-of-the-line models.

Although it was not a special edition, in 1996 Nissan designated the final 300 American units the Commemorative Edition. Production of the Z32 ceased outside of the home market and continued in Japan until August of 2000.

True to its heritage, the race-only 300ZX cars had several notable victories, including the 1986 Trans Am series and the 1994 24 Hours of Daytona.

However, auto sports politics and a controversial GTS-1 class win at the 24 Hours of LeMans that same year prompted the International Motor Sports Association to declare the twin turbo engine illegal for future competition. The 300ZX also holds the E/BMS land speed record of 419.84 km/h (260.87 mph) from the 1991 Bonneville Speed Trial.

Throughout its life, the 300ZX has been praised by critics. Car and Driver placed the car on its Ten Best list for 6 consecutive years. Motor Trend awarded it as the 1990 Import Car of the Year. In 1996 Automobile Magazine reflected upon their years of experience with the Z-car with a single statement:

“The 300ZX Turbo is a dance; it's a song; it's rolling, roaring automotive art.
There is no colour that doesn't suit it. There is no mood-lifting chemical substance it can't replace.”

Nissan 300ZX Import Tuner Challenge  Car


300ZX Import Tuner Challenge


The Z31 chassis designation was first introduced in 1983 as a 1984 Datsun/Nissan 300ZX. This continued until 1985 when Nissan standardized their brand name worldwide and dropped the Datsun badge.

Designed by Kazumasu Takagi and his team, the 300ZX improved aerodynamics and increased power when compared to its predecessor, the 280ZX. The newer Z-car had a drag coefficient of 0.30 and used Japan's first ever V6 engine instead of an I6 in the spirit of the original Fairlady Z.

This new V6 (2960 cc) single overhead cam engine was available as a naturally-aspirated VG30E or a turbo charged VG30ET producing 160 hp and 200 hp respectively.

The engine was either a type A or type B sub-designation from 1984 to April 1987, models from May 1987 to 1989 had a W sub-designation. The W-series engines featured redesigned water jackets for additional cooling, fully floating piston wrist pins, and more power, 165 hp naturally aspirated and 205 hp turbo charged.

The 1984 to 1987 turbo models featured a Garrett T3 turbocharger with a 7.8:1 compression ratio, whereas 1988 to 1989 models featured a low inertia T25 turbocharger with an increased 8.3:1 compression ratio. Producing 5 extra horsepower, these engines were equipped with self-adjusting hydraulic valve lifters.

Japanese market

In Japan, the Z31 also came with a 2.0 litre motor. The 200Z, 200ZG, and 200ZS used the VG20ET motor while the 200ZR had the RB20DET. Other than the 300ZX, the only other factory Z31 variant to use the VG30DE engine is the 300ZR.

The Japanese 300ZX Turbo was free of tough emissions regulations as in the US, allowing it to produce 230 hp, outperforming not only its North American counterpart, but the 2.0 liter Z31s as well--their engines only made 170-180 hp because of local taxation laws.


The Z31 chassis was based on an 280ZX. Although the newer chassis had the same wheel base and MacPherson strut/semi-trailing arm independent suspension, it handled and accelerated better than the 280ZX. Turbo Charged models, except for the Shiro Special edition, had innovational 3-way electronically adjustable shock absorbers.

1983-1989 Nissan 300ZX Z31


1983-1989 Nissan 300ZX Z31

Special edition Z31 releases

Nissan manufactured two special edition Z31s. In 1984, the 300ZX 50th Anniversary Edition was released to celebrate Nissan's 50th anniversary. These cars were all fully loaded turbo models with a Silver/Black colour scheme.

In 1988, the turbo charged Shiro Special debuted with pearl white paint, stiffer springs and matched shocks, a unique front air dam, paint matched wheels, Recaro seats, and a viscous limited-slip differential.

It was the fastest car out of Japan, capable of 153 mph speeds. 1002 Shiro Special Z31s were made in 1988.

Style and evolution

The Z31 body was slightly restyled in 1986 with the addition of side skirts and the removal of the hood scoop for a much smoother look.

The old rubber spoiler was replaced with a more durable fibreglass one, and a third brake light was added to comply with US safety regulations. The car was given a final make over in 1987 that included more aerodynamic bumpers, fog lamps within the front air dam, and 9004 bulb-based headlamps.

The 300ZX titled rear reflector was updated to a narrow set of tail lights running the entire width of the car with an LED third brake light on top of the rear hatch.

The Z31 continued selling until 1989 with 70,000 units were sold in 1985 alone.


In 1989 Nissan replaced the Z31 chassis with the Z32. Production of the naturally aspirated versions followed by the twin-turbo. The Z32 was also titled 300ZX because it had a the same displacement engine. Since the engine had dual overhead cams, the engine name was revised to VG30DE. The twin-turbo model VG30DETT.

Style and evolution

The Z32 chassis would undergo several changes between 1989 and 2000. Safety additions are the included standard driver and passenger-side airbags and true pillar-mount seat belts. The Z32's year sales in 1990 reached 39,290 units.


  • Manual climate controls discontinued (except in convertible).
  • New electronic climate controls allowing control over air flow direction, but no more ambient temp gauge.
  • Nissan logo put on the front fascia (nose panel).
  • Driver's airbag now optional.
  • Air conditioner evaporator valve changed from aluminium to steel for better sound insulation.
  • North American brake rotors changed to NA units. Previous NA rotors were 4 mm thinner.
  • CD player option added for both the TT and NA; it was previously only available in the NA.
  • Bose stereo head unit changed.
  • Logo on floor mats changed from "300ZX" to "Z".
  • Hardtop coupe available at mid-year (NA only).
  • Brake master cylinder changed to new unit in February 1991.
  • Keyhole on driver's door and interior light illuminated when driver's door handle was pulled.
  • Sales: 17,652 units.[12]
Nissan (Datsun) Z300ZX - Z32 - Convertible


Z300ZX - Z32 - Convertible


  • Driver's airbag made standard.
  • Brake calliper material changed from aluminium to iron, to help warpage/shimmy problems.
  • Dashboard and door complimentary material changed from fabric to suede.
  • Separate mirror heater switch eliminated (combined with rear defroster switch)
  • Mirror heaters made standard.
  • Power adjustable driver's seat standard on TT.
  • Sales: 6,708 units.


  • Turbo oil line insulation changed for better heat dissipation.
  • Convertible option added.
  • Upgraded Bose stereo made standard.
  • AIV/reed valves removed.
  • Sales: 11,599 units.


  • Front fascia became body coloured instead of gray strip.
  • Rear spoiler design changed to a taller, pedestal-type.
  • Seat belts redesigned; they were moved from door mounts to true pillar mounts.
  • Super HICAS system changed to an electrically-actuated unit (previously oil pressure actuated).
  • Passenger's side airbag introduced and made standard.
  • Keyless entry added.
  • Titanium keys discontinued in November 1994.
  • 'Reset' button removed from clock.
  • Off-white 'Pearl' colour is dropped. Future 'Pearls' are more of a semi-metallic white.
  • Sales: 5,320 units.


  • Sales: 3,135 units.


  • Variable cam timing (NVTC) dropped. Factory HP rating remains at 300hp as seen on original 1996 model year window stickers and third-party dyno testing shows 300 hp.
  • OBD II electronics introduced.
  • Driver's seat back rest no longer included adjustable side bolsters.
  • Sales: 2929 Units total, 300 of which are the "Commemorative Edition."


In 1984 to 1985 showroom stock racing the car scored its only Trans Am win in 1986 by Paul Newman.

From 1985 to 1987, the Electramotive-developed GTP ZX-Turbo was raced in the International Motor Sports Association's (IMSA) GTP class. Also in the All Japan Sports Prototype Championship, badged as a Fairlady Z, using a Lola T810 chassis and a VG30ET engine. A series of crashes attributed to tire blowouts combined with a difficult T810 chassis caused poor race success.

Between 1988 and 1989, the Nissan GTP ZX-Turbo dominated in IMSA GTP racing. Additional factory endorsement, combined with a new chassis, transmission and more reliable Goodyear tires contributed to better success. The SOHC VG30ET was making upwards of 1000 hp, with a power band that extended from 4000 to 9000 rpm on a single turbo.

From 1990 to 1995, Steve Millen drove the twin turbo 300ZX for Clayton Cunningham Racing. The car dominated the IMSA in its GTO, then later GTS categories with a newly-designed chassis and engine.

Millen would rank as the #1 Factory Driver for Nissan for 7 years and earn two IMSA GTS Driving Championships and two IMSA GTS Manufacturer's Championships.

Among enthusiasts and the team themselves the biggest triumph was the victory in the 24 Hours of Daytona. In the same year at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 300ZX ranked first in the GTS-1 class and 5th overall.

In an attempt to level the playing field in the GTS-1 class by reducing the allowable horsepower, the IMSA declared the twin turbo VG engine ineligible. The 1995 GTS 300ZX car would debut with the V8 Nissan VH engine at Daytona and would place first in the GTS-1 class at the 24 Hours of Sebring and Mosehead Grand Prix in Halifax.

Nissan 300ZX - Clayton Cunningham Racing Car - Daytona


Clayton Cunningham Racing Nissan 300ZX.

The JUN-BLITZ Bonneville Z32 holds the E/BMS class land speed record of 419.84 km/h (260.87 mph) set at the 1991 Bonneville Speed Trial. The vehicle was built as a partnership between JUN Auto and BLITZ.

Nissan 300ZX
Manufacturer Nissan
Also called Nissan Fairlady Z
Production 1983–2000 (Imports to North America ceased in 1996)
Assembly Hiratsuka, Kanagawa, Japan
Predecessor Nissan 280ZX
Successor Nissan 350Z
Class Sports car/ Grand Tourer
Transmission(s) 5-speed manual
4-speed automatic


  • 1990: The 1990 300-ZX Turbo is named Motor Trend's "Import Car of the Year". Motor Trend also names it, "One of the Top Ten Performance Cars". Automobile Magazine honours the 300-ZX/300-ZX Turbo as its "Design of the Year", and names the 300-ZX Turbo to its "All Stars" list. Road & Track names the 300-ZX Turbo "One of the Ten Best Cars in the World". Car and Driver names the 300-ZX Turbo "One of the Ten Best Cars".
  • 1991: The 300-ZX Turbo is named to Car and Driver 's "Ten Best" list, and is once again one of Automobile Magazine's "All-Stars".
  • 1992: For the third straight year, Car and Driver names the 300-ZX Turbo one of its "Ten Best", and Automobile Magazine names it to its "All-Stars" list.
  • 1993: For the fourth straight year, the 300-ZX Turbo is named a Car and Driver "Ten Best", and one of Automobile Magazine's "All-Stars".
  • 1994: For the fifth straight year, the 300-ZX Turbo is named to the "Ten Best" and "All Stars" lists by Car and Driver and Automobile Magazine, respectively.
  • 1995: For the sixth straight year the 300ZX Turbo is named to the "Ten Best" by Car and Driver.
  • 1996: For the seventh straight year the 300ZX Turbo is named to the "Ten Best" by Car and Driver, this is also the final year of production in the US.

Even after production stopped magazines have continued to rave and award the 300ZX even years later.

  • 2004: Automobile lists the Z32 as one of the 100 coolest cars of all time.
  • 2006: Automobile lists the Z32 on both the "20 Greatest Cars of the Past 20 years" and the "25 Most Beautiful Cars in History".

"once again beautiful, so sleek and tight and shimmering that it still looks great ten years after it went away" -Automobile, 2006

From the year it was introduced, the Z32 has also won many tests against similar sports cars such as the Mitsubishi 3000GT/Dodge Stealth, Mazda RX-7, Chevrolet Corvette, Toyota Supra, Dodge Viper and the Porsche 968.[17]


In Australia, the 1990 to 1995 Nissan 300ZX was assessed in the Used Car Safety Ratings as giving "average" protection for occupants in a crash.

The 300zx was also reported by the United States Department of Transportation to be safer than other popular sports cars like the RX-7, Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, Pontiac Firebird. Mainly due to advanced placement of the seatbelt being mounted on the door instead of on the car body.

Wiki Source

References and Notes


Bob Sharp Racing IMSA Nissan 300ZX


The Paul Newman/Bob Sharp Racing IMSA 300ZX.

Z31 Nissan 300ZX


Z31 Nissan 300ZX

Modern Nissan (Datsun) 300ZX Car


Modern Nissan (Datsun) 300ZX Car


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that is one hot car !


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