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Nissan 300ZX Turbo (Z32) | Spotted

The forgotten Z-car is now a bonafide Japanese classic - and more affordable than you might think

By Sam Sheehan / Wednesday, February 26, 2020

With its sleek looks, well-specced interior and 3.0-litre V6 engine, the Z32-generation Nissan 300ZX has never struggled to win affection. It was a success in Britain, outselling the likes of Mitsubishi's 3000GT, Mazda's RX-7 and even Toyota's Supra during its life. Against its Japanese two-door rivals, the 300ZX managed to offer the broadest range of talents, with performance to rival the Supra, character to rival the RX-7 and functionality to match the 3000GT. And while not to everyone's taste, the car's flat-nosed and butch-backed design certainly made it unique.

When a pair of Garrett turbos were mounted to its VG30DE six-cylinder, it was elevated into the realms of a contemporary supercar slayer. It got all the latest creature comforts, 2+2 seating and an actual boot, and with 300hp (ignore the oft-quoted JDM gentleman's agreement figure) the super-coupe could keep up with a Ferrari 348tb. 60mph came in 5.6 seconds, but real-world rolling acceleration was better in the 300ZX Turbo because boost ensured a wider window of torque - 274lb ft arrived from just 3,600rpm.

The on-paper wins obviously stopped there because the Nissan weighed 1,550kg, which is a not insignificant amount even in today's crash-structure-dominated world - and 190kg more than the two-seat 348tb. But the 300ZX's cheaper price and the exoticness of the Ferrari badge it went up against meant that it was hailed as a performance hero. Amongst its own kind, the car was especially rapid - see this Best Motoring video from 1989 when the 300ZX proved its worth against an all-star Japanese class.

It's because the 300ZX really was an engineering marvel. Its motor was a significantly evolved version of the Z31-gen's V6, with a redesigned block, different crankshaft and new connecting rods, as well as a cutting-edge variable cam timing system and lots more. The body itself had a drag coefficient of 0.31 and the chassis was benchmarked against the Porsche 944. Mix all that together into a package bolted together with Japanese engineering and the combined success almost seems a given. The car remained popular even after production ended, thanks in part to its pixelated inclusion on Gran Turismo.

These days, the 300ZX has a secured spot in the realm of Japanese heroes, although compared to the likes of the Supra and RX-7 it's arguably now lacking a little desirability. Perhaps it's because the others were given an even bigger image boost by the Fast and Furious franchise; whatever the case, UK numbers for the 300ZX have been allowed to dwindle to less than 300 cars (according to HowManyLeft). Barely more than half of those are Turbos. That does, at least, mean the car can be described as a rarity - and prices reflect that.

£12k is the asking price for today's Spotted, a 23-year-old manual Turbo T top with 69,000 miles on the clock. It's one of just two Z32s advertised on PH (there's also a Z31) and it's got both age and mileage on its side. It also appears to be completely unmolested inside and out, with its original 16-inch alloys and some very clean Recaro sports seats suggesting it's lived a good life. But it's also not without a bit of patina; the Nissan Fairlady Z badging (yep, it's a Japanese market import) is looking its age. The seller says the car has "excellent investment potential" and there's nothing we can see to suggest otherwise. But as a reliable old Nissan (in theory), that doesn't mean it'll have to be parked up in a garage for the rest of its life.

2,960cc, V6, twin-turbo
Transmission: 5-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 300@6,400rpm
Torque (lb ft): 274@3,600rpm
CO2: N/A
Recorded mileage: 69,000
First registered: 1997
Price new: N/A
Yours for: £11,995

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