Tommy Kaira ZZ: Spotted

It's unusual to find "it takes 5-10 minutes for the car to idle properly" written as a selling point, but welcome to today's Spotted: a Tommy Kaira ZZ.

Ah, the ZZ. This first came to the British public's consciousness when the PlayStation game Gran Turismo 2 went on sale, late in 1999.

Gran Turismo, then rated as the best driving simulator around, featured the ZZ - which was Japan's answer to the Lotus Elise, if you like - among the cars players could buy and tune.

In fact, the ZZ was so much Japan's answer to the Elise that Tommy Kaira - an established Japanese tuning firm that wanted to branch out into making its own sports car - had the car built in Norfolk, then exported to Japan.

Tragically, it sold in far greater virtual numbers on PlayStations than it ever did in real life. Which is a shame. Because there's a lot to like about this little roadster.

It has two seats, weighs comfortably under a tonne - the owner of this one plus some original specifications say 670kg - and had a four-pot 2.0-litre Nissan SR20 DE engine (from, among other Nissans, the Primera eGT and Almera GTi). Converted to run on carbs, it's said here to make a healthy 200hp. Hence the lumpy idle, presumably. The engine drives the back wheels through a five-speed manual gearbox.

Reviews at the time said the ZZ was fairly twitchy at the limit, and although the ZZ sold throughout the 1990s, and it's reckoned 200 were made, eventually demand dried up. The Elise went into production in 1996, which probably did it - like other niche sporty roadsters - no favours, so the ZZ went out of production in 2000.

Then the tooling and rights were obtained by a company called Leading Edge, which began assembly again between 2002 and 2005, after a few tweaks, calling the car the 190RT or 240RT, depending on power output. It was reviewed by the UK car mags - I had a go for the website 4Car - who found the earlier twitchiness was gone, that the car was good fun to drive. The weight was then quoted as 809kg, which sounds more believable than a number starting with a six. But still, against a backdrop of Elises and Caterhams, the Leading Edge wasn't unusual in finding itself a pretty short lived product.

But back to this ZZ. This car's a fairly late one - 1998 - and comes with the detachable roof. It doesn't appear to be registered, but it is right hand drive, and if you want it to be road-registered in the UK that should be possible. You'll have to go through Individual Vehicle Approval, but hey, there's only a 65 page document to digest before you've even started.

That might sound like a hassle, especially given the €38,500 (£34,070) asking price for this low-mileage ZZ. So the chances are you'll probably look at all of that, and then buy a Lotus Elise anyway, just like you might have done when the pair were new. But just in case you don't, this is a rare chance to buy a little piece of electronics age history.

: 1,998cc, straight-four
Transmission: five-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 183@6,900rpm
Torque (lb ft): 142@4,900rpm
CO2: N/A
Recorded mileage: 5,998km
Year registered: 1998
Price new: N/A
Price now: 38,500 euros

See the original advert here

Matt Prior



P.H. O'meter

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Comments (29) Join the discussion on the forum

  • GM182 11 Jul 2017

    That is a sweet looking car. I bet it would be great fun.

    But the price! Imagine the nightmare if you damaged the bodywork and it makes no sense against the huge range of established competitors for less money. What does a 340R fetch these days?

  • ambuletz 11 Jul 2017

    The AI always came in first place when driving these in gran turismo, damn buggers! always loved TK cars.

  • Krikkit 11 Jul 2017

    I was ready to love it... Right up to the price! Considering you could nearly have two minty S1 Elises for this money it seems like madness.

  • HeMightBeBanned 11 Jul 2017

    GM182 said:
    What does a 340R fetch these days?
    £70k+. One sold at Bonhams in May for £69k. There have been cars sold in Europe for €80k and €104k. There's one on Pistonheads at £79k.

  • JohnoVR6 11 Jul 2017

    Really do quite like that - but if I were in the market for an inappropriate, roofless two seater from the mid-90's, my money would still go on a Renault Sport Spider.


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