The Nissan 300ZX debuted at a time which might be referred to as Nissan’s golden sports car era. The 3-door 2+2 coupe succeeded the 280ZX and was released in two generations – Z31 from 1983 to 1989 and Z32 from 1989 to 1995.
The 300ZX was launched in 1983 with the introduction of the Z31. Its iconic form was a Kazumasu Tokagi design, more streamlined than ever. It had better aerodynamics and was more powerful than the 280ZX but used the same chassis and independent suspension system with MacPherson struts and semi-trailing arms. Two 3.0-litre V6 engines powered the Z31, and these were:
- 3.0-litre VG30E V6 engine (124 kW)
- 3.0-litre turbocharged VG30ET V6 engine (155 kW)
The two were released some period apart with the VG30E rolling out first. The more powerful turbo version VG30ET was released later, prompted by a demand for a more powerful Z. In Australia, it came with the 3.0-litre VG30E V6 petrol engine (124 kW, 241 Nm) paired with either a 3-speed automatic transmission or a 5-speed manual gearbox. The sole T-Bar Top trim, which would later be called Targa, featured a single trim with a T-bar roof, air conditioning, alloy wheels, cruise control, digital dashboard, and a radio cassette with four speakers.
The second generation of the 300ZX fulfilled Nissan’s sports car goals for the Z family. The Z32 generation was the sportiest and the most expensive of the Z generations. Nissan thought to mint more money off the success of the Z32 by raising its price. Unfortunately, this pushed the Z32 away from the market, forcing Nissan to discontinue the series.
The release of the Z32 in 1989 showed a revised Z31 with larger dimensions and better aerodynamics. Nissan opted to carry over the Z31 powertrain into this new generation, the same 3.0-litre VG30E engine enhanced with a double overhead camshaft and a single variable valve timing system. These improvements to the engine boosted the 300ZX to make a massive 166 kW of power and 268 Nm of torque.
It had a recorded maximum speed of 249 km/hr and featured an adjustable two-mode suspension and a high-capacity actively controlled steering (HICAS). It's steering also received an upgrade with the Cray-2 supercomputers CAD software. Australia received the same Targa trim powered by the 3.0-litre VG30ET V6 turbocharged petrol engine (108 kW, 269 Nm) with a 4-speed automatic transmission or 5-speed manual gearbox.
A series of changes over the years of the Z32 marked its evolution from 1991 to 1995. These included a new electronic climate control system that allowed control over airflow direction and discontinued the ambient temperature gauge. The aluminium air-conditioning evaporator valve was replaced with a steel valve to reduce noise.
In the 1993 release, the turbo oil line insulation was changed, and a convertible option was added to the Z32. The aluminium brake callipers were now made of iron. The sound system was upgraded to a Bose stereo system, while the rear spoiler was modified to a much taller, more pedestal-type design. It featured the super HICAS system, shifting from hydraulic to electrical actuation.
The Australian Targa trim featured ABS, cruise control, limited-slip differential, leather steering wheel, and central locking in addition to what it previously contained as standard equipment.
In 1995, the Z32 received little updates including a new coloured front fascia and upgraded twin-turbo ECUs (from 8-bit to 16-bit). A 25th Anniversary special edition was on sale in 1995 with driver’s airbag, rear spoiler, CD player, climate control and a gold paint offered as standard.
The 300ZX did not shift far from the racetrack legacy set by the 280ZX. As a powerful upgrade to the 280ZX, the 300ZX quickly became a hit in races. In 1990, Motorsports International of Waco teamed up with HKS to redesign a tucked-up version of the 300ZX, naming it the SR-71 Z32, which was that year’s third-fastest car.
The 300ZX was discontinued in 1999, followed by a hiatus in the Z-car’s history. There was a lull for several years before the Nissan 350Z replaced it in 2002. Today, the 300ZX remains a car to reckon with and an icon to collect for enthusiasts. If you have one you would like to sell, or are looking for parts to keep it in running condition, Carpart.com.au is the place for you. Contact us if you would like to advertise with us or request us for genuine auto parts.