Nissan Fairlady 300ZX (1983 - 1989)
We are currently staring down the barrel of a future where all of your on screen heroes will be fighting bad guys with a combination of paperwork and legislation, carefully choosing their one liners so not to offend anyone on or off screen and chasing down bad guys in his/her silent self driving eco wagon. They will only drink trendy craft beers called Pork Toilet and Boy Beard and they’ll vape at least twenty meters away from any public place like a real badass.
Who would have thought that the movie Turbo Kid would be the most accurate representation of our future world, where by people will have to cycle everywhere in search of supplies. It all makes sense now, once they’ve cut off the supply of fossil fuels and we transition to the silent electric transport of the future, they have control of the juice on a switch. Game over guys, you better go buy the best BMX you can find, you’re gonna need it.
Again I had been seduced by speed. The BMW 520i was a solid car, reliable, cheap to run but i’m late for everything and so, i needed a faster car.
As my passion for anything with wheels from the 80’s grew, I found myself expanding my knowledge of parts and maintenance and decided to take on something a little more exotic.
I looked to some of my childhood memories for inspiration. I recalled how much I adored the Chase HQ series of video games, my first experience of this genre however was Battle Out Run on the SEGA Master System. Simply put, in this title, you drive the renowned Ferrari Testarossa at high speed across the states and literally ram criminals cars until they give up or die. Strangely Mr.T made an appearance in a what looked like a Porsche 911.
This genre became very popular as you can imagine. The lineup of cars were always the coolest picks from the era and for me, the Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo from the Chase HQ series was one of the coolest cars of all time.
The 300zx had proven itself in Japan, actually Z cars had proven themselves time and time again. Initially taking inspiration from the US, they created a sleek series of sports cars reminiscent of some of America’s greats. The Datsun/Nissan designs had huge front ends which was an American tradition, presumably a handy design intent for throwing all sorts of engines in and still having room for things you might have forgotten in the first place.
With the arrival of the Fairlady 300ZX (Z32), Nissan utilised the Cray-II supercomputer and with it, they designed a car that actually housed engine and running gear with only inches to spare. Proportionality near perfect design and aerodynamics that would make a mustang look like a Volvo, Nissan had produced a world beater. My particular Z was the naturally aspirated form and the only thing that remained unchanged from the previous generation 300ZX is the 3.0-liter V6 engine, now with dual overhead camshafts (DOHC), variable valve timing (VVT) and producing a rated 222 hp and 198 lb·ft of torque. This was more than enough for me because with any less MPG I’d be choosing between food or fuel.
The twin turbo model was good for 300 hp along with 283 lb·ft of torque. 0-60 mph in less than 6.5 seconds and it had a governed top speed of 155 mph (249 km/h).
Driving the Z today you can never quite get over just how well it sits on the road, in a word, planted. With a wide wheelbase, low centre of gravity with a silky smooth engine and box, it’s a bit of a time machine. Controls inside are all centred around the driver, everything you need at your fingertips, a bit like an arcade machine. Super car like dials, electric bucket seats and aesthetically pleasing controls finish off the low and well balanced interior.
The Fairlady has a great presence on the road and it should seeing as though it was virtually used to chase criminals. Ironically my Z was used in a scene for the upcoming feature of Retro Grade Future which I can, hand on heart, say will be on par with a one off Baywatch/Knight Rider crossover where Pamela Anderson and the David Hasslehoff hunt sharks off the coast of California using KITT’s laser beam.
To quote from Wikipedia; “Nissan aired a commercial during Super Bowl XXIV in 1990 advertising the new Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo. The 60-second commercial was directed by Ridley Scott and only aired once. Executives at Nissan pulled the commercial after the initial airing when they became concerned the commercial would promote street racing since the commercial features the 300ZX being faster than a sport bike, a formula one car and a fighter jet”
I’m sure Americans wouldn’t believe the Fairlady was capable of mach one...would they? If you wanted a commercial with a little more realism, perhaps one of the greatest Sci-Fi directors of our time wasn’t exactly the ideal option. Mind you I’ve seen older commercials of American cars cornering at high speed, so they are no strangers to fiction.
One day I would love to experience the twin turbo version of the Z and it’s four wheel steering, I’ve been told that battling on the highways of Japan, the 300zx was something you didn’t want to see in your rearview mirror. At high speed, the 300zx can change lanes like a Tron bike, making over takes on the narrow sections of Tokyo’s finest, a walk in the park. Having said that, once it’s past you it’s a good job the back end looks so good because you’ll probably spend a lot of time looking at it.
I personally believe the Nissan Fairlady 300zx Z32 is without doubt one of the best looking cars ever built. Long before a tuner trend kicked off when Paul Walker ruined a Toyota Supra and beat a car from the 70’s, I was firing a Bazooka out of the targa top roof of the 300zx, saving damsels in distress.
It was certainly a pleasure to own and drive one of Japan's finest road warriors, my curiosity deepened about the Z’s legacy, which will continue in next month’s instalment here at NRW.