Junkyard Find: 1984 Nissan 300ZX Turbo 50th Anniversary Edition

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

After the Malaise Era of 1973 through 1983, we had the Turbo Era. I’m going to say the Turbo Era lasted from 1984 through about 1992, and it was followed by the Everybody Finally Has Electronic Fuel Injection And It’s About Damn Time Era. The real star of the Turbo Era was, of course, the Mitsubishi Starion, which was so incredibly turbo-centric that it had the word “TURBO” stitched into the seat belts. The Nissan 300ZX Turbo didn’t register much lower on the Turbo Awesomeness-O-Meter, however, and now I feel vaguely ashamed that I’ve ignored so many of these things in so many junkyards over the years. Today we will honor one of the stars of the Turbo Era!

Among the many incredible features in the 50th Anniversary Edition 300ZX was the Bodysonic sound system. Yes, you could really buy a car with a feature called Bodysonic, and it was every bit as cool as the name implies. Basically, this was a speaker system embedded in the car’s seats, so that you felt the thudding bass of your Erik B and Rakim cassette right in your butt.

Because this was the middle 1980s, Z-Car buyers needed T-tops to go with their Bodysonic beats.

I graduated from high school in 1984, and I recall thinking at the time that the Starion was far cooler than the 300ZX. Of course, your typical 300ZX was about three orders of magnitude more reliable than the Starion, not to mention quicker, but what the hell do 18-year-olds know?

This one has a mere 123,000 miles on the clock, but I’m not 100% sure I trust this odometer. Why?

Here’s why: the notoriously flaky, yet exquisitely-of-its-time digital instrument cluster. The analog odometer is driven by an electric motor, not a cable from the transmission, so there’s no telling if it’s showing anything resembling true mileage.

You want Turbo Era luxury? Check out the driver’s-side vanity mirror in the sun visor— just the thing when you need to check for traces of white powder in your Tom Selleck mustache.

A 200-horsepower turbocharged V6 and 5-speed was badass fast 28 years ago, which is sort of sad. We live in the Golden Age of Engines right now!

It wouldn’t be an 80s Nissan Junkyard Find without Datsun’s Awesome Voice Dude. Enjoy.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Frisby Frisby on Jan 02, 2013

    if this car was foind in greenville nc it was one of the two that i sent to the junk yard do to split in family

  • Terbennett Terbennett on Feb 03, 2013

    FYI, This is the real deal. They were expensive but great cars. I remember my neighbor having one brand new when I was 11. There really wewren't that many anniversary models made in 1984. The problem was that the only real AE models were Turbos only with the two-tone paint, BodySonic seats, etc. All other AE models were fakes. Dealers were putting AE badges on them to make them look more attractive to buyers. Kinda like the E36 BMW 3 series. Dealers were selling 3 series equipped with M3 cosmetics. Problem is that it has actually hurt the resale value of the E36 ME3s but that doesn't matter to dealers. They're in it to sell new cars. As for the VG30; Great running engines and very reliable. Only problem was the fuel injection on 1984-1989 models. They had a high failure rate. I remember my father had a 1985 Maxima GL wagon that actually caught on fire under the hood. They put it out in enough time to save it though. He paid to have the fuel injectors replaced. That was in 1989. Turned out that Nissan actually had a fuel injection campaign for the VG30s from that time. My father found out about it in 1992. He told Nissan about it and they gave him a free rental, reimbursed him for the repair he had already done, and replaced the entire fuel injection system. The car had close to 170,000 miles on it by that time and Nissan still took care of it for him. My father finally sold that car three years ago with 382,000 miles on it. How's that for a durable engine?!

  • SaulTigh When I was young in the late 80's one of my friends had the "cool dad." You know the guy, first to buy a Betamax and a C-band satellite dish. Couple of stand up arcade games in the den. Bought my friend an Atari 2600 as soon as they came out. He had two of these crap heaps. One that only ran half the time and one for parts in the yard. My middle school brain though he was the most awesome dad ever, buying us pizza and letting us watch R rated movies recorded on free HBO weekend. At the time I though he was much better than my boring father.Now with adult hindsight, I now know he was "dad who should have taken better care of his family" and not had so many toys.
  • Dave Has to be Indy 500. Many more leaders and front passes than NASCAR, and Monaco is unwatchable with the inability to pass on that circuit.
  • Jeff How did the discussion get from an article about a 56 billion dollar pay package for Elon Musk to a proposal to charge a per mile tax on EVs in California or paying increase registration on vehicles to make up for lost gas tax revenue? I thought such a discussion would better fit Matt's Gas Wars series.
  • Master Baiter Both people who bought ID.4s will be interested in this post.
  • Urlik Not a single memorable thing happened in the big three races this weekend IMHO.