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

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1984 nissan 300zx turbo 50th anniversary edition

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.

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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?!

  • Denis Jeep have other cars?!?
  • Darren Mertz In 2000, after reading the glowing reviews from c/d in 1998, I decided that was the car for me (yep, it took me 2 years to make up my mind). I found a 1999 with 24k on the clock at a local Volvo dealership. I think the salesman was more impressed with it than I was. It was everything I had hoped for. Comfortable, stylish, roomy, refined, efficient, flexible, ... I can't think of more superlatives right now but there are likely more. I had that car until just last year at this time. A red light runner t-boned me and my partner who was in the passenger seat. The cops estimate the other driver hit us at about 50 mph - on a city street. My partner wasn't visibly injured (when the seat air bag went off it shoved him out of the way of the intruding car) but his hip was rather tweaked. My car, though, was gone. I cried like a baby when they towed it away. I ruminated for months trying to decide how to replace it. Luckily, we had my 1998 SAAB 9000 as a spare car to use. I decided early on that there would be no new car considered. I loathe touch screens. I'm also not a fan of climate control. Months went by. I decided to keep looking for another B5 Passat. As the author wrote, the B5.5 just looked 'over done'. October this past year I found my Cinderella slipper - an early 2001. Same silver color. Same black leather interior. Same 1.8T engine. Same 5 speed manual transmission. I was happier than a pig in sh!t. But a little sad also. I had replaced my baby. But life goes on. I drive it every day to work which takes me over some rather twisty freeway ramps. I love the light snarel as I charge up some steep hills on my way home. So, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Passat guy.
  • Paul Mezhir As awful as the styling was on these cars, they were beautifully assembled and extremely well finished for the day. The doors closed solidly, the ride was extremely quiet and the absence of squeaks and rattles was commendable. As for styling? Everything's beautiful in it's own way.....except for the VI coupe....it's proportions were just odd: the passenger compartment and wheelbase seemed to be way too short, especially compared to the VI sedan. Even the short-lived Town Coupe had much better proportions. None of the fox-body Lincolns could compare to the beautiful proportions of the Mark V.....it was the epitome of long, low, sleek and elegant. The proportions were just about perfect from every angle.
  • ToolGuy Silhouetting yourself on a ridge like that is an excellent way to get yourself shot ( Skylining)."Don't you know there's a special military operation on?"
  • ToolGuy When Farley says “like the Millennium Falcon” he means "fully updatable" and "constantly improving" -- it's right there in the Car and Driver article (and makes perfect sense).