By on October 12, 2015

Nissan 300ZX Turbo

I suppose that technically, the first sports car to come to the U.S. from Japan was the Toyota 2000GT, but very few of those were ever sold. The cars that fueled the performance revolution from the East were the Nissan Z-cars. The early 240Z is especially sought after by enthusiasts and collectors due to the good performance brought by light weight and minimal power-robbing emissions crap.

The later cars, like most cars (and people, really) got fat as they aged. The 280ZX gained a bunch of weight as they were geared toward a cruiser rather than a stripped-down, performance machine. In 1984, the 300ZX came along with a new engine and angular styling that was divisive among fans of the older models.

My dad was one of those guys for a while, until he drove the new model. I think I was 8 years old when he traded his non-turbo 280ZX on a bright-red 300ZX Turbo. He drove it for a couple years, put some gold BBS mesh wheels on it and ended up selling it to a stripper.

The transaction wasn’t like you are thinking. She just happened to be the one who responded to the newspaper ad.

Anyhow, these 80s-era Z’s are finally catching the eye of collectors. This 1986 model, easily distinguished by the side skirts that were only offered that year (save the limited-edition 1984 anniversary model) looks magnificent in deep pewter paint. The black leather(ish) interior looks nearly perfect, especially considering the 168,000 miles on the odometer. The high miles concern me a bit, especially on a turbocharged engine, but it seems well cared for. The price of $12,000 seems about right, as I’m seeing low-mileage Z31’s trade for double that figure.

With a clean inspection, I wouldn’t hesitate on this car.

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44 Comments on “Digestible Collectible: 1986 Nissan 300ZX Turbo...”


  • avatar
    mason

    240z

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    Every time I see a Z31 300ZX, I think Rocky IV. Even if that car was only in the movie for 10 seconds.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I love the color (black and gold also works on this and the 280ZX), and I love the wacko 80’s buttons and graphs interior. But these are not extremely rare, and are available with constant frequency on Ebay. So to me, the price is a bit high. That’s pristine 280ZX money, and as you said these are less desirable. You’re into 90’s 300ZX money as well. And those will always look better than this.

    I -like- that they made it into a softer cruiser and optioned it out the wazoo, but that’s just me, and I like brougham.

    Was this version of the 300ZX also available in 2+2?

  • avatar
    VW16v

    Pre Pontiacized Nissans were very good cars. I myself had a 85′ 2+2, 300zx. Fantastic car. Now Nissan/Infiniti have fallen to waste side of feminized big swooping line for people that want sparkly objects over driving experience. Love seeing these older Nissans still on the road.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Pre-Pontiacized?

      If anything screams Japanese Firebird it’s this thing. Paint a chicken on the hood and throw an LS on it once the turbo explodes, and you basically have a better built Trans Am.

      • 0 avatar
        VW16v

        Old school Nissans didn’t have focus groups to sell their cars. This was the norm back in the mid 80’s. Today Infiniti is an auto company based on a focus group. Bling Bling and major money on the hood for today’s Nissan. Nissan did not have to discount as much back in the 80’s to sell their products.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          Lol u have to be completely brain dead to think mid 80s Zs were not focus group driven. Original Z was a pure and simple sports car…. this thing was a boulevard cruiser for the porn moustached creep. How else could Nissan could have got from point Z to ZX without feedback and influence from the market? I’ve heard of rose tinted glasses but you are wearing blindfolds. Hell the original Z was hugely dictated and influenced by the market. You are nuts

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            His points make sense only to him. He knows about 15 words involving Nissan/Infiniti, and rearranges them to suit.

      • 0 avatar
        05lgt

        I threw a 351 W (not stock at all) in a 70 240Z back in the 80’s. I used to love hunting down these turbo’s. If I’d had the phrase “Japanese FireChicken” to throw at them before disappearing in a 10 second kind of way I’d have been that much happier.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      There’s nothing quite so manly and non-sparkly with driving experience as an Eos or Jetta or built-on-lies TDI. I forget which VW competes with the GT-R as well.

      • 0 avatar
        VW16v

        Gt-r in same sentence with any Infiniti is hilarious. Similar to the Passat and Bentley compare since they are both owner by VW. Nice try. The only Nissans were awesome cars. Pre – focus group. The new Maxima and Q70 look like maxi pads with wheels instead of wings attached.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Your English is degrading, I’m guessing it’s beer number 5-6 today.

          The point I made, I’ll clarify since it didn’t come through:

          You saying Nissan and Infiniti products are for shiny people who like sparkles and not driving involvement is moot because you’re a full supporter of VW and all the crap they make. They make 1-2 driver’s cars, the GTI and the regular Golf. The rest of it is no better than the Infinitis or Nissans you trash constantly, except it’s more plain looking (which is a “complete win” in your book) and entirely less reliable.

          But Nissan/Infiniti offer RWD options, NA V6 options, AWD options. Of course we can say that about precious VW as well – oh wait no.

          Do you understand? That sink in yet? I’ll no longer address your trolling garbage, as you’ve proved time and time again there’s little knowledge behind the words, but lots of hateful and often racist vitriol.

          • 0 avatar
            VW16v

            Hilarious, I tend not to even read what you say on this site unless you post something entertaining on my post. You are the definition of a troll on this site. If you don’t like a post. You spazz out typing away trying to trash the person. Not even pertaining to the topic you are spazzing out about. What was the longest amount of time you did not post on this site. 12 hours? Just take a deep breath. You will be OK. I usually tell people having a panic attack. Slowly smell the roses and blow out the candles.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    They do still make a large and soft grand touring sports vehicle, since the 370Z is obviously far too hard now.

    http://truckyeah.jalopnik.com/nissans-high-performance-halo-car-for-dubai-is-a-three-1735953359

    lolz.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Wish my ’03 Z had side windows that big! While mine are a joke the 370Z’s are completely worthless.

    While I’m a kid of the 80s and thus love that crazy dash, I’m really not a fan of 80s Z cars in general. I favor the generation before (2nd) and after this (4th). Because these 3rd gen cars just seem too much gold chain to me, they got really popular and basically became a Japanese Camaro.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    It’s not “emissions crap” if you like to breathe. Prior to modern emission controls, the air was rancid in our cities. Johnny Carson told air pollution jokes on the Tonight Show almost every night. You may not like emission controls, but they are definitely the best of two evils. Now that we are 40 years plus down the road we have many more cars on the road, but we have cleaner air. We also have cars that are more powerful than ever, more efficient than ever and (except for a few Volkswagens) cleaner than ever. A good bit of that technological progress was spurred by the fact that with emission controls, to get desired performance, the cars had to get smarter. The emission controls on your car aren’t there for you, it’s there for everybody else. Their emission controls are there for you.

    • 0 avatar
      NewLookFan

      +1. I remember 40+ years ago that on certain smoggy days here in the SF East Bay, you couldn’t even see the “tower” up the hill at Cal State Hayward from Chabot College. Today, you can’t see the tower either, as it was torn down a few years ago, but the last several years it was always visible. Yes, we had to initially endure some incredibly miserable cars, but we’re far better off now in the long run.

    • 0 avatar
      Dingleberrypiez_Returns

      Agreed. Unnecessary editorial quip by calling it “crap.”

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        Crap in the sense that it was initially half-baked technology that was unreliable and did indeed negatively affect performance. I’d call the current state of diesel emissions tech “crap” in the same sense. I’m not against the lowering of emissions, but I wouldn’t buy something with all these tacked on workarounds.

  • avatar
    omer333

    Were you guys in Florida when your dad sold the car? Because that sounds like it could’ve happened in Panama City or Pensacola.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    While it’s owner’s care might translate to a mileage “feel” a fraction of actual, it’s still not worth that much. I would put value south of $8000. These cars aren’t especially rare. They top the most sales for a Z car ever. Contrary to the listing, most of them were optioned up to the hilt of 80’s panache. People in California throw them away every day.

    You needn’t worry about it’s turbo engine’s reliability. Mine has 135,000 on it, with the last 40,000 miles being sustained beatings. I’ve never had the engine apart. The T3’s were water cooled and last forever.
    http://tougefactory.com/shop/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/05.jpg

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    I wasn’t trying to find this but I did. It’s in Durham NC and it’s so burgundy that my eyes hurt. That said, I wouldn’t mind having it. Not a turbo car, though.

    http://atcm.co/S2PVDP/181F327E

  • avatar
    Clueless Economist

    I remember reading in one of the car buff mags prior to the unveiling of the 300zx where it was stated that “People who have seen it say it resembles a Ferrari.”

    I got a good laugh at that once I saw it.

  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    “I suppose that technically, the first sports car to come to the U.S. from Japan was the Toyota 2000GT”

    Did the 2000GT get here before the Datsun 1600?

  • avatar
    Dingleberrypiez_Returns

    “The price of $12,000 seems about right”

    Lol, get real.

  • avatar
    HiFlite999

    I like the looks of the “1st gen” much better. Wish I still had my 1974 260Z 2+2 manual tranny in a bright yellow. It was a rare car to begin with, and most have rusted away long ago.

  • avatar
    AJ

    I was an RX-7 guy back in the day but I always thought that these were very attractive. Fun, small, fast cars. That would be a cool find.

  • avatar
    kmars2009

    When this 300ZX came out, the STYLE was clean lines…hence the angular look. The outgoing 280 ZX seemed…well, old looking. People wanted this look on many cars. (angular) The following gen car looked better, with it’s softer lines, however, to some, it was a fat ass. Especially from the rear.
    Anyway, this was an appropriate design for it’s time. I’d love to have one!

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    A friend’s daily driver is one of these. In nice shape, with the removable roof panels. It’s the original dark green, like British racing green.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    The Datsun 1600 roadster was the first Japanese sports car imported in any real numbers. The 2000GT had sales numbers in the tens, if that. The 1600 a navy buddy owned turned 0-60 in 11 seconds, faster than my ’65 Impala 283/Powerglide.

  • avatar

    Stepdad had a 280zx. It wasn’t a sportscar, but a good GT. We’d bury the 85 mph speedo and leave it there.

    You don’t see these, or any of the Z cars or even the 300 zx series in the Northeast…they were very quick to rust….

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