The blurb on the cover of Car Magazine UK bellowed "Nissan 300 ZX Turbo  -  Is this a sports car ?  We say no......"


The Z started when the front-engine,rear-wheel-drive Fairlady was released in Japan in 1970.

The Fairlady became known as 240Z in foreign markets.

This car sported a 2393cc  inline 6 cylinder engine making 151 hp (111 KW).Its coupe body was instantly admired.

In the United States the Z sold so well in the early 1970s that it broke the perception that Japan only made cheap economizers.

This model was replaced by the 260Z a few years later,then by the 2753cc  280Z in 1975.Followed by the 280ZX in 1978.


The ZX signified the presence of more luxury and comfort oriented features.Motoring enthusiasts regarded the ZX as a Touring car rather than a sports car.They said the car had gone soft.


Would the new 300ZX change that ?


Codenamed Z31, and released in 1984 the engine in the 300ZX was a big departure from the previous Z.It became Nissans first ever mass produced V6.

In normally aspirated form, the 2960cc  V6 engine produced 170hp (125 KW),and the turbo charged version juiced that up to 231hp (170 KW).

In Britain a 300ZX turbo cost around 16 000 GBP in 1984,about the same as a Lotus Excel or Porsche 944.

Nissan claimed a 0-62 mph (0-100 Km/h) time in under 7 seconds,and a top end of 155 mph (249 Km/h).


Said Car Magazine UK :"Powerfull it may be,thrilling it is not-Nissan's new blown V6 delivers its wallop with a fluid surge,not a sudden kick.The power comes in so progressively that you cannot really define a point on the rev counter where the surge starts."

"There is no sense of occasion or excitement,nothing to speed the adrenalin flow."

In closing they said :"A stride forward from the 280ZX,but Lotus,Porsche and other makers of fast cars costing 15 000 to 20 000 GBP haven't a thing to worry about".


Did Car Magazine UK miss the point of the 300ZX turbo ?


It could be that Nissan knew their audience and who they were going for.


The American publication Road & Track came up with a rather different blurb.


Their synopsis was :"300ZX : Japanese Corvette ? - Corvette : American Z-car ?"


Maybe there existed a clientele who grew tired of the rawness of the Corvette,its square dials and rather dated dash.

Maybe this clientele wanted a car where the power curve was progressive,and not all at once.


The Nissan would not be as fast but offered better comfort.Also,the 300ZX was really well put together.The Corvette suffered from a bout of flimsiness.Particularly the body panels.The Japanese car was altogether more civilized.

So the ZX was not aimed at Lotus or Porsche.The sales charts in Britain would have shown that.Anybody who had been to Britain in the 1980s would have seen that there were not many Japanese cars around.

Road & Track stated that the ZX was primarily aimed at the American market.According to said publication,Nissan produced 36 000 units of the Z31 in its first year of production,and over 96 000 units in its second year.Most of these were sold in the United States.In fact,at one time the Z was the best selling sports car of all time.


Car Magazine UK seemed to have a dismissive stance towards Japanese cars in general.


Road & Track had a more welcoming approach to cars coming out the Far East.

Even the Germans were fond of the Z.They called it "a breath of fresh air from Japan".


Today the Z31 remains a sought after car in America,but there are not many of these still around.

As one would expect,the remaining specimens are in the high mileage category,and typically these can be found for around $ 5 000 or so.

I hear from Nissan devotees that a really good example can go for as much as $ 28 000.

But what about South Africa ?


Because of hefty import duties imposed by the South African Government at that time,few 300 ZX cars made it to South African shores.

However I know of at least one clean example of a Z31 in Mpumalanga.


All Things Motoring met up with some car enthusiasts in that region who kept a handsome 300ZX in their stable.

In fact one could say these enthusiasts are very proficient in "All Things Nissan".They certainly are very knowlegable.

They demonstrated how easy it was to take off the T-Top on the ZX,for example.

Also,they had other cars of great interest.It is certainly worth viewing on You-Tube.


All Things Motoring.Rare car collection.Season 2, Episode 9.


To sum up,Car Magazine UK did not think the 300ZX turbo was a sports car.


But the rest of the world seemed to disagree.



Written by your All Things Motoring International correspondent,in Charlotte,North Carolina,U.S.A