Monday, December 16, 2013

10k: All-Stock No-Love: 1991 Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo 5-spd

The 300ZX was a 2 door sports car from Nissan during the great Japanese sports car boom of the 1990s and featured a host of technology in a Isao Sono & Toshio Yamashita designed body.  In recent years the 300ZX's competitors (Supra, NSX, 993) have gone through their depreciation curves and the good original ones are commanding prices near original MSRP, but for some reason the 300ZX (and Mitsu's 3000GT/Dodge Stealth) have been floundering in used Mustang GT waters.  What gives?  Find this 1991 Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo 5-spd for sale in San Francisco, CA for $12,500 via craigslist.  Tip from Kaibeezy.

The Nissan 300ZX certainly isn't lacking in the aesthetics department when compared to the Supra and NSX, although some may criticize the styling as bland.  At least the Z32 was a huge improvement in looks over the Z31 and S130 and build quality was noticeably improved.  Complex systems like the Super HICAS four wheel steering system add more weight and future cost in repairs than driving pleasure, but at least the name sounds cool.

The Z32 300ZX is powered by Nissan's VG30DETT engine, turbocharged and intercooled for a whopping 300 horsepower and 283 ft-lbs of torque.  The 300ZX didn't get a 6-spd like its Japanese competition, but the 5-spd was durable as long as you didn't turn up too much boost.

The 300ZX has a nice low down sports car feel to the cabin, with a driver-centric dash and instrument cluster.  This one has power seats, power windows and looks okay for 106,000 miles on the odometer.

Which brings us to the punchline.  Why does this car waste away on craigslist while a 280Z can sell with a 20 large asking price? 

See a better Z for less?


  1. How so very true. The 32 is such an imposing shape, not so much in-your-face as it's more confident than that. The face evolved from the 31 so that the similarities were noticeable, but it looked so much more...finished. The rest of the body was pure Mid4 concept car stuff. I was floored when I first saw the production version, having completely dismissed the cladded 31 as Nissan trying too hard after getting hit with the clueless stick. Sure, it was expensive, but to a dreaming high schooler, it was better than a Ferrari, because it looked 90% of the part for less than 1/2 the cost. Besides, I could always just pine for "someday..."

  2. I got to drive the NA version once and it was a blast. I can imagine this car would be a lot of fun

  3. I had this car and LOVED it (same year color, etc). Bought a one owner/low miles (38k) car in 1998 for, oddly enough, the same price being asked here. The only downer was that it was an auto, but it was so mint I couldn't pass it up and I knew the owner/history, etc. As an auto, it still hauled the mail and the handling was amazing. Super fun to drive. I had a small slew of bolt-on stuff done to it, but nothing internal. After a bigger air box, tweaked ECU, wider throttle body, gutted cats and HKS exhaust it would run still run 12.90's in the 1/4 - on street tires. On a couple occasions, I easily push it passed the 160mph mark on the speedo. Had it for a little over three years and sold it with 90k on it - still ran like a top. Just kept using synthetic oil and super unleaded.

  4. I had a similar one to the above poster. Automatic and a lot of bolt ons. Fast, fun, reliable. The auto was actually great for drag racing. Stock, it shifted slowly, but HKS had a box (ALC) that raised the line pressure and made the shifts snappy. I also had a 91 ZR1 corvette at the same time. The Z was much lighter feeling on the controls and handling. It was very non-intimidating to drive by comparison, as well as being much better made. These held up to the stress of a boost chip and exhaust very well.
    A few more things: Expect around town gas mileage to be no better than 15mpg. The ECU really pumped fuel to keep the turbocharged engine cool. Also, the ride is firm. The sport mode just made it harsh. Regular mode was great. And, get the original key. Its a silver aluminum job that looks really cool.
    This was the first reasonably priced car to put out 300hp. That was a very big number at the time. Stock survivors like this one are only going up in value from here on out.


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