Wednesday, March 16, 2016

T-Top Cruiser:1985 Nissan 300ZX Turbo

The Z31 generation Nissan 300ZX won't be the fastest car on the block, or the best handling, but it offers a level of vintage 80s cool that is hard to match on a dollar for dollar basis.  You'd go broke trying to buy a mint condition one-owner 911 from the 80s, same with an M3; you'll be repairing apex seals faster than you can say zoom zoom in an RX-7, and the early Celica Supras are gutless -- so the Z31 is the answer.  Find this 1985 Nissan 300ZX here on eBay bidding for $2,025 reserve-not-met with 4 days to go, located in Carson, CA.

The Z31 edition Nissan 300ZX isn't quite as collectable (or as fast) as the later Z32 generation, but they are considerably cheaper and look less like a Wagyu cow being fattened for the slaughter.  However, the Z31 does have an active enthusiast base and this turbo-manual trans version is the one to get.

Powering the Z31 is a 3.0 liter version of  Nissan's VG-series V6 that is turbocharged to produce 200 horsepower.  It was the first time that Nissan put a mass produced V6 into any vehicle, and while not without its share of issues, the cast iron block with aluminum heads can take additional power if you upgrade from the stock Garrett T3 turbocharger and add some intercooling.

But this example is so nice and clean I'd have a hard time justifying tearing up the engine bay; it would make a great throwback cruiser.

See another stock 80s classic?


  1. Worth it for the sunset plates alone!

  2. Whats with cali people and their obsession with plate colors? Black plates and blue plates. Plates with sunsets on 'em.

    1. Plate color/type can sometimes verify a seller's claim of "been a CA car all of it's life", as in CA, plates go with the car typically.

    2. If the plate color/type matches the model year and claimed CA history then that is a bonus for prospective buyers in terms of minimizing rust risks, but also a bit of humblebragging rights once you buy the car "oh yeah, that old thing, it's been here since it was new."

      Personally I like the historical aspect of having the correct period plates for the car. Black plates were 1963-69; blue 6-digit were 1970-80, 7-digit blues were 1981-87. In 1982 the Sunset plates w/ reflective white background became optional for an extra charge, and they are my personal favorite on an '80s car. They were standard in 1987 and then in '88 the sunset graphics went away and white reflective plates became the norm.

      There was a recent reissue of the black plates (now in aluminum instead of steel, and with reflectorized paint) so those can be ordered and plopped on any car. Prior to that it was only legal to retrofit a black plate to a 63-69 model year car through the YOM program. Prior to 63 there was a whole mess of plate designs that I won't even go into.

    3. How can you not love the graphic design on this?


  3. This was the first car i saw after the first time i failed my drivers license test. I've been lusting hard for these ever since. I just let a nice white 5 spd, non turbo slip through my hands recently. I think these will start getting love soon.

  4. DT: Having been on other forums where California plate-blight get's established, you'll have a bitch of a time trying to eradicate it.

    When California smog issues erupt, shut'er down hoss.


Commenting Commandments:
I. Thou Shalt Not write anything your mother would not appreciate reading.
II. Thou Shalt Not post as anonymous unless you are posting from mobile and have technical issues. Use name/url when posting and pick something Urazmus B Jokin, Ben Dover. Sir Edmund Hillary Clint don't matter. Just pick a nom de plume and stick with it.
III. Honor thy own links by using <a href ="http://www.linkgoeshere"> description of your link </a>
IV. Remember the formatting tricks <i>italics</i> and <b> bold </b>
V. Thou Shalt Not commit spam.
VI. To embed images: use [image src="" width="400px"/]. Limit images to no wider than 400 pixels in width. No more than one image per comment please.