Japan revolutionised the world of transport and motoring forever by introducing new standards for reliability and efficiency. While the Japanese were focused on coherent economy cars, Nissan made sure not to sacrifice the fun factor while driving, which resulted in a number of efficient yet remarkable sports cars from the Land of The Rising Sun.
The golden era of the Japanese Domestic Market was the 1990s when manufacturing engineers were more worried about meeting homologation standards to get their cars into racing events rather than scratching their heads to meet the next hybrid regulation for gasoline-powered cars.
The Z32 300ZX from Nissan, also known as the Fairlady Z comes from that golden era we petrolheads miss.
Fairlady, from the day this badge exists, has been a sports car. From the Datsun Fairlady 1600 in the 1960s to the newly released Nissan 400z, Nissan has never failed to bring innovation to the sports car segment.
The 240z was one of the first cars from Nissan that took the West by storm.
It gave the authentic sports car experience for just a fraction of the price compared to the competition. In each of the next generations, the car shape and design remained similar to the 240z up until the Z32 300ZX was introduced.
With the Z32 300ZX everything changed, with the design language becoming less angular, and more luxuries being introduced to the chassis, however, the overall factor of a fast car still remained true to the badge the car came with.
The Z32 300ZX has been one of the more important cars to Nissan and the sports car segment as a whole. Released in 1990, production ran until 1996 and it was also one of the first cars to be designed with CAD technology.
This era left behind the angular, boxy designs most cars including the Z31 300ZX had and introduced a new, more flowy streamlined design language that focussed on the fluidity and smoothness of the body lines.
However, the boxy headlights in the front undercut the fluid nature of the car by introducing some angles which ultimately complement its curves. The headlight design of the Z32 was also directly borrowed by Lamborghini which was then put in their Diablo.
Fairlady in Black
While a handful of these units remain in the country, the 1990 Z32 Fairlady Z which was restored and owned by fellow car enthusiast Abdullah Faiyaz Hassan is perhaps the clearest example that still remains in active use. Both the exterior and the interior retain a pristine condition with minimal squeaks and rattles.
Faiyaz found the targa top version of the car in 2019 through his peers, which while in driving condition, was not in the best shape. The car needed work and being a rare car in the country, getting spare parts was a challenge for him and thus, opting for a CKD unit was the trouble-free way to get all the parts in one piece for the car.
The mechanical aspect of the car was restored from the CKD, where it retains the 3.0L twin turbo VG30DETT V6 engine paired with a 4-speed automatic gearbox, along with a few upgrades that were done along the way such as a Blitz blow-off valve and an exhaust and air intake system from Greedy.
Handling-wise, the car's suspension has been upgraded to Tein Flex Z coil overs, paired with a slotted brake disk system, which is hidden by the BBS LM wheels wrapped with Michelin Primacy 3 tires and a front strut bar from ABFlug, a Japanese designer car modification company.
When it comes to the interior, the cabin retains its upgraded leather-wrapped seats, with OEM trim pieces such as Fairlady Z branded carpets, an HKS boost gauge with amazing placement which almost looks OEM with the interior pieces, and also a NISMO cluster with the old school font on the logo, a desirable interior upgrade that is hard to come by.
Drivability and overall insight
"In the five years of ownership of the car, I have come to realise that it is a great cruiser and the perfect cruiser for me. The car responds whenever the pedal is pushed down and the turbo flutter is music to my ears," Faiyaz told The Business Standard in regard to the drivability of the car.
"Although it is great for cruising, the wider nature of the car does not help when going for tighter gaps in the road, and since the car is also very low, I have to be selective of the roads that I choose when driving somewhere, but overall it is still a great experience," he added.
The Nissan Z32 300ZX Fairlady Z is the company's unsung hero. Coming out with a heap of innovative features, it is safe to say that the 300ZX came out at a time when Nissan had no concern with their budget but was knee-deep in research and development.
The shape of the Z was made extremely aerodynamic, so much so that the drag coefficient was about 0.3 making the car spectacular at cutting air. Nissan was also one of the first manufacturers to make a completely driver-focused car with every button in close proximity to the cluster.
Overall, it can be said that the 300ZX was one of the most revolutionary vehicles in the automotive industry