Story by Ben France

[Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the May 2008 issue of Grassroots Motorsports.]

Nissan’s legendary Z-car has managed to survive a roller-coaster ride through its long history—one that has included several shifts in design focus as well as flu…

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tb
tb Dork
4/6/22 12:46 p.m.

When I started driving way back in the 90's I scrapped together my pennies and bought a clapped out 280zx turbo that was 4 different shades of brown primer and in desperate need of a tune-up but it started a lifetime of happy days spent in the driveway on my back with busted knuckles and stained clothes. Occasional glimpses of a new 300ZX while in a wealthier town would stir a primal feeling inside of me and mutterings of "maybe someday" under my breath...

 

A few months ago I picked up a '91 Twin Turbo, 2 seater, 5 speed in immaculate condition with about 100k on the clock. Meticulously maintained and only very lightly modified, it is a delightful throwback to the nostalgic days for me when cars still had an analog driving feel while incorporating impressive new technologies. It is a real gem to drive and still turns heads everywhere I go even parked next to todays best offerings.

 

My personal favorite aspect is the steering feel. It is light and nimble at low speed and easy to maneuver in a east coast city downtown. The Wheel gets progressively heavier at speed and becomes tighter and more precise on the highway making sweepers and switches a surgical action; the 4 wheel steering is almost transparent with smooth inputs. With an electronic limit of 155mph, a relatively wide and low stance, large rubber all around and speed sensitive steering that test one's forearms at the limits is is like a train on rails at triple digit speeds. Confidence abounds as the (underrated?) legendary V6 effortlessly thrusts you forward without a hint of drama.

 

I plan to keep it very original, or at least easily returned to near original with minimal effort. Not a time capsule, but there is not much that really needs to be fixed to be enjoyed as a fun second car for me. It is the type of car that I can take to the nicest restaurant in the city and just leave it parked out front, then do a track day the next day for fun without changing a thing, and still run errands around town with just enough space for packages in the back even with the t tops secured in their bags and straps.

 

It isn't perfect: Sport mode is punishingly stiff, there are no cup holders and I dare not calculate my gas mileage... but I really like it overall. 

pointofdeparture
pointofdeparture UltimaDork
4/6/22 1:47 p.m.

I love these cars so much, they stink to work on (especially the TTs) but other than that they are really phenomenal.

I'm still hunting for the right '93-94 NA to keep as a forever car. I loved the one I had 10 years ago, but it was the wrong car for me at the time.

jimbob_racing
jimbob_racing SuperDork
4/6/22 2:00 p.m.

Prices are really on the rise on these. I've missed my opportunity to get one.

tb
tb Dork
4/6/22 2:18 p.m.

Definitely noteworthy points:

 

There is ZERO free space under the hood. Without paper thin arms and seven fingers per hand count on disassembling things to perform any work anything. After spirited driving heat pours off of the drive train in a very noticeable manner.

 

I feel like I got a very good deal on mine after talking to lots of people about valuations and the market, even though I paid more than I had originally hoped to. It is insured for more than I paid and several industry experts have advised me that it's value will increase quite a bit. Another reason to not modify or abuse it unreasonably. 

At cars and coffee type events is really draws a hugely positive response even if it does need a solid week in the detail shop to be in car show condition. A couple weeks ago I was parked between a new BMW and a new Lamborghini and the guys only had eyes for my old Nissan...

pointofdeparture
pointofdeparture UltimaDork
4/6/22 2:39 p.m.

In reply to tb :

Even my NA seemed to bake the crap out of everything under the hood, I can only imagine what the TTs are like in that fashion. Seemed like every connector I touched would just turn to dust!

NickD
NickD MegaDork
4/6/22 2:48 p.m.

tb
tb Dork
4/6/22 3:13 p.m.

I am not at all ashamed to admit that if something complicated breaks I may very well just drop it off a a trusted local shop and let it be their problem. I am way to old and crippled for that kind of headache!

 

Until then I'll just do like the rest of my cars... crank up the boost and convince myself it will all be just fine

300zxfreak
300zxfreak Reader
5/31/22 1:35 p.m.

As you can tell by my name, I love these things. I had a new 1990 NA slicktop (which very few people even knew about), kept for over 12 years before selling to get practical for a while. Fast forward to 2016, after a succession of other "fun" cars, I found a '90 TT with only 35,000 on the clock, looked and smelled like a new car, didn't take long for the wife and I take it home with us. Now after some upgrades to brakes, clutch, trans, wheels and tires, I have a back road beast that really puts the grin on my face. And what's really cool is when some younger gen folks give me the thumbs-up while I drive. 

Good practice for all of you Z guys out there, every time I pull back into the garage, I put the hood up and let all that heat dissipate, and I've done a lot to reduce under-hood heat generation, I'm running water wetter in the coolant, upgraded the thermostat and radiator, all of which have helped reduce normal running temp by 10-20 degrees......next step is to try Evans waterless coolant, which is supposed to help even more.

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