Streetside Classics-Dallas/Fort Worth
5400 Sandshell Dr
Fort Worth, TX
Fort Worth, TX
Like it or not, Japanese cars are gaining lots of traction as collectables, and early Nissan Z-cars like this 2-owner, low-mileage 1985 Nissan 300ZX are an excellent bet. With great road manners, bulletproof reliability, and looks that just never go out of fashion, this is a very affordable way to own an incredibly cool sports car that's still a lot of fun to drive.
This is an early production 'Fairlady' Z31 car, so it has all the aspects of Kazumasu Takagi's original design, and the legendary look of this 1985 'Zenki' model is still incredibly striking in its completely preserved configuration. The Code 013 Regatta Red is all-original to the car, and despite its 37-year-old survivor status it still looks great with a nice shine and maintained luster that's been impressively persevered over the last 90K actual miles. As you might expect, there are minor signs of use and age here and there, including some light dullness on the hood and slight eggshell cracking on the headlights, but the car still attracts the right kind of attention when it's out on the road. Sure, it's not quite as smooth to the touch as it was in 1985, but it's amazing how darn good this top driver-quality sports car looks, after almost four decades, and you'd be lying if you didn't say you were thoroughly impressed by the curb appeal. And if you really wanted to kick things back up a notch, a full-scale buff-and-wax would go a long way to restoring some former Japanese glory. You don't see these Z31s very often these days, and the sleek, monochromatic look works very well on the tidy-looking hatch. It's not all in-your-face red though, as the glossy black bumper trim, body molding, rocker panel strips, and hatch spoiler all provide a nice contrast for a dynamic look. Darkly tinted windows also work especially well with bright red cars like this and the half-hidden headlights are a neat touch that kids today seem to emulate on their late-model cars with folding headlights. The louvers covering the rear hatch glass are a 1980's staple that are slowly making a comeback (thank you modern Mustangs!), and when coupled with the removable glass T-tops (also darkly tinted), this Nissan has the makings of an icon. And if it's a bit of party trivia you're after, know that 1985 was the first year that the 'Datsun' emblem had completely disappeared off these cars, replaced by the 'Nissan' badge on the driver's side of the trunk hatch.
The cloth bucket seats, power windows/locks/mirrors, and analog gauges let us know that this is a GL trim level 300ZX and that suits us just fine because it's a stylish cabin outfitted with materials that wear like iron. The various shades of gray cloth inside are a nice change-up to the usual tan or blue interiors found in typical '80s Japanese imports, and Nissan engineers got the driver's compartment exactly right. The deeply bolstered seats are certainly racy, but they sure are comfortable and in very good shape for a vehicle this age. A center console splits the sporty front buckets, and it houses what is undoubtedly the most exciting part of the cabin: the new chrome shifter that manages the 5-speed manual gearbox below. The interesting steering wheel has a fat wrap on it to make it feel substantial, and as the top-of-the-line Nissan in 1985 (all we got in the US was the big 300ZX), almost everything was standard on the Z31, including the power options mentioned above, factory A/C, and even the original AM/FM/Cassette stereo in the dash. You also get a tilt wheel, cruise control, illuminated entry, those awesome T-tops, and a set of seatbelts for the front buckets. Big analog gauges are easy to read and the controls are all at your fingertips, as was the style in 1985, and a duo of factory auxiliary dials are in pods in the center of the dash. The dash itself is in great shape, with no cracks or UV damage, same goes for the door panels and center console, while the carpets are freshly replaced units that come protected with matching carpeted mats. As a true 2-seater, the back hatches opens to a sizable storage area, so road trips are definitely on the menu with this 300ZX.
Nissan's naturally aspirated, overhead cam 3.0 liter V6 VG30E was an all-new design for the 300ZX, a departure from the inline-6 that powered previous Z-cars. With electronic fuel injection and rear wheel drive, it's silky smooth and has excellent road manners, as well as a decent hit of low-end torque that makes it feel downright fast around town. Aside from signs of regular maintenance and an upgraded cold air intake system and cone filter (nestled up front, in between the headlights in a small compartments where Nissan also installed the factory turbos), it appears to be largely stock, and the engine bay is very clean and ready to be shown off with great pride. That means reliability is unaffected and with proper maintenance throughout the years (fuel inject
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