Complete Nissan 300 ZX lineup, specs, economy, dimensions

1990 Nissan 300 ZX (Z32) - Technical Specs, Fuel economy, Dimensions1990 - 1995 Nissan 300 ZX Coupe300 ZX (Z32)4 Trims 268 to 283 Hp 1984 Nissan 300 ZX (Z31) - Technical Specs, Fuel economy, Dimensions1984 - 1990 Nissan 300 ZX Coupe300 ZX (Z31)3 Trims 170 to 229 Hp

The Nissan 300ZX was a three-door coupe and 2+2 sports car produced 1983 to 2000 across two generations. It was the third model in the legendary Nissan Z-car lineup, and like previous models, was sold as a Nissan Fairlady Z in Japan. 

Nissan 300ZX Design and Introduction

The design of the Nissan 300ZX was completed by Kazumasu Takagi, who took the improved aerodynamics of the previous Z-car, the 280ZX, to the next level with a streamlined body style. The 300ZX also featured a new, more-powerful V6 engine to replace the inline-6 to increase performance. On top of improved aerodynamics and performance, the Nissan 300ZX also received more luxury and comfort-focused options driving it further upmarket. The first generation Z31 would end up being the highest volume Z-car produced to date.

Engine and Performance

Five different engine options were offered in the first generation Nissan Z31, but the Nissan 300ZX sold in North America featured a 3.0L V6 VG30E SOHC engine with up to 165 horsepower, while the 300ZX Turbo received a turbocharged version in the VG30ET with 6.8 psi of boost to increase performance up to 200 horsepower in the US version and 230 horsepower in the European offerings. Both engines had electronic fuel injection with a rear-wheel drive configuration. They were paired to a 5-speed manual while a 4-speed automatic transmission was optional. They used the Nissan R200 rear differential, and later Turbo models received a limited-slip version. The turbo models also received 3-way electronically adjustable shocks.

Special Edition Variants

A special-edition, luxurious 1984 300ZX was released to commemorate Nissan’s 50th anniversary. It had a silver and black color scheme with a digital instrument cluster featuring average mileage, G-force, and compass readings. Steering wheel controls for cruise control and radio settings was featured, along with many embroidered interior appointments. It was available in manual and automatic transmission. In 1988, a special-edition Shiro Special was released, with many performance-focused upgrades. These included stiffer suspension with new shocks and heavy-duty sway bars. A viscous limited-slip differential and Recaro seats were also used in the Shiro Special 300ZX.

Second Generation Updates

The second-generational Nissan 300ZX (Z32) was released in 1989, designed by Isao Sono and Toshio Yamashita. It featured a heavily redesigned exterior with a more rounded shape and less angular design aspects. A 3.0L VG30 V6 engine with dual overhead cams and variable valve timing was featured in the new 300ZX, producing 222 horsepower in the naturally-aspirated version. A variant with Garrett AiResearch twin-turbochargers and dual intercoolers was also available, pushing the performance up to 300 horsepower and 283 lb ft of torque. This generation also featured a four-wheel steering system called the Super High Capacity Actively Controlled Steering, or Super HICAS, which was first seen on the R31 Nissan Skyline. An adjustable two-mode suspension also came on the 300ZX. Both of these advanced features were only available on the turbocharged variant. Most second-generation 300ZXs came with the T-top removable roof panels, while the Slicktop hardtop version was available in the naturally-aspirated North American version. 

Success of the Nissan 300ZX

The 1990 model year pushed the total United States Z-car purchases to more than one million units, which was the best selling sports car at the time. However, as the Yen to Dollar exchange rate began to change and SUVs became popular, the 300ZX began to reach substantially higher in price and lower in sales volume. There was no doubt about it, however, that the Nissan 300ZX had successfully followed up the first two Z-car generations. The model was featured as the 1990 Motor Trend Import Car of the Year and it made Car and Driver’s Ten Best list for seven years in a row. After a brief hiatus, it was succeeded by the Nissan 350Z (Z33) generation in 2003