The 300ZX name followed the numerical convention initiated with the 240Z, put forth by Yutaka Katayama, the one time president of Nissan Motors USA. The “X” was added to the model name by its predecessor signifying “luxury”. The name was used in most markets with the exception of a few including the Japanese home market, there the car like all previous Z cars was sold as a “Fairlady Z”. The best selling 300ZX’s were the Z31s, with over 100,000 more sales than the Z32.
In 1989 Nissan replaced the Z31 chassis with the Z32. Production of the naturally aspirated versions began in the Spring, followed by the twin-turbo in the Fall. The new VG30DE engine code reflected the use of Dual overhead cam heads. The twin-turbo model had the VG30DETT (Twin-Turbo) engine.
Left Image: Z32 Right Image: Z31
The twin-turbo 2+2 (four seat model) was never sold in the United States. Buyers in the U.S. who desired a four seat twin-turbo either had to legally import the foreign model, or convert a domestic NA 2+2 model to use a twin-turbo engine. The conversion process can be performed by mechanics familiar with the Z32. The conversion entails switching many parts in the engine bay to the twin-turbo versions as well as making some slight engine bay alterations to fit certain parts such as the radiator.
It was the first Japanese car to be sold following the introduction of a 280-hp power ceiling imposed by JAMA.
In 1984 to 1985 showroom stock racing, the 300ZX captured wins on numerous occasions. The car scored its only Trans Am win in 1986 at Lime Rock by Paul Newman for Bob Sharp Racing.
From 1985 to 1987, the Electramotive-developed GTP ZX-Turbo was raced in the IMSA GT Championship’s GTP class and also the All Japan Sports Prototype Championship, badged as a Fairlady Z, using a Lola T810 chassis and a VG30ET engine. Following development through 1987, the car would become dominant in IMSA GT in 1988. Additional factory endorsement, combined with a new chassis, transmission and more reliable Goodyear tires contributed to the team’s success. The SOHC VG30ET was making upwards of 1,000 hp (700 kW), with a power band that extended from 4000 to 9000 rpm on a single turbo.
From 1990 to 1995, Steve Millen drove the twin turbo 300ZX for Clayton Cunningham Racing. The car dominated the IMSA in its GTO, then later GTS categories due to its newly-designed chassis and engine. Millen would rank as the #1 Factory Driver for Nissan for 7 years and earn two IMSA GTS Driving Championships and two IMSA GTS Manufacturer’s Championships. Among enthusiasts and the team themselves, the biggest triumph for the race Z32 was the victory in the 24 Hours of Daytona. In the same year at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 300ZX ranked first in the GTS-1 class and 5th overall. In an attempt to level the playing field in the GTS-1 class by reducing the allowable horsepower, the IMSA declared the twin turbo VG engine ineligible.The 1995 GTS 300ZX car would debut with the V8 at Daytona and would place first in the GTS-1 class at the 12 Hours of Sebring and Mosehead Grand Prix in Halifax.
The Clayton Cunningham Racing 300ZX which won the 1994 24 Hours of Daytona.
The JUN-BLITZ Bonneville Z32 holds the E/BMS class land speed record of 419.84 km/h (260.87 mph) set at the 1995 Bonneville Speed Trial. The vehicle was built as a partnership between JUN Auto and BLITZ. This record remains unbroken. In 1990 JUN’s first Z32 went 339.2 km/h at their Yatabe test course and hit 373 km/h after some tuning at Bonneville.