Two of the Nissan’s Z sports car, including Z31 and Z32 were sold around the world under the 300ZX name. In the Japanese market, the car was marketed under Fairlady Z name like many other Z-Car versions.
The 300ZX were sold from 1983 to 2000 in Japanese market, while it remained in US market from 1984 to 1996. The ‘X’ designation was first used on the 280ZX and used to refer to the availability of luxury and comfort oriented features. Among the two generation of 300ZX, the Z31 was the most popular model with more than 100,000 units sold compared to Z32.
Z31 and Z32 were available with a 3.0-L V6 engine either came as naturally aspirated or turbocharged version. Despite the fact that both the models received the same engine from the Nissan’s VG family, both were largely different from each other. The difference was in overhead camshafts. The Z31 received the VG30E engine with only one overhead camshaft, while the VG30E engine used in Z32 came with twin overhead camshafts, variable valve timing and individual throttle bodies for each bank of 3 cylinders. Similarly, the Turbo models available for Z31 came with single, non-intercooled turbocharger and the Z32 came with twin, intercooled turbochargers.
The naturally aspirated engine produced 222 hp (166 kW) and torque of 198 lb-ft (268 Nm) in contrast to the Z31’s 165 hp and 174 lb-ft (236 Nm) torque. The Z32’s twin turbocharged engine capable of generating 300 hp (220kW) and 283 lb-ft (384 Nm) torque, whilst the Z31’s single turbo engine developed 200-205 hp and torque of 227 lb-ft (308 Nm).
In 1983, the Z31 was introduced for the first time by Nissan Motors under Nissan/Datsun 300ZX designation in the US market. However, it was sold in other parts of the world under Nissan name like many previous models. The Datsun name was discontinued worldwide in 1985 and the Nissan badge became a standardized name. Unlike 280ZX, the 300ZX had upgraded aerodynamics and enhanced power. The 300Zx was designed by Kazumasu Takagi and his team. The 300ZX was equipped with Nissan’s first mass produced V6 engine rather than I6. It had a drag-coefficient of 0.30. Nissan stated in one of their statement, “The V6 engine was supposed to re-create the spirit of the original Fairlady Z.”
The V6 (2960 cc) single overhead cam engine used was offered both as naturally aspirated VG30E and turbocharged VG30ET version capable of producing 160 hp (119 kW) and 200 hp (150 kW) respectively. The engine available from 1984 to April 1987 came with a sub-designation of Type A or Type B. however, the engine came from May 1987 to 1989 bore a sub-designation of W. the W-series engine offered with revised water jackets for additional cooling, fully floating piston wrist pins and increased power of 165 hp for naturally aspirated and 205 hp (153 kW) for turbocharged versions. A Garrett T3 turbocharger was used in the models from 1984 to 1987 with a 7.8:1 compression ratio, while the models produced from 1988 to 1989 came with a low inertia T25 turbocharger with an enhanced 8.3:1 compression ratio. All these engines came with self-adjusting hydraulic valve lifters and transmission offered was either an optional 4-speed automatic or 5-speed manual.
The second generation 300ZX called the Z32 was introduced in 1989 and remained in production until 2000. The most distinguishing feature between this and the previous generation model was its increased displacement of 3.0-L engine along with dual-overhead camshafts (DOHC) and variable valve timing (VVT). The engine was capable of generating 222 hp (166 kW) and 198 lb-ft (268 Nm) of torque in naturally aspirated version. The turbo variant was revised and improved with introduction of twin Garrett turbochargers and dual intercoolers with 300 hp (224 kW) and 283 lb-ft (384 Nm) torque for this generation. The car was able to sprint from 0-6- mph in 5 or 6 seconds with a top speed of 155 mph (249 km/h).
The new Z32 was designed by Nissan Motors who utilized the Cray-II supercomputer and CAD software for its designing. All this made the 300ZX (Z32) the first ever production car designed in a CAD program. The car was also equipped with advanced technologies. Four-wheel steering called the Super HICAS (high Capacity Actively Controlled Steering) was also offered in all twin turbo models. Other features were twin turbochargers and intercoolers.
Nissan offered a 2+2 model with Z32 like many of their previous models. A convertible version was added in the Z-car’s lineup in 1993 for the first time. Although, some hardtops models were also produced, majority of the production units came with standard T-tops.