Third Generation (Z31)

third generation

Nissan 300ZX (Z31)

The Z-car was completely redesigned in 1984, and introduced Nissan’s new series of 3.0-liter V6 engine, dubbed the VG series. The same engine was used in the Electramotive (later to become NPTI) GTP ZX-Turbo that dominated the IMSA GTP races in 1988 and 1989. These were available in both VG30E naturally-aspirated and VG30ET turbocharged forms producing 160 and 200 bhp (120 and 150 kW) respectively, although some VG30ET powered Z-cars exported outside of the US produced 228 bhp (170 kW) due to a longer cam duration and less emission restrictions. These were showcased in sleek new wedge-shaped styling and given a new name, the 300ZX. Like its predecessor, it also proved to be wildly popular and was the second-best selling Z-car in history[4] selling over 70,000 units due in part not only to its new styling but also to even more added luxury features and high performance. When the 300ZX Turbo was released in Japan, it offered the highest HP available in a Japanese standard production car at the time.[5] Much like the 280ZX that preceded it, the first-gen 300ZX was thought by enthusiasts as more GT than true sports car. It had improved handling, acceleration, and refinement on any previous model Z-car.

Nissan made various changes and claimed improvements to the Z31 model through its entire production. In 1983 Nissan first offered the 300ZX in Japan. It was introduced in the US one year later. All US-market 1984 model Nissan vehicles carried both Datsun and Nissan nameplates. Along with the arrival of their new flagship sports coupe, Nissan launched an aggressive marketing campaign to promote the brand name change from Datsun to Nissan. The 1984 Models can technically be considered the only year of the “Datsun 300ZX”. The 1984 300ZX 50th Anniversary Edition was released in celebration of the company’s 50th anniversary year. It was based on the standard 300ZX Turbo, but was outfitted with every luxury feature available, a unique black interior with “bodysonic” leather seats in addition to widened fender flares, requisite badging, rear quarter panel flares, and sixteen-inch (406 mm) wheels (400 mm).

For the 1985 model year, Nissan dropped the Datsun name brand for good, but the car dealers were still known as Datsun dealers. Paul Newman raced in the 1985 GT1 Challenge and won. This was Newman’s 4th national championship. Minor changes were made to the 300ZX including a water-cooled turbocharger, smoked taillights, and body-color bumpers.

The 1986 model saw wider flared wheel wells, and the rear quarter panels were designed specifically to accommodate factory ground effect style side skirts. 1986 turbo models were equipped with an ordinary hood, markedly losing the turbo “scoop” on the drivers side.

In order to keep up with quickly aging aesthetics, another slight redesign happened in 1987, consisting of new rounded, restyled and longer front and rear bumpers, new headlights, and new tail lights. The black trim on turbo models was now a charcoal instead of gloss black, and 1987 Turbo models came with special “smoked” turbo-finned wheels. All 1987 model year turbo cars also received an upgraded manual transmission, larger and more powerful brakes, and turbo cars produced from 4/87 and later came equipped with a clutch-type limited-slip differential.

For the 1988 models, there were again a few small changes. The turbocharger was switched from the Garrett T3 turbo to a lower-inertia T25 turbo, and the engine from 7.8:1 to an 8.3:1 compression ratio in order to reduce turbocharger spool time and provide instant boost at any usable RPM. The interior aluminum accents and chrome door handles that adorned the earlier cars were dropped in favor of matching color parts. Another special edition, the “Shiro Special” (SS), was released in 1988. It was only available in pearl white (shiro meaning “white” in Japanese). The SS package consisted of analog gauges and climate controls with a black interior, stiffer sway bars, stiffer springs, non-adjustable suspension, special seats (Recaro), a viscous-coupling limited slip differential, and a special front lower lip spoiler. This package had no options; all 88SS cars are identical.

The 1989 Models are identical to 1988 models, though somewhat rare because of Nissan winding-down production early in preparation for the second generation 300ZX

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