You have already met the sports Z models – in Japan named Fairlady Z – in my articles a few times. In 1983, it was time to replace the S130 generation with a new model, and the first generation Nissan 300ZX Z31 appeared, produced in Japan. Instead of a sports car like the original Zetko, in this case it is a purebred GT. But perhaps also thanks to this, the car had greater sales success again.

This model was first presented on September 16, 1983. The angular, simple design of the three-door coupe was created by Kazumasu Takagi and his team and managed to achieve a drag coefficient of only 0.30 Cx. It was also thanks to the use of flip-up headlights instead of classic round ones. The original cars with the Zenki nickname had a lot of black accessories, which were painted to match the body color of the later models with the Kouki nickname. Since 1987, there has been a third LED brake light at the back, which is said to be the first time in the world that such a light appeared on a car.

Photo: Martin Platzer

Blinkers and frameless windows were mandatory equipment for coupes of that time.

I open the frameless door and look forward to entering. The two-seater and blue-toned interior is pleasantly ergonomically laid out. But you will recognize the American version, all copies sold in Europe were in a 2+2 arrangement. High leather seats are mainly comfortable, many customers preferred velour. I have a multifunction steering wheel above me, the digital instrument panel behind it looks futuristic, but there are also a couple of analog alarm clocks. However, they are located in the central part and are turned towards the driver. There are also a lot of buttons, but you get used to it after a while. Automatic air conditioning must have been something extra for that time.

Photo: Martin Platzer

The digital instrument cluster is somewhat reminiscent of the serial KITT.

The roof panels are removable, so in nice weather you can enjoy the wind in your hair. The rear window is hinged and allows access to the luggage compartment with a volume of 235 liters. The most luxurious versions also had a voice warning that spoke to the driver through the radio speakers. Sure, you won’t chat with it like you do with Siri, but Nissan can recite pre-recorded messages very nicely. All that remains is to start it with a beautiful metal key and find out what this coupe can do.

The classic concept never gets old

The ZX has a classic concept with the engine running longitudinally at the front and driving the rear wheels via an R200 open differential. Only two- or three-liter six-cylinders found their way under the hood. A three-liter VG30E OHC fork engine is also under the hood of this 1985 piece and is mated to a five-speed manual. However, Nissan also offered the E4N71B four-speed automatic. The automatic has an electronically controlled converter lock, which was very advanced at the time.

Photo: Martin Platzer

The six-cylinder fork fills the space under the hood beautifully.

It was the first six-cylinder fork of the Japanese car manufacturer, which boasted compact dimensions. Until then, Nissan focused on in-line engines. The power unit is equipped with EFI electronic fuel injection and twenty-four valves and offers an output of 170 hp (122 kW) at 5,200 rpm. The torque is 236 Nm. The car’s ambition is tamed by disc brakes on all wheels. The engine rumbles quite a bit while driving, but not obnoxiously like someone with a tuning exhaust on a small hatchback, more ominously so. Only at 4,000 revolutions does it switch to a beautiful growl. It is true that the exhaust is not original, it would be much quieter.

No flyweight, but still drives nicely

The car weighs around 1.4 tons, so it’s not really a lightweight sports car, even if it has a solid punch. At the same time, Nissan used the basis of the chassis from the previous generation 280ZX. Therefore, the 300ZX has the same wheelbase and the same MacPherson independent front suspension. There are coil springs and an anti-roll bar. The rear axle consists of triangular arms and coil springs, telescopic shock absorbers and a stabilizer are not missing here either. But it drives much better than the older pieces. It has stiffer rack-and-pinion steering with hydraulic power steering instead of the previous 280ZX’s rack-and-pinion steering. It’s just a shame that the turning radius resembles an airliner. But with the new engine, the Nissan is also stronger and faster. It conquers 100 km/h in 7.9 seconds and goes up to 230 km/h. Average consumption is around ten litres.

The Z31 model was produced until 1989, then the rounder and more expensive Z32 generation began. It said goodbye in 2000 and was succeeded by the 350Z model. Then the 370Z model came on the market, and today the modern Nissan 400Z is sold.

329,900 of the first 300ZX models were produced and most were exported. The car sold best in the USA, where the Datsun name was also used at launch. The famous actor Paul Newman, who loved Nissans, raced them in the eighties. One 300ZX was converted into a convertible in California.

Today it is still a fairly affordable sporty car, which also boasts decent reliability, although not as bulletproof as Toyota has traditionally had. There are also quite a few parts and modifications for it, so if someone wants to modify their youngtimer, they have quite a wide range of options. Personally, I would prefer such a well-preserved original model.