Story by Nick Tuyau; Photos by Archie Brown
Or is it really? Nissan’s Z32 300ZX is, in many eyes, a pretty timeless design. With clean, simple lines and just the right details in just the right places, it’s hard to tell that the shape is over 20 years old! The 1989 release of the Z32 was a breath of fresh air to Z enthusiasts, and showed that Nissan had re-thought and refocussed on the legacy that had started and built with the Z cars since 1970.
The original 240Z and its successor the 260Z were Japan’s cut-price alternative to European sports cars like the Jaguar E-type and Porsche 911, being small, light and sporty. But as the rising cost of fuel, the customer’s requirements for luxury features and increasing focus on emissions and safety all started to make an impact, the 280ZX and Z31 300ZX became bloated, slow and sloppy versions of what they potentially could have been.
Luckily, there were still driving enthusiasts amongst the staff at Nissan’s head offices in Japan, and the Z32 hit the deck running! With a clean-sheet design, the process began, and the rewards flowed in world-wide, with a number of awards for its near timeless design and the way the car performed, and the car was an instant hit with customers too.
Andrew “Procky” Proctor clearly sees what all that fuss was about and it all began, typically, when Procky was a youngster travelling for a soccer game. Being impressionable and not very knowledgeable at the time, he first thought the car he’d seen and instantly fell in love with was a Ferrari. He was struck with the clean body lines of the Z32, and it was only when he got home that his father showed him it was a Nissan 300ZX that he’d been admiring.
This is Procky’s second Zed (and third import), after owning a non-turbo version while on his P’s. With a new, unrestricted license in hand, the search was on for a replacement car with a turbo, and the extra poke and fun that that would provide. The usual suspects of Supras and Skylines, etc. were considered, but it was on the way home one day that Procky spotted the right car, followed it and ended up buying it. Then the fun began!
Being the Z32 specialists, Unique Auto Sports of Seven Hills (UAS) in Sydney’s West were entrusted with a fair chunk of the build and lots of assistance, but Procky wasn’t scared to get his hands dirty either. A lot of the parts used throughout the build were also supplied either by Concept Z Performance from Pheonix, Arizona (CZP) or Rob Sidaway of RGS Performance.
Starting with the bodywork, a full Wings West polyurethane body kit was added to the lower half. The usual flat panel between the headlights was replaced with a Stillen V2, and the ducts are functional, leading onto the intake. A rare VeilSide CII drag rear wing was added at the rear. To help bring the looks up-to-date, the amber front and side indicators were replaced with clear ones, and the rear lights and centre panel were also updated to 2000-spec versions.
Lastly, the guards were lightly flared in preparation for the huge SSR Professor SP1 3-piece forged wheels (18″ x 8.5″ +25mm fronts, 18″ x 9.5″ +30mm rears in a Super black coat with polished rims) and tyres (Sumitomos measuring 245/40/18 front and 285/35/18 rear), before the car was resprayed in the factory Nissan black, sorting out the previously faded and mismatched panels. Ride and handling are taken care of by a combination of Tein Super Street coilovers with the usual 8kg front and 6kg rear springs, and it’s all secured with various Nismo bushes that have been replaced over the years as and when required. A Cusco rear strut brace adds some strength in that area, too. Braking will never be an issue, with Brembo calipers from an R33 GT-R V-Spec at the front, and DBA T-3 Club Spec slotted rotors all around clamped by HAWK brake pads. Brake ducts from UAS make sure the whole package stays cool under pressure.
When it comes to the interior, once again no expense was spared and Procky got to work designing and installing a new sound system, starting with a Pioneer 7″ DVD touch-screen single-DIN head unit. This sends signals to a HiFonics 4-channel amplifier powering 6.5″ HiFonics splits front and rear, with the fronts in custom-fabricated fibreglass door pods where the tweeters have also been flush-fitted. A custom rear enclosure sits in the boot for a pair of Alpine 10″ Type-X subwoofers, powered off a HiFonics mono amp. All of the power to the amplifiers goes through a Kicker competition-grade 0-gauge wiring kit for minimum disruptions.
However, the first thing you notice is the Ferrari 360-influenced beige and black leather treatment on the doors, dash, centre console, steering wheel and seats. A custom dash pad sits over a Z-sport 300km/h cluster with an RGS Performance LED dash light conversion kit. A dual A-pillar pod holds some stealthy smoked digital gauges. A GReddy Profec B boost controller is tucked away somewhere in there, as is an Apex-i Volt meter and custom-mounted ECU-Talk real-time monitoring system.
Those gauges and monitors are pretty much a requirement now, as the engine work in this car is equally as extensive – to say the least – as the work that’s gone into the rest of the car. The VG30DETT still retains the standard 3-litre capacity, but unfortunately the first block that was being prepped had a flaw in it that was significant enough to need to replace it. A delay of a few weeks occurred
, but a new block was found to be good, and sent off for dipping and boring in preparation for its new parts. As the VG can run hot in this application, being in such a confined space, the coolant galleries were also opened up. The standard water pump is used, but with a 55mm Koyo radiator and CZP guide.
A modified sump holds the standard VG30 oil pump, and the oil is splashed around by a Moly-coated race-spec crankshaft and bearings with Eagle rods and Wiseco 88mm pistons with Moly-coated rings. A Cometic head gasket was utilized, and the ported, polished and port-matched heads have had some combustion bowl work done and a 5-angle grind to hold the 1mm-oversized Ferrea intake and exhaust valves, held in place by JWT valve springs and new hydraulic lifters. Those valves are operated by JWT 400+ cams, with 264 degrees of rotation and 0.375″ (just over 9.5mm) of lift spun by BDE cam gears and adaptors on the intake side. ARP head and main bolts hold everything tighly in place.
Fuel is supplied to the modified inlet manifold by 750cc JECS injectors sitting on twin parallel fuel rails and lines with -AN fittings and a Turbosmart Fuel Pressure Regulator. The fuel tank holds a Walbro 400LPH pump. Air intake is sorted and measured by twin SELIN intakes and AFMs, spark comes from the factory VG30 coils, and the whole shebang is run by a NisTune ECU, with all the wiring tucked away.
On the hot side, AMS exhaust manifolds feed a pair of modified GTX2863R turbos, which dump into custom 3″ split flange dumps and test pipes, Ballistic racing cats and 2.5″ back pipes with MagnaFlow 14807 dual 4″ tips on each side to fill out that rear bar. A twin, HKS-style vertical core front mount intercooler is tucked away to deal with the compressor side of the turbo.
Lastly, all that power is handled by the super-tough factory 300ZX gearbox, using a UAS Racing single-plate clutch on a lightened flywheel, Z1 platinum alloy tailshaft and the Nissan R230 diff with 3.69:1 ratio. A short-shifter is topped by a custom polished shifter.
How much power, you ask? On its preferred brew of 98-Octane, this Zed has pumped out a pretty decent 300.2rwkW on 13psi, and a stout 417.5rwkW on 24psi, measured on a Dyno Dynamics chassis dyno.
The car has won more awards than we have room to list for its quality of build and appearance, but it’s yet to be properly run down the quarter to see what it can do.
Future plans include an ECU upgrade, fuel upgrades, some aero work, an interior re-do, and chasing some more power.
Procky has a long list of people to thank, so here goes:
- John Penlington (owner and manager) and Ben of Unique Auto Sports;
- Concept Z Performance for supplying a lot of parts and providing VERY quick shipping;
- his parents for putting up with him and the car
- Rob Sidaway of RGS performance for all the little performance and bling touches to keep the car up-to-date;
- AUS300ZX.com for being VERY supportive, helpful, and filling in as a large, extended family; and
- Ian and Karl for giving me the idea 5 years ago of what I wanted my Zed to aspire to.