Courtesy of Bonhams
  • 2,960-cc Twin Turbo DOHC V6 engine
  • Electronic fuel injection
  • 300 bhp at 6,400 rpm
  • 5-speed manual transmission
  • Independent front and rear suspension
  • 4-wheel disc brakes
  • 9,000 original miles
  • Japanese Domestic Market car
A remarkable example of one of Nissan’s most celebrated cars is presented here. Sold in its home market of Japan, just one owner held title over this vehicle for almost 30 years and put just 14,500 km (9,000 miles) on the dashboard before it was imported to the United States in 2018.  

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1990 Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo “Fairlady Z”
Years Produced:1989–96 (Z32 for U.S.)
Number Produced: 18,274 (U.S.)
Original List Price:$33,000
SCM Valuation: $13,500
Chassis Number Location:VIN tag in front left corner of windshield
Engine Number Location:Five-digit code on right-hand side at the rear of the block
Club Info:Z Car Club Association
Alternatives:1993–97 Toyota Supra Twin Turbo; 1984–96 Chevrolet Corvette C4; 1994–97 Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4
Investment Grade:D

This car, Lot 112, sold at $26,880, including buyer’s premium, at Bonhams’ auction in Greenwich, CT, on June 2, 2019.

The world works in weird ways. Mere weeks before watching this ’90 Twin Turbo Z cross the auction block, I had my own attitude-altering encounter with a pair of Turbo Zs.

I was walking my dogs through our neighborhood, and over the course of a 30-minute stroll, not one but two Z32 300ZX Twin Turbos whizzed past us. Both were silver. One had its T-tops removed. The other had them fitted. This and a couple of stickers were the only features that distinguished the cars from each other.

Both Zs cruised past us a couple times. I don’t think they were with each other, as they were several minutes apart in their loops. The sight of one Z32 alone would have caught my attention. Two in quick succession, however, really piqued my interest.

When the first Z passed me, I thought, “Meh.”

The second one came by and I thought, “Hmm, all right.”

By, let’s say, the fourth pass, however, I was sort of smitten.

I suppose enough time had elapsed that my subconscious was able to thoroughly think through the Z32, weigh its wiles, and alter my opinion from indifference to admiration.

To be clear, before those two cars paraded past me, I didn’t think much of the Z32. In the span of 30 minutes, though, that all changed.

Over the past fortnight or so, I’ve had time to dissect exactly how the Z32 has come to hold a place of high esteem in my heart.

Having a dream…

First of all, Nissan’s current lassitude had clouded my judgment. Thirty years ago, when Nissan revealed the Z32 300ZX, it was actually trying. The brand was pushing the boundaries of engineering design and performance — and doing well.

By contrast, the scandal-ridden Nissan of today seemingly stands for nothing more than buyer incentives and, when that fails, flooding rental-car fleets. I mean, for God’s sake, the current 370Z has been around for nigh 11 years — virtually prehistoric by modern automotive standards.

On the twin Zs’ second go around, the T-tops caught my eye. And the DOHC 24-valve 3.0-liter twin-turbo exhaust note rang joyfully in my ears. Suddenly, my head was flooded with images from the 300ZX Twin Turbo commercial directed by Ridley Scott.

“So, I’m having this dream … I’m in a Turbo Z.”

The sleek — but slab-sided — bodylines grabbed my attention on the fourth pass. The flush headlights in front, the short and wide body and the slow-sloping hatch replete with rear wiper had me nodding with appreciation.

Then I recalled the experience of actually driving a Z32 Twin Turbo.

It’s been a minute, but I can still remember the directness of the four-wheel Super HICAS steering. Even with its heaps of under-steer and propensity for unforgiving, turbo-spurred snap oversteer, it was a tremendous car in the corners.

And the acceleration. Oh, the acceleration.

With 300 horsepower and 238 foot-pounds of torque on tap, the Z32 300ZX Twin Turbo is no civilized samurai sword; it’s a missile with a feckless automatic climate control.

Thanks to its dual-mode suspension, which is one click of the center console-mounted switch away from being toggled between Sport and Touring, the Z lives nicely in that midpoint between sports car and grand tourer.

Nissan’s Z32 Twin Turbo was built to take on the C4 Corvette, which it did rather nicely. Even the ’Vette in Z51 guise wasn’t quite quick enough to best the 300ZX from 0 to 60 mph, which the Z dispatched in the mid-five-second range.

Driving under the radar

Thing is, even now 30 years on, ’Vettes still telegraph to onlookers that you’re trying really hard and that you need to be recognized as a sports-car driver. In my eyes, the Z doesn’t. It’s clear it’s a sports car, but its specialness is disguised by its subdued styling — something no ’Vette can boast.

I got that same feeling as I watched those twin Zs cruise through my neighborhood that evening a few weeks back.

The owners clearly put forethought into their almost-vintage sports cars. After all, the Nissan brand doesn’t have much pop-culture cred anymore thanks to Ghosn and his weary goons. So, surely, few people recognize and appreciate the Zs for what they are.

Plus, anecdotal evidence suggests that Z32s are mighty expensive to fix when something goes wrong — although they can be had inexpensively enough to leave room in the budget for repairs.

That brings us to this particular JDM 300ZX Twin Turbo “Fairlady Z,” which fetched a cool $26,880 — nearly double our median valuation — at Bonhams’ Greenwich Auction.

Since this one has only driven 14,500 kilometers (9,000 miles) since new and it’s the 2+2 body style, which was not offered in the U.S. in ’90, I’d say it was well bought — especially since we recently witnessed a Toyota Supra Twin Turbo from that era crack $170,000.

So 300ZX Twin Turbos are likely to follow suit on a market rise. ♦

(Introductory description courtesy of Bonhams.)

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