Z31 300ZX Series 1
1 May 1984
The Datsun name had disappeared by now and so did any sports car pretence from the Nissan Z-car, hitherto known as a “personal” executive coupe.
Around 65 per cent sold were automatics! Completely redesigned and re-engineered, the aerodynamic 300ZX also eschewed its classic in-line six-cylinder engine for a new 3.0-litre fuel-injected V6 (VG30E) producing a healthy and refined 124kW of power and 241Nm of torque.
But the glutenous (1385kg) rear-wheel driver’s dynamics were orientated too far towards comfort for keen drivers to care, making the 300ZX the king of the boulevard cruisers as well as something of a critical laughing stock.
Bland styling (featuring semi-retractable headlights) and a gauche (though very well equipped) cabin certainly didn’t help.
Once again the T-bar roof was standard, along with luxury-car levels of gadgetry, while July 1984’s Limited Edition model added automatic air-conditioning, trip computer, compass, G-force measuring gauge, digital instrumentation, fuel consumption dial, gold alloy wheels and gold pin striping.
This was truly the antithesis of the original 240Z concept.
Certainly what the 300ZX didn’t need was a turbocharger, but that’s what January 1986’s Turbo facelift offered, pumping out 155kW and 319Nm for serious straight-line performance. A four-speed auto replaced the old three-speed auto unit.
By now the Z-car’s price was also seriously blowing out and sales were in freefall as Toyota finally woke up to the market potential of affordable sports cars with the astonishingly good 1985 ST162 series Celica and the 1986 Supra.