I bought a Nissan 300ZX as my first project car and it’s slower than my Corolla

Ladies and gentlemen, inline 4s and V8s, the day has finally come. I have acquired my very own project car.

Now it’s not a project car in the sense that every panel is full of nature’s weight reduction and the dash resembles Death Valley. It’s a project car more so in the way that it requires a bit of work to make it safe to drive.

Avid readers of my articles from the days of DRIVETRIBE (RIP) will be very familiar with my 2013 Toyota Corolla. It was my first car, and even with this new addition to the Scuderia Gabriel, continues to be my ever-reliable daily driver. If you’re not familiar with its story, then first of all shame on you, and second of all, you can check out that repost here! It’s the car that landed me my gig at DRIVETRIBE and essentially started the automotive journey that I’m on today.

I now present to you, with full RADWood honors, my “new” 1986 Nissan 300ZX courtesy of Facebook Marketplace!

We’ve got pop-up headlights, a blue interior, a power antenna, incredibly 80s turbofan-style wheels, and a “Voice Warning System” that talks to you when the lights are on or the doors are open. Arguably its second-best feature next to the pop-up headlights is the removable T-top roof for ultimate 80s mullet-in-the-wind moments on the freeway. The V6 VG30E engine had a factory rating of 160 hp and is backed by a 4-speed automatic. It runs, it’s somehow slower than the Corolla, and it leaks out of some places but that matters little to me. I am beyond thrilled to finally have a rad ride I can take to car shows!

While I am disappointed it’s not the Turbo, Shiro, or 50th Anniversary Edition, a Base model means that fewer things can break or go wrong overall. Considering the number of things that are already wrong with this car, I’m thankful.

So what exactly IS wrong with it? Well for starters, despite its fairly low odometer reading of 139,100 miles, there is a very good chance the timing belt has never been done. On top of that, the steering rack leaks, the radiator leaks, it needs new plugs and wires, the passenger-side mirror is broken, and there are a few dings and scratches to take care of. For $3,700 though? That’s a steal and it gives me plenty of room to get things back the way they should be.

Fixing it up has turned out to be a much bigger issue than I expected. While I can handle minor services like an oil change and plugs, I do not dare go anywhere near that timing belt, radiator, or especially the steering rack. Every shop I’ve called has said the car is “too old” for them to work on despite the fact I can throw a stone in any general direction and find a mechanic willing to work on a Model T. But I digress.

My solution so far has been a mix of connections and friends who can help me get things done so it does look like there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

As for its life after it’s fixed up, you tuner boys can calm down, it will not be modified. I love originality so everything will stay bone stock except for the exhaust, which was changed before I bought it and it actually sounds pretty good. I have already embraced the spirit of a project car owner and will be visiting the nearest Pick ‘n Pull that has one of these beasts in stock.

Oh and plenty of photoshoots once it’s clean and dialed in of course. Look out for that!


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Might this be the Canary Cummins in the Coal Mine?

Happy to meet you all!