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1988 Nissan 300ZX Turbo Shiro Special November 3, 2019 | 07:11 pm

I’m going to make a prediction. The 1984-1988 300ZX will be a high dollar classic one day soon.

It’s really not that bold of a prediction. All of the older Z cars have been increasing in value. The 240Z, the 260Z, the 280Z, even the 280ZX. The 240’s in particular have really accelerated in recent years.

The first generation of the 300ZX, commonly referred to as the Z31, was built from 1984 to 1988. Production numbers far exceeded the second generation (the Z32), totaling 270k by the end of the run.

Year2-Seat NA4-Seat NATurboSpecialTotal

As you can see in the table above that shows Z31 production by model and year (Ref. 1), there were four main types produced. But that’s slightly misleading, because there were two different “special” models. There was a 50th Anniversary 300ZX produced in 1984, and a Shiro special edition sold in 1988.

The 300ZX Turbo is generally regarded as a solid and sporty performer. Car and Driver did an instrumented test back in 1984 (Ref. 2), and found:

  • Zero to sixty: 7.3 seconds
  • Zero to 100mph: 10.1 seconds
  • Top speed: 134 mph
  • Skidpad: 0.79 g
  • Braking 70-0 mph: 191 feet

The Shiro edition certainly had its own special features. Shiro means “white” in Japanese, and these things are definitely white. In addition to the white body and wheels, the SS cars had (Ref. 3):

  • Manual, cloth, Recaro seats
  • Analog instrument cluster
  • Viscous limited slip differential
  • Manual climate control A/C system
  • Stiffer springs (207 lb/in front, 224 lb/in rear)
  • Stiffer anti-sway bars (26 mm front, 25 mm rear)
  • Stiffer non-adjustable manual shocks
  • Lower front air dam

For everyone’s reference, I have attached the 1988 300ZX Factory Service Manual (FSM). You are welcome 🙂

The Z31 is generally considered to be a very tough, durable, reliable car. They have a few common issues and problems, and I’ll go through some items to make you more familiar with them.

  1. Some of these cars are 36 years old now. Parts wear out. Some items like shocks and struts get a little tricky on models that have adjustable suspension. The OEM adjustable shocks are NLA (no longer available). That means you can’t go to a Nissan Dealership parts counter and just buy or order them. There are tutorials (Ref #5) for how to convert to aftermarket, non-adjustable shocks, but they may require a kit that includes a spacer, and who knows if those spacers are still available.
  2. Models with the digital dash can be finicky. The electronic gas gauge in particular is known for working intermittently, but other issues pop up as well. This makes sense – 30 year old electronics are probably not quite as reliable as stuff made these days. There are some instructions for how to test and fix them. (Ref #6)
  3. The timing belts (and timing belt tensioners) are not known for being particularly fragile, but should be replaced regularly as the VG30 is an interference style engine.
  4. On models with the automatic/electronic climate control, there is a small module near the roof of the car that measures the cabin temperature. After many years, the fan that pulls air across the sensor can go bad, with bearings that start to squeal.
  5. The OEM fuel injector seals coped poorly with various gas blends. There was at one time a recall on these, but I’m not sure if Nissan would still honor the recall. The fuel injectors are not terribly hard to replace, and aren’t insanely expensive, so this shouldn’t be a deal killer.
  6. The heater core may eventually begin leaking. If you aren’t familiar, this is a small radiator inside the car up under the dash that allows for you to heat the cabin in winter. These are a paint to replace, as it may require either removing the entire dash, or standing on your head in the footwell for approximately a lifetime. We’ll go back to xenoncar’s website for some guidelines (Ref #7).
  7. As the cars age, cold startability may become a challenge. The cars use a CHTS (cylinder head temp sensor), and AAC (auxiliary air control valve) and other systems to ease starting when the engine or ambient temps are cold. Any of these startability problems are resolvable, and these types of failures are typically present until the car is decades and possibly hundred of thousands of miles old.
  8. As crazy as it sounds, some 300ZX’s (1984-1986 US models only) are equipped with a voice warning system. This is also known as “Bitching Betty”. It was a small module that senses various issues and plays an electronic voice that warns “fuel level is low” or “lights are one” etc. This may be one of the coolest novelties ever! Sometimes the small device goes bad in various ways. I will not cover here how to fix it, but Ref #8 below is a like to a youtube video where you can hear an example and watch a guy pull a module out of a junkyard.

Z31’s came with a few different manual transmissions. The non-turbo cars had a 5-speed Nissan tranny that is pretty tough but just not up for handling turbo level power. The turbo cars came with a Borg-Warner T5 in 1984-1986. The BW trannys are usually pretty tough, I’m just not a huge fan of their shift feel. In 1987-1989 models, they moved to a Nissan-designed 5-speed that was identical internally to those used in the Z32 cars, Pathfinders, etc. Their shift feel, in my opinion, was better than the Borg Warner.

There was also an automatic transmission available. There were two different versions. Both were built by Jatco, and were four-speed units. The two different versions have slightly different gear ratios.

The turbo car is fairly easy to modify for increased horsepower. There are 6 commonly accepted stages for the mods. Let’s go through them sequentially:

Stage 1 – Exhaust

Swapping the exhaust for something with less restriction and more flow is not a gigantic power increase in and of itself. It’s typically capable of bumping power levels up by around 5hp. But in starting here, you set the stage for future power increases.

Stage 2 – Intake

Popping an HKS or K&N intake on the Z31 will typically add around 3hp. Again, better things are to come – we are just doing the basic intake/exhaust prep here before we take bigger swings for the fences.

Stage 3 – Boost Control

This is where things get interesting. You can add a manual or electronic boost controller. Doubling the stock boost from 4 psi to 8 psi will generate an additional 20 hp. The stock ECU and injectors are generally good up to around 12.5 psi. Eight psi is quite safe. Ten psi is quite acceptable. Twelve psi is pushing the limits, but is typically good for a total of 30 hp as compared to stock boost levels. You will also have to block off or modify the OEM pop-off valve, as it will start venting to atmosphere when you crank up the boost.

Stage 4 – Intercooler

There is enough room (if you’re creative) to squeeze an intercooler into the front of the Z31. These cars were fairly simple from the factory, and did not have an intercooler to reduce complexity and reduce boost lag. As you increase boost levels, you start generating some serious heat. The intercooler helps manage that, and helps you guard against detonation and power loss. At 12psi of boost, an efficient intercooler will typically give you and extra 37 hp.

Stage 5 – ECU and Fuel

Stage 4 is about as far as you can go on the stock injectors, as you will start maxing out their flow. Changing to a larger injector will typically require some type of different control system or ECU. One of the most popular upgrades back in the day was from Jim Wolf Technology. Their JWT 550 upgrade used 555 cc injectors, a larger MAF, pairs with a larger fuel pump, and recommends a larger turbocharger (see Stage 6). Cars were theoretically capable at this point of generating up to 500 or 550 hp!

Stage 6 – Turbo

The Z31 used a Garrett T3 turbocharger from 1984-1987. The 1988-1989 cars used a Garrett T2. Ugrading to a larger, higher-capacity turbo is generally required to support anything over 300 hp.

Performance On Modified Turbo Z31

A Z31 modified to stage 3 should run around 270 or 280 hp at the flywheel. You can expect the performance to look like this:

PerformanceStock TurboStg 3 Turbo
0-60 MPH7.3 sec5.3 sec
1/4 Mile15.4 @ 96 mph14.1 @ 102 mph
Top Speed135 mph156 mph

Z31 300ZX’s For Sale

Okay, let’s do a round up shall we? As of today, November 3 2019, prices for a pristine turbo appear to be $8k-$12k. A Shiro sold on BAT back in December last year for $11,750 (Ref #4). This was a very nice car, with 93k miles on it.

There are currently four cars on Craigslist worth talking about. I’ll go through them one by one.

  1. The first is located in Central Los Angeles. It is priced at $4300. It is a 1987, with no mention of the mileage. It looks fairly well kept, but the owner says the 5th gear synchro is bad. Interior and exterior looks quite good, but the photos are really tiny.

2. The second car is located in Austin Texas. It is a 1984, with 76k miles on it. It has the analog dash, with so-so paint and interior. It’s listed for $4999 with no mechanical problems and a list of recent work accomplished.

$4,999 OBO

Selling my 1984 Nissan/Datsun 300ZX Turbo. Selling since I can no longer work on the car as I’ll be heading to college in January. Car runs and handles excellent with no mechanical problems.
Recently replaced:
-Spark Plugs
-Plug Wires
-All brake pads and rotors
-Brake master Cylinder
-Resurfaced Flywheel
-Throttle Position Sensor
-New Tires

Also including 2 extra T-tops, Fender flares from a 50th Anniversary Edition model, Wheel spacers to fit the flares, and a digital dash that can be installed.

Don’t hesitate to message me if you have any questions about the car!

3. The third car is a 1984 at a dealership in the San Francisco bay area. It has 87k miles and and also has an analog dash. It appears to be completely original and in great condition. They are asking $8250 for it.

Year: 1984
Make: Nissan
Model: 300ZX
Trim: Turbo
Type: Coupe
Color: Black
Transmission: Manual
Drive: Rwd
Engine: 3.0 Turbo
VIN: JN1CZ14S3EX003240
Mileage: 87,474 Actual miles!


4. The last car is a 1988 300zx Turbo Shiro. It is located in Round Rock Texas. With 113k miles on it, it’s not exactly brand new. But it appears to be fully restored, and they are asking $12,000 for it. I’ll take it!

Collectors Car in Showroom Condition! Rare Shiro High Performance Model – Very Rare only 1002 Made!

1988 Nissan 300zx Turbo – Shiro Edition – Pearl White – 5-Speed Manual Transmission – 113K Original Miles.

Loaded with every available option including air conditioning, recaro sport bucket seats, fog lights, cruise control, 4-wheel power ventilated disk brakes, am/fm cassette premium stereo and T-tops.

Fully restored by Joe Robbins in Fountains Hills, Arizona-He is the nations leading Z car Shiro restorer!

The car looks, runs and drives like new! Clean title in my name.



1980 BMW M1 September 17, 2019 | 04:52 pm

BMW’s M1 is lengendary. And whaddya know, here’s a $725k one.

This one seems to have a good story:

This BMW M1 began its life with a single Bay Area family and has remained in their possession since new. Importing the car from Germany from new was John Davila. During his life, John owned a total of three M1s and was very much in love with the style and design of the M1. Of the three cars, two came to him in orange and the other in blue. This example he drove for a few years when he first acquired the car before deciding to do a comprehensive and very detailed color change to white. Among all of the cars that John owned and drove over the years, this M1 was the car that he kept.

In the early 1990s John passed away, leaving his prized M1 to his two sons who inherited his passion and love for automobiles. Wanting to keep one of the fondest lasting memories of their late father, the family stored the car in the Bay Area and it would remain this way until early 2010. Upon exiting its storage, it was completely serviced to bring it to running condition so the two brothers could enjoy the car. Both of the brothers described being able to drive the car allows them to experience their memories again of their father and all of the fun times they had together in the M1.
In 2017 the car was given a comprehensive service by Canepa that included repairs, maintenance, and preservation restoration that included work on the wiring harness, alternator, fuel system, suspension bushings, and brakes. The M1 was also given a sympathetic preservation of the interior, using new carpets and new correct OE cloth inserts in the seats while preserving all of the original black leather.

In 2019 it returned to Canepa to complete all of its mechanical servicing and refurbishment, restoring all of the mechanical systems as needed. The car was treated to a full “Canepa Difference” experience, with all systems on the car inspected to be working in correct order. Items that were addressed included: restoring the entire exhaust system, refinishing all four wheel’s finishes and new tires, a comprehensive engine tune up, engine reseal, new coolant hoses, new injection pump belt, exhaust gaskets, engine lid struts, air conditioning service, plug wire set, and all fluids changed. It was then given a complete concours-level detail, ensuring that every surface was pristine. The white paint was polished using only a foam pad and polish, needing very little work to be brought to showroom standards. In all, an investment of over $125,000 was put into this incredible M1 to bring this car up to a concours preservation-quality car.

Only 453 M1’s were ever produced from 1978 to 1981. I’m not that excited about this one having a color change, but given its pedigree and the money that has been spent on it, I wouldn’t doubt it was done correctly, with no expenses spared.

They have about 275 hp out of the 3.5L inline six-cylinder. With six individual throttle bodies, a 2900 lb curb weight, and a 162 mph top speed, they are not boring cars by any means. They are so rare, they are uber-exotic.

This particular one has 22 days left on the auction. I would be surprised if it fetches $725k. That’s a lot of cashola. But then again, they don’t exactly make these any more. It’s funny that the ad is so bare-bones. I think it might be one of ebay’s “basic” ads, with just a few photos attached. Maybe the outfit selling the car figures anyone who is going to drop three-quarters of a mill on it is almost certain to fly into Scott’s Valley California to see it in person, so maybe the ad is superfluous?

Your M-Car Isn’t As Perfect As You Tell People It Is March 14, 2016 | 05:07 pm


As the owner of an e46 M3 I reserve every right to trash my car as I see fit. Think of it as any guy affectionately complaining about his girlfriend/wife. Yeah I love the ol’ girl but nothing is without its faults.

First and foremost, I love my e46. The engine is visceral and raw, the chassis is nimble and responsive and the interior isn’t a half bad place to spend multiple hours in a row. There is no such thing as a entirely perfect car and the major fault I find in  my e46 is the Getrag 420G transmission.

I’ve always chalked up the clunkyness of the transmission to aging engine/tranny/subframe mounts. You could even add in giubo/u-joint or CSB as possible culprits as to why there was an ever present jerkyness to the clutch engagement. What I’ve come to accept is that this slop is inherent to this transmission and to indiscriminately generalize: all Getrag transmissions.

I’ve had the pleasure of driving multiple generations of BMWs and in this sampling there are both ZF and Getrag rowed specimens. One point to note is that all these cars are far from spring chickens. Most are far over the 100k mile mark and as such there is an expected ‘slop’ in all aspects  of the car. As a deeply mechanical person I refuse to compromise on the mechanical capabilities of my vehicles. If it shimmys/shakes/squeaks or does anything out of the ordinary I begin down the rabbit hole of systematic diagnostic. Typically it doesn’t take much to restore the feeling of crisp shits. Usually a dose of all new shift linkage and transmission mounts will remove most of the offending slop. [As a side note – solely replacing the shift bearing can work wonders as this is the fulcrum for the entire throw. Any play here will magnify itself more so than the assembly’s support bushings (side-to-side play). ]

But where do you turn when the linkage is fresh and the mounts are young, resilient and ready for years of abuse? If you turn to the internet for guidance you should find reference to the clutch delay valve (CDV) that is present on certain high horsepower variants e.g. the e46 M3 and e39 540i. The basic purpose of this device is to slow the uptake of the clutch by forcing the clutch slave cylinder’s brake fluid through an extremely small orifice. Preventing an instantaneous clutch engagement during a period where the engine is delivering high amounts of torque saves the driveline from potential shock. Instead, the clutch becomes the sacrificial lamb. I’ve removed these from both cars with little improvement to the overall engagement feel. It makes the engagement much more linear which allows for less jerky operation, especially in traffic.


CDV from e46 M3

Even after completing every item of the checklist you’re still left with a transmission that you essentially have to think about any time you’re shifting gears. Some may call this rewarding behavior…  “I like my Getrag 420G because it keeps me on my toes!”. I call it nuisance detail of an otherwise great car. Sure, it’s rewarding and feels great when you’re driving flat out i.e. time between gears is minimal, keeping your foot in the throttle a 1/4 second longer before lifting (call it a softcore flat shift). Come to think of it I’m sure this is where the SMG really shines (keeping shift time minimal to keep transmission loading constant). But when you’re poking along in traffic and only managing 1-2-1-2 shifts the constant jerking-around of your car’s under workings is frustrating. I never entirely made the connection until stepping back into my old e39 540i for the past couple months. This car shares the same transmission as the e46 M3, e39 M5 and several other variants which utilize either the M/S62 or S50B32 if you’re a lucky European.

My solution – drive my e36 M3! The lowly S52 was deemed too weak to deserve the robust Getrag 420G. Instead it received a buttery smooth ZF S5D-310/320Z depending on the year. I’m not one for modern BMWs (or car payments) but the ZF in the 135i is even buttery-er than the e36 M3. That was probably the nicest modern transmission I’ve had the pleasure of rowing.

So after my lengthy bitch session what’s my final conclusion? Not much sadly. Live with something long enough and you’ll inevitably find some fault, be it minor or major. In this case I’d call it minor and no where near enough to persuade me to part with my e46 M3 anytime soon.

Introduction May 25, 2013 | 08:39 pm

What if you could drive a different car every day? Better yet, what if you were wealthy, and you could buy a different car every day? Yeah, I’m sure you’d get your share of exotics. But if you’re a *real* car guy, you’d mess around with a little bit of everything. So that’s the premise of this site. We’re going to pull in a little bit ‘o everthang.

I grew up in the 80’s, so I may tend to gravitate towards those vehicles.  But you can always comment me more towards stuff you’re interested in .

If you have suggestions, feel free to email them in.