Nissan 300ZX, all models

jcliffrojcliffro Member Posts: 108
Just wondering if there are any other Z owners like me out there. I am the original owner of a 1985 Aspen Gold 2-seat 300ZX with T-tops and 5-speed. I have the standard gauges and cloth seats. This car looks almost as good as it did the first day I saw it at the dealer showroom. It has 79,500 miles on it and the following is what I have had to do to it in 17 years: replace a faulty switch that kept unlocking the passenger door (happened within a month of purchase; covered under warranty); replaced the sterio due to a sticking cassette player; replaced the clutch about 60,000 miles; replaced the transmission about 78,000 miles; replaced the tires about every 22,000 miles; regular oil changes; a couple of batteries. I had one weird experience where the taillights would not go mechanic fixed that for about $20.
This has been the most incredibly reliable and satisfying car I can ever imagine owning. Although I am about ready to retire it to the other side of the garage and give it "classic car" status, I don't think I could ever bear to part with it. Every single time I approach this car I still think to myself "that is the most beautiful car I have ever seen".
But this good soldier probably deserves to retire with honors. I am thinking about getting a 2002 Nissan Xterra for the other side of the garage. I would like to hear from anyone else who loves his Z as much as I love mine.


  • mminerbimminerbi Member Posts: 88
    With the exception of the digital dash, my fully loaded 300ZX, with 148,000 on the odometer, has been very reliable. They're well made cars, but as they got older and cheaper on the used market many were purchased by people who didn't maintain them.

    There's a website dedicated to these cars, www., which is Nissan's model designation for the '84-'89 300ZXs.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    For those who don't recall this model, here is a photo (not a good photo, but a photo nonetheless) of a 1986 model:


  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,338
    Except for the 2+2 models that looked bloated.

    And, strangly, I liked the goofy digital dashes too! Like a Nevada slot machine!

    But they are very troublesome.
  • pap5pap5 Member Posts: 144
    I am wondering if the originator and host of this discussion would be willing to expand it to include the '79-'83 280ZX as well. This is an orphan with no active Edmunds discussion. It is very different from the early 300ZX, but the two models share a similar fate: Collectively, they are regarded and disparaged as the bridge between the original landmark 240/260/280Z and the mighty second-gen 300ZX. They represent the time when Nissan got lost in the wilderness of heavier, more luxurious semi-boulevard cruisers. For better or worse, though, a lot of us still own and love these cars.

    Mine is an '82 280ZX 2-seat 5-speed that I bought new [almost - a dealer demo] 20 years ago. It is an 80's metallic brown, the same color mocked by Automobile Mag a few issues ago. Aside from replacing the starter motor, it has been rock-solid reliable; it still has the original clutch at 115,000 miles. It is also a very beautiful car, at least in my eyes and those of a legion of strangers making that observation over 20 years. Unfortunately, since it became the third car in a 2-car garage family about 10 years ago, that beauty is succumbing to rust. Like jcliffo, I can't imagine parting with it, even though it has been relegated to the background at times by an old Corvette and a new BMW. It costs next to nothing to own. So, I am instead embarked on an amateur (VERY amateur) cosmetic resto, selectively grinding, filling, sanding, spraying, compounding, etc. Frankly, I could use some advice.

    Thanks for your consideration.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Okay with me if it's okay with jcliffro--I don't want to change his topic title without his approval.

    Shifty the Host
  • jcliffrojcliffro Member Posts: 108
    I have no objection to expanding the discussion to include earlier Z models. I just happen to favor the look of the 1984-1986 models best. I did not like the color coordinated bumpers of the later models, so felt like there should be some special bond between the 84-86 owners. But input from any Z owner who can't part with his baby is always good to hear.
    I can't believe you still have the original clutch on your 1982 Z. But I think I have a heavy left foot, especially while backing down my long driveway; mine had to be replaced at about 60,000 miles and at 13 years of age (not too bad since most of the mileage has been city mileage).
    With the stock market like it is, I decided to hold off on getting a second car, so the Z remains my one and only and predict it will be for some time.
  • pap5pap5 Member Posts: 144
    Thanks for openning up the discussion. Now if we could just get some more participants.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Well give it time. Often it helps to include a link or photo of your own to get things rolling. Somebody might dig up a good history of the Z car on the web, for instance. Also if you see an an interesting Z for sale on Ebay, you could post that link, too.

    I could talk some about values and possible collectible status in the future.

    We could also go to the other boards and invite Nissan people over here.
  • verozahlverozahl Member Posts: 574
    Or we could just limit this to the kickin' 1990-1996 Turbo models. Vero saw that silver one at the mall parking lot exactly one week ago and still dreams of it every night.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Well go buy one. They aren't that expensive!
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Member Posts: 1,711
    How much do you think '90s ZX cars would sell for?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    A clean driver? Oh, maybe $6,500-7,500. They are priced like nice used cars, not that I mean the older they are the less they cost, as opposed to a collectible, which, usually, costs more as it gets older.

    Of course, someday the 300ZX might bottom out and start to rise again, but not anytime soon since there are a lot of them surviving.
  • verozahlverozahl Member Posts: 574
    Shifty, the chance of me finding a nice, clean one here in the Detroit area is approximately


    as you might have realized.
  • pap5pap5 Member Posts: 144
    I've yet to see a twin turbo priced below 5 figures, and even the non-turbos in decent shape seem to go no lower than about $10,000, at least here in the D.C. market. Not that I've looked extensively as a potential buyer would.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Well, pap5, people can ask whatever they want, but if you try to sell a daily driver out here for $10K, well, you might, but you'll wait a long long time. I tried to come up with a price where the car would actively sell, and where I think the majority of them do trade hands.

    It's one thing for an owner to ask $10K, but it's another when you wave $8,000 in cash under his nose and his phone hasn't rung in two weeks.
  • verozahlverozahl Member Posts: 574
    There was a red late-1980s 300ZX parked in front of Ann Arbor Nissan today, not for sale, must have been in for service?
  • cevans2cevans2 Member Posts: 23

    Maybe you aren't supposed to do this, but can you recommend the best methods/locations to find a nice, good condition Z in NYC area? I'll travel to find something, but I hesitate to drop 8Gs to a private seller. Maybe that's my only option, though. Maybe you could drop me a private e-mail, if it's against the rules? (check my profile)
  • sebringjxisebringjxi Member Posts: 140
    That chronicles the history of the Z car, noting changes in models? Like, when did the Z finally get a 5 speed? I'd like to trace the changes from model to model, body, trim, mechanicals, etc.


  • dokichdokich Member Posts: 1
    I'm glad I stumbled on this conversation. I just had a 1991 300zx for sale on ebay, asking $7700. I received no takers! I've taken good care of it, always doing the scheduled maintenance. I'm now thinking of holding onto it, hoping I can go from my current 120,000 miles to 180,000. I've been trying to locate other owner's war stories, hoping to establish how likely it is I'll get to 180,000 without major $$ repairs. So far the money I've had to put into repairs are: fuel leak, fixed by replacing various hoses & the fuel cap. Broken clutch slave cylinder & failed clutch "pivot" at the throwout bearing fork (separate incidents).

    Also, I had to laugh at the remark above about finding a clean one in Detroit. I was living in Plymouth, MIchigan when I decided I wanted to buy a used one, black leather on black, non-turbo. I was using, looking all over the US, wondering how much chance I was willing to take by flying out to a potential car and driving it home, when I found one on with 78,000 miles from a little old lady in Westland, MI, who only drove it in the summer! It had new tires and a new clutch and new timing belt. Lucked out that time.

    Would like to hear others' high mileage stories, hopefully tales of victory with little repair costs. Are there any other 300zx enthusiast sites that might help me find out this type of info?

  • jaserbjaserb Member Posts: 820 is a good site for the older Z's - I got a lot of good info there when I owned my 260. Hal, the Z got a 5-speed option starting with the '77 280Z. I debated putting one in my 260 (a bolt in swap) but never bothered. Both the 4 and 5 speeds from the early Z's were pretty notchy but very durable. By '84 when the 300ZX came out I think the 5 speed was standard.

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Yeah, the internet sites are the way to go to search for a Z because you can dial in geogrpahy and price into your search.

    There's also, and use the "collector car" option as well as the normal "used car" option. Sometimes you get different listings that way.
  • sebringjxisebringjxi Member Posts: 140
    Thanks! That site is VERY helpful!

  • cevans2cevans2 Member Posts: 23
    That site was very good Mr. Shift, even though I didn't find anything I liked. I'm going to try to be patient and wait for something I like to become available. Hopefully with the 350Zs coming out, more people will give up their 300ZXs. I'm seeing a lot of automatics out there, but I want a 5-speed. Next question: anybody have any info on the reliability of the 5-speeds? I know the engines are pretty bullet-proof if properly maintained, but I wonder about the trannys. This is another reason I like to deal with dealerships - someone to go after if my mechanic finds something wrong in the immediate post-purchase checkup.
  • verozahlverozahl Member Posts: 574
    dokich: re the Westland car... what a find! wow! Generally, Plymouth/Canton/Westland is the last place on Earth I'd look for good used cars (outside than dying Aerostars or Tauruses, I mean).

    huh? 300ZX owners will give up their machines for new 350Zs?! Do you reallllly think so?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    ZX trannies are nice gearboxes.
  • sebringjxisebringjxi Member Posts: 140
    has a rather dusty used car lot that is filled with 240-260-280Z's. I bet he's got a dozen, along with a handful of BMW coupes, Dodge "lil' red wagon" trucks and some other odd junk. He acts like he's a "purveyor of exotic motorcars" but he's really just a used car guy that thinks everything he's got is a "classic". Tried to tell me the Spitfire with the disintegrating interior, fading paint and crackling rear window was a $4500 car--more if it was in Nashville. Nashville's only an hour away and if it was worth $4500 here or there, I'm next in line to date Lori Morgan!

    If you are near Western Kentucky or passing through with an interest in Z's you might want to stop in. I'll gladly provide his name, address and phone number to anyone interested.....


  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Sounds more like a graveyard for the dead.
  • verozahlverozahl Member Posts: 574
    Found a 1985 300ZX for sale in Cheboygan last night at a used car lot. White.
  • jcliffrojcliffro Member Posts: 108
    Anyone know how often one is supposed to change the timing belt on the 1985 300ZX? I thought it was at 40,000 miles but my very knowledgeable mechanic said every 50,000. I think I had it changed the first time around 40,000 so I was going to wait until 85,000 miles, but don't want to push it to that if the correct time to change is every 40,000 miles. Thanks in advance.....
  • cevans2cevans2 Member Posts: 23
    Looks like this discussion has been dead a few days but hopefully somebody will take a look. I'm looking at a mint condition 91 300ZX 5speed fully loaded except for turbo. I hear people mention that these cars sometimes have electrical problems. Can anyone tell specifically about some of these problems. I think I can get the car for about $7500 - it has 94K on it. Is that a good price. Any insight would be appreciated.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Check out Edmunds True Market Value feature on the HOme Page. Just click on the "Used" button up top on the homepage. Their prices are pretty accurate.
  • jcliffrojcliffro Member Posts: 108
    Response to #31. When I bought my 300ZX new in 1985, I read in Consumer Reports that the Z cars had "electrical problems". My electrical problems to date (in 17 years) have been. The "dual function" fuel gauge broke within about 2 years. I found the secondary fuel gauge to be near worthless anyway. Second, the timer for the interior courtesy lights works erratically....just an occasional annoyance. And once last year the tail lights or brake lights stayed on and I did not notice it when I left my garage. Dead battery the next morning and some type of inexpensive fuse or breaker that had to be changed. That is the extent of it. Not too bad for 17 years. But that is just one satified Z owner's personal experience.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,338
    Avoid the turbo models. very complex and expensive to fix.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    It's the problem with all "old tech", be it Japanese or German or whatever.

    Many of these older complex cars are simply not worth fixing if something major gives up the ghost. You will see more and more modern cars junked as they age because of this problem--their repair bills equalling or exceeding their Book Value.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,338
    All it takes is one major thing to go worng and te car is effectively totalled.
  • jcliffrojcliffro Member Posts: 108
    It all depends upon the cost. I recently replaced the manual transmission in my 1985 300ZX at $1250 and then took it to a bodyshop and had every parking lot ding or scratch taken out of it. I guess I spent $1750 on it in a month. I don't really care what someone would pay me for it, because to me I have an incredibly beautiful and reliable car that I love. To equal that, I would probably have to spend at least $25,000 and then my insurance would go up. So if you find the ideal Z out there, I say get it and keep it well maintained. That 3.0 liter V-6 is supposed to go forever. But, as per the above notes, avoid the problem areas: don't get a turbo, don't get a 1985-1989 model that has the electronic juke box dash and hold out for one that has been treated with TLC like I have treated mine.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Actually a 1985 300ZX with a bad transmision and parking lot dings and dents is just about totalled at $1,750--that's about what a ZX with those needs is worth.

    Now, of course, you've raised the value to what an '85 ZX with a good trans and good body and paint should be worth....around $3.5K-4K.

    So in that sense your investment comes back to you at least...a break even move and it makes sense.

    But a new engine would cost more than the car is worth and would be a questionable decision.
  • jcliffrojcliffro Member Posts: 108
    Of course, there is the personal value attributable to the fact that, in my opinion, my 300ZX is one of the best looking cars I have ever seen and its reliability to date is damn near priceless. That is not to say that I would be willing to spend several thousand dollars a year to keep it up, but each year I DON'T spend $25,000 on a new car saves me about $1200 a year in interest I can earn on CDs, lower insurance costs and, of couse, depreciation on a new car. So, I am willing to spend a little to keep this gorgeous hot looking car doing what it was meant to do.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Yes, all true, but the market doesn't look at practical stuff like that. It is driven by supply and demand--how many people want such a car, and how many cars there are for sale. High demand, shortage of cars = higher value / and of course, with low demand it doesn't much matter if there are a lot of a certain car around or not.

    Naturally, demand goes up with condition, too, since a nice clean car is more desirable to most people.

    This is why with "common but desirable" cars, like say a Miata, there is often a HUGE difference in price between a sharp one and a ratty one; whereas with truly rare cars, the difference in price between say #2 and #3 or #4 isn't so drastic---because you can always say "Okay, but if you don't buy it, where you gonna find another one?"

  • jcliffrojcliffro Member Posts: 108
    Yes, and when someone pops up who is looking for a near perfect 1985 Z, can really appreciate the care I have given mine and can assure me he will keep it garaged and otherwise take good care of it, I am sure that I can get a fair price in exchange for it. Until then, I am not going to sell this car to just anyone off the street. It means too much to me to do that. And if the freaking stock market would just start showing some signs of life, maybe I could feel I could afford to get a new car and keep this one forever.
  • ron_mron_m Member Posts: 186
    My 90' model 300ZX's transmission jerks/pops when shifting into automatic 2nd. The problem subsides to some degree after the vehicle has been driven for a while and warms up good. Here's a list of things that have been tried in order to resolve the problem:

    -Had the transmission serviced. Fluid and filter change. Didn't really help at all.

    -Had a scanner put on it to see if there was a computer/electronics problem that prevented the transmission from knowing when to shift gears. Nothing abnormal was found.

    -Had a transmission fluid additive put in. Didn't really help all that much. Maybe a little.

    I plan on keeping this vehicle for a long, long time, so I'd really like to get this tranny issue taken care of. What can I try next--short of
    having the transmission rebuilt? If I have to resort to a complete transmission rebuild, then I'll just have to bite the bullet and come off of the cash to have it done.

    Any sound mechanical advice that may save me some bucks will most DEFINITELY be appreciated. I am also in the process of having this Z car painted, including the replacement of all exterior trim pieces, NISSAN emblems, etc. The wheels are going to be powder coated silver. It should look great when it's finished.

    Thanks in advance for any tips!


  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Probably just internal wear causing this. You really have no choice except to try what you tried and then wait for it to deteriorate further.

    I'm not sure on your model if there are any linkage adjustments that can be done but this can help that type of car whose shifting is actuated mechanically and with vacuum.

    Has the tranny been pressure tested?

    Stay away from certain types of additives. These can be harmful, depending on the ingredients; however Redline, etc. makes good products.

    This sounds like the type of problem that cannot be fixed out of a can unfortunately.
  • cebtebcebteb Member Posts: 138
    I just stumbled on this site tonight. I hope it hasn't given up the ghost yet.

    I have a 1985 300ZX Turbo, black & gold with border stripes. No, not an anniversary edition, those were silver. It has 110K on it and currently just occupies space in my garage. Along with improper storage prep (that's what happens when you get married and get other responsibilities), 2 door dings and a good hood ding, it received a $4K repaint to better than OEM specs back in 1992 (on the insurance company) and only has about 12 months weathering and 15K miles on that paint job.

    It also has an elusive electrical short somewhere in the passenger side headlight and the synchros are gone in the 5 speed manual transmission. That started at 60K miles, so I'm less than impressed with the manual transmissions durability. But, I wonder what a rebuild/refurb/replace would cost minimum?

    One problematic item I haven't seen addressed here is the adjustable shock absorbers. At $200 a piece plus installation, they are prohibitive to replace, but 3 of 4 of mine are originals, and thou not leaking, they haven't absorbed a shock for the last 30K miles. Does everyone else just give up on the adjustables and buy the fixed type to save money?

    BTW, nothing wrong with the post-1984 Turbos if they have been treated properly. In 1985 they finally got the bearing cooling right and with proper cool down, no problem! I haven't had a bit of turbo trouble and I think the engine will go 200K miles. I had a good Nissan shop thoroughly test the engine at 90K and it exceeded all original specs. One of the smoothest V-6s ever built I believe.

    I've got the light tan velour interior with standard components. I kept everything working and keep most of the plastic parts replaced when they broke from age embrittlement. Other wear items like the center console cover have been replaced OEM.

    Another chronic electrical problem with the 1985 ZXs is the door activated interior lighting. The door switch constantly sticks, always has, so one often doesn't get interior lights.

    Well I've been rambling, so I'll sign off and check back to see if anyone still works this site.
  • jcliffrojcliffro Member Posts: 108
    I also have a 1985 300ZX (am the original owner), but mine is not a turbo. I agree that the durability of the manual transmission was not the best if mileage alone is considered. Mine started to make noise about 60,000 miles and then totally died around 80,000 miles. But it died back in June at a few months shy of its 17th birthday. This is my first 5-speed car, so perhaps I was tough on it. I really can't complain. I had it replaced with a rebuilt model that my mechanic got from somewhere in Austin (I live in New Orleans). Total cost to me was $1,295.00 and I think I have a one year warranty on it. I don't think that is too bad. The car seems to run fine now. It is always garaged. I do plan to get an Xterra soon and keep the Z as my classic car. I do not think I could stomach selling it. I love it as much today as the day I first drove it home. If you want to call my mechanic and get the name of the guy from whom he got the transmission, let me know.
  • jaydolljaydoll Member Posts: 120
    Looking for a 90-96 300 Z 5 speed. Any advise from owners? This is my low cost alternative to throwing the big dollars at a new G35 coupe.

  • sjones302sjones302 Member Posts: 1
    I am getting ready to purchase a 1990 300ZX 5-speed non-turbo with 133K miles. Seems to be in
    great condition. Is there anything specific I need to be concerned with? anything that should be checked specifically to this model/year?
    thanks in advance. I am purchasing from a dealer, not a private owner and they do not
    have the service history. Carfax has checked out clean.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Just the usual used car stuff applies.

    However, don't rely on CARFAX--the car could indeed have been wrecked or had any number of calamaties done to it, and Carfax will not know about it. Be sure to get a thorough underbody inspection to check for collision damage, and be sure to check ID numbers and title papers for accuracy. CARFAX is helpful but by no means can prevent you from buying a bad car with previous damage. It's a "gross filter" for problems only.
  • maxim49maxim49 Member Posts: 41
    Guys, I'm planning on purchasing a 1994 300ZX and I was hoping to get some help from you guys. The asking price is $12K and the car only has 39K miles, which seems a little suspicious to me. First, is there a way I can check if the mileage has been rolled back and if the mileage is correct, is $12K a good deal? Thanks a lot!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    It's strong money but the miles, if correct, might justify it.

    The only way to really prove low miles is to see a pile of consecutively dated service records with the VIN or license # on them; otherwise, you could try CARFAX and see what turns up with that.

    Of course, if CARFAX shows 39,000 miles 5-6 years ago and nothing since, that is equally suspicious because the car was laid up for some reason.
  • dgraves1dgraves1 Member Posts: 414
    If you are in California and have the VIN or License number, you can search here for smog test history which will show the mileage at each smog test:

    Maybe other states have a similar website.
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