1986 Nissan 300ZX Turbo: Father of Godzilla [First Impression]

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1986 Nissan 300ZX Turbo

This 1986 Nissan 300ZX Turbo is an example of advanced engineering that still makes people take notice nearly 30 years later. How does it relate to the mighty “Godzilla” – the latest Nissan GT-R? The 300ZX pushed the boundaries of possibility in a sports car at a time when emissions controls and safety regulations were stifling performance fun. Not unlike the GT-R of the modern day.

1986-nissan-300zx-turbo-11Lets go over the specs. The 1986 Nissan 300ZX Turbo features a 3.0-liter V6 with a T3 Garrett turbocharger that pushes up to 6.7 psi of boost to make 200 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm and 227 lb-ft of torque @ 3,600. This does not sound like a lot of power by today’s standards, but this was not far off the 230 horsepower mark of the 1986 Corvette V8. Also, the 300ZX weighs in at about 3,050 lbs, so it does not have too much weight to move around.


The performance of the turbocharger is more linear and predictable than you might expect. It does not have the nothing then everything power delivery. The turbo power comes in a more linear fashion above 2,500 rpm. However, the engine does not rev super quickly. The all digital dash does a good job of letting you know the current rpm and the speed, but it take a little while to get used to.


Performance figures stood at 7.1 seconds for the 0-60 MPH sprint, and a limited top-end of 137 MPH. The 300ZX Turbo has four-wheel disc brakes and a 5-speed manual transmission. The clutch effort is about right. The gear shifter throws are a little long for a sports car, but it good feel and engagement.

There were 62,114 300ZX cars sold in 1986, but this number includes the naturally aspirated cars. This is a big number, but it’s rare to see a 300ZX Turbo of this vintage running around.


Speaking of pushing the boundaries. This car has steering wheel mounted radio and cruise control button. It has an automatic climate control, acceleration g-meter, power seats, windows, and mirrors. It also has leather seats, and the car talks to you to remind about leaving your headlight on. This is more of high-tech luxury touring car as it tried to compete with the best from Asia, Europe, and America. This exact car retailed for close to $26,000 in 1986. This was near the Chevy Corvette prices.


However, it was money well spent as all the features on this car still work as if it was new.

This car has nearly every feature of modern touring and sports cars, and it offers the higher level performance of a turbocharged engine. It does have the spirit of the mighty GT-R.

Watch this fun contrast and compare first drive review of the 1970 240Z and the 2015 Nissan 370Z Nizmo.