Japanese classic: Inside Nissan's iconic twin-turbo 300ZX
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Ian McCormack, a worker in the building quality assurance industry, talks us through his Japanese classic
Tell us about your Fairlady?
I stumbled over my 1994 Nissan 300ZX as I was walking past a car yard in Wairau Rd. Surprisingly, it had enough head-room for me. On a whim I drove it home and made the decision to buy it before I had pulled up at the house.
Once I encouraged my wife to sit in it and explained it was 25 years old, she loved it, too. I immediately got the cam belt done. I’d read that if the cam belt went on this type of engine you basically need a new engine. I use the car principally to commute to work. It’s always a great start to the day.
What do you like about it?
Well it’s cool. When I first saw it three years ago, almost every other 300ZX has been “trashed and smashed” over the decades since they came out. This one’s in great condition. You seldom see cars with this sort of aerodynamic design any more. It’s auto — this would normally put me off in a performance car, but it has the best automatic transmission I have driven.
It’s the sort of car I could never justify when I was transporting my kids around; but now they their own transport. In its day, it was one of the fastest production cars on our roads, 276hp (206kW) from a turbo 3-litre V6. You could buy a house for what it retailed for back in 1991. I recall a friend pointing one out to me when they first came out and being surprised it looked so small compared to the big Commodore and Falcon performance cars that dominated in those days.
What aspect do you like most?
The way I feel driving it. It’s a fun car. It’s one of the best handling cars I have driven.
How does it suit your lifestyle?
It doesn’t. That’s one reason I like it. I live on a small block — I can’t tow anything with it. It’s a fun indulgence. Saying that, while it is seriously quick, it is surprisingly frugal at the pump. I can do 500km easily between refills.
If you were to describe this car as a famous person?
It’s well put together, looks good with the top down, doesn’t look its age and can out-perform most of the younger generation. I have to be careful here… so I’ll go with Sylvester Stallone.
Any other vehicles?
I’ve got other more practical vehicles: a Toyota VX Land Cruiser that has a tow bar, a BMW E92 M3 for weekend driving and a project car incorporating a Nissan GT-R “half-cut” in need of direction.
What stays in your Nissan?
I always have a torch. I was travelling on the Desert Road late at night 20 years ago coming back from a block course at Massey University. The Holden Commodore had an electrical fire and broke down in the middle of nowhere. I started walking. It was pitch black and I had no torch, and it was snowing. After a couple of kilometres, I fell into a ditch full of water and was chased by a couple of rottweilers before I finally found a farmhouse.
How many cars have you had?
I’ve owned a lot of nice cars but the only car I like more than this is my Toyota Land Cruiser. It suits my personality better.
When I was at university I used my Territorial Army pay to buy my mother’s Mini. It was way too small but easy to park and cheap to run.
Dodge Viper SRT hard top — totally impractical.
What is the one thing that most annoys you about other drivers?
People queue-jumping in heavy holiday traffic.
Favourite movie car scene?
Ronin with De Niro. You feel like you are in the vehicle with a crash an instant away.
Thoughts on driverless and EVs?
I will change to electric for commuting once the battery charging function develops further. I can’t imagine having a driverless car as I enjoy driving.