Richard Grieco. Quentin Tarantino. Jean-Claude Van Damme. If you can't find the connection between these three people then you may actually have a life and may even get constant punan. Clearly we do not fall into this category of people with social skills because we know, without even researching it on Wikipedia, that the connection is not Kevin Bacon but rather the Nissan 300ZX. From Richard Grieco's big-screen debut in If Looks Could Kill to Jean-Claude Van Damme's forgettable Timecop, to Quentin Tarantino's cult-fave Kill Bill: Vol. 1, the main car that everyone remembers seeing in these movies was the legendary Z32.
Before the Nissan 350Z brought the two-seater sports car back in style, the Nissan 300ZX ruled the streets. It was the car that catapulted a new genre in the tuning scene: those who wanted a beefy car from the production line and modified it just to make it even beefier. Those who bought Toyota Supras, Mitsubishi Starions and Mazda RX-7s. Those who didn't want displacements smaller than 2 liters and had enough money to spend. Those who watched Richard Grieco movies and, uh, maybe not, because nobody watched Richard Grieco movies.
At any rate, the 300ZX carried the bloodline of the Z family, one of the most celebrated in automotive history. The Z32 was made to become not only the best sports car in Japan but also the best sports car in the world. It came off the lot with a 3.0L double-overhead cam V6, making an impressive 222 horsepower. It featured a 10.5:1 compression ratio and a valve timing control system that provided smooth idling and improved bottom-end torque. It was clocked to roll from zero to 60 mph in 6 seconds and run the quarter mile in 15. The sticker price when it first arrived in the U.S. was $27,300. In other words, it was major. In Spanish, they would say it was "muy mayor!"
That's why it's an actual surprise we don't see much retro love when it comes to tuning the 300ZX. It seems everyone prefers to modify the other super cars of the '90s, like the Supra and RX-7. So when we found out about Russ Tennyson's 1990 Nissan 300ZX, we quickly stopped watching Timecop on TV and rushed to photograph and feature it. Not only was his Z32 tuned to its maximum, but it was also carrying some power never before seen inside a 300ZX. Under the hood is a 2.6L RB26DETT engine taken from another renowned Japanese sports car: the Nissan Skyline (ever heard of it?). And the horsepower numbers boasts an outstanding dyno-proven 416 hp at 7,500 rpm.
"I built this car because I love the look and feel of the classic Z32," explains Russ, "and I chose the RB engine because of its reputation and potential for power. But the most important thing before I even committed to the engine was the budget. Enter the folks at MA-Motorsports, who said I can do it within certain financial parameters." As an electronics tech by day, Russ is all-out Nissan 300ZX whore by night. He made sure that if he was to build his dream car, he would have to do it right. And right he did.
Inside the RB26 is a JUN crankshaft, spewing out JDM flava in yo' ear. Showering the chambers of combustion with pure black panther gasoline is a set of 650cc RC fuel injectors, taking cue from the Aeromotive fuel regulator as to how much gas to spit. To help with the Darth Vader breathing, Russ decided to go with a stout MA-Motorsports custom dual exhaust, vroom-vrooming out some of the air that individual throttle bodies help to suck in. But the India.Arie award for best engine component under the hood has to go to the Garrett GT35R turbocharger. Lined up with a GReddy Type-R blow-off valve, the GT35R compresses the much-needed air to boost the RB26 into unprecedented horsepower numbers.
But before we move onto the rest of the car, let's imbibe for a moment the magnitude of this engine. After all, we just don't see RB26s lying around junkyards or some dude's front lawn. The RB line of engines has the same prowess as the Z line of cars. They're both famous for performance and history. That's why the marriage of the two is simply a perfect match, making this one of the most fuerte-ist 300ZXs in Z history. This is why they framed the engine beautifully. The people at Magic Customs shaved, welded and smoothed the engine bay, making it almost as perfect as-if not more so than-how it came from the factory.
"I just love looking under the hood," Russ said. "For one, the engine is sexy. Second, the engine bay; how it's all smoothed out like that is amazing!"
Making sure the Z32 rolls fashionably fast to every car event, Russ went with a set of rarely seen Desmond Regamaster 17-inch wheels hugged tightly by a set of Dunlop stickies. The car is lowered and suspended by confidently strong TEIN Flex coilovers matched with MA-Motorsports custom aluminum bushings and HICAS Eliminator kit. All of which ride under a sexy JUN body kit, making the ladies do the Yayo dance.
Despite the fact that this legendary car was unfittingly driven by a very un-legendary Richard Grieco, it still holds a place in tuning history as not only having great New York boobs, but also establishing the groundwork for the Nissan 350Z and every other super car after it. We should all thank Russ for bringing this oft-forgotten car back into our radars and maybe someone out there can beat his combination of the RB26 and Z32. Though we doubt it. There's probably a better chance of Van Damme doing Timecop 2: Bringing Sexy Back.
'91 Nissan 300ZX
Owner: Russ Tennyson
Hometown: baltimore, md
Daily Grind: electronics tech
Power: 416 hp at 7,500 rpm (low boost: 14 psi)
Under The Hood: 1991 Nissan 2.6L RB26 inline 6 engine; JUN oil pump collar crankshaft; A'PEXi Power FC D-Jetro fuel injection; RC Engineering 650cc fuel injectors; Aeromotive fuel regulator; Bosch fuel pump; GReddy fuel rail and Type-R blow-off valve; Nissan OEM individual throttle bodies; MA-Motorsports intake manifold, custom dual 3.5" exhaust, catalytic converter, headers, custom aluminum intercooler and pipes, oil pan, valve cover and cooling system; JUN cam gears; NGK spark plugs; Garrett GT35R turbocharger; TIAL 44mm turbo wastegate; Griffin custom radiator; powder coated mounts; Adel Wiggins couplers; Earl's stainless steel everything
Drivetrain: Nissan RB25 MA-Motorsports transmission and custom short throw shift kit; ATS triple carbon clutch
Brains: A'PEXi Power FC; World Electronics PBC-1
Rollers: Desmond Regamaster 17x9 with Dunlop FM901 235/40-17 (front) and 18x9.5 with Dunlop DZ101 265/35-18 (rear)
Stoppers: Brembo GT F50 front brakes
Stiff Stuff: TEIN Flex front and rear coilovers; MA-Motorsports custom aluminum bushings; HICAS Eliminator kit
Outside: JUN body kit; Z32 front bumper; shaved, welded and smoothed engine bay; smoothed rockers; bodywork by Magic Customs; Moss Pearl paint; Speedesign custom graphics
Inside: GReddy gauges
Props: Ray and Brian at MA-Motorsports, Benji at Griffin Radiator, Earl's, Mamsparts.com, AHM Performance