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2007 Nissan Fairlady Z Type 380RS - Nismo Rarelady

A limited production vehicle meets an unlimited desire for performance.

Bootsie Farnsworth
Jun 24, 2010
Photographer: Chris Jue

A limited production vehicle meets an unlimited desire for performance. In forty years, you will witness a televised auction on the Versus7 network where a pristine, two-owner, unmodified '97 Toyota Supra Twin Turbo 15th Anniversary Edition fetches $168,000 from a gray-haired, Fu-Manchu-sporting Ken Gushi. The former drifting legend, factory racer, and Toyota dealership maverick will be quoted, "I've always wanted a Supra in green. When turbocharging was popular, these six-cylinder engines were so strong on the streets. I had to jump at this chance to own one because I wanted to remember acceleration before electric cars and the end of the gasoline era". Sounds almost implausible, and yet there is a historical precedent.

Impp_1008_01_o+2007_nissan_fairlady_z+front Photo 2/11   |   2007 Nissan Fairlady Z Type 380RS - Nismo Rarelady

No sage could have forecast the fat cash that would exchange hands for American muscle cars 40 years after they left showrooms. The confluence of limited production, high desirability, legendary performance, and the passing of time would transform the way we viewed such clearly outdated technology. Take the '70 Plymouth Hemi Cuda. It originally sold for about $6,000, yet today transacts to well-heeled, nostalgia-soaked baby boomers for about $180,000 or more in the right condition. About 651 Hemi Cudas were built in 1970. You read Import Tuner, so you give a frog's ass about the Hemi Cuda, but their shitty ox-cart handling and single-digit fuel economy mean nothing to farts old enough to remember when Playboy was good for spanking, who still consider them the ultimate automotive wet dream.

And so it goes with classic Japanese iron of days past. The Toyota 2000GT sold for $7,150 in the late '60s, yet today surviving sport coupes of the 351 originally produced (about 60 made it to the U.S.) can fetch as high as $225K. Like Toyota, Nissan produced 420 copies of the lightweight, higher-output, race-focused Nissan Fairlady Z432 and 432R for the Japanese market between 1969 and 1973. Selling for about $4,000 and blessed with a plethora of lightweight parts and an advanced DOHC in-line six, this is the most desirable and collectible early Z, today fetching around $35,000 for really nice examples.

Impp_1008_10_o+2007_nissan_fairlady_z+apexi_intake Photo 3/11   |   2007 Nissan Fairlady Z Type 380RS - Nismo Rarelady

In 2007, Nismo produced the Fairlady Z Type 380RS-a street-going version of a balls-out competition car too expensive for sensible folks. The street version, which sold for about $45K, employed much vital race-derived sexiness in the name of performance: enhanced aerodynamics with an elongated nose and rear diffuser, an improved suspension, and a Nismo-built, 3.8-liter VQ engine rated at 345 naturally aspirated horses. Only 300 of these special Fairlady models were produced, and all were sold in Japan-making the Type 380RS more unique than the Jurassic-era Fairlady or Toyota sports coupe. Such limited numbers guarantee the Fairlady Z Type 380RS' wild desirability and significant place in Z car history as the meanest factory-built Z33, and anyone lucky enough to own one would do well to leave it the hell alone and allow its purity to command a fortune in a few decades. Anyone who gives a damn about all that, anyway. Turns out some of us would rather go fast today than wait around for tomorrow.

The man responsible for this creation is someone the masses just may hail as foolish and impatient 40 years from now, for the decision he made to turn his slice of JDM heaven into what you see here. A golf-club-swinging, car-lusting architect by trade (read: baller), as the story goes, once this hottest version of the Z33 was announced to the Japanese market, a man known to us only as "Yamazaki" was left with no doubt that he had to party in the exclusive hot tub of Type 380RS owners. Attaining this rarest of Fairlady specimens remains an automotive mountaintop for many of us outside Japan, and after cresting that peak in real life, Yamazaki-san was content to enjoy this rare site from within the confines of his garage, safe from the outside world. Until its rare motor took a dump.

Impp_1008_09_o+2007_nissan_fairlady_z+engine_bay Photo 4/11   |   2007 Nissan Fairlady Z Type 380RS - Nismo Rarelady

And thus, the pivotal moment in this 380RS' saga. Its aforementioned powerplant was produced exclusively for the car, meaning finding a replacement would be damn-near impossible, if not just that. Rather than commit to a bank-account-be-damned snipe hunt for OEM parts that may not even exist outside the other 299 running 380RSs, Yamazaki-san instead chose to spite the mongers of convention, and embark on a bank-account-be-damned build-up of a unique, highly modified masterpiece that would best the 380's intended performance in every regard.

Impp_1008_11_o+2007_nissan_fairlady_z+side_view Photo 7/11   |   2007 Nissan Fairlady Z Type 380RS - Nismo Rarelady

The simple desire to "make this car faster than it was" would be tested, as this Fairlady Z Type 380RS became the subject of a focused, 13-month transformation that would see the car assume a vastly more aggressive twin-turbocharged identity. With the help of Kyoto-based specialty tuner/fabricator Phoenix's Power, a painstaking re-invention of the car's engine was undertaken to ensure reliability and fantastic output. The task of reinforcing the largest VQ35-based engine in existence (95.5mm bore, 88.4mm stroke) and its limited numbers all but forced the acquisition of prototype parts. With one-off Jun forged pistons, H-beam connecting rods and a forged crankshaft, the engine was prepped to enjoy fat boost. It was balanced and carefully assembled by Phoenix's Power, and ported VQ35HR heads with stock camshafts were called in to enhance airflow. An HKS GT-RS twin-turbo arrangement was fitted to the motor, and in proprietary fashion, a Phoenix's Power turbo-back titanium exhaust system was fabbed up to relieve them. The intercooler and associated intake piping were also fabricated by Phoenix's Power, making for an extremely high degree of finish. The installation work included fabricated coolant tanks and an enlarged ARC radiator to help tame this engine's heat. The fuel system was also vastly upgraded with a fabricated swirl pot and revised line routing in an effort to ensure that the 800cc injectors never run dry. Fine-tuning the engine is an HKS F-CON V Pro and Blitz SBC-iD boost controller, and tuning duties were handled by Phoenix's Power. The re-invented 3.8-liter engine now produces 653 horsepower from its original dimensions, which is sent through an ATS triple-plate carbon clutch to the stock rear end.

Phoenix's Power also installed one of their custom-valved suspension kits to push handling capability beyond Nismo-designed limits, while lowering stance 3.5 cm and not sacrificing the car's drivability. Stopping capabilities were also upgraded, courtesy of six-piston Endless monoblock brakes up front and four-piston monoblock units at the rear. The vehicle's exterior retains its original Nismo extended nose and rear diffuser, and the 380RS red leather-trimmed steering wheel, shifter, and Recaro seats inside. According to Yamazaki, he built the car to maintain its balance of comfort, utility and performance . . . just with elevated levels of each.

Impp_1008_03_o+2007_nissan_fairlady_z+center_console Photo 8/11   |   2007 Nissan Fairlady Z Type 380RS - Nismo Rarelady

The engine, brake, and suspension upgrades applied to this most unique Z33 Fairlady model completely transform its dynamic character. With its blown engine a distant memory, any owner/driver of this Fairlady Z will enjoy performance even more unforgettable than that which Nismo envisioned for the small clan of 380RS owners. It is this visceral experience, the feeling behind the wheel of such a finely tuned car, that seems the right antidote to potential controversy from modifying such a rare gem. No one can be sure how the future will react 40 years from now to a Fairlady Z Type 380RS, but that really doesn't matter when the present is offering 653 horsepower and a willingness to use it.

Behind The Build
Name.

Yamazaki

Age.
35

Hometown.
Kyoto, Japan

Occupation.
Architect

Build Time.
13 months

Hobbies.
Golf, fast cars (and fast golf carts)

Quote.
"Don't overdo it. Only do what you can."

'07 nissan Fairlady Z Type 380RS
Output:
654.0 HP; 593.4 lb-ft of torque

Engine 3.8L Nismo VQ35HR; custom JUN H-beam connecting rods, forged pistons, balanced crankshaft, head porting; custom Apex'i intakes; Amuse racing catalyst; Phoenix's Power titanium turbo-back exhaust, front-mount intercooler, plumbing; HKS twin GT-RS turbo kit, F-CON V Pro ECU, 255Lph fuel pumps (x2); Trust type-RS blow-off valves; Blitz SBC-iD boost controller; ARC radiator, diversion panels; Samco hoses; Sard 800cc injectors (x8), fuel-pressure regulator;

Drivetrain ATS triple-plate carbon clutch; flywheel

Suspension Phoenix's Power custom-valved coilovers

Wheels/Tires BBS LM-R wheels (19x8.5 front, 19x9.5 rear); Yokohama Advan tires (245/40-19 front, 275/40-19 rear)

Brakes Endless monoblock six-piston front calipers, four-piston rear calipers

Exterior Nismo Type 380RS body kit

Interior Recaro Sport seats; Nismo 380RS interior package

Gratitude Phoenix's Power

Looking for that dream VQ swap into your 240SX? Well, you can rule out the 3.8L mill of the 380RS right now; all were machined by Nismo from 3.5L VQ35DEs especially for the 380 and nothing else. No worries though-with 16 years' worth of VQs varying in displacement from 2.0 - 4.0L, made available in FWD, AWD and RWD configurations, and in both longitudinal an transverse orientations, you'll be able to find what you're looking for. The high-revving power of the short-stroke, 2.3L VQ23DE? The 4.0L VQ40DE's monster torque? The high compression, high-flowing cylinder heads of the VQ37VHR? A combination of the three, or more? The possibilities are nearly endless.

Impp_1008_08_o+2007_nissan_fairlady_z+engine Photo 11/11   |   2007 Nissan Fairlady Z Type 380RS - Nismo Rarelady
VQ20DE
Bore: 76.0 mm
Stroke: 73.3 mm
Compression: 9.5-10.0:1
Output: 150-160 hp
137-145 lb-ft of torque
Orientation: FF
Availability: '95-'03 Nissan Cefiro
'95-'99 Nissan QX
VQ23DE
Bore: 85.0 mm
Stroke: 69.0 mm
Compression: 9.0:1
Output: 171 hp
166 lb-ft of torque
Orientation: FF
Availability: '03-present Nissan Teana
'04-present Renault SM7
VQ25DE
Bore: 85.0 mm
Stroke: 73.3 mm
Compression: 9.8-10.0:1
Output: 190-210 hp
174–195 lb-ft of torque
Orientation: FF, FR, FAWD
Availability: '95-'98 Nissan Cefiro
00-'03 Nissan Cefiro
'96-'99 Nissan Leopard
'97-'99 Nissan Cedric
'04-'09 Nissan Fuga, Elgrand
'08-present Nissan Teana
Variants:
VQ25DET - Turbocharged; 8.5:1 compression; 280 hp / 300 lb-ft of torque; '01-'04 Nissan Stagea 250tRS

VQ25DD - NEO-Di direct fuel injection; eVTC variable valve timing; 11-11.3:1 compression; 210-212 hp / 195-199 lb-ft of torque; '99-'02 Nissan Cefiro; '99-'04 Nissan Cedroc/Gloria; '01-'06 Nissan Skyline V35; '01-present Nissan Stagea

VQ25HR - "High Response"; 10.3:1 compression; 220-222 hp / 194 lb-ft of torque; '06-present Nissan Skyline V36; '04-present Nissan Fuga

VQ30DE
Bore: 93.0 mm
Stroke: 73.3 mm
Compression: 10.0:1
Output: 190-230 hp / 205-217 lb-ft of torque
Orientation: FF / FAWD
Availability: '95-'98 Nissan Cefiro
'95-'99 Nissan QX
'95-'01 Nissan Maxima
'96-'01 Infiniti I30
'99-'03 Nissan Bassara
'98-'03 Nissan Presage
Variants:
VQ30DET - Turbocharged; 9.0:1 compression; 270-280 hp / 271-285 lb-ft of torque; '95-'04 Nissan Gloria, Cedric; '97-'99 Nissan Leopard; '01-present Nissan Cima

VQ30DETT - Twin-turbocharged; 470 hp; '03 Skyline GT-R JGTC race car; '04 Fairlady Z JGTC race car; '05-'06 Fairlady Z Super GT race car

VQ30DD - Direct injection; 11.0:1 compression; 230-260 hp / 217-239 lb-ft of torque; '97-'99 Nissan Leopard; '99-'04 Nissan Cedric, Gloria; '01-'04 Nissan Skyline V35, Stagea

VQ35DE
Bore: 95.5 mm
Stroke: 81.4 mm
Compression: 10.0-10.3:1
Output: 228-298 hp
246-268 lb-ft of torque
Orientation: FF, FR, FAWD
Availability: '01-'04 Nissan Pathfinder,Infiniti QX4
'02-'04 Infiniti I35
'02-present Nissan Altima, Maxima
'03-'06 Nissan 350Z, Infiniti G35
'03-'08 Infiniti FX35; Nissan Teana/Cefiro, Prestige; Renault Escape
'03-present Nissan Murano
'04-present Nissan Quest
'06-'08 Nissan M35
'00-present Nissan Elgrand
'01-present Nissan Stagea; Renault Vel Satis
'02-present Skyline V35
'04-'07 Nissan Fuga
'05-present Nismo Fairlady Z S-Tune GT
'06-present Renault SM7
'08-present Renault Laguna Coupe
Variants:
VQ35HR - "High Response"; 10.6:1 compression; 297-311 hp / 268 lb-ft of torque; '07-'08 Infiniti G35, Nissan 350Z; '07-present Nissan Skyline V36; '08-present Nissan Fuga; Infiniti EX35, FX35, M35

VQ37VHR
Bore: 95.5 mm
Stroke: 86 mm
Compression: 11.0:1
Output: 328-350 hp / 269 lb-ft
Orientation: FR, FAWD
Availability: '08-present Infiniti G37; Nissan Skyline V36
'09-present Infiniti FX37, EX37; Nissan 370Z, Nismo 370Z
'10-present Infinity M37
VQ40DE
Bore: 95.5 mm
Stroke: 92.0 mm
Compression: 9.7:1
Output: 264-269 hp / 284 lb-ft
Orientation: FR, FAWD
Availability: '05-present Nissan Frontier, Xterra, Pathfinder
'09-present Suzuki Equator

By Bootsie Farnsworth
1 Articles

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