Sometimes in the world of owning and modifying cars, a project is taken away too soon. Be it by means of theft, financial pressure to jump ship or an unfortunate accident, a lot of us are familiar with that feeling of longing for what once was. A wishful fantasy most of the time, but for some lucky people the chance to do it all over again presents itself. Chris Bishop is one of the lucky few.
Having owned many cars in his life, Chris was fortunate enough to have a car guy for a father (a very good ally to have in your corner when trying to build cars as a young man). "I was heavily influenced by my dad as far as cars are concerned," Chris says. "He has been tinkering on cars as a hobby since my earliest memory. My dad prefers classic British cars like Austin Healeys, MGs, Austin Minis, Lotus' and he was very supportive with my car projects throughout my teenage years and early 20s."
Chris remembers his high school sweetheart, a '91 300ZX. "I have a passion for all types of cars, not just one niche," Chris says. "I can appreciate anything that has been tastefully modified, be it mild or wild." As is the story with many first loves, Chris' Z32 romance came to a violent end when the car was wrecked and deemed a total loss. More than a decade and over 50 cars later, when Chris was looking at options for building a demonstration car for his company, DressUpBolts.com, the old Fairlady flame was rekindled in his mind once again.
"Ever since [the accident] I wanted a turbocharged version," Chris says. Having worked on and owned many Japanese cars, including several S-chassis Nissans, an Infiniti Q45 and both a real-deal JDM Toyota Soarer and S15 Silvia, Chris knew he wanted to go a slightly different route with his next build. After choosing the Z32 platform, he received a lot of flack from critics for picking a seemingly "old and random" car to showcase his products. Never one to back down from a challenge, Chris dove into the build headfirst.
Chris tells us about the beginning phase of the build: "I wanted a car that wasn't your typical shop car, something extremely unique - a car that would grab people's attention at shows. The only problem was, I am not a big fan of working on the VG motor. I have always loved how easy 2JZs are to work on and to make power with, thus the idea was born." We all know how potent the famed Toyota 2JZ-GTE powerplant has proven itself to be. Time and time again, 700-plus horsepower has been found on completely stock bottom ends, a feat that's nearly unheard of by any other motor. Unfortunately for Chris (or perhaps not, for originality's sake), not very many 2JZ Z32s existed at the time he began doing his homework. "I started doing research on [the swap] and could only find about three other people in the U.S. who had done it," Chris explains. "Luckily, I found Ben over at Freed Engineering - located in southern Maryland, about an hour away from our shop. Ben had done the swap before, so I began asking questions."
Nothing about this project was easy, according to Chris. Because he wanted the motor to clear the inner structure of the stock Z32 hood, Chris and Ben decided a custom crossmember was in order. Situating the motor slightly lower than with the stock Z32 crossmember, the guys have been able to retain the stock hood, and consequently, keep onlookers in the dark about what lurks underneath. Freed Engineering handled the crossmember design and fabrication, as well as custom engine mounts, transmission mounts and the custom wiring harness required to get the juices flowing properly between the Nissan body and Toyota motor and ECU. Running on a stock Toyota Aristo computer aided by an A'PEXi S-AFC, the Fairlady puts down roughly 450 whp. Not too shabby, considering the relatively low boost being put through a single PTE 61mm turbo. There's certainly more to be had on tap, but the car is admittedly very mild relative to some single-turbo 2JZ setups. Regardless, the car is not a dyno queen and it suits Chris' needs perfectly. "The car is mainly used as a demo car for DressUpBolts.com, but I drive it on the street just about every chance I get. It's just too much fun to let it sit in a damn warehouse!" Chris says with a laugh.
On the suspension side of things, Chris turned to his longtime friend, Terry, at Fortune Auto. Employing Fortune Auto coilovers, rear upper control arms, toe arms, traction rods and tension rods, and aided by beefy 19-inch SSR Professor wheels with Falken FK452 tires, Chris' Z32 is quite nimble on its feet. On the outside, the Z32 has come a long way to get where it is today. "The exterior was yet another challenge since this particular car was very unloved by its previous owner," Chris recalls. A makeover was in order, clearly. Turning to the clean styling of the JDM Fairlady Z, Chris selected a '99-spec JDM front bumper and taillights to start things off. Kaminari side skirts, door fillers, a rear bumper and rear wing complete the exterior package, along with a Stillen nose panel, which not only looks cool but, more importantly, vastly improves airflow over Chris' custom V-mounted radiator. "The exhaust was another challenge, since we went with the Kaminari Rear bumper," Chris says. "My first choice of exhaust was the HKS Hyper; however, I didn't like the way it looked with the Kaminari Rear. I quickly learned the only way I would be happy with the exhaust was to have it custom made." To finish everything off, the exterior has been sprayed a BMW color: Titanium Silver.
After all is said and done, Chris couldn't be happier about how his 300ZX has come together. With its unique styling and clean swap, we think his goal of having an eye-catching, uncommon demo car has been realized. And with the 2JZ swap lurking under hood, you better think twice if you run into this Z at a stoplight.
Specs & Details
'90 Nissan 300ZX
Engine Toyota 2JZ-GTE
Engine Modifications PTE 61mm turbo; SSA manifold; Tial wastegate; braided oil feed & return lines; custom downpipe; Megan Racing custom exhaust; custom V-mount aluminum radiator; powdercoated valve cover, intake manifold; complete titanium Dress Up Bolts set; custom intercooler, custom piping; Walbro fuel pump; Cusco motor mounts; Freed Engineering mounts, wiring
Engine Management OEM Toyota Aristo ECU; A'PEXi S-AFC
Drivetrain W58 transmission; Centerforce Stage 3 clutch; short shifter
Suspension Fortune Auto coilovers, rear upper control arms, toe arms, traction rods, tension rods
Interior Nardi Rep steering wheel; Suede wrapped dash; Fortune Auto titanium shift knob
Thanks To Terry at Fortune Auto, Ben at Freed Engineering, JSpec Auto