The Nissan 300ZX has historically been considered the great underachiever of its time. In the early ‘90s when the Z32 was in production, the Nissan sports coupe sought after by everyone (at least, in Japan) was the legendary R32 Skyline GT-R. If you couldn’t afford the Skyline, then you went with the more affordable S13 and later S14 Silvia/US 240SX chassis. The Fairlady/300ZX was kind of the middle child of sorts, and was wedged in between the latter. On paper, it was a great car. The top of the line model was a twin-turbo, two-seater that had style and plenty of road presence. Even still, the reality was that the Z32 Fairlady was perhaps the forgotten one in the historic Z-car family lineage.
If there was one single 300ZX that could represent all that were ever modified, one to change the world’s otherwise mundane memory of the fourth generation Z, it might be Vincent DeLuca’s. He has shouldered the load and taken on the responsibility of showing us how a Z32 should be built. He’s also taken the road less traveled by building a non-turbo version. He could have easily swapped the NA motor for a turbocharged equivalent but the 60K original miles was all the reason he needed to hold onto it.
This Z has been in DeLuca’s family since 1990 and has been in Vincent’s possession for nearly a decade. Ten years is a long time and for many enthusiasts, that would have been a good chunk of time where they could have built two to three other cars, possibly more. Vincent sees things differently than your average car head though. His profession is architecture and he deals with creating things from the ground-up—and that is exactly what he did with this 300ZX. It looks simple enough on the outside; at a glance, the body looks like it would have from the factory. You’ll notice the wheels aggressively poking out of each wheel well, but unless you are somewhat familiar with this chassis, chances are you won’t even notice the Japanese-specific front end, grille and taillights. The reality is that there isn’t a section that Vincent hasn’t touched on this car. As an architect, he’s a man of detail and he has devoted years into making this the ultimate Z build.
The most intriguing and utterly shocking aspect of Vincent’s Nissan is the masterpiece under the hood. From the factory, the engine bay is just a mess, whether it is the twin-turbo or naturally-aspirated versions. Vincent wasn’t happy with how it looked so he tore everything apart and set out to recreate the Z’s bay in his own vision. The first, and most obvious task, was to pull out the VG30DE motor. Once the engine was out, he proceeded to remove everything that he deemed unnecessary in the bay. The air conditioning was removed, along with the entire cruise control system and external items related to the emissions system. Everything that he chose to keep (power steering, crankcase ventilation, and fuel system components) was completely reconstructed from scratch with re-routed hard lines and –AN fittings. As soon as he was able to get the engine bay totally empty, the holes were welded shut and the panels smoothed out. If that wasn’t labor-intensive enough as it is, Vincent also reshaped the wheel wells with an English-wheel.
The stock VG motor may have only had 60k original miles on it, but it didn’t stop him from cracking it open. Since he had the non-turbocharged engine, he opted to do some work to the virgin motor to make it more respectable. He had the block bored out to 88mm before installing some forged pistons, rings, and a balanced/polished crankshaft. Better-flowing cylinder heads from a twin-turbo VG30DETT replace the stock units combined with an entirely new valvetrain. The intake manifolds have been honed and port-matched while Vincent took the custom route for his dual exhaust system. Two oval mufflers give off a deep growl thanks to non-resonated 2.5-inch test pipes that hook-up to a pair of Stillen headers.