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.
Though his engine sees a significant amount of work internally, you wouldn’t realize it because of how simple it is visually. A less-assuming enthusiast probably wouldn’t even think that this Z ran because of how naked the engine compartment was. The motor looks as if it just floats there, with no engine harness or fuse box in sight. That was Vincent’s plan from the very moment he started modifying his Z and you’ll notice that minimalist theme carried over throughout the build. Everything seems to look every simple if you skim over the car but you won’t be able to truly appreciate it until you look closer at the details.
The staggered VIP Modular wheels were custom-built to his specifications, as well as the color of the faces and subtle nuances, like hiding the valve stem from view. No one offered a brake kit for the rear so he had StopTech create a one-off set using their ST45 series caliper and matching 355x35mm rotor from the front. In the trunk, there’s even a one-off BBS RS wheel that he utilizes as a spare. It too has a custom powdercoated face and custom fasteners. If he happens to blow-out one of his tires, he’ll still be able to roll in style with his fancy BBS donut.
Vincent’s interior has also been carefully mapped-out and reinvented. What looks to be a stock, very simple leather interior is anything but. The carbon-backed racing buckets, originally from a Porsche Carrera GT3, gives indications that there is more than meets the eye but everything has been executed so well that you would have to ask what has been done. Another reason why you won’t know what is going on without asking is probably due to the fact that you most likely have never seen the inside of a 4th generation 300ZX before. The entire interior, steering wheel, shift boot, trim pieces and all have been re-wrapped in Italian leather with a very faint red stitching. His dashboard is modified in a way as to integrate functioning gauges into it without giving any one any indication that they weren’t there when the Z rolled off the assembly line. One of the most unique (and completely random) facets of this build is his mint condition OEM floor mats, that for whatever reason were never used for the first 20 years of its existence. To preserve the state of his floor mats, Vincent puts on a custom set of plastic bags on his feet when he steps into his car.
We’ve done our best to explain the intricacies of Vincent’s build but it is just one of those cars that you have to see to fully appreciate. It is a testament to his dedication to be able to hold onto a car for so long and continue to make it better after almost ten years. He should not only be commended for his creativity and skill but also for his ability to do everything on his own in the confines of his garage. This Z32 is a family treasure with a whole lot of untapped potential. He loved the simple lines and the raw aggression and he used it as a clean canvas to create a Nissan like no other.
1990 Nissan 300ZX 2+2
3.0L VG30-DE; engine block bored to 88mm; Wiseco forged pistons, 88mm piston rings; balanced and polished crankshaft; Forged connecting rods; ported OEM Nissan 10Y twin-turbo cylinder heads; Jim Wolf Technology Z32 S1 mild cam set, heavy-duty valve springs, NA stage X ECU; Ferrea 1mm oversized valves, valve seats; Stillen length-matched, ceramic-coated, internally-ported headers, dual stainless exhausts; Z1 Motorsports 2.5-in non-resonated test pipes; 5x9 stainless straight-through core oval mufflers; AMS underdrive pulleys; port-matched, extrude-honed lower intake manifolds; relocated -8AN balance tube; 58mm throttle bodies (x2); JWT Pop Charger; 370cc twin-turbo upgraded fuel injectors; Innovations billet fuel rail; -6AN single feed fuel system with Fragola fittings; Aeromotive A1000 fuel pressure regulator, 100-micron inline fuel filter; BDE prototype billet aluminum/poly urethane engine mounts; Fuse box tuck; AIV system delete, EGR deleted/bypassed; charcoal canister-delete; PCV system delete; cruise control delete; Ramey Z idler pulley studs; Koyo radiator; Flex-a-lite analog fan control units; power steering re-routed with hard lines
Southbend X Series TZ Stage 3 clutch, DXD billet steel lightweight flywheel; stainless steel clutch line; Z1 short shifter, 1-piece driveshaft; CZP bronze shifter bushings; Nismo polyurethane tranny mount; Redline transmission fluids
Footwork & Chassis
Powertrix Ultralight coilovers, front upper control arms, adjustable ff; SPL tension rods, rear upper arms, rear toe rods, rear traction rods; spinFAB tubular rear lower control arms, front fender braces; Energy Suspensions sway bar bushings, power steering rack bushings, front lower control arm bushings; SPL monoblock shock mount bushings; Specialty-Z subframe spacers
StopTech Sport ST-40 front brake calipers, ST45 custom rear calipers, Hawk HPS brake pads, 355x35mm 2-piece AeroRotors, front stainless steel brake lines; Goodrich rear stainless steel brake lines; MegaZ brake master cylinder brace
Wheels & Tires
18x10" front, 18x12.5" rear VIP Modular Forged VX-S110; 225/40R18 front, 265/35R18 rear Falken Azenis RT615K; 16x5" BBS RS spare wheel with 125/90R16 tire
JDM front fascia, grille, smoked corner lights, 3-piece taillights, third brake light panel; spinFAB custom carbon kevlar lower splitter, carbon-fiber foglight brake cooling ducts; Laser-etched Fairlady Z license plate bracket; 6000K HID kit for OEM projector headlights; shaved rear bumper rock guard, sideskirt rock guard, rear wiper; rolled and pulled fenders; relocated rear bumper tabs; trimmed front fender liner; stainless steel full under engine belly pan
Carbon-fiber-backed Porsche Carrera GT/GT3 seats; spinFAB custom seat brackets and sliders; full black leather trim kit w/red stitching, shifter boot, steering wheel rewrap, emergency brake boot; JDM black leather shift knob; one-off dash unit with integrated 52mm wideband air/fuel gauge, oil pressure gauge, and vacuum gauge; iPod mounting and wiring into center console; aluminum door sills with etched 300ZX logo
All of my close buddies; Walt Flores, Greg Halbart, Doug LoBue, Keith St. John, brother Joey DeLuca, my father for the constant help and support, Frank and Frankie at Ninth Street, Ed at FFE Racing