A few issues back we asked for more and more serious reader's rides. Michael LePore Jr. answered our call to arms and his car quickly graduated to full feature status. His exquisite Z-Car represents what a couple snaps and a 37-cent stamp can result in.
The Nissan 300ZX twin turbo is one of the best buys in the performance used car market. With the new 350Z hitting the street, there should be a lot of buzz around Nissan's high-tech flagship. How this attention will affect 300ZX prices remains to be seen. The movie, "The Fast and the Furious" dramatically elevated the pricing on JZA80 Supras so we know how Hollywood can impact pricing, but there hasn't been a supercar revival on the scale of the 350Z before.
The price line on a 300ZX TT is $8,000 to $12,000, with the price difference being attributed to age and mileage.
Motivated by a twin turbo 3.0-liter V6 rated at 320 hp at the flywheel when the car was discontinued in 1996, the 300ZX also has a suspension that cashes in on years of racing experience and edgy body lines that are still pleasing to the eye a dozen years after their debut. The best thing about the 300ZX is probably the highly refined aftermarket frothing from the mouth to add power, style and function to these powerhouses.
LePore did his homework and called on four of the top Z-Car tuner/parts manufacturers-Jim Wolf Technology, Stillen, GReddy and HKS-to make his 1993 Z32 the envy of Darth Vader himself.
An HKS GT2530 turbo upgrade provides big power under the hood and the GT Series turbos feature dual ball bearings for quicker spool up and more flow. Incoming air is gathered and metered in twin Jim Wolf Technology POP Chargers and funneled to the compressor side via HKS mid-pipes. Post compression charge air is routed through Stillen fender-mount chillers into the engine where Nismo 555cc injectors add the fuel and an HKS Twin Power ignition supplies the spark. A Jim Wolf Technology reprogrammed ECU handles fuel and ignition events while a GReddy PRofec boost controller limits boost to a maximum of 20 psi. HKS blow-off valves release the boost when LePore jumps off the throttle and a GReddy Power Extreme exhaust system keeps the turbos humming by reducing backpressure. LePore estimates output to be 625 whp.
It is wise to remember that a seriously power-tuned engine is making more power because it is burning more fuel and when more fuel is burned, there is increased residual heat. Cooling is crucial to high-power cars expected to perform daily and LePore addressed it correctly. He swapped in a high-capacity radiator from Stillen and added a Stillen hard pipe radiator hose kit. He also utilized a Stillen oil cooler to keep engine oil temps in check during the summer heat. He also added a B&M transmission cooler to the mix. The Z runs an automatic, which has been fortified to Level 10 PTS-specs and fitted with a trick billet torque converter. An advantage for automatics is that during hard acceleration, they shift so quickly that there is no loss of boost, as is the case when a driver lifts to depress the clutch in a manual car. On the flip side, if you're carving corners, you can get caught out of the powerband right when you need a blip of the throttle to power through the corner. This has always been the compromise between auto and manual and, admittedly, "autostick" gearboxes have closed the gap somewhat.
In the footwork department, HKS Hiper dampers cushion the ride while front and rear Jim Wolf Technology anti-roll bars fend off body roll. The Nissan's chassis is further stiffened with Stillen front and rear strut tower bars. The Z-Car's contact patch is provided by Nitto NT-555 Extreme rubber that's wrapped around Enkei V1 aluminum. The car runs 18x8.5s in front and 18x10s in the rear, and the V1s feature a silver-colored center and polished outer lip for added curb appeal.
The first thing that strikes a Darth Vader chord with the Nissan is its body tuning. LePore mixed and matched the best of Japan and America. The nose is adorned by a Veilside EC1 front fascia-long one of our Z32 favorites. A Stillen nose panel is incorporated to aid in airflow to the Wolf POP chargers and add visual appeal. J-spec Fairlady taillight assemblies, clear corners and fender markers lend a JDM feel to the Nissan. The rear has been dressed with a Stillen GT-IV valance and Arospeed wing. The body has been sprayed with five coats of "Vader Helmet Black."
Quality time is abundant inside the 300ZX as LePore has installed a substantial audio/visual system. An Eclipse 7001 head unit features a flip-up TV and LePore has added a monitor on the passenger side visor. Mid-range signals are beamed out by Infinity speakers while the bass thumps via two 10-inch JL Audio subs in a trick enclosure. A 12-disc CD changer ensures the tunes flow continuously.
LePore's Z certainly illustrates how well the Z32 has aged. In fact, if the car were a brighter, non-Vader color, and had we been able to get a dyno chart to verify the potency of the GT2530 upgrade, this thing would have definitely been worthy of cover consideration.