Is Z31 Better Than Zee Others?

The Nissan Z31 generation 300ZX is a forgotten stepchild of the Z-car family, riding that gray area between cheap used car and appreciating asset. Sure, you might find a few pristine examples demanding big bucks, but by and large, the ’80s Z is not very collectible. Which makes it a great candidate for your next Daily Turismo ride. Find this 1986 NIssan 300ZX 2+2 for sale in San Luis Obispo, CA for just $1,800 via craigslist.

The original S30 240Z is now a hot collectible, although there are still plenty of affordable examples to be had, such as yesterday’s feature car. But at less than 20% of the price of that ’71, you could have a sweet-digital dashed rectilinear time machine, to take you back to the days when a 160hp 3.0L V6 was impressive, and microprocessors were starting to become ubiquitous. The later Z32 300ZX is gaining popularity again too, leaving this one stuck in the middle.

The perfectly balanced inline six of the 240Z is gone by ’86, but an electronically managed VG series V6 is going to be more refined, if not much more powerful. I’m sure you’ll get better fuel economy on your daily commute to the office parking lot, where a group of girls in acid-washed jean jackets will tilt their heads downwards to peer over their sunglasses at you with lust, while the wind teases locks of feathered hair across their faces and a single electric guitar slowly wails in the background.

The cockpit of a 1st-gen 300ZX looks like a nice place to spend some time, even if it is a bit gray. Comfy looking leather chairs face a dash that’s vaguely reminiscent of the original Zs, but with state-of-the-art LCDs showing you all the vitals with a soft green glow. Brushed aluminum faceplates on the stereo and climate control panels are completely appropriate, and I think that’s even a graphic equalizer down at the bottom of the center stack. There’s a 5-speed manual transmission and fully independent suspension too – McPherson struts up front, semi-trailing arms at rear, just like a contemporary BMW E30. A longer, heavier, more Corvette shaped E30.

The 2+2 version seen here has a bit of a hunchback to fit the rear seat passengers; the pure 2-seater has a more attractive profile not unlike the original 240Zs, albeit as viewed through the lens of plastic ’80s shutter shades. This seller is even kind enough to provide side view photos of both versions together, to show you how much uglier his is. But for my small amount of money, I’d take the homely looks, more utility, and dirt cheap price of the 2+2 for what appears to be a well maintained sporty-ish machine. It’s amazing that this is less than $2k. It even has T-tops (no leaks)!

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