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Lien On Z - Old School Shoot Out - 1990 Nissan 300ZX Turbo

Ferocity And Velocity In A Pussycat Z32

By John Pearley Huffman

In 1989 there was no NSX, the new Ferraris all pretty much sucked, the Camaro was a Jersey-trolling IROC bucket, 5.0-liter Mustangs were sorta-quick but primordial, the Supra was more crushed velour than quarter-mile crusher, and the Corvette was clearly aimed at 50-year-old waterbed salesmen wearing Sansabelt slacks and bad comb-overs. It was into this shallow pond of mediocrity that Nissan lobbed in its fourth-generation Z-car-the gorgeous and brilliant performing Z32. The new 300ZX's splash was big. The new 300-horsepower 300ZX Twin Turbo's splash was dang near a tsunami.

Sebastian Chacoff and Greg Dupree's Specialty-Z shop ( in Woodland Hills, California, is a sort of monastery for hardcore believers in the one, true turbocharged Z32 faith. It's where Dupree, Chacoff and their acolytes pore over sacred scrolls like the original Z32 shop manuals; dig deep into every ancient artifact they can get their hands on; and work constantly towards achieving the ecstatic religious experience of the perfect quarter-mile run. Build the perfect 300ZX Twin Turbo, and the driver should be able to touch the face of God in less than 10 seconds.

Every spiritual journey starts with a single step. In this case, that step was acquiring a 1990 300ZX Twin Turbo. This one almost acquired them. "We got this Z32 back in 2004," explains Dupree. "It was a customer's car, but the customer skipped town while we were in the middle of a huge rebuild. We let the car sit for over two years until finally we exercised a mechanic's lien and made it our shop car. The poor thing was stolen right before it came to the shop. It is now our pride and joy at Specialty-Z."

As tuner raw material, one different element of this Z32 is its four-speed automatic transmission. While plenty Zs left Nissan with slush-shifters aboard, enthusiasts have concentrated on the manual equipped cars because, well, enthusiasts like to shift. But an automatic is better for drag racing in many ways. That advantage is particularly acute with high-revving turbo machinery, since the automatic's torque converter winds up before a launch, releasing its accumulated twist in one hard, sudden burst.

While Specialty-Z has touched every piece of the car, the element that matters most is the twisted 3.0-liter VG30DETT V-6 engine. The iron block has six 87.5-millimeter bores (0.5 millimeters over stock) filled with Ross forged pistons on Eagle H-beam connecting rods riding on the stock crank and Clevite 77 bearings. Capping the cylinders are stock heads polished and ported at Specialty-Z, fitted with 1mm oversize ST valves and Jim Wolf Technology (JWT) valve springs that are, in turn, controlled by four JWT 500 race cams with the intake pair spun by the stock cam gears and exhaust pair by JUN adjustable gears. With its 8.5:1 compression ratio, there's nothing particularly radical about this car's basic long block. Except that it's fortified to withstand more abuse.

That abuse comes from the intense crush of a wicked turbo system and the addition of nitrous oxide. The heart of all this heartlessness is a pair of JWT Sport 700 Garrett-based ball bearing turbochargers. They heave through the stock wastegate through two Mike Smith-modified Stillen side-mounted intercoolers and the stock intercooler plumbing. The resulting atmospheric crush is fed fuel by Nismo 740cc/min injectors spraying into the stock (but Extrude Hone sanitized) intake manifold. NGK iridium plugs fire it all, a Blitz SBC boost controller keeps the whole thing from exploding, and a Specialty-Z/Fast Intentions three-inch exhaust system handles waste gases.

Whomping out 22 pounds of boost, the Specialty-Z Z32 walloped the dyno rollers to the tune of 567 horsepower at 6700 rpm and 459-lb/ft of peak torque at 6300 rpm. Not shabby. But then they turned on the NOS nitrous system and let the nozzles in front of each throttle body spray away. That knocked output on the dyno up to 614 horsepower at 7200 rpm (the effective redline) and torque went to 491 at 6150 rpm. All while slurping premium unleaded from a supplementary fuel pump.

By John Pearley Huffman
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