The Nissan 300ZX Z32 is one of the best Japanese performance vehicles of the 1990s (although production actually started in the late 1980s – read our Z31/Z32 300ZX buyer’s guide and history here).
In the cadre of 1990s Japanese “Supercars”, perhaps only the 3000GT is considered less desirable by many (we would disagree with that statement, however … all of the 90s Japanese hero cars are legendary in their own right, as we will discuss more in this article)
With that in mind, will the Nissan 300ZX be a classic?
Prices do seem to be rising, but will the 300ZX enter the pantheon of true Japanese classics one day?
In this edition of Car Facts we give our view on the classic status of the Nissan 300ZX, focusing on several key “indicators” that help to understand where this car sits.
Before you read any further, make sure that you check out our Nissan 300ZX buyer’s guide for more information about scoring yourself a great example of this legendary Japanese car.
Please note that this article refers specifically to the Z32 300ZX as well (we will address the Z31 in a separate article)
Table of Contents
In some respects, all you need to know about the classic status of the Nissan 300ZX is that prices on these cars are rising.
What was once a car you could pick up for a modest price second hand (especially in base trims/NA/automatic) is now becoming a much more expensive proposition.
Although “expensive” is a relative term and depends on your own perception, it does seem clear that prices for all models/trims/conditions of the 300ZX are rising.
This is because more and more people are seeing the 300ZX as a classic in its own right, and are starting to bid the price up.
Are rising prices symptomatic of classic car status? Or does classic car status cause rising prices?
Whichever way around this process works, it ultimately doesn’t really matter – there can be little doubt that 300ZX prices (especially for good examples) are on the climb.
Another factor working in the 300ZX’s favour when it comes to attaining classic car status is the fact that this is a rare car, and becoming increasingly hard to find.
For example, just over 89,000 Z32 300ZXs of different specs/trims were sold in the United States from 1989-1996. This is not a huge number at all, meaning that the 300ZX was relatively uncommon in its day.
Considering that sales in America ended 25 years ago, there is no doubt that the “sands of time” will have taken a substantial toll on the number of cars left in the 300ZX fleet.
While there were more models produced for the Japanese Domestic Market, and export into other markets e.g. Australia, New Zealand and Canada, the truth is that the Z32 300ZX was a rare car in its day, and even rarer now.
What this means is that with supply dwindling, the laws of economics dictate that prices are likely to rise and classic status is more likely to be cemented.
Make no mistake about it, the Nissan 300ZX is still a fast car by today’s standards, especially in twin turbocharged form where 0-60mph could be achieved in around five seconds flat (read our article here on whether or not all 300ZX are twin turbo for more information about the different drivetrain options this car came with).
Because of its potent performance, this is another tick in the box for the 300ZX having a higher likelihood of becoming a bona fide classic.
While not all performance cars become classics, there is little doubt that cars of this nature do have a higher tendency to become classics over time.
This is not slow acceleration, even by today’s standards:
In terms of performance, perhaps the most “challenged” aspect for the 300ZX was in terms of handling – or at least grip – when compared to some of its contemporaries. Because of the lack of AWD the 300ZX wasn’t able to grip so well as the 3000GT or the Skyline GT-R. In slippery conditions, the 300ZX has a reputation of being quite the handful; something to bear in mind if you are considering buying one for yourself.
Type Of Car
The other thing to bear in mind about the classic status of the 300ZX is that it belongs to the group of 1990s Japanese “Supercars”. Although the 300ZX was definitely more luxury/grand touring focused than the Skyline GT-R, for example, it’s not unreasonable to group it with such cars.
As you will no doubt have seen, all of the Japanese hero cars of the 1990s have been climbing rapidly in price in recent years.
As such, membership to this club is helping cement the 300ZX’s role as a modern classic at the very least.
All of the 1990s Japanese hero cars are now seen as desirable to varying extents, and this is impacting the classic status of the 300ZX.
In other words, just about any car that was sold “new” in Gran Turismo on Playstation 1 now appears to be gaining classic status. The 300ZX definitely featured:
Conclusion – Is The Nissan 300ZX A Classic Car?
In our view, the 300ZX is actually already a classic, at least to some degree.
While it might not be a classic in the way an old Porsche or Ferrari is, it’s hard to deny that these cars have at least become “modern classics”, along with their contemporaries like the Mitsubishi 3000GT or Toyota Supra.
It’s not hard to see why the 300ZX is becoming an increasingly desirable car and a bona fide modern classic.
It looks fantastic (we reckon that the futuristic design has aged so well, especially the rear design with those bar shaped lights).
Stylish cars have a greater tendency to become classics as well.
The 300ZX is a strong performer, especially the twin turbo model. These were a fast car in their time, and are still fast now!
There is a robust level of desirability in the market. While this car might not be as popular as the Toyota Supra or Skyline GT-R, it has a loyal following nonetheless and many people desire to own one.
Combine those factors – as well as the “rising tide” in car prices in generally, especially anything with close to classic status – and it’s not hard to see why prices are climbing fast on the 300ZX.
In fact, we reckon these are starting to get to the point where you’d want to think twice about daily driving one.
Although you can daily drive a classic car, the 300ZX appears to be on the cusp of “levelling up” in terms of classic status. Whether you daily drive it or not, you’re going to want to maintain your 300ZX to the best possible standard as you’re looking at a vehicle that is only likely to climb in price from here.
While none of us can predict the future – and there is every possibility that classic car prices won’t continue to rise – we do think that the 300ZX is well placed to continue growing in value and desirability in the foreseeable future.
If you’re thinking of buying a 300ZX, then make sure that you read our Nissan 300ZX buyer’s guide here before you take the plunge.
With that in mind, what do you think about the 300ZX? Do you believe the 300ZX has already attained classic status? Or is it a bit overrated in your books?
Leave us a comment below – we would love to hear from you.
Don’t forget to read our 300ZX buyer’s guide as well, there’s loads of information in there about sourcing yourself a quality example of the 300ZX.