Historically, people went forward with cars. Meaning – people had a desire to trade-in their car & buy the new models. For a stack of reasons, that’s becoming less true in the modern world. But historically, that’s why car models were redesigned every handful of years: To keep customers coming back. At the peak of American car design, let’s call it the 50s, 60s, and early 70s, vehicle models would practically be updated every year. But then it started cascading off just a little bit… maybe every 3-5 years for example. Coincidentally (or not), that was also about the time our government started meddling in the auto industry with emissions & bumper regulations. Did that stifle creative ingenuity & start changing the way Americans saw automobiles? Yes – but that’s another article for another day. 

By the 80s & 90s, sports car redesigns were coming in slower intervals overall…

Yet the Japanese car companies seemed a little bit more on fire with progressing & turning over models. And ‘the new model’ was always a drastic & exciting improvement over ‘the last model’. Hindsight is 20/20, and of course now we can look back at BOTH an FC RX7 & FD RX7… see the appeal in both designs. But put yourself in that time period, and imagine the shock value when the FD RX7 was revealed as the FC’s replacement. Or the MK4 Supra was revealed to replace the MK3. And obviously – when the Z32 300ZX came out to replace the Z31. It… was… game… changing.

Just put yourself in that time period for a minute… and imagine.

Again – all these designs are cool now in rad-era retrospect. But back then, circa 1990, when the Z32 300ZX came out, it was like we had just time-warped 5 generations & went straight into the future. And when you combined that with the fact that we as a people were closing-in on the 21st century, there was an undeniable energy running through pop culture, and it was reflected strongly in the automotive industry! For a brief shining moment there, everything really came together. I would love to have been old enough to write about it professionally. But then again… was there any better time to be a kid who loved cars? 

It shifted though…

The sports car buying demographic started moving into SUVs & crew-cab country-club trucks. Smaller entry-level cars like the Integra, Si, & Eclipse were still going strong. But the more flagship cars – like the Z, RX7, Supra, Stealth, 3000GT, and NSX… didn’t get replacements as they aged. 

 

The Z was the first to come back in the US…

After what, like a 6-7 year hiatus? And when it did, it was a bit of a different animal. Maybe more of a sports car & less of a touring sports car? Which maybe actually took it back to its Datsun roots in a sense? But the 350Z had an incoherent and/or experimental design. The design worked as a whole… but it didn’t flow the same way the Z32 did. It wasn’t as emotional & timeless. T-tops were off the options list, and so was the turbo & 2+2. Ok fine though – because all said – the 350Z was still a home run. People still loved it. Car culture was booming. Nissan backed it up with the Infiniti G35. And that was more than we were getting (new) from Toyota, Mazda & Honda. Sidenote – Mitsubishi & Subaru had come into the US by this point with different JDM 4-door AWD approaches to performance. And we did have the Lexus IS300.

When the 370Z came, man it really got streeeeeetched ooooooout.

The 370Z was already basically a revised & tweaked 350Z. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. Hell that was Porsche’s recipe in perfecting the 911. But the 370Z just existed… for way too long… without new life or energy. And that’s probably because there was just no competition anymore. So it just ‘was’…. for more than a decade. Finally – Toyota resurrected the Supra, which forced Nissan to dust off the Z book and make the new Nissan Z. And despite the arguments & banter, the new Nissan Z is right in a whole lot of ways. The problem with the new Z is: Price & availability. Nissan frustrated their fanbase with low inventory & greedy dealers markups that priced them out of the car. It’s going to be the the market, not demand… that kills sports cars this time around. Or maybe true sports cars are just not meant for this modern world, and were more apt to flourish in simpler times. Either way… here’s where this particular 300ZX’s owner, Dan Kutzler, finally steps in…

Dan Kutzler is a Nissan Z enthusiast though & through…

He came into the Z community in the 350Z era, and still owns a mighty fine example of a supercharged Z33. When the 370z came out, Dan never felt it was ‘enough of a difference’ to make the investment. Which is a missed opportunity on Nissan’s part. Because that mindset would have never held weight when the Z32 came out to replace the Z31. So in 2014…

Dan decided to go backwards… instead of forwards in the Z lineage.

And that kind of brings me back to the opening sentence of this article, and illustrates the beginning of a tipping-point in the breakdown of new performance cars. Have we gotten to a point where the best sports cars have already been made? There’s just something undeniably special about a Z32 300ZX. It was a strong car in a really strong era for sports cars. The Z32 was entirely focused around the intangibles of the driving experience. Tech did not come at the expense of engagement. So with that in mind & fully comprehended…  

Dan set out looking for a good example of a Z32 300ZX… 

He found this low-mileage purple 5-speed twin-turbo in Canada. It was stock, well loved & well cared for… and the unique shade of (LP2) deep purple was enough to put him over the edge. Only a couple hundred 300ZXs were made in this shade of purple worldwide. Back in 2014 when Dan bought this car, $12,000 for a 300ZX seemed high. But Dan had a feeling it was the right car at the right time for longterm ownership, so he took the plunge. And well – yeah that paid off lol. It’s always smart to buy at the bottom of the depreciation curve. But now all things considered… 

Dan is in a little bit of torment with his 300ZX… 

He bought the 300ZX to modify. Obviously – because that’s what we do. But somewhere early in his ownership of the car, he started to realize that he really valued the purity of his preserved Z32 300ZX. The way it captured the energy of its era so well. There is ‘a vibe’ there… for lack of a better word. A certain feeling – that is fragile… and that over-modification will obliterate. So literally, Dan has a storage room full of parts stacked-up for this car (including a full Z1 turbo kit) that he’s just been collecting over the years… but holding-back on.

And at this point, you’ve also got to consider the very real collectible value of a ’90s twin-turbo Z like this – in the right color, condition, spec, etc. The more you do to it; the less its worth. So in that realm of thinking, every modification Dan has done to this car has been period-correct, and reversible. (See the short list of mods below)

You don’t have anything to prove when you have the history.

And the Z has that history. Mr. K always said it best,

“Love cars, love people, and love life.”

It’s a mindset of a sports car that is less arrogant, and more personal… with more focus on a fully-encompassing enjoyment factor’. It comes from an era where car makers bled for their sports cars. When they were the heart & soul of the brand. The Z has never been a numbers car. And that’s a concept that’s missing in a lot of new sports cars… & even people.

•PHOTOS BY BEN BATTLES•    •PHOTOS BY BEN BATTLES•    •PHOTOS BY BEN BATTLES

Mods

JDM front bumper

Powertrix coilovers & traction arms 

SPL tie rods & suspension pieces

Volk GT-S wheels (18×9 & 18×10)

Thanks to…

Dan’s wife, Linda. Back in 2014 when they were still just dating, Dan was struggling with whether or not to buy the car. Linda said, “You should buy the car.” And it was at that point, that Dan looked over & realized she might just be the one’ lol.

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