I was going through my early morning routine of looking through my craigslist RSS feeds yesterday and saw the subject “1996 Nissan 300ZX 2+2” which always gets my blood pumping. Then I clicked on the link and saw that it was a red one, which I think I’ve decided now is my preferred color. Shortly after that I read those dreaded words, dreaded by me anyway, automatic transmission… so close! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against all of those Zs and their owners with automatic transmissions out there but I currently have a Nissan Frontier Pickup with an automatic (not to mention Shelley’s car is an automatic as well) so I’ve got that part covered. I’m longing for a manual transmission so that is just another variable I will have to deal with during this search.
As I mentioned earlier, I’m almost 40 now and I’m finally coming to my car senses, I’m back in the market for a 1994, 1995 or 1996 300ZX 5 Speed 2+2. I chose those years primarily because I’m not a big fan of the door mounted seat belts in the earlier years, that’s pretty picky I know but hey, that’s me. There weren’t a lot of 300ZXs sold during those years anyway, then when you drill down even more to a specific body style, transmission, interior/exterior color and condition it becomes a pretty tricky item to find. Right now I think I’m shopping for a Red (or Maroon), White or Silver one but I’d also consider black if I found a good deal. I definitely like the black interior over the tan one so that is a must. I did a search at the Z registry and found that there were only 272 with my preferred options in the US (with federal emissions). What seems to be happening now is that I’m finding a lot of the green ones with tan interiors or when I do find a white one that would be perfect it has a tan interior and I just can’t bring myself to go with that color. It’s not that I don’t like tan in a car interior, I plan on redoing the leather to be tan like it was in some later Japanese model 300ZXs (Fairlady Z) like in the picture below, but I just think the way they did those earlier tan interiors has too much tan in it, almost every piece of plastic, etc.
I considered trying to track down my last 300ZX so I did a VIN search on it but the news wasn’t good… the poor car had a twice salvaged title but apparently was still on the road in Amarillo, TX. I guess I could still try to rescue it but I’d hate to see what kind of condition it is in at this time not to mention I have no idea how you track down who owns a car now if all you have is the VIN, maybe the Texas DOT would give me that information but I doubt it. While I was at it I also searched for my 1983 280ZX and the last time it was seen was at a auto recycling facility in 2003, I don’t have a lot of hope that it’s still around. If I can ever find the VIN for my first 280ZX I’ll see where it is but I’m not sure how I’ll ever find that information unless the state keeps a record of past car titles I’ve held.
Ok, back to the task at hand, I have craigslist RSS feeds set up to alert me when a 300ZX is posted in every major city within a 1000 mile radius of Oklahoma City. I also check craigslist nationwide by doing a google search for “300zx 1994 OR 1995 OR 1996 -auto -automatic -conv -convertible site:craigslist.org”. I also have eBay and Autotrader.com emailing me when a new car is posted. Lastly I check around in forums and cars.com hoping to find the perfect car. There are tons of these cars posted every week but very few fit my criteria. It is somewhat disappointing to find a car that looks like it’s perfect for me then have it be an automatic, be green, 2+0 or have the “tan-all-over” interior.
I’m looking to spend around $6000 but would pay more depending on the condition and how perfect it was for me. I haven’t talked to my bank yet about the possibility of financing a car that old but from everything I’ve read online 7 years is about as old as you can get financing for. I’ll keep everyone (which amounts to myself) updated on this site with the Z search and hopefully the soon to be acquisition.
It was late 1996 and I had graduated college and was working at my first full time job in Dallas. The love of my life, Shelley, still lived and worked in Oklahoma City so it was a bit tough being in a big city for the first time and being “alone”. I still had the 1983 280ZX and it was running like a top. I usually came back to Oklahoma on the weekends when there wasn’t something going on at work. One weekend in October I headed back home to Pauls Valley to meet up with Shelley at my Dad’s house for the weekend. After I was a little over halfway home I had a blowout and had to pull over to the shoulder on the Interstate to put on the spare. I continued on to Pauls Valley and met up with everyone.
I am having trouble recalling how the rest of this purchase happened (Shelley couldn’t help me any either) so I’ll need to talk to my Dad maybe to see if he can provide any more information. What I don’t recall is if I was searching for a particular 300ZX like a 2+2 or how it came about that I was even looking for a new car. I would guess that I just had the 3 year itch that I get and since I had graduated and had a job in a big city I was ready for the next phase of my automobile journey. What I do recall is going with Shelley in her 1991 Geo Storm to Bob Moore Infiniti in Edmond, OK (the same town where I now live and purchased my first car) and looking at this beautiful maroon (cherry red pearl metallic I think is what they called it) 300ZX 2+2 5 Speed. Shelley says she thinks that I was looking for a “bigger” car so that’s why I went with the 2+2 but I find that funny myself. I actually prefer the silhouette of the 2+2 to the standard coupe, I think the length makes it look sleeker but that’s just my opinion. The 2+2 obviously also gives you back seats that can be used if they need to be. Anyway, back to what I recall, so there we were in a car dealer’s lot talking to the sales guy (not my favorite thing to do) and there sat this 300ZX, everything about this car was awesome to me, it still had the new car smell, the black leather, the looks and speed; it had it all. I knew what came next.
There was no doubt about it, I had to buy the 300ZX but they told me that I would need a co-signer to get the loan that was required. My Dad was probably the only person who would qualify for that honor but he was an hour away in Pauls Valley. They allowed me to take the car to my Dad’s house to talk over the purchase/co-signing situation as well as to show it to him. I can’t remember exactly how it all went down, but Dad probably tried to be the voice of reason and make sure I wasn’t getting in over my head but he also agreed to co-sign without much of a fight. I had the paperwork with me and he signed it so Shelley and I were on our way back to the car dealer to finalize the deal. I drove my 280 and she drove the 300, I remember this part vividly… She was following me on the interstate and it seems like maybe it was overcast or misting or something but she had the fog lights on. When I saw the front end of that 300 in my rear view with the stance, the lights and everything cruising down the highway, I knew I was making the right decision, this thing was mean looking but in a classy way.
When we finalized the deal and my 280ZX was there next to the 300ZX looking neglected with its tiny spare tire I felt bad but the 300 went a long way in erasing those feelings. I had never had a car that nice and I’m not sure I’ve had one that nice since. I ended up moving back to Oklahoma City the next year and Shelley and I got married the year after that and had our first son. When I moved back to Oklahoma I took a job for less pay than Dallas and now that I was a family man the 300ZX, though I still loved everything about it, took a back seat. I sold it in the summer of 1999 and have regretted doing that ever since. I’ve had a few cool cars since then, a 1989 Porsche 944 Turbo and a 1999 BMW M3 but I think I still liked the Z better, if for no other reason than I consider myself a Z lifer who has strayed.
This brings us to now, I am almost 40 and it’s time for me to get another Z. I’ve been in the market for a couple of months searching and I plan to update my progress on this site…