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Pick of the Day: 1996 Nissan 300ZX that commemorates the original Z car

T-top coupe is a ‘time-capsule’ one-owner original with just 21,400 miles


Nissan unveiled its new Z Proto concept last week, and it pays homage to the original 240Z.  The Pick of the Day is one that evolved from and celebrates that original, a 1996 Nissan 300ZX 25th anniversary edition.

The 300ZX, known internally as the Z32, is one of the more-important Z cars of the run, similar to the C8 Corvette in that it punched so far above its weight.


This example of the 300ZX is something special, a veritable time capsule that is a completely original one-owner car, driven just 21,400 miles from new, according to the private seller in Reno, Nevada, advertising the Nissan on ClassicCars.com.

When introduced, the 300ZX was considered to be a performance car that was ahead of its time yet still selling for less money than any of the competition from Europe, going head-to-head with such sports cars as the Porsche 944.


How good was the Nissan 300ZX? It made Car and Driver magazine’s top 10-list seven years in a row.

This T-top coupe is special for another reason. Nissan purportedly had expected 1996 to be the last year of manufacturing Z cars for the US auto market, so the last 300 were numbered individually; this car is number 96, with a commemorative plaque installed on the console.

The Nissan show little age or wear and has all its original parts except for routine consumables that were replaced regularly to keep it in prime condition, the seller says. These include a new battery, water pump, belts, hoses and tires.

nissan, Pick of the Day: 1996 Nissan 300ZX that commemorates the original Z car, ClassicCars.com Journal

“Meticulously cared for, garage-kept, never in a collision, never driven in snow, rarely driven in rain, and pampered by hand washing, this 300ZX is in ‘like new’ condition,” the seller states in the ad. “Also, the vehicle has been exclusively serviced by experienced Nissan mechanics.”

This car was delivered new with a number of special goodies, which most of the time are long lost. These are included in the sale:


1. Serigraph of the “one-stroke” design by Isao Sono that served as the inspiration for the 300ZX’s timeless design. It is printed on traditional Japanese rice paper, mounted in a 25-inch wide by 19-inch high Japanese black lacquer frame, and is one in a limited-edition series of 300. Isao Sono was the principal designer of the fourth-generation Z, which made its debut in 1989 and ended production in 1996. 
2. Certificate of Authenticity 
3. Certificate of Commemoration 
4. Letter from then-president of Nissan Motor Corporation USA Robert J. Thomas, congratulating the owner for having purchased “a substantial part of Nissan’s proud history.” 

nissan, Pick of the Day: 1996 Nissan 300ZX that commemorates the original Z car, ClassicCars.com Journal

Sure, it has an automatic transmission, but even with a slushbox, these are great cars that offer strong performance and really are a piece of Nissan Z history. With an asking price of only $19,900 it looks like a good deal for a car in stellar condition.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

Andy Reid
Andy Reid
Andy Reid's first car, purchased at age 15, was a 1968 Fiat 124 coupe. His second, obtained by spending his college savings fund, was a 1966 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2. Since then, he has owned more than 150 cars—none of them normal or reasonable—as well as numerous classic motorcycles and scooters. A veteran of film, television, advertising and helping to launch a few Internet-based companies, Reid was a columnist for Classic Motorsports magazine for 12 years and has written for several other publications. He is considered an expert in European sports and luxury cars and is a respected concours judge. He lives in Canton, Connecticut.


  1. Had an ’86. Beautiful car, great color – silvery blue; Sea Mist, I think, was the official name.

    But, it was more like an american car; i.e., very fast in a straight line. It could never have given any Porsche a run for it’s money, especially thru corners. And, the hydraulic clutch made it drive like a dump truck.

    I guess they managed to improve on that over the succeeding ten years…


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