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JDM 99 Spec - VIG 232

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History & Context

So since selling up my last 300zx in 2016, I've been out 'sowing my wild oats' with other, more modern sports cars in the mistaken assumption that newer (and more expensive) cars were obviously better! I had owned my last 300zx for 10yrs and during that time my friends had overtaken me in the prestige of their machinery and I was sold on the idea that the grass would be greener on the other side. However after a few years of driving and owning a range of other cars I came to the conclusion about 2yrs ago that it wasn't flat out speed, modern tech or price tag that really excited me but the analogue driving experience and quirks that I'd come to love about my old 300zx. And so my search for a replacement manual LWB TT began in earnest!

The Search

Over the past 2yrs I have been scouring ebay, FB, Autotrader, Pistonheads and this forum to find 'the one' that I would keep forever. The search was slow and I wasn’t holding out much hope. Unfortunately the examples that did come up didn’t quite fit the bill or would involve a little too much remedial work for my appetite considering I’m not single and at the start of my career this time around but married with two kids and a mature career which demands much of my time. About 6mths into my search, I was recommended Josh at Gorilla Imports by Jimmer and Joel as a possible alternative option for sourcing a clean example. A quick phone call with Josh later, I was setup on Gorilla Import’s auctions portal.

Over the next 12mths, I was checking the auction sites religiously, on a daily basis. There were a (comparatively) huge number of 300zx in a range of conditions and coming up with some frequency that I was convinced that my next 300zx would almost certainly come directly from Japan! Having never experienced importing a car before I was quite apprehensive, especially with how casual it all felt at the beginning. The idea of buying a car without being able to 'kick the tyres' and handing over all the money to someone I'd never met was pretty unnerving so it took me a while to pay over the deposit to demonstrate my commitment and get access to the auction sheet translation service. Things escalated pretty quickly from here and before long, I had bid (and lost!!) on two lovely examples in the space of a week! Lucky I did though as I learned a lot about myself through the experience and my tolerance for risk…and so my starting budget went up by about 50%, just in time for ‘the one’ to show up!

The first I lost


The second I lost...




The Import Journey

As soon as I saw the auction listing I knew this was it. A 1999 version 300zx, something I hadn't even realised existed before seeing this one. I'd seen lots of Version R / S come and go but never one like this and how lucky I was as I'm not a fan of the Recaro seats the others had and was planning for a tan re-trim whichever car I ended up with. I got the auction sheet translated and an on-site visit by Josh’s ‘man on the ground’ who was able to share several photos and videos both inside and out. It looks to be in respectable condition but was listed as a Grade 3 (out of a max 5). The auction sheet and on-site visit didn’t suggest any major issues except for some hesitation from the engine. Josh assured me that all cars must get in/out of the auction house under their own steam which gave me some level of confidence and so after a short deliberation, I went in for a max budget bid….and then went to bed and tried to sleep which was a near impossible ask with the amount of butterflies that were flying around in my stomach!! Due to the time difference, the auctions happen during the early hrs of the UK morning so when I awoke, it was the best surprise to find that I had actually won! The date was Thursday 8 Sept, 2021.



The realisation that I had just won a car having never seen it in person and now had to stump up the full amount, knowing it could take weeks til I got my hands on it meant my excitement very quickly turned to apprehension once again and questions of “what have I done??” and “what if the car’s a dud?!” were flying around in my mind. A few days passed during which I made the full payment to Josh and he was able to confirm the car was cleared for transport. From the auction house it made it’s way to the port and I received a few more photos. This helped ease my mind massively as at least I knew it had driven there and was a real car (i.e. not a scam!) and the additional photos showed it looking pretty damn good! Unfortunately, this was when the waiting game really started. The date was Friday 17 Sep, 2021 (auction + 9days).


For some reason, despite the shipping delays due to the blocking of the Suez Canal earlier in the year and Covid of course, I was still expecting that the car would make it onto a ship pretty quickly. This was not to be and with each passing day I was again wondering whether I’d made the right decision. A problem exacerbated by seeing a few tidy examples of UK cars come and go on the sales sites here…and usually for less that I had paid. The car did finally make it onto a ship called the Sanderling Ace on Tuesday 26 Oct, 2021 (auction + 40days) and was scheduled to land in the UK on 16 Nov.

The neat thing about the internet is that you can find pretty much anything these days, including daily tracking of international freight shipping! So as you could expect, I had the browser page open and refreshed it multiple times a day, pretty much every day. You could likely also imagine my frustration when the 16th of November came and went and the ship was still on the other side of the world to the UK. In fact, freight tracking had its next stop as Jeddah at that time. Cue a flurry of messages to Josh to ask ‘wtf’ but at the end of the day, there was not much he could do about it either other than to assure me the car was real and it was on the ship and the ship was indeed on its way! It felt like a very slow end to the year, where the clock seemed to stand still on the import journey. On Sunday 19 Dec, 2021 the Sanderling Ace landed in Zeebrugge where the car was taken off and would await transhipping to the UK. 

The New Year brought with it new adventure and on Tuesday 18 Jan, 2022 (auction + 132days) the car finally landed in Newcastle. I had assumed that from here on, the car would be in my hands within a few short weeks but it took almost a week for it to clear customs before Josh could collect it. From there, it made its way to Gorilla Imports where it would undergo a MOT and registration with the DVLA. And no surprise, this too was to be a rather lengthy process, largely driven by covid and a combination of understaffing and I suspect working from home at the DVLA. In the meantime, Josh was good enough to give the car a clean and take some photos and videos for me. In doing so, he also diagnosed that engine hesitation/vibration as a loose injector which once seated correctly, was fully resolved. I was finally able to let out a massive sigh of relief!





The following days and weeks were rather eventful with no real news or updates forthcoming. I was however grateful that the car was still with Gorilla Imports, tucked up inside as the weather had been atrocious with one storm after another! On Friday 18 Mar, 2022 the car passed its MOT and finally, on Tue 3 May, 2022 (auction + 237days) Josh confirmed it was registered with the DVLA and ready for me to collect!! Ironically, my schedule was manic in May and I had zero free weekends to travel all the way up from London to Saltburn to collect it but with some brainstorming between Josh and I, we managed to find a mutually convenient date and time for collection. After almost 8mths, I was finally able to see, touch and drive my new Fairlady and it lived up to all my expectations (despite being a stock engined auto!). The 5+ hr drive home was amazing, the sun was out, the car drove perfectly and the traffic around me seemed to part as I approached.

Fun & Games

Unfortunately due to the time of my arrival home following collection, my wife and kids were not able to come out and see the car so I parked it up on the drive for the night. The following morning I took them out to see it. The girls (aged 1 and 4) had a hoot sitting in the rear bucket seats and I couldn’t wait to start it up so they could feel the exhaust burble underneath them. My memories of my last 300zx are fond though I probably spend as much time having to tinker and fix things as I’d spent driving it and so it seemed this car would continue that tradition, at least initially. On turning the ignition, the car turned over but refused to fire. I could see my 10yrs of previous 300zx ownership flash before my eyes, as well as images of my wife telling me not to repeat my past mistakes by buying another! The show and tell ended fairly abruptly and we went back inside where I’m sure I played with the kids amongst other things but really my mind was just going over all the possible things that might have gone wrong between my parking it up the night before and the morning. It was a pretty short list! I checked a few things but nothing stood out as being broken / out of place but upon turning over the engine once more (and for a little longer) it was my 4yrs old who asked me whether the car wasn’t working because it was leaking….? I jumped out pretty quickly to see a trail of fuel streaming down the drive. Fortunately AndrewG lives just around the corner and with his help a few days later we identified the exact source of the fuel leak and were able to sort it relatively easily.



Future Plans

Since then the car has been cleaned and driven about fairly locally but due to a busy schedule and terrible weather, I’ve not been on any longer drives just yet but hopefully that will improve over the summer months. In terms of plans for the car, aside from a full service asap, I’m planning for a manual conversion and a PowerZed rebuild sometime down the line but am in no particular rush for either. My focus is to keep the car OEM+, akin to a few others in the Club like AndrewG and JoelyP. Most of all is to share my love of the car and motoring in general with my kids so hoping for a much better ratio of driving:maintenance with this one!


Edited by sumshiftyguy
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Very nice example. 

Could have had a mini meet when you picked it up. Me and Bird live close to Saltburn. 

Good to see that fresh cars are still being imported. 

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Zed #2: 1998 Midnight Purple 2+2 NA. (owned 2020 - now) 

Zed #1: 1995 Blue Slicktop NA (2013-2015)


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Great to see the car the other day in the metal Vig and that you are back into Z32s again!

Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
"Relax, " said the night man
"We are programmed to receive"
"You can check-out any time you like"
"But you can never leave!"
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Project 1547 - Out of the Blue

She's so fine, there's no tellin' where the money went - Simply irresistible.

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  • 2 months later...

O finally managed to take the car out for its first (with me) spirited drive last weekend around the Surrey Hills and down to the coast. Ironic that it took so long considering how long I had to wait to pick it up but...life. Reminding myself this one is for the long game!

I'm very glad to report that no serious issues arose which was still a concern for me considering how little I know about the car. The brakes don't seem overly happy when hot with quite a bit of squealing and what I convinced myself was some binding towards the end of the day. Once cool though, all symptoms disappeared so something to look into. Otherwise the car was sublime to drive and I really enjoyed the day. I had set out around 6.30am and didn't get back home til about 3pm so a solid day of driving!

I managed to take some pretty photos so have posted a few below. I'm hoping to take the car to Jimmer at the start of September for its manual conversion and a full service. Depending on how long Jimmer will need to keep it and on the weather late Sep / early Oct, I'm hoping I can get out on another drive to enjoy the new manual box before tucking the car away for the cold and wet months..

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  • 1 month later...

A bit of a delayed update unfortunately as I’ve been a bit busy with life but…I now have a MANUAL 99spec 300zx! What a difference an extra pedal makes to the satisfaction of driving! The last time I owned a manual in any car was with my previous ’90 UK and the only times I’ve driven a manual since then has been on small rental on holidays.

Whilst the car was with Jim, it underwent a full 60k service, new fuel line clips (in light of that first leak on Day1) as well as the manual conversion and a general all-over inspection (remembering that I still was not fully aware of the condition of the car since buying it ‘blind’ at auction). There was fortunately no issues with the service or the manual conversion but Jim did detect a faulty O2 sensor during a post-work test drive. Jim believes that the car would have been down on power with the auto box as a result so the combination of replacing this and the manual conversion giving instant response meant that the car felt totally different on the drive back down from PowerZed!

Condition-wise, I was very happy for Jim to report that there were no issues at all to be concerned about. The car hasn't been fettled with, is rust free and a very clean example. This above all makes me so happy I went for the import option but I appreciate that it could have very easily gone the other way too!

As far as parts go, I wanted to go new but unfortunately some were NLA so no choice but to source used for a couple of them. I did however fit a brand new ’98 spec manual transmission with a JWT clutch which I understand should be able to manage any power increases I go for in future.

And now for some photos!

Dropping the car and parts off with PowerZed (big thanks to @AndrewG for driving up the gear box and driving me back down!)

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Out with the old....                                                                                                                                                                 

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...and in with the New!

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Some shots of inbetween

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Service in progress

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and a few bonus photos from a photoshoot I did back in August ? 

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Edited by sumshiftyguy
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  • 2 months later...

As there's not much to report on the car at the moment, I figured I'd share a little on the docs that came with the car from auction. There were two shoe boxes stacked with papers and manuals, obviously entirely in Japanese but what appear to be the equivalent of MOT certificates (which look far more thorough than ours!), wiring diagrams and more. I'm not sure what value they will have for me personally but hopefully with the car, they will add a great deal of value towards its backstory. The challenge I now have is to ensure I continue to document as meticulously into its future!

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That is fantastic and so rare to see. It’s all in surprisingly good condition too. As you said before, get a Jap translator to make sense of it all! My Z previous owners had a typed up service history with dates, works done and who by, backed up by every invoice. I’ve continued that and stuck it all in a lever arch. Quite useful when you’re trying to back track what exactly you did a couple years back etc. 

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  • 1 month later...
On 12/12/2022 at 19:29, Gaz 300 said:

Thats good to have and must be rare.  I would like to know who owned my Z in Japan !






I'm not sure if the docs detail who owned my car...they might but it's all in Japanese!

I had previously posted on the forum to seek people's thoughts on Lanoguard and the feedback was mixed but less in favour compared to the usual alternatives. Not to intentionally go against the feedback, I recently had the car cleaned and underbody treated with Lanoguard by a local chap I've recently met via another car club I'm a member of. The level of service was fantastic including a home drop-off/pick-up, a free exterior detail and even resolving some issues with the paintwork which we suspect were due to previous detailing faux pas', again free of charge!

Here are some before/after photos. He confirmed that there was no visible rust anywhere underneath but he did spot a small amount of surface rust where the tailgate shuts - hopefully something I can touch up without it looking too obvious. He also was able to confirm that I do indeed have Bilstein shocks...B6 Performance to be precise!



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21 hours ago, Funkysi said:

Love it! Looked great in the flesh too! ?......apart from those dreadful 4D plates!


Its ok though, they are legal... @sumshiftyguy

1990 Black MT NA LWB = 2014 - 2020 (Sold)

1991 Red MT TT LWB = 2015 - 2017 (Stripped & Scrapped)

1991 Red MT TT LWB = 2017 - 2021 (Sold)

1991 Black MT TT LWB = 2018 - 2021 (Sold)

1989 Red AT TT LWB = 2021 - XXXX (Kept)

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