Addition of the Z32 300ZX to the Nissan Heritage Parts Program?
Let’s get up to speed:
On April 15, 2017, Takao Katagiri, president & CEO of NISMO and Autech Japan, held a press conference where he announced the NISMO Heritage Parts program. Its purpose was to provide:
- A special restoration support program for selected Nissan Performance models;
- A parts reproduction & supply program;
- further expansion from the R32 GT-R to other chassis.
Only 7 months after that announcement, the Nismo Heritage parts program unveiled over 80 parts available for the R32 GT-R at the annual Nismo Festival.
Nismo continued to expand the catalog of parts for R chassis in 2018. In the fall of that year, Nismo once again used the Nismo Festival to announce the addition of R33 and R34 GT-R to the Heritage Program.
“NISMO continues to foster a close relationship with Nissan Skyline GT-R owners. Based on their input and requests, the NISMO Heritage Parts program may continue expanding the availability of R32, R33 and R34 parts.” -Nissan Japan Spokesman
Z32 Owners, are you noticing a trend?
The exclusion of the Z car from the initial roll out of the Heritage Program did not stop many within the automotive industry to begin speculation that it may expand to our beloved chassis. As noted in these 2017 articles:
- “…as well as time goes on. We expect that to include the R33 and R34, plus the various generations of Fairlady Z, the best-known of which was otherwise known as the 300ZX.”
- “…but in the not too distant future, a number of other classics will join the R32, inevitably including R33 and R34 Skyline models and hopefully, the likes of the 300ZX and 240Z.”
Last week marked the three-year anniversary of the announcement of the program. At no point in time since has there been any official statement about the Z32 300ZX.
Frankly, I feel that the Z community was being a little too optimistic, and the optimistic thoughts of 2017 translate into pipe dreams in our 2020 reality. There are several reasons why Heritage Collection parts for the 300ZX will never happen.
Reason 1: Nissan is Broke
In 2019 Nissan reported an 11-year low in profits. By January 2020, some sources reported that Nissan plans to cut thousands of white-collar employees and buy out some of its most tenured blue-collar workers. Additionally, there was talk of closing at least two production plants. Nissan is trying to cut costs in any way it can at this point. There has been little media on Nissan specifically since January, but one could expect that things have only got worse with the halt in production and the slump in new car sales. With these financial realities it would be a stretch to think that Nissan would entertain the idea of re-tooling and beginning production of NLA Z32 parts.
Reason 2: The USDM Z32 is in no way like the R-Chassis Cars
The reasons it makes sense for Nismo to make spare parts for the R32 does not translate into good reasons for them to produce Z32 parts. When something breaks on our Zs, in most cases we can find the parts either through the popular Z-parts houses or donor cars, mostly due to the high production numbers and relatively low costs of Z32s in the United States. Nearly 90,000 Z32s were produced in the US market with a little over 18,000 of those being Twin Turbo models. Major mechanical engine components for the cars are still available either OEM or through the aftermarket. Large body panels such as hoods, doors, fenders, and even quarter panels can be found through our network of dedicated Z scrappers.
This reality does not exist for GT-R enthusiasts. Only about 44,000 R32s were produced, meaning spare donor cars are half as likely to exist. Combine that with the extensive use RB series engines in cross-chassis swaps worldwide you begin to see how rare parts have become. Owners of imported R32s do not have the same luxury as Z32 owners when it comes to searching local junkyards or classified ads and the prices reflect that.
Reason 3: Cost of Entry
When compared to the R chassis vehicles supported by the Nissan Heritage Parts Program, there’s little room for the same level of profit within the Z32 community. Good condition Twin Turbo Z32s routinely sell around the United States under $10,000, with fixer uppers sometimes selling as low as $2,000. The bottom of the market for a good condition R32 GT-R in United States seems to be around $18,000 and can steadily climb into $35,000+ territory. There’s clearly a significantly lower financial incentive for NISMO to undergo the process of bringing these product lines back to life.
The Bad News
Those of you who keep track of what parts are available for 300ZX are witnessing a decrease in available OEM parts. From weather strips seals to engine bearings, little by little our replacement parts are fading away. Nissan’s current troubles combined with an extremely uncertain economic outlook for the foreseeable future will likely mean Nissan will not be reviving product lines now.
The Bright Side
Thankfully, we have a dedicated group of enthusiasts worldwide, who scour their local areas to secure OEM parts for future use. Whenever I visit junkyards or part outs there are certain pieces I always check with the hope that I will find them in good condition either for myself or for my Z friends across the country. I've spent entire weekends driving to find parts and pieces to complete the restoration of my 1990 Twin Turbo. At this point I would estimate that my car has the best parts and pieces from over 20 different donor vehicles. This is no strange place for the Z32 community
We are also experiencing a new wave of independent entrepreneurs. A “cottage industry,” that exists in which enthusiasts are meeting the needs in which we are under served. Our cars are aging, parts are wearing out and are becoming harder to replace. It will take effort from within our community to keep these cars on the road for the years to come.