Fourth Generation (Z32)
Upon its release, the new 300ZX became an instant hit, winning Motor Trend’s “Import Car of the Year” in 1990 as well as “One of the Top Ten Performance Cars”. Automobile Magazine honors the 300ZX/300ZX Turbo as its “Design of the Year” and adds it to their “All Stars” list. Road & Track names the 300ZX Turbo “One of the Ten Best Cars in the World”, and Car and Driver adds it to their 10Best for the seven years in which it was in production in America. American Z-car sales reach the one million sales mark in the 1990 model year, making it the all-time best selling sports car. Even years after production the 300ZX is still thought to be one of the most beautiful automobile designs of all time.
Nissan utilized the Cray-II supercomputer to completely design the new 300ZX with a form of CAD software. This made the 300ZX one of the first production cars to be developed in a CAD program. In return, it featured a whole host of technological advancements. On the twin turbo models, four-wheel steering was available under the name Super HICAS (High Capacity Actively Controlled Steering). The twin turbochargers, intercoolers, and requisite plumbing left for a cramped engine bay; however, everything fit perfectly.
Like previous generations Nissan offered a 2+2 model with the Z32. In 1993, a convertible version was introduced for the first time in the Z-car’s history, as a response to aftermarket conversions. All 300ZXs now featured T-tops as standard, yet there were some rare hardtops (known as “slicktops”) produced as well.
The 300ZX was doomed to the same fate of many Japanese sports cars of the time. The mid-’90s trend toward SUVs and the rising Yen:Dollar ratio were both influential in ending North American 300ZX sales in 1996 at over 80,000 units sold (production for other markets continued until 2000). Probably the biggest killer of the 300ZX was its ever inflating price; at its release it was priced at a about $30,000, but in its final year this price had increased to around $50,000. This left many people questioning its value, and despite a final Commemorative Edition of the final 300 units shipped to America (complete with decals and certificates of authenticity), the Z-Car was on hiatus. In Japan, however, the 300ZX lived on for a few more years with a face-lift including a new front fascia, tail lights, head lights, rear spoiler, and a few other minor changes.