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Posts filed under ‘Nissan’

Car Ads and Brochures:
1995 Nissan 300ZX

April 15, 2013 by Matt

1995 Nissan 200ZX Brochure

Click image to enlarge.

Dug this one out of an old stash during a recent visit to my parents’ house. I can’t remember if I got it from the dealership or from a local car show; regardless, it’s a nice snapshot of Nissan’s last turbocharged Z-car during one of its final years here; it would depart our shores after the 1996 model year. I’ll let the pictures (mostly) speak for themselves.

1995 Nissan 200ZX Brochure

Click image to enlarge.

1995 Nissan 200ZX Brochure

Fantastic shot of a Steve Millen IMSA 300ZX. Click image to enlarge.

1995 Nissan 200ZX Brochure

Click image to enlarge.

1995 Nissan 200ZX Brochure

Beautifully simple lines. Click image to enlarge.

1995 Nissan 200ZX Brochure

Click image to enlarge.

1995 Nissan 200ZX Brochure

This spread is especially nice; the technical illustrations on right page are printed on a translucent sheet which overlays a full-color photograph from the same perspective. Click image to enlarge.

1995 Nissan 200ZX Brochure

Wonderful cockpit. I remember sitting in one in a dealership in the mid-’90s and thinking, “This feels perfect.” Click image to enlarge.

1995 Nissan 200ZX Brochure

Click image to enlarge.

Editor’s note: This post is part of an ongoing series chronicling interesting automotive advertisements and brochures. Read the other installments here:

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1995 Nissan 300ZX

Automotive Art: The OS Giken TC24-B1Z

March 4, 2013 by Matt

Nissan Datsun L-Series L24 L26 L28 OS Giken Cylinder Head DOHC TC24

Dovetailing nicely with my recent post about Nissan/Datsun L-series tuning lore, I came across this page featuring the OS Giken TC24-B1Z, a stroked 3.2l, 420-hp L-series topped with the legendary OS Giken DOHC, 24-valve cylinder head.

Nissan Datsun L-Series L24 L26 L28 OS Giken Cylinder Head DOHC TC24

While it’s perhaps not the most romantic piece of machinery out there, the engine exudes a kind of precise beauty, sort of like an immensely powerful Seiko watch. The gear-driven cam arrangement, chosen for durability at the engine’s 10,000 (!) rpm redline, reinforces that analogy. Fuel injection is optional; the TC24-B1Z leaves the craftman’s bench with a lovely set of triple Webers, shown above.

Nissan Datsun L-Series L24 L26 L28 OS Giken Cylinder Head DOHC TC24

The beauty comes at a price, though: Only nine have been built, and if the cylinder head alone is worth over $30,000, it’s not a stretch to imagine the whole package costs perilously close to 6 figures, if not more. Still, as the Bugatti Veyron of naturally-aspirated L-series engines, it’s a stunning sight to behold, and as a vintage Datsun owner, it’s affirming to know the platform is receiving such attention.

Image credits: Dino Dalle Carbonare for

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The Tuning Lore of the
Nissan/Datsun L-Series Engine

February 20, 2013 by Matt

Nissan Datsun L28 L-Series Engine Motor Rebuild

During Tuesday night’s Triad Z Club meeting, I listened to one of the older members give a quasi-dissertation on early Z-Car history.

Nudging my way into the vintage Datsun world as my 240Z restoration progresses, I’m amazed at the depth of knowledge about the cars and their engines.

Other makes have their tuning gurus and accepted bodies of expertise when it comes to performance enhancements, but in my mind, a few things set the vintage Datsun tuning scene apart:

  • The Datsun 510 and Z-Car were the first performance cars from Japan that captured any kind of mass market appeal. From a tuning/racing standpoint, no Japanese import goes back farther.
  • The racing Datsun was an institution in the ’70s and early ’80s, akin to the success of the Miata in recent years. If you wanted to get into racing, it was practically the only cost-effective choice.
  • The cars themselves and their engines were, and remain, very robust and responsive to a wide variety of upgrades. Yes, there are preferred “paths” to unlock additional power, but the L-series engine also rewards creativity.

Thumbing through the classic How to Modify Your Nissan/Datsun OHC Engine reinforces the sense of standing at the foot of a giant accumulated mountain of knowledge. The book naturally covers tuning tips, tricks and rules of thumb in exacting detail, but the illustrations of vintage Datsun racers from the early ’70s through the present day really convey the impression that there are decades of L-series lore to draw from.

Nissan Datsun L28 L-Series Engine Motor OS Giken Cylinder Head Twin Cam DOHC

One of the “legends” covered briefly in the book is the part shown above, arguably the holy grail of vintage Datsun tuning: the OS Giken DOHC, 24-valve cylinder head. Produced in tiny numbers and only available in Japan, the OS Giken head will set you back north of $30K today. From a cost/benefit standpoint, it’s far from worth it, but just the fact that it exists supplies the vintage Datsun scene with one its “mythical beasts,” so to speak, a necessary pillar of any classic car tuning lore.

Image credits:, Dino Dalle Carbonare

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Nissan/Datsun L-Series Engine

The Nissan Skyline Racing Pedigree Began Here

December 24, 2012 by Matt

As if any reminder were needed, this clip consolidates the case that the post-war racing heritage of Japanese automakers extends almost as far back as that of outfits more commonly renown for their competition pedigree, such as Porsche.

The misconception, of course, is that Japanese cars have no character, no soul; they’re relatively sterile both in their demeanor and in the amount of racing success they’ve given birth to. And yes, in the race featured in the clip the Skyline does lose to the sole foreign entrant, a Porsche 917—but the effect on Japan’s burgeoning racing culture of the fact that the Skyline held its own for a few laps cannot be overstated.

Via Tamerlane.

Merry Christmas to all my faithful readers! You’re the best gift a blogger could ask for.

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Jay Leno Pines for a New 240Z

October 3, 2012 by Matt

When it come to presenting a car show, he’s no Clarkson, Hammond or May, but Jay Leno still does a serviceable job paying tribute to the original Z-car, before visiting the Nissan factory and yukking it up with a creative exec and one of the designers. The clip features some nice footage of a Japan-only 240ZG, with the longer “G-nose,” fender extensions and mirrors. Personally, I think it looks chintzy in the worst Japanese way, but there are some who prefer the extra tacked-on bits. I’d much rather drive the white 240Z in the “top secret” design room.

Leno also speculates about what a future 240Z might look like. It’s an interesting question, given that the ’03-’09 350Z was supposed to be a “reboot” of sorts and return the car to its original formula. Its successor the 370Z has grown out of the low-cost / respectable performance niche somewhat, and is increasingly irrelevant, what with the pony car wars heating up and hogging the airtime, so to speak. So perhaps a viable direction for the Z is “down” into competition against the Toyota 86, which for its part has become the darling of the automotive press. The Z would become smaller, lighter, yet more raw and pure. Given the current Z’s identity crisis—not enough power to hang with the Mustang GT or Camaro SS, and too expensive and ponderous to make it as a cheap corner-carver—a more driver-oriented Z-car would be a welcome change of pace, and could revitalize Nissan’s icon.

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The Loveliest Skyline: Nissan’s R33 GT-R

September 26, 2012 by Matt

Nissan R33 Skyline GT-R GTR Silver

Sandwiched between the groundbreaking, headline-grabbing R32 GT-R, and the later darling-of-the-driving-simulator-junkie-scene R34, Nissan’s R33 Skyline GT-R is sort of the red-headed stepchild of the Skyline generational progression.

Nissan R33 Skyline GT-R GTR Engine Motor RB26DETT

Produced between 1993 and 1998, the R33 GT-R improved on the recipe so successfully pioneered by the R32: A twin-turbo, 2.6l inline six developing an underrated 276 hp, computer-controlled AWD mated to a sophisticated suspension incorporating rear-wheel-steering. The under-the-skin changes were admittedly incremental, including new Brembo brakes, revised turbo components and an updated engine management system, but as with all GT-Rs, the whole remained more than the sum of its parts, and was the first non-supercar in production form to lap the Nürburgring in under 8 minutes.

Nissan R33 Skyline GT-R GTR Purple Violet

The more obvious differences between the R32 and R33 are external. Where the earlier car has an aggressive, leaning-forward stance that approximates traditional long-nose short-deck sports car proportions, the R33’s profile more closely describes a teardrop shape. Its C-pillars and rear fenders converge more seamlessly than its predecessor’s, and the effect suggests the R33 would flow around a racetrack instead of simply pulverizing it, as the R32’s lines seem to communicate it would. The later car looks fleet and effortless, yet it retains hints of the power and capability underneath what with its fender flares and thoroughly ducted fascia.

Nissan R33 Skyline GT-R GTR Interior Inside Cockpit Console Dash Dashboard

Unfortunately, without the extroverted techno-brutality that characterizes the R32’s or R34’s looks, the R33 loses much of its curb appeal with the Gran Turismo set. However, that slightly (however slight a Skyline can be) under-the-radar ethos actually makes me like it more. I have a strong attraction to fundamentally good cars that still aren’t the obvious choice, and the R33 represents that formula among Nissan’s range-topping generations of GT-Rs.

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Datsun 240Z Restoration: On The Road

June 10, 2012 by Matt

Alternate post title: I need a camera mount. Badly.

Alternate post title #2: Glimpses of future greatness at 4000 rpm.

Note: The “thoroughly depressed” line at the beginning references another series of clips I shot right before the drive, inventorying many of the car’s “trouble areas.” That video will be featured in a future post in this series.

So, after working like a crazy person getting the driveline reassembled on Monday, the needed brake bridge didn’t arrive until Wednesday, leaving me with hours to install it, bleed the hydraulic and work out what bugs I could via a few test drives that evening, in order to confirm the car was at least passably roadworthy for the following morning, when I drove my son to school in the Z for his last day of 1st grade.

And aside from mushy brakes (investigation still underway) and mysterious timing problems (solution TBD), the car performed like a champ, and he greatly enjoyed his ~2 mile drive to school.

So what’s the plan now, since I’ve gotten it running again? Enjoy it for a bit, while fixing the remaining running issues. In the meantime, I’ll tackle additional home projects, make time for family activities over the summer, and prepare the garage for the teardown. Even after completing the perimeter storage system, there’s still quite a bit to be done:

  • Cut back the castering work table to make room for the table saw and eventual purchase of a tool chest
  • Build a hanging shelf in the center of the garage for doors, fenders, hood, and other large car pieces
  • Score a parts cleaning tank and possibly a media blasting cabinet

Among other things. So there’s still a long way to go. But the memory of how it feels to row through the gears and haw at the thin wooden steering wheel is fresh, and motivating.

Editor’s note: This post is Part 16 of an ongoing series chronicling my efforts toward the restoration of my 1972 Datsun 240Z, originally my father’s. Read the other installments here:

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FWD Champions:
The B13 Nissan Sentra SE-R

April 19, 2012 by Matt

B13 Nissan Sentra SE-R SER Red

Here’s one I’d absolutely love to drive.

Like the Toyota AE86, in its day, the ’91-’94 B13 Nissan Sentra SE-R was something of a hidden jewel. Never a smashing success in spite of the profile-raising accolades heaped upon it by the automotive press, it exited the market quietly in ’94 without leaving a real replacement.

It’s easy to see why more buyers didn’t gravitate in the B13 SE-R’s direction—the styling is decidedly soap bar-ish in spite of the sporty wheels, fancy air dam and spoiler. That said, those who didn’t consider one by all accounts missed something special.

Nissan Sentra SE-R SER Engine Bay Motor SR20 SR20DE B13

To create the SE-R, Nissan took their cheapest car, stiffened the suspension, fitted it with a limited-slip differential, and equipped it with their wonderfully stout, flexible and rev-happy 4-cylinder, 2.0l, 140 hp SR20DE engine. The result was a car that could blow through 60 mph from a standstill in 7.6 seconds—not blisteringly fast, but quick enough to keep pace with higher-tier sports coupes and sedans. The suspension gave the car a fling-about, tossable character and the LSD helped put every last bit of power to the ground effectively.

Nissan Sentra SE-R SER Interior Inside Cockpit Console Seats

The B13 SE-R was more than the sum of its parts. Car and Driver, one of its biggest fans, wrote, “The Nissan Sentra SE-R isn’t going to win any beauty contests, but it’s a beautiful driving experience.” All reviews of the day praised the convergence of the SR20 engine’s brilliance, the chassis’ playful character and the overall car’s price and utility into a near-perfect package for the price. As for me, its underrated, diamond-in-the-rough persona is a major draw, and elevates it into the ranks of seriously desirable cars.

Editor’s note: This post is part of an ongoing series highlighting FWD cars I think highly of, in spite of my overwhelming RWD bias. Read the other installments here:

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The B13 Nissan Sentra SE-R

Styling Misfires:
The Nissan Murano Redesign

April 17, 2012 by Matt

Nissan Murano

Nissan Murano

Nissan’s refresh of the Murano between its 1st and 2nd generation is the design equivalent of taking away with your right hand what you add with your left.

Granted, the Murano hasn’t exactly been a flop, sales-wise. I do see a fair number of them on the road, and the car remains a stable part of Nissan’s lineup. But it still represents a classic case of how to improve styling in one area while ruining it in another.

What am I referring to? The front and rear of the car. Examine the pictures above. The top two depict the newer, 2nd generation, ’09+ car, and the bottom two show the original, ’02-’07 vehicle. What Nissan did, essentially, is vastly improve the look of the car’s nose while designing away all the personality of the rear. Lest you think I’m splitting hairs, keep an eye out for examples of each car on the road; the impression is even stronger in person than in pictures.

The 1st generation Murano’s front end cleaved to Nissan’s corporate styling philosophy of the time—it’s sharp, angular, geometric and altogether awkward. The ’09+ car’s fascia, by contrast, is much more cohesive and handsome, as if they had taken the original, given it a shave and a facelift and managed to make it more striking at the same time. Well done there.

But…Nissan went the opposite direction with the Murano’s rear. The ’02-’07 car’s taillights and rump were arguably the most successful area of the car, styling-wise. Significantly, they were distinctive—you could pick them out in a badge-less lineup of mid-size crossovers—and they integrated with the car’s overall lines in the way they flowed up and over the rear wheel arches. But with the 2nd generation Murano, all that character and context is gone; the taillights look arbitrarily placed, and like they could pull double-duty on any econobox further down in Nissan’s lineup.

One step forward, one step back for the Murano. It’s a shame when designers don’t recognize where they’ve gone right and preserve, or at least minimally update, those styling elements.

Editor’s note: This post is part of an ongoing series wherein I discuss unsuccessful cars whose styling was their overlooked (or denied) Achilles heel. Read the other installments here:

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The Nissan Murano Redesign