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Though the highly popular Datsun 240Z was targeted primarily at the American audience, where it was enormously successful, Nissan produced a radically distinct version of their Fairlady Z strictly for its domestic market. Since their merger with Prince, Nissan had developed the former’s formidable S20 straight-six into a competition colossus, culminating with the launch of the indomitable twin-cam Skyline GT-R. It is this same race-derived engine that would be fitted into this rare and exceptional Z-car, along with other competition-oriented components, creating the ultimate production variant, the Z 432.
The high-revving GT-R engine featured hemispherical combustion chambers, a 24-valve cross-flow alloy head, triple dual-throat Mikuni carburetors, and transistorized ignition. The engines were assembled with special exhaust, featuring tube headers and Fujitsubo dual pipes, and developed 160 horsepower, feeding into a heavy-duty five-speed gearbox, delivering power to an R192 limited-slip differential. All of this resulted in a 14 percent improvement in power-to-weight ratio over the standard Z. But these advancements did not come cheap, as Nissan offered the Z 432 at roughly double the price of a standard Fairlady Z.
MY FAIRLADY Z
This Fairlady Z 432 is possibly one of the finest examples to come out of Japan. Incredibly rare, as only 420 units were produced, many of which have met their fates on the racing circuit or have been heavily modified beyond recognition over the years. As a result, it is extraordinary to find a highly correct car such as this, and rarer yet in lovely, restored condition, even in Japan, let alone the literal handful that are known to have been imported by connoisseur enthusiasts.
This example was imported from Japan in 2013 in freshly restored to attractive driver-quality condition. It was located after years of searching by its current owner, an RM Sotheby’s specialist who, at the time, wished to complete his “trifecta” of the most celebrated Japanese sports machines, which included a Toyota 2000GT and Mazda Cosmo Sport. In 2016 he presented the car during Monterey week, where it drew a crowd at the Concours on the Avenue in Carmel and received high marks for authenticity by the few known experts on the model. It was even driven, if only briefly and unwittingly, on the Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance without incident.
Although its external appearance is unmistakably familiar, its heart—the GT-R drivetrain—lends this car a unique character, the high–revving nature of the engine especially results in a supremely involving and highly entertaining performer. “It runs like a scalded cat,” says its owner. “I wish everyone could experience such an example to fully understand what all the fuss is about.”
Finished in its most appropriate and believed original shade of orange, the hood is painted satin black, a common tribute to the “beyond rare” factory racer Z 432-R, and is complemented with the unique “Central 20” aluminum cast replicas of the Works Gotti wheels in virtually unmarked condition. The owner is also including his collection of period and recent models, which cement the iconic stature of Z 432.
As with the Hakosuka GT-R, the Z 432 is a legend at home and has a growing following amongst enthusiasts in the West. Despite its familiar looks, this limited-production, high-performance GT-R variant should never be confused with a 240Z: this is the “Holy Grail” of all production Z-machines. With only a handful known to exist in North America, it is an exceptional opportunity to acquire a Fairlady as wonderful as this.
160 hp, 1,989 cc DOHC 24-valve S20 inline six-cylinder engine with three Mikuni-Solex 40PHH side-draft carburetors, five-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with MacPherson struts, coil springs, telescopic dampers, and anti-roll bar; independent rear suspension with Chapman struts, lower wishbones, coil springs, telescopic dampers, and limited-slip differential; and front disc and rear drum brakes. Wheelbase: 90.75 in.
- Four valves per cylinder, three carburetors, and twin overhead camshafts
- One of the rarest first-generation GT-R-powered derivatives
- Approximately 420 built, solely for the Japanese domestic market
- Proper early example, correctly restored in Japan and imported in 2013
- Impressive free-revving power and hugely entertaining to drive
- Complete with jack and numerous collectible items