My new toy - 1991 300ZX NA - it didn’t look like this when I got it!

Lets be honest, we all do dumb things. Some days I think I’m the king of dumb things, but life keeps rolling on right?!

For many years I used to think I landed on “that car I’ve always wanted” and “I bet I’ll keep this one forever”. The truth I’ve come to terms with is that very unlike my domestic status I’m an raging car-slut. With only 2 or 3 exceptions that I sincerely wish I still had, I get my jollys off of different cars passing their way through my life. I now own the truth that I intend to flip my way through as many of them as I can reasonably get away with.

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My toy car’s qualifications are always the same: Manual Transmission, some variation of topless, currently moves under its own power, ugly in the ways I know I can easily and enjoyably fix (bad paint and awful interiors I welcome thee). I’ve grown very confident in my ability make silk purses out of sows ears and those ears are always MUCH cheaper than a nice version of whatever the next conquest is. As a general rule if I can afford the buy-in, I can reasonably assume I won’t have to pay anything for labor and I can improve in bits and pieces over time which is a whole lot more practical for “normal guy” than trying to find/justify/finance the end price up front. Then with a little bit of luck I manage to sell it after I’ve had my fun for what a “nice” version goes for.

Which brings us to my current project car, I’d had to start over with my car-playthings a year before and bought a sad little Miata for $1,600, tinkered with it for 6 months and sold it for $3,500 with ease. (maybe I don’t ALWAYS do dumb things). So now there was a space in my garage and money in my pocket (a very bad combo). This time around I semi-zeroed in on the Z32 generation of Nissan’s 300zx, being a car that new was total unobtainium to 1992 me that had just graduated high-school.

What I found within an hour or so, with what I wanted to spend was a series of sad, neglected, beaten or not-running cars. So I expanded my search to a larger radius. Well in Atlanta (which is about 5 hours from home) I found CL ads for 2 promising candidates, this wasn’t nearly the farthest I’d traveled for lust of a car, so I was doing better right?! Well the first one was gone before I even got a good dialog going with the seller. The 2nd looked good in the CL pictures and it stated all the right things. The seller was a little tough to communicate with but not quite enough to make me say this is a bad idea.

(this is the point where the wave of car-lust is building up, you haven’t set your hands on anything good and missed one you were pretty sure WAS good, even though your CL BS Radar is pinging quietly you think to yourself “nah, it sounds good, I wouldn’t lie to someone, especially if they are coming from out of town so surely everyone holds themselves to that standard?!”)

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So we talk on the phone a few times and I get some more pictures, still a little weird and I’m about sure it’s not going to be a jewel but I’ve now determined how bad everything else seems to be at this price point. I arrange to rent a car 1-way to Atlanta so i can drive the new car back (I could always book it the other way if it was THAT bad).

So I arrive 5 hours from home 15 minutes before the meet time in a strip mall. When he shows up (30 min. late) the car looks nice from 30'. I step closer and see the hood is a mess of peeled clear coat, there’s some Autozone flashing lights mounted in the bumper and the tires are mis-matched and shot. He throws me the keys and I go take it for a drive. Shift action is HORRIBLE (but I’ve read why it might be so I’m prepared), she actually runs seemingly well, but (contrary to his ad and statements) the A/C doesn’t blow cold, the radio doesn’t work, the interior has “issues” & the passenger window won’t go down.

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(a normal person would have run screaming and laughing from this poor beaten on mess of a car, no, not me, I’m a dumbass. I got him to come a few hundred off of the price we’d previously agreed upon when I committed to coming up there with the intent of buying it).

So I exchange cash for a title and me and my lovely lady return the rental car and head out of town. She’s quiet with a grin I know all too well on her face. It says “I love you, but why do you drag home these disasters?” Thankfully summer hadn’t reached our sauna we call the deep south so the trip home with the T-tops off was pleasant (even though her window wouldn’t go down) and our conversations weren’t interrupted by a radio chattering away.

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This is what I brought home after a very thorough bath

Well that looks pretty nice say you?!

It was a damn sight nicer than the last one I brought home, but upon close inspection it kept getting worse and worse. What was once a halo car had fallen to the bottom of the depreciation curve (my best friend) and been kept by folks evidently unwilling to spend the money required to keep a complicated machine in good form.

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What you may glance at here (I did that day in Atlanta) looks OK. Let me tell you the reality. Those are 2 passenger seats in there, the driver’s side now missing a myriad of adjustments it should have. That one took me weeks to figure out, I could tell the leather was different between the 2 but finally the light bulb went off. 25 year old driver’s seats tend to get trashed while passenger seats don’t see as much butt-time. Someone’s solution was simply bolt an easier to obtain black passenger seat in the driver’s side. The black vinyl, it was a shoddy attempt to replace the old tweed inserts, it was loose and flapping or missing in many areas. And there was a “funk” of old mildew-y carpet.

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So, as I said, not my best deal. Maybe I’m not alone and these antics of mine are shared by more than I realize. I’m quite SURE that it’s not a practical way to go about things but hey, life’s about experience so I experience. Still, this one remains somewhat special to me, it’s got presence, style & a quiet bad-assery that is still making me smile each time I look in the garage or drive it.

My next post I’ll tell you what I’ve done to make it an acceptable member of my little stable :)

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Everyone else has a quip here so why not..... Travis is a normal guy, with a normal home in a normal place and not nearly enough car budgets to go around. He has been automotively obsessed since he could push a matchbox car on the floor and say pbpbpbpbpbp. He’s currently driving cars no. 30 and 31 and doesn’t plan on limiting that figure any time soon. He has no idea why he’s using 3rd person....