Bucking The Fiberglass Trend With A Steel Wide-Body 300ZX

Compared to both its predecessors and competitors, the Z32 Nissan 300ZX is a car that’s largely under appreciated. When the topic of JDM icons comes up, the Z32 is consistently overlooked, and the car is mysteriously absent at damn near any automotive event.

Pinpointing exactly why the 300ZX never seemed to gain traction is a little difficult, after all, it’s a vehicle of several triumphs. It was one of the first production cars to be designed using CAD software, certain models had active rear steering, and the Nissan offered many forward-thinking creature comforts, like automatic climate control and heated mirrors.

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Stylistically, it was a fresh take on Z-car thinking, and the sleek headlights were so unique that Lamborghini famously acquired them for the Diablo.

Unfortunately, during its production run few were looking to Nissan, a brand known for its more nimble offerings, for such an expensive technology-laden sports car. Consumers had also begun to gravitate toward SUVS, and the Z32’s relative lack of fanfare may simply have been a result of poor timing.

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While those with purchasing power passed over the 300ZX, it was a thing of legend to children with lint in one pocket and Micro Machines in the other.

Being a snot-nosed kid at the time of the car’s initial release, I can attest that it was impossible not to be intrigued by a wedge-shaped, Japanese car with two turbos under the hood.

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Matt Budziosz may disagree on the snot-nosed part, but admits he was five when he saw his first 300ZX. It instantly became a car he simply had to own.

Realizing his childhood vehicular aspirations took two decades, but as the old adage goes, good things come to those who wait. Conveniently, by the time everything fell into place for Matt to action his dream, an extremely pristine example became available.

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A naturally aspirated model, the VG30DE power plant wasn’t Matt’s first choice, but the car’s cleanliness allowed him to initially overlook the lack of every enthusiast’s favorite piece of snail-shaped technology.

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The previous owner was the type to meticulously take the car back to the dealer for service at their prescribed intervals. As a result, along with service records, the car came with all of the associated paperwork from when it was purchased, the unique titanium key, and even factory floor mats still in the plastic. It didn’t have that new car smell, but it was close enough.

Being such a find, Matt almost considered leaving it stock. Almost.

From NA To TT
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When the excitement of owning his dream car passed, Matt found the naturally aspirated motor at odds with the Z32’s impressive visual presence. The car looked faster than it was, and that’s not exactly something you want in a dream car.

Once Matt committed mentally to the idea of a twin-turbo motor swap, he contacted the guys AMS Motorsports to assist with the conversion.

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As one of the more noteworthy Z shops in Ontario, Canada, Matt knew the car would be in good hands throughout the heart transplant. The expertise within the four walls of the AMS building played a huge part in the car receiving much more than just a factory twin-turbo engine swap.

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Before the VG30DETT motor was dropped into the engine bay, two Garrett GT2860RS ‘AKA Disco Potato’ ball-bearing turbos were mounted and plumbed with Z1 2.5-inch piping throughout. Keeping charge temperatures sane are a pair of AMS 2.5-inch Omega side-mount intercoolers, with air directed to them via AMS-designed, manufactured and installed air ducts.

To keep up with the new fueling demands, Nismo 740cc injectors have been installed along with a Nismo fuel pump. Lightweight pulleys replace factory units everywhere they could be to harness as much ‘free’ power as possible.

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For a bit of visual flair, AMS black radiator brackets, a CZP stainless steel battery bolt down, AMS silicone hoses, Nismo oil cap, and a Nismo radiator cap have been fitted.

The 300ZX engine bay is known for being notoriously crowded, and Matt has minimized this where he could. Throttle body coolant lines have been deleted, the factory cruise control has been removed, as has the PRVR (pressure regulator vacuum relief) and EGR valve.

It’s not a tucked and shaved engine bay by any means, but it works.

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A dyno-proven 598hp and 551ft-lb (at 21psi boost pressure) is channeled through a factory transmission fit with a Fidanza 11.5lb (5.2kg) flywheel and South Bend SS-TZ Kevlar Stage 3 clutch.

Going Wide… Properly
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The new power levels made first through third gears pretty much useless, with any attempt to accelerate quickly resulting in a rolling burnout. Putting more rubber to the ground seemed the obvious answer to Matt’s traction problems, but only so much tire could fit under the factory quarters.

There are several different ways to tackle this problem, from bolt-on flares to full over-fenders, but in Matt’s eyes the only true solution was to do the job in metal.

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“I’m not a fan of Liberty Walk, Rocket Bunny, or really any of the bolt-on kits in fashion right now, says Matt. “It’s not the look I wanted for a car I’d put so much thought into.”

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In total, the car is now 100mm wider on each side, but the factory-esque approach and deep black paint conceals much of that width.

The process of shaping the car’s new body took three months and started with the Work Meister wheels. Clocking in at 18×9-inch +22 in the front and 18×13-inch +5 in the rear, the wheels are a considerable step up from the factory staggered 7.5-inch/8.5-inch configuration.

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Once assembled by Cambridge, Ontario’s Righteous Garage, the wheels were dropped off to Dan Forunier who’s the body magician responsible for the Z32’s new look.

The transformation took three months to complete, and as the photos below illustrate, it wasn’t a job for the faint of heart. But in the same way you can’t make an omelette without cracking eggs, you can’t fit 335s under a car that is specced for 245s without making a few cuts.

An expert in his craft, Dan took care to properly address the more challenging aspects of widening the car. The inner fenders are complete, the fuel door isn’t lost within a bondo-lined tunnel, and the door jambs are impeccable. Built with AMS Black Series race coilovers set at Matt’s desired ride height, the end result is exceptionally cohesive.

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When Dan put the hammer and dolly down, the bodywork was finished out by Ink N Iron, Canada’s first and only all-female body shop. Matt chose to finish the car in House of Kolor Diamond Black paint with a 24K gold pearl. The gold hue is fairly subtle, but given the right light it helps accentuate the Z32’s generous new curves.

Well Rounded
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Throughout the build process it was important to Matt that his 300ZX remain a street car. So when you open the door you’re greeted by a full interior rather than something that’s been stripped bare.

Starting from the dash and working rearward, Matt’s installed a 300-degree triple-gauge DIN panel just below the radio.

Above the center air vents is a Stillen dash pod with a custom face to house the HKS Type 1 turbo timer and GReddy Profec boost controller. Both upper and lower gauge pods are filled with AEM Electronics gauges.

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A pair of 10-inch PowerBass M-104D subwoofers are found in the boot along with a PowerBass ASA-2000.1 Class D amplifier. PowerBass 2XL-653 component speakers have been installed up front to ensure the highs keep up with the lows.

Managed by a Kenwood KDC-X996 source unit, the audio system does the best job it can to overpower the dual 3-inch custom stainless steel turbo-back exhaust finished off with HKS Hi-Power mufflers.

Silver flake Bride Zeta III seats replace the factory units, and Takata Racing 3-inch Race 6 SFI harnesses have been installed via an AMS harness bar. Keeping the car pointed on the straight and narrow is a Grip Royal Knight steering wheel.

Swan Song
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Put back together, Matt was somewhat surprised to discover that gears one and two are still a bit of a smoke show, but three and onward are a much more manageable affair.

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Had he been keeping the car, Matt was considering picking up a second set of wheels with slicks mounted to see if they could better contain the car’s power. However, he has decided to move on from his 300ZX, and it currently sits for sale.

Matt’s not getting out of the hobby, instead he’s got his sights set on building another, more powerful, twin-turbo vehicle. He’s currently tight-lipped about exactly what is next, but one thing he’s not shy about is his desire to own a car with horsepower numbers that are four digits deep.

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If this is the result of Matt trying to overcome 598hp, I can’t wait to see what becomes of him tackling the 1,000+hp challenge.

Until then, a full list of modifications, along with an ample gallery of progress photos can be found at projectmonztter.com.

Dave Thomas
Instagram: stanceiseverythingcom

Photography by Keiron Berndt
Instagram: keiron_berndt



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Yeah im glad someone did this, real steel feels like an oem extention of the body and its midly lighter and a bit cheaper and easier to work with then fibreglass, i thought about doing alumunum doors on my vehicle, ala amg, metalwork is the new fibreglass tbh, plentiful and can just grab any random freaking bit of used surface rusted steel clean it up and have cheap body panels. its good to shakeup things and trends so things dont get boring.


I love everything about it except for the cockeyed mufflers. It reminds me of a bad boob job.


mufflers are period correct.


No - those AOC eyed mufflers were never "correct" - N1 "style" would be single muffler to keep the weight down and reduce complexity - that's 2 must be better than one style aka Uncle Bens. The murda wheels and tint do it no favors either.


and thats why hes featured on speedhunters and not you :3c



Excuse me, sir? You seem to have dropped your Microphone.


Front fenders need a little more width, looks a little too bottom heavy to me


They weren’t touched at all. The car looks like a dually.


Love the car. Great to see hand done work that wasn't paid for but done by the owner.
Just a little bit of a rant. I LOATH HOW EVERYONE SAYS I WOULD HAVE DONE IT THIS WAY OR THAT WAY. So lets see pictures of your projects and how much better they are than everyone elses work. Yeah not everything in the automotive world is my taste. I dont like ONI CAMBER I think it looks silly, but you won't catch me putting another enthusist down for trying it on their personal car. I was once at a car meet in Houston, Texas way back when I went to trade school there. Was standing around with my friends at the parking lot meet with my not even close to complete FD3S. We were joking around and talking about how we would like our cars to be. Had a complete stranger come up say how he love FDs and then start telling me how it should be modified and number one on his list was keeping the 94 body on it stock. I was suprised with him to say the least, telling the owner how his ideas were wrong and the car should be built HIS WAY. I'll shut up now but I will say this once again. If its not your car stop putting people down for building it the way the owner wants it. If a customer came to me wanting somting made for his car, it's not my place to say OH THATS A BAD CHOICE, you need to do it my way or the highway. Somtimes I think the car hobby is more chirpy and backstabbing than the IT Security feild I work in now so I can in my spare time build things for other people and myself. STOP IT, be glad all the hobbiest mods arent restricted by goverment where you live and we all can enjoy everyone elses projects. GEEZE :P


This car was entirely paid for by the owner. Almost none of it was done by him.


This is honestly my idea of a perfect 300zx build. Literally down the checklist of everything I'd want out of one.


Love it!


Love it. Not following the mainstream trends these days is a win in my book. Never see many Z32s around. But I know they can hold some power.


They’d be more popular if it weren’t for the ENGINE BAY.
Anyone else wondering can just TRY to work under the hood of one of those things.

It’s a nightmare...ESPECIALLY the twin turbo versions.


This is an ignorant comment. Z32 engine bays are no more difficult to work on than modern cars.


Definitely the worst part of the Z32 experience is the engine bay and working on the engine controls. Nissan did some very cool things with the VG engine in order to mass produce a reliable twin turbo setup in an era when turbo tech was nowhere near today's levels, but the resulting mass of intake piping and the cumbersome cross-fire intake manifold with it's 19" runners to maximize torque really made for a packaging nightmare when dealing with the crappy connectors and controls and maintenance items that commonly fail on the car after 23 or so years.
But having an OEM engine that is built from the factory for TT boost and good for 600 HP factory beats all the other options out there hands down.


I’ve owned 6 Z32’s now. I’ve never had an issue with engine bay “tightness”. It’s a 25 minute job for an inexperienced homebrew mechanic to take off the upper plenum. Once that’s off, everything, including turbos, is easily accessible, outside of injectors.


I agree that the Z32 has been somewhat overlooked in the general enthusiasm around the great bubble-era performance cars. I think it's a combination of timing, sibling rivalry and mechanical layout.

The timing issue arose from the Z32 being the first of the nineties wave of Japanese sports cars to land in the West. I think part of its problem was that though it sold well, our interest was soon distracted by the NSX, the new RX-7, the 3000GT, and finally the A80 Supra, such that by 1993 we'd rather forgotten about the car that kicked the whole party off.

Meanwhile, back home in Japan the Z32 was eclipsed by its in-house rival, the legendary BNR32. The Skyline built on and extended a legendary motor-racing heritage, and put its power down through all four wheels, useful in Japan's tight and often slippery roads. And if you positively revelled in power oversteer, well the lighter, cheaper 180SX was equally pretty, actually more practical, and soon consolidated its position as the definitive drift chassis. This in-house competition was significant because of the high degree of brand loyalty in Japan. Just as we saw endless pissing matches between Chevy and Ford fanboys, many drivers in Japan are loyal to a particular brand. While the NSX, RX-7 and Supra were given a more-or-less unchallenged hold on their respective fanbases, the Z32 had to compete with Gozilla for Nissan enthusiasts, and lost.

Finally, among the diversity of mechanical layouts that exploded in the bubble era, buyers were offered a clear choice between V6 and inline-six layouts, the Z32 and 3000GT with the former, the Supra and R32 the latter. The outcome appeared to be a preference for the balance and relative simplicity of the straight six layout (and perhaps its heritage), over the compactness of a V6. If you're going to double the complexity of your engine by using turbocharging, doubling it again with two banks of cylinders so that you can cram it into the smallest possible volume doesn't make for the easiest car to maintain and tweak more power out of. This seems unfortunate, since a shorter engine gives the chance to make the whole car better balanced and more compact, but such is life. Even the finickety rotary is fundamentally quite a simple layout, especially once converted to a single turbo.

Due to all of these factors, while the Z32 sold well it never managed to consolidate its hold on the imagination of JDM enthusiast drivers and tuners, nor of the worldwide Gran Turismo players who have now grown up to swap Dualshock for Nardi.

Having said that, a few more builds like Matt's shown here could tip the balance, it looks fab and very impressive to make that sort of power on an internally stock engine.


For an instance i thought i have swapped into wikipedia! great observation!


Great observation Tom! I shouldn't be surprised there are so many z32 fanatics here


Good call Tom, as a long-time Z32 owner and modifier of my vehicles I've found much of what you said to be true.
I've driven most of the '90's cars at one time or another, and the Z32 is the best package and looks (IMO on that one) of the bunch. The Z32 is a true pain in the arse to deal with, but SOOOOO worth it every time the twins spool up.


Love the build! And very well said Tom, are you from Australia? That "Such is life" quote is pretty damn Australian, which was coined by the bush ranger Ned Kelly, and it's very fitting in this case!


IMO it need a wider front fender to match.
But, no one can resist a wider rear.


*sirmixalot plays faintly in the distance*


Wow, nice way to start the day- a widebody conversion done the only way I appreciate it to be done and what I may also do to mine due to rear 1/4 panel damage.
VERY sad however to see AMS products used, AMS has a reputation for pirating designs and tech from entrepreneurs and badging/selling as their won, and have a LARGE part in the fact that Z32's have not been developed as much as the rest of the '90's JDM gang. NO self and Z32-respecting guy I know touches AMS, and searching the issue can be enlightening to the problem and the people involved, and their "responses" to this situation.
Kudos for the overall build quality, but too bad better parts were not used building the engine and suspension.


Yep. AMS is the shop to stay away from in the Z community. Dane Miller at HoustonZ is the real shop to go to for top quality builds.

Александр Трофименков

A nice quality build, that respects the car, and not just tries to grab attention. I very much enjoy seing something like this.


I personally like the car, but I don’t like the stickers on the tires, and I’m also cogniscent of the fact that a TT.Net user named “Collegeboy” had and built a car exactly like this (same colour, same metal fab, same NA-TT swap, with the only difference being a J-Spec front end) 10 years prior.


I wasn't trying to come off like Matt was the first globally or ever, hopefully that was clear. :)


Such a negative individual there Steve. Built/bought blah blah blah. Lets just appreciate what we can see. I sure know I'd rather pay someone to do a timely and professional job than do it myself and take far too long and have it look shit and let comments like this slide off my shoulders. Whatever the story is here the car is awesome!


Wait... I’m negative because I’m stating that this isn’t the first Z built like this? O_o


Nah you've got a number of comments on this post and you're negative for a number of reasons. Who cares if this car wasn't "the first"? It has probably inspired someone to do something similar so it won't be the last. Cheer up Charlie, lets not chop people down at the knees as there are far better things to do in life.


Yep, there are and have been several metal widebody Z32's done by others, some can be seen on Youtube as well as this car which has been around for at least the 10 years mentioned, but this one has now been featured here on Speedhunters for the world to enjoy unlike the rest.
VERY nice to see a nicely-built widebody Z32 during my morning cup-o-joe!


Not sure what's worse. Trusting your engine to an ams radiator to protect your engine, or an ams harness bar to protect your life...


Okay...who's going to email him and find out the price?

Naveed Yousufzai

great work per usual gentlemen. in the words of rob fuller, long live the Z!


Nice. Would like to see more 300ZX on Speedhunters. Must be a LS7 swapped out there that does the trick. :D


Now this is nice and proper widening! Plus the power to match the looks!


You mentioned AMS and that generally mobilizes a militant forum of users.



The Z32 cockpit is still the best one I've ever piloted. Everything is driver-centric and just where it needs to be. Excellent.


Well and that is a proper 300zx.


Brake Fluid is Black, tell that man to get a flush! Otherwise its a dope whip!