Z Car Fiesta: The Fairlady Owner-Only Celebration

Last Saturday, I decided to take up a kind invitation to check out the private Z Car Fiesta.

The road to this closed-to-the-public event probably began earlier this year at Tokyo Auto Salon, when I met Chris Karl, the man behind the Z Car Club Association (ZCCA) and Z Car Convention (ZCON) in the USA, and one of the most diehard Z otaku I’ve ever met. Chris and I kept in touch, as I expressed my interest to eventually check out ZCON, but the stars didn’t align for 2023.

Speedhunters - Alec Pender - Z Fiesta-2

Not to worry though, because there was another opportunity to check out a meeting of all things Z – this one a little closer to home – and Chris came through with an invite.

Speedhunters - Alec Pender - Z Fiesta-1

So that’s how Alec and I found ourselves down at the Nissan Grandrive proving grounds in Kanagawa at 8:00am last Saturday morning for the 2023 Z Car Fiesta.

Speedhunters - Alec Pender - Z Fiesta-4

This is a long-running event that was originally held at Nissan’s plant in Utsunomiya, but shifted to Grandrive over a decade back. As mentioned it’s an invitation-only affair, where members from various Z clubs across Japan are brought together to meet members of Z clubs from the US.

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Think of it as a cultural exchange of all things Z; a place where the passion for this iconic Nissan model can be shared.

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Cars were neatly organized by generation, starting off with the S30 Fairlady Zs and 240Zs. I’ve used both name variations, as the field was dotted with a mix of cars from Japan as well as imported, left-hand drive USDM Zs.

Being a Nissan-sanctioned event, I was happy to see modified cars included. There was a caveat to this: any modified Z needed to be road registered, couldn’t be leaking oil, and had to have a catalyst (catalytic converter) fitted. In case you’re wondering how the organizers managed this, on entry every car had to drive up on ramps over mirrors so a visual under-body check could take place.

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For me, the S30 has been, and will probably always be, the father of the JDM tuning car. I’m always impressed by just how many ways the S30 Z can be modified.

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The car’s simple, timeless design perfectly emphasizes all modifying styles.

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This 240Z ticked all the boxes with a clean pearl white exterior and a nicely executed L-series with oversized carbs under the hood.

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Inside, low-back Bride Histrix seats are fitted.

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Stacked tail pipes feature out back, with classic SSR Longchamp XR4 wheels at all four corners to finish things off.

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No Z meet in Japan would be complete without a rare 432 variant, and the 2023 Z Car Fiesta had two of them. The orange car above…

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…and this beautifully basic white example.

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The 432 was a limited run Fairlady Z created to meet homologation requirements for Japanese endurance racing in 1969. What makes the model special is that it came factory-fitted with the famed S20 2.0L DOHC engine from the C10 Skyline GT-R.

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This was a true race-bred engine that Nissan deemed a better choice for motorsport over the more production-oriented single cam L24 that came fitted in the regular Fairlady Z. The ‘432’ naming comes from the S20’s configuration – 4-valves per cylinder, 3 carburetors and 2 camshafts. Despite having 400cc less capacity than the L24, it developed 30hp more.

The 432 Z had a bunch of other interesting little touches, like thinner steel and glass and magnesium wheels. The craziest thing is it cost double the price of a regular Z back in the day, and now these things aren’t too far from the ¥100 million mark (approximately US$680,000 currently), which is just wild.

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Every Z in attendance had a chance to take a quick blast around the track, using one half of the oval course and the twisty section at the back of the compound.

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The generations continued…

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There were a nice selection of Z31s…

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…including a few 50th Anniversary models that always look so damn good. But ultimately it was the Z32s that really stole the show.

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It was so cool seeing Mizota-san, the ex-owner of Revolfe, out with his legendary 330km/h-capable, 650hp Z32 Mid Night club street racer.

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Mizota-san purchased the car new in 1990, and hasn’t stopped modifying it over the last 30+years. Now it’s up for sale, but only to the right person; someone that sees it for the piece of Wangan racing history it is, rather than just another modified 300ZX.

The Revolfe S.A. Z was not alone…

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It was joined by the Abflug Z32, a build that Revolfe collaborated on back in the day. This was a complete redesign and widening of the base Z32 into something oh-so-’90s. The best way to summarize it is to use the slogan on the hood: ‘Revolfe SPL Conclusion’.

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It was so cool to see such important pieces of JDM tuning culture at an event like this.

Much like the S30, the Z32 has always captured the minds of enthusiasts, helping them express their own unique ways of car modification.

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Past the sea of Z33s and Z34s…

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…the RZ34 ended the row lineup.

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Having spent some time with the new-gen Z – which of course isn’t that new-gen per se – I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s essentially a creative execution of old meeting a new-ish engine. But we just have to be grateful that this thing actually exists. We all know just how much Nissan struggles these days at getting sports cars out there. The last time it tried making a GT-R was 16 years ago.

The RZ34’s roots may been in the 2002 Z33 350Z, but hey, beggars can’t be choosers. It’s now the best execution of that chassis and it finally has a turbocharged engine so we can have real fun playing around with it.

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Speaking of which, Nissan had a bunch of Nismo Zs at the event to demo and show people how much sharper it is than the standard model.

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Aside from the redesigned exterior, the horsepower ‘gain’ is a mere 20hp, but the car has been fine-tuned on the handling side of things. In Japan, the Nismo Z retails for ¥9.2 million (approximately US$62,500 today), which is one hefty price hike if you consider the base manual Nissan Z costs ¥5.4 million (US$36,750). I think I need to borrow one to find out exactly why it cost 40% more.

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My first time at the Z Car Fiesta was a memorable one. Now, hopefully I can make it out to ZCON soon and see how they celebrate the Nissan Z stateside.

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: dino_dalle_carbonare

Photography by Alec Pender
Instagram: noplansco



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Thank you for being invited to this event! Dino: why didn't you take your own pics (these are great, just not used to seeing you collab like tbis)?


,,had to have a catalyst (catalytic converter) fitted'' the S30Z Generation never had Catalytic converters in stock format, so did they need to have aftermarket cats?


Seeing this makes me lament for my old z32. Prices for a good condition 300zx are crazy, and never mind if it's twin turbo. Almost impossible to find one that is unmolested at that... It was my first car and the one that made me fall in love with Japanese sports cars. Man... I'm sad now. Great article!


Compared to the GTRs, Supras, and FD RX7s, they're still on the "reasonable" side, cost-wise. If you compare them to what people are asking for non-GTR Skylines, they're a bargain even in turbo form.