I’m going to leave a disclaimer here for those reading this review. This isn’t a finished build, they call it a project car for a good reason. It’s a work in progress. This time though, I’m going to try and stay away from the numbers and focus on the story, so here goes...
This particular 1991 Z32 300ZX, now owned by Josh of Scruggs Offroad, started life as a red, naturally aspirated car. These cars, as it is, are very unique and quite underrated if you ask me. That is of course until Josh purchased it, then it was transformed into a rarer, crazier, and scarier version of itself. The build started with an idea of a purpose-built drift car, a big single turbo, which was a crazy challenge considering the cramped engine bay and the fact that these cars were only made to accommodate 2 smaller turbos. So how did Josh pull off this masterful transformation?
He mounted the turbo to the left of the engine (looking from the inside of the car, not the front), and because there was no room, he was forced to route the exhaust around the front of the engine and dump it straight into the front right fender well. Instead of the regular intercooler piping you’d see on these turbo cars, the muffler sits right where the front grill should be. Not crazy enough? There’s more. What came along with the single turbo, (now running 30psi) was the widest kit Josh could buy for it. It’s already been chipped, bent and displays a few other road scars due to the fact that this car has zero ground clearance.
All these chips and radical mods make me really love this car. I love it quite a bit actually. The true project nature of the car makes it all the more special in my eyes.
As much as I want to focus on the experience, I know some of you who won’t read any further if I don’t drop some specs in. This 91 Z is running a Vilante steering wheel with an NRG quick-release hub, a PMZ Widebody kit, some Weds 3-piece wheels with Toyo Proxes R888 tires wrapped around them. The paint color you see in these images is titled, “Kandy Tangerine.” A custom made rear roll cage and T3 style turbo kit, Street Faction chassis-mounted rear wing, Concept Z adjustable control arms, along with some HKS adjustable coilovers really top this car off. There are the specs, now back to the experience.
As we pulled out of the Scruggs lot, an awful noise came from all sides of the car. Scraping, the bane of all low car owners. Having never been in such a low car, this made me cringe in the worst way, like nails on a chalkboard to car people.
“It’s my beater car, really” Josh says, “But it turns heads, just look at the people we drive by.” I did, many necks were stretched that day.
The interior on the ZX, this car in particular, is one of the weirdest and most futuristic cabins I’ve been in. With no controls in the center stack, everything is mounted on two control “panels” mounted on both sides of the dash. The windshield washer controls, temperature/fan speed, and others reside on the right, with cruise control (disabled in this car) lights, and some additional controls on the left. The color scheme inside is quite irregular as well, showcasing a dual-tone of plastic leather on top and a white cloth material on the lower half.
We got out on our drive, then something happened that left my heart pounding. To give some additional context, this car doesn’t idle, start, or drive as it should, and that leaves you on a bit of an edge. So when we did a hard acceleration down an empty, straight backroad, it got crazy. Josh rolled carefully into the 30 pounds of boost, the R888’s keeping us planted with the near 400 horsepower this car makes, we picked up speed very quickly, the scraping noises of the rear fenders and side skirts being shouted over by the engine. My mind raced to keep up with the sensations, everything feeling a bit unstable but at the same time felt fine.
My mind raced to keep up with the sensations, everything feeling a bit unstable but at the same time felt fine.
On the edge, I couldn't help myself and urged Josh to let off as I was unfamiliar with the road but knew there were train tracks coming up. As he eased off we slowly lost speed and we both smelled something, smoke. The cabin was filled with a dark grey, awful-smelling oil smoke. “Yeah, I think that was either my turbo seal or I nuked the head gasket”, said Josh. No fire, no worry. We rolled down the windows (the switches for which are abnormal as well) and the smoke billowed out into the road behind us.
Car was fine, we were fine, another one for the experience book. Josh dropped me off at my house soon after, and as he pulled away, I let out a solid bellowing laugh, astonished as to what just happened.
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Some of the photographs used in this article were taken by the owner of the car Josh who you can follow on Instagram @offthegridjku.