300zx Tuning

"The Fairlady should really be called the Fast lady!"

The 300zx is often overlooked by many as a true sports car.

The fact is that the engine is able to handle a great deal more power without any internal modifications.

There are a lots of 300zx enthusiasts around and despite the rarity of the cars there are still quite a few in concourse condition.

When buying a 300zx look for a full service history and a book of receipts.

Thankfully the 300zx is reliable, at least compared with other similarly powerful cars and there is little to go wrong. It would appear that Nissan have substantially over machined the engine (particularly the twin turbo VG30DETT). Our 300zx owners have done some fairly extensive modifications ranging from major engine work to complete styling overhauls.

Tuning tips and articles

Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums


Lets get an overview of the tuning options open to you for the 300zx.

The 300zx is sadly overlooked because of its scarcity. It has a bullet proof engine and is just begging to be tuned up.

The engine choices are based on the 3.0 V6 block with a NA (naturally aspirated) engine outputting 220bhp, a turbo version of the VG30 with revised head and manifold was never put into the 300zx (which increases power to 255bhp) but the 300ZX did come with the amazing twin turbo engine with a massive 300bhp output on the 5 speed version.

(Interestingly the automatic transmission had power limited to 279bhp.) The Twin Turbo VG30DETT engine is TorqueCars tuners choice and gives plenty of scope for power gains.

We have seen race prepared 300 ZX twin turbos hit power figures of up to 600bhp but this takes a major rebore and rebuild of the engine and plenty of internal strengthening! A good target for the home 300zx TT tuner is the 400bhp mark.

The following mods are usually carried out by our members, decide how far you want to go before you begin.

Please watch our video which covers the 5 principles of tuning your car. Be sure to keep up with our latest YouTube content and subscribe.

Best Engine Mods for your car

  1. Engine Tunes - engine tuning/remapping provides the most advantage in terms of cost savings,  aftermarket ECUs, and piggyback ECUs are all alternatives.
  2. Fast road cams are one of the most significant mechanical changes, but they must be installed by someone who knows what they're doing and they are not always easy to source but you might find a local firm to regrind a stock camshaft.
  3. Intake and Exhaust - Note that on their own these mods will NOT ADD POWER in most cases, but they can help enhance power after other mods by removing the restriction.
  4. Upgrades to turbochargers and superchargers - forced induction is the most efficient approach to increase air supply, allowing you to burn more fuel and make more power. It is one of the most costly upgrades but provides the best gains.
  5. Head work - The goals of porting and flowing the head are to get air flowing into the engine while removing flow restrictions and turbulence.
  6. Typical stage 1 mods often include: Exhaust, Panel air filter, Engine Tunes/Remapping, lighter flywheel

    Typical stage 2 mods: Fast road cam, ported and polished head, fuel injector & fuel pump upgrades,

    Typical stage 3 mods often include: Engine balancing, forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves), competition cam.

    Handling modifications are usually your first port of call for the 300zx. We suggest that you fit uprated suspension and lower the car by 30-35mm (good quality coilovers are the best choice). Larger drops require arch work - especially on models fitted with oversized alloy wheels.

    Nissan 300zx Tuning modifications.

    A fast road cam will be one of the best power mod you can do mechanically to your engine particulalrly on the NASP VG30DE. When pushing up the power you will need to pay careful attention to the fuelling. Quite simply put, more power needs more fuel and air.

    When raising power by 50% you really need to consider the fuelling. To get sufficient fuel you may need to uprate the injectors on your engine. When increasing your fuelling you will also need to get a bigger fuel pump to supply it.You can improve the 300ZX response to the throttle with a Fuel pressure boost valve. A revised intake plenum was available on the NASP version of the engine used in the Maxima and this would be an easy mod for the VG30E giving another 5-7bhp.

    In the VG30DETT the standard bore size is 87mm and if you are lucky enough to have a perfect block this can be increased to a maximum of 89mm which will take your cc to 3148cc. If you go for a big overbore you should get the block strengthened by cryogenic treatment. (Many blocks will have imperfections and stress areas which would restrict the amount of cylinder enlargement.)

    The twin turbo engines respond really well to a custom remap and you can get another 20-40% of a power gain. Adding a variable boost controller will allow in car adjustments to the power but for higher boost you need to get a remap. Your biggest problem with increasing the boost is engine knock. If you add water injection and use a high octane fuel you can up the boost further and see even larger power gains.

    Nissan 300zx Intake and Exhaust.

    The next area for modification is the intake and exhaust.  The standard exhaust fitted by Nissan is actually a pretty good setup but power gains of around 5-9% are still possible with a full sports exhaust system. Most 300 ZX owners go with a sports exhaust purely for the sound.

    An induction kit will help increase power by around 10bhp (a little more on the Turbo engines) - as long as you remember to get a cold air intake fitted as well. Sports exhausts will certainly help air flow through the engine but do not go too large. Stick to 2 to 2.5 inches for best results on the turbo engines and 2 inches on the NASP versions.

    When you start tuning your 300zx you will find that the standard clutch starts to complain around the 400bhp mark so get an uprated clutch whilst you have the engine work carried out.

    Nissan 300zx Wheel modifications.

    Because alloy wheels are lighter they improve performance and they help to cool the brake disks. It is worth noting that although they can look cool on the 300zx big alloy wheels will actually decrease your performance.

    The larger you go the lower you top speed will be due to the change in your effective final drive ratio. Aim to keep the overall rolling diameter of the wheel the same as supplied from the factory. In all cases we do not recommend going above 18 inches and suggest that (depending on your suspension setup) stick with 17's.

    It would certainly benefit if you read our tuning articles to get a full grasp of the pros and cons of each type of modification. Please join us in our forum to discuss the 300zx options in more detail with our friendly and enthusiastic 300zx owners.

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    8 Responses to “Tuning the 300zx for more bhp power”

    1. nolla says:

      i am buzy with a 3.3 v6 harbody that i want to turbo but i want to hold my internals standart with a 8.9 compresion ratio what do you think can i boost save

    2. JD says:

      I’m putting 550whp down on my 300zx with stock internals on e85. 134,000 original miles on the stock longblock. Bigger turbos, breather mods, larger fuel injectos and you’re there. Stock internals easily are good to 600+ horse with the right fuel. A customer of ours finally just threw a rod at 677whp on a stock longblock on e85 after tons of abuse. I’m hard on my Z everytime I drive it both on the street and track and it loves it. Our “race prepared” Z’s hit upwards of 900bhp on boost alone:)B

    3. MR loaner man says:

      i have a 88 z31 the engine hesitates do i need to check the timing??

    4. Brendan hales says:

      Just wandering what needs to be done to safely run E85 fuel in my 1990 300zx z32 jspec

    5. Edward says:

      I am a 300zx owner and love it. Hope you can loop me in

    6. J D Smith says:

      I’ve owned 2 280s & 2 87/88 300zx my current is tn 5sp I just did coilovers dropping it 2inches 16″ wheels some bushings balljoints etc I’m not a computer/internet person as I’m am MACHINIST & artist there’s so much I want to do on a SMALL budget, so after reading what you have to say about getting started on modifying looks like I’m on the right path ? Can you suggest any clubs etc I could look into joining?

    7. William Stokes says:

      I like the article, you might add some of the benefits of taking the oem Turbo parts to a NA engine,as they will simply bolt on and give the typically upgraded parts anew home and allow the higher compression NA-with the help of the oem TT parts(and a $100 chip tune) to make more power than the Stock TT!

    8. Romans says:

      Very helpful this is!!!! I want to get my twin turbo to around 400hp maybe bit more and thinking to upgrade injectors turbos and fuel pump

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