Home » Datsun Awful Lot Of Red Paint: 1986 Nissan 300ZX vs 1992 Nissan Atlas

Datsun Awful Lot Of Red Paint: 1986 Nissan 300ZX vs 1992 Nissan Atlas

Sbsd 12 19 2023
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Good morning, Autopians! First let me say that I don’t feel sorry about the terrible headline pun at all. As you can see, today we’re looking at two crimson-hued Nissans, one of which is likely familiar to you. The other one probably isn’t, unless you hang out with a bunch of Japanese firefighters. (And no judgment if you do.)

Yesterday, we looked at a funky Pinto and a dead-in-the-water Fiat. I honestly thought this one would be closer; I didn’t expect the Pinto hatred to run so deep. For what it’s worth, I kinda like the wagons, especially the Cruising Wagons, and I think it would be a fun project. The price is a little steep, but the answer to that is just to let it sit a while longer, then offer what you think it’s worth.

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However, the little green Fiat 850 won the day, and of course it’s the right choice. I mean, it’s like Kermit the Frog in car form. You just can’t hate it. Also, a shout-out to reader Forbestheweirdo for identifying the seats in the Fiat as NA Mazda Miata seats. That was my first impulse, but something looked wrong about them. Then I remembered that my own NA Miata had leather seats from an NB Special Edition in it, so of course they didn’t look the same.

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All right; moving on to today’s toys. A lot of the buzz around Japanese domestic market imports centers on the most popular cars: kei vehicles, Skylines, Pike Factory cars, things like that. But just like here, all sorts of wheeled contraptions ply the streets of Japan doing all sorts of jobs, and just like here, they eventually end up on the auction block. Some people choose to import some weird stuff, like, for instance, a diesel 4×4 fire truck. But for other enthusiasts, seeking out a good example of an interesting US-market Japanese car is enough of a thrill. We’ve got one of each. Let’s check them out, and you can see which camp you’re in.

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1986 Nissan 300ZX Turbo – $3,500

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Engine/drivetrain: Turbocharged 3.0 liter overhead cam V6, five-speed manual, RWD

Location: Norwalk, CT

Odometer reading: 158,000 miles (not original)

Operational status: Runs and drives great

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I’ve featured Z31-generation Nissan 300ZXs here before, but they’ve usually been compromised in some way: automatic transmissions, 2+2 body styles, that sort of thing. I am pleased to announce, however, that this time, we’ve got a good one. It’s a two-seater, a stick, a turbo, and it has T-tops. Unfortunately, it is red, but maybe some of you like that.

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It also has a rebuilt title, sadly, but the seller says they did all the work, and can presumably tell you the whole story. Whatever happened, it happened in 1996, and the car has been fine ever since. The engine was rebuilt in 2010, and the car hasn’t been driven much since then. The timing belt and water pump were just done, presumably to make sure it’s good and roadworthy before the sale. The car also comes with full documentation dating all the way back to 1996. If ever there was a branded-title car that felt like a good deal, this is it.

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Cosmetically, it’s not perfect, but it’s also not terribly expensive. The driver’s seat could use reupholstering, and the paint is a bit faded, but it’s the nicest-looking $3500 300ZX I’ve seen in a while. And torn leather or not, I love the ’80s-ness of this interior: a digital display, big silver buttons on the steering wheel, and that fancy stereo? I mean, come on. I’m dying to know what cassette is poking out of the player. In fact, my entire interest in this car might hinge on what that cassette is.

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The seller loves his ’80s coupes, that’s for sure. I imagine some of you might prefer the 944, but there’s no word on whether that one’s for sale. And it looks like they already took the “My Other Car Is A Porsche” bumper sticker off the Nissan.

1992 Nissan Atlas 150 fire truck – $4,500

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Engine/drivetrain: 2.7 liter diesel overhead cam inline 4, five-speed manual, part-time 4WD

Location: Renton, WA

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Odometer reading: 76,000 kilometers

Operational status: Runs and drives fine

The Nissan Atlas appears to be something like the Ford F-series, in that there were so many variants available for so many years that you really have to know all of them to understand what you’re looking at. Unfortunately, I don’t, and this is neither the time nor the place for such a deep dive into an old Japanese truck line. So I’ll just stick with the information in the ad, and if I get something wrong, I’m sure someone will tell me.

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This appears to be an F22-chassis Atlas, which if I’m understanding it right, is the lighter-duty version. I don’t know what the 150 means exactly.  This double-cab truck is powered by a 2.7 liter naturally aspirated diesel four, backed by a five-speed manual, driving all four wheels on demand. It’s set up as a fire truck, but it looks like they removed all the firefighting equipment before export.

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Right-hand-drive vehicles are difficult to maneuver in a left-hand-drive environment, especially big ones like this – which explains how the seller managed to hit a bollard at a gas pump and scrape up the left rear door. It’s been straightened and primed, but it wants paint, and the fancy pinstriping will have to be redone. The seller says they “know a guy.”

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Unfortunately, the interior has been disassembled in an effort to install sound-deadening, which strikes me as auditory lipstick on the cacophonous pig that this truck must be on the highway, but if it makes them feel better, then that’s fine. The seller says the dash is easy to reassemble; they were just too lazy to do it, which to me says it isn’t all that easy.

Okay, so neither of these is exactly a show car. I only said they would be running and driving, and according to both sellers, you could hop in either of these and drive off. Where will you go? Well, that’s the question, isn’t it?

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(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)

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Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
5 months ago

I want the truck, because if nothing else I can watch jaws drop when I say I drive a diesel crew cab. It would better with a utility body, there was one for sale in Oregon that had a dropside body with a hydraulic lift gate

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
5 months ago

That trucks dashboard looks like my wife’s corner in the basement she has been “sorting” for the last 30 years. I would expect more and more disconnected gauges and switches to keep showing up over time to grow the pile.

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
5 months ago

I’m all about that fire truck, but not in that condition. If it’s so easy to reassemble the dash, why isn’t it done? Voted Z.

PaysOutAllNight
PaysOutAllNight
5 months ago

If I had a thousand acres of dry brush, maybe, just maybe I’d be interested in a fire truck of some sort.

But I wouldn’t get a fire truck stripped of all the good stuff.

300ZX is the easy choice. This one is priced suspiciously low due to its popularity among the Fast & Furious and drift cars crowds. I’ve seen rolling body shells go for more.

David Escargot
David Escargot
5 months ago

Either would be fine… I think that headline pun works best in an Australian or British accent

Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
5 months ago

Overlanding rig is the right answer for the truck, but I’ll pass. Z for the win!

Wordguy
Wordguy
5 months ago

I’ve already renewed my membership but if I hadn’t this headline would have pushed me over the line — one way or the other

SlowCarFast
SlowCarFast
5 months ago

I love the wheels and I love the wedge! (Am I an 80’s 300zx fan? Who knew?!!)

Church
Church
5 months ago

While I voted for it, I’m not sure I’m prepared to call the Z a “zoomy sports car”. At least, not this generation.

Alan Christensen
Alan Christensen
5 months ago

I want to love the truck, but my sensible side votes no.

Mike B
Mike B
5 months ago

For someone with the space/money/skill, that firetruck would make a cool weirdo overlander build.

I possess none of those things however, so I’m in on the Z. I was never a huge fan of them, I was into Trans Ams and Fiero’s when I was 8 in the mid 80’s, but it looks nice enough and 3500 is cheap money for something like that.

JumboG
JumboG
5 months ago

I used a red 86 300ZX as a delivery car for many years, taking it to over 300k miles. Weak spot was transmission and clutch, but I eventually put a T-5 from a Turbo 300ZX into it and didn’t have any more transmission problems. Also made a great long distance GT car, big gas tank and 30 mpg at 75 mph gave it a great range.

DialMforMiata
DialMforMiata
5 months ago

Cars like this 300zx are the rare exception to the “rebuilt title bad” rule. While I don’t love red on these, it looks like a great deal for a non-2+2 in reasonable condition. This looks like a great drive-as-you go project.

Drive By Commenter
Drive By Commenter
5 months ago

A Nissan that doesn’t scream “my credit is all jacked up and the Nissan dealer was the only dealer to finance me”? Yes, yes, yes!

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
5 months ago

I once owned an ’87 300ZX 2+2 with T-tops. The t-tops leaked, the NA motor was gutless, and it was an automatic which made the gutless motor even worse. All that said, it was still a fun car and I always wondered what it would be like to have a turbo model. Granted, while I owned a Z31 I always lusted after a friend’s Z32, but at $3500 I’d roll the dice on a salvage Z31 turbo.

Knowonelse
Knowonelse
5 months ago

We had a silver ’86 300ZX for a little over a year. Loved it while we were living in Phoenix. Want to drive the Grand Canyon for lunch? Sure! Then twins appeared on the horizon. Traded it in for a Subaru wagon.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
5 months ago

“I’m dying to know what cassette is poking out of the player. In fact, my entire interest in this car might hinge on what that cassette is.”

Its “No Jacket Required” by Phil Collins and it’s queued to “Sussudio”. You may want to buy the truck as well so you can safely kill that cassette with fire.

Isis
Isis
5 months ago

That truck is trash. I wanna do donuts in that red sports car so bad.

Cyko9
Cyko9
5 months ago

Surprisingly good price on that Z. Probably a few gremlins, but I’d still drive it.

10001010
10001010
5 months ago

I mean, come on. I’m dying to know what cassette is poking out of the player. In fact, my entire interest in this car might hinge on what that cassette is.

Judging by the car, considering it from all angles, and leaning into my personal experience… my guess would be Under Lock and Key by Dokken.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
5 months ago

What red blooded American male hasn’t wanted to own their own firetruck?

Unclewolverine
Unclewolverine
5 months ago

I bet the 0-60 time on that atlas is simply listed as “yes.” Regardless I’ll still take it over the astonishingly well priced Z. If that Z was an Rx7 it would be a different story.

DialMforMiata
DialMforMiata
5 months ago
Reply to  Unclewolverine

Yes, if that 60 is in KPH.

Unclewolverine
Unclewolverine
5 months ago
Reply to  DialMforMiata

But not anything more.

Clear_prop
Clear_prop
5 months ago

A salvage title and two different license plates on the Nissan is still less of a risk than that mess of a fire truck.

Jho'nuquas
Jho'nuquas
5 months ago

The truck is cool, but the firefighting equipment removed and the disaster of an interior make me go for the sports car

FloridaNative
FloridaNative
5 months ago

I’m surprised it’s as close as it is right now (80%).

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