FEATURE – THE FAIRLADY ZED 432R
I simply could not believe it. I just stood there staring at it in disbelief, wondering if it was really the genuine holy grail for all Zed lovers. Could it be the rarest and most valuable Fairlady Zed in the world; the Fairest Lady of them all?
**Remember to click on the shots for 1280px Hi-Res Goodness!**
But it was. You’re looking at one of around 30 examples of this car ever created. I say around because the actual figures for how many of the Z432-R were produced are shrouded in mystery. Some sources claim it was over 30. Others say that less than 20 were made. Things get more complicated when you learn that these were competition only specials and were sold to racing competitors with the appropriate licenses.
Some were said to have been destroyed in competition. My best estimate after conducting significant research is that less than 20 remain. And this is one of the best examples you could ever possibly hope to find. Oh yes, I pinched myself. Hard.
And unbelievably, it is now in Thailand. The owner of the car is the truest type of enthusiast and has searched for a Z432-R for a very long time. They’re not exactly common place.
His other cars ( a stable of around 25 vehicles ) include genuine and fully restored KPGC10 and KPGC110 Skyline GT-R’s and a trio of modified RX-3’s.
Outside the garage was one of only 250, R34 M-spec Nur edition GT-R’s in Millennium Jade green…
…and a genuine Spirit R FD3S; in my onions, the greatest and most sought after of all the RX-7’s.
Not to mention the beautiful R33 GT-R V Spec sitting next to them.
Such a gorgeous trio.
Trust me, this man knows what’s up when it comes to collecting some of the best sports cars Japan has ever produced. But the gorgeous and seductive ‘Lady was the focus of my attention. And Knowing you’ll find this Fairlady quite the sexy beast, there’s no doubt you’re going to lose your shit when I take you around the rest of the garage in a future post…
She was in mesmerizingly beautiful shape, having travelled just over 5000 genuine kilometers since her creation in 1970. That’s an average of 120km’s a year. She looks as fit as if she had just rolled out the production doors 42 years earlier and she is aging mightily well. The standard Z432 ( as if to say the rarest Zeds in the world are “standard” in any way ) is a very different beast to the Z432R. They are in fact, worlds apart.
The Z432 and Z432-R were produced together during a limited run of 420 units from October 1969 through to November 1973. What makes the (R)acing version so different is a long list of modifications that Nissan made to prepare the car for competition uses; specifically for rally and circuit racing. Externally, the first thing you notice is the long black snout of the ‘Lady. It’s a fiberglass job that replaced the heavier sheet metal option from the normal Z432.
There was also a black fiberglass front apron replacing the steel item. Essentially, it was all about putting the Fairlady Z432-R on the “Bruce Lee Weight Loss Program” and it shows, with the old girl shedding a massive 150 kilograms over standard, making the Z432R tip the scales at a featherweight 960kg’s. Weight was saved in numerous crucial areas.
The rear hatch and side windows are not glass but perspex. The spare wheel well is blanked off and various circular cuts have been made to the chassis directly, shaving off gram after gram. There is no heater, no air conditioning, no carpet, no roof lining and no sound deadening.
The Z432-R also said adios to the clock, adieu to the radio and sayonara to the standard seats…
…Nissan replacing them with lightweight and thin racing buckets and lap sash seat belts.
You must be wondering what the “4-3-2” in Z432-R stands for. The “4” stood for the amount of valves for each cylinder, the “3” meant it had a triple set of carburetors and the “2” meant it had twin cams.
The Fairlady 432-R and it’s street oriented Fairlady 432 sibling both share the legendary S20 power-plant from the Hakosuka and Yon-Meri GT-R but the 432-R got a whole host of extra upgrades and options straight out of the factory. One of those upgrades Nissan made was to squeeze even more power out of the S20.
This particular car was taken a step further with the addition of specially crafted exhaust headers sitting along side the freshly rebuilt motor. Power for the standard S20 was rated 160ps @ 7000rpm and torque 18.0kg’s @ a heady 5600rpm but the 432R got a strong bump up in power to a reported 180ps @ 7400rpm and 20.0kg’s of torque at 5800rpm. Race tuned versions of the S20 engine were at the time, reported to make up to 250hp @ 9000 rpm which represented a massive 55% increase in power over the standard S20.
Because Nissan gave the well heeled buyers the option to choose their own gearbox ratios and differential final drives, the performance figures for the car varied greatly and official figures were quoted as the same as the Z432 but the R was obviously faster because of its lighter weight.
The Z432 was quoted to hit a top speed of 230kph and run the standard 400m in just 15.8 seconds but the R was reported to cover that same distance in under 15 seconds. For 1970, that was brutally fast. This particular engine has been completely restored adding a custom set of exhaust headers and straight through piping, which exit in the, unique to the Z432, muffler with the pipes stacked one on top of the other and recessed in a cut out of the rear apron.
An interesting fact is that the Z432 was some 14% lighter than the normal road going 240Z with the Z432-R an astonishing 8% lighter again than the Z432. This made the Z432-R a whopping 22% lighter than stock. Underneath, the changes are just as extensive. The Z432-R got a larger 100 liter fuel tank, an auxiliary oil cooler and a different, servo-less, brake master cylinder with a brake pedal assembly more suited to racing along with a fiberglass engine and transmission cover.
Going even further, Nissan added a fiberglass rear spoiler and used heavier gauge steel on the chassis members and strut towers but thinner gauge metal elsewhere. Taking a look inside the car reveals just how razor edged it was created to be. One really unique thing about the car was its trans-tunnel mounted ignition barrel that sits next to the standard 5 speed transmission. Get into this thing and you just know you’re going racing.
When you did, you’d find Nissan had provided a 4 point harness to keep you in place although this one makes do with lap sash harnesses. The steering wheel is also special to differentiate the 432-R from the standard S30 Fairlady.
Other little things that are peculiar to this 432-R include these super expensive magnesium 4 spoke alloy wheels which incidentally were only available as an option for the “R” but were standard equipment for the road going 432. These particular wheels are wrapped in more up-to-date, 14 inch Bridgestone RE-01R tires. And there’s yet STILL more to see when taking a closer look. I’ve never been a particularly big fan of the burnt looking Orange II color but I can appreciate it is synonymous with the 432-R and the paint has been completely restored using Nissan’s original color codes.
The little ducktail spoiler might be an optional fiberglass item but the addition of tower bar braces ( one of them carbon fiber ) is anything but factory. It also sits on modified and updated suspension. It’s virtually perfect in my eyes.
It represents one of the purest slices of Japanese motor sporting heritage ever created. What you’re looking at here in the pages of 7Tune is something you might not see anywhere else ever again. This ‘Lady may as well be a Nun from a Nissan convent; she is unmolested, pure, captivatingly beautiful, soulful and worthy of the greatest respects.
When I consider that many of the original Z432-R’s perished in competition use or just through general neglect, the fact an example this fine is still around today, is indeed a small miracle in itself. Have a look at the kilometers ( or lack of them! ) that its travelled.
And to say that being given the privilege to crawl all over an original Z432-R and observe all its little idiosyncrasies was a treat, would be the understatement of the year. It was a mind blowing experience that I’ll never forget.
I’ve only ever seen a Z432-R twice before this day and both times it was from behind the safety of numerous fences and a crowd of spectators.
One of the things that I really enjoy about being a motor journalist are special experiences just like this one because it is an absolute pleasure to bring it to you. You might never get the chance to see one otherwise…
7Tune – The Ultimate JDM Experience Since 2005
Words and Photos – Adam Zillin