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  1. History & Context So since selling up my last 300zx in 2016, I've been out 'sowing my wild oats' with other, more modern sports cars in the mistaken assumption that newer (and more expensive) cars were obviously better! I had owned my last 300zx for 10yrs and during that time my friends had overtaken me in the prestige of their machinery and I was sold on the idea that the grass would be greener on the other side. However after a few years of driving and owning a range of other cars I came to the conclusion about 2yrs ago that it wasn't flat out speed, modern tech or price tag that really excited me but the analogue driving experience and quirks that I'd come to love about my old 300zx. And so my search for a replacement manual LWB TT began in earnest! The Search Over the past 2yrs I have been scouring ebay, FB, Autotrader, Pistonheads and this forum to find 'the one' that I would keep forever. The search was slow and I wasn’t holding out much hope. Unfortunately the examples that did come up didn’t quite fit the bill or would involve a little too much remedial work for my appetite considering I’m not single and at the start of my career this time around but married with two kids and a mature career which demands much of my time. About 6mths into my search, I was recommended Josh at Gorilla Imports by Jimmer and Joel as a possible alternative option for sourcing a clean example. A quick phone call with Josh later, I was setup on Gorilla Import’s auctions portal. Over the next 12mths, I was checking the auction sites religiously, on a daily basis. There were a (comparatively) huge number of 300zx in a range of conditions and coming up with some frequency that I was convinced that my next 300zx would almost certainly come directly from Japan! Having never experienced importing a car before I was quite apprehensive, especially with how casual it all felt at the beginning. The idea of buying a car without being able to 'kick the tyres' and handing over all the money to someone I'd never met was pretty unnerving so it took me a while to pay over the deposit to demonstrate my commitment and get access to the auction sheet translation service. Things escalated pretty quickly from here and before long, I had bid (and lost!!) on two lovely examples in the space of a week! Lucky I did though as I learned a lot about myself through the experience and my tolerance for risk…and so my starting budget went up by about 50%, just in time for ‘the one’ to show up! The first I lost The second I lost... The Import Journey As soon as I saw the auction listing I knew this was it. A 1999 version 300zx, something I hadn't even realised existed before seeing this one. I'd seen lots of Version R / S come and go but never one like this and how lucky I was as I'm not a fan of the Recaro seats the others had and was planning for a tan re-trim whichever car I ended up with. I got the auction sheet translated and an on-site visit by Josh’s ‘man on the ground’ who was able to share several photos and videos both inside and out. It looks to be in respectable condition but was listed as a Grade 3 (out of a max 5). The auction sheet and on-site visit didn’t suggest any major issues except for some hesitation from the engine. Josh assured me that all cars must get in/out of the auction house under their own steam which gave me some level of confidence and so after a short deliberation, I went in for a max budget bid….and then went to bed and tried to sleep which was a near impossible ask with the amount of butterflies that were flying around in my stomach!! Due to the time difference, the auctions happen during the early hrs of the UK morning so when I awoke, it was the best surprise to find that I had actually won! The date was Thursday 8 Sept, 2021. The realisation that I had just won a car having never seen it in person and now had to stump up the full amount, knowing it could take weeks til I got my hands on it meant my excitement very quickly turned to apprehension once again and questions of “what have I done??” and “what if the car’s a dud?!” were flying around in my mind. A few days passed during which I made the full payment to Josh and he was able to confirm the car was cleared for transport. From the auction house it made it’s way to the port and I received a few more photos. This helped ease my mind massively as at least I knew it had driven there and was a real car (i.e. not a scam!) and the additional photos showed it looking pretty damn good! Unfortunately, this was when the waiting game really started. The date was Friday 17 Sep, 2021 (auction + 9days). For some reason, despite the shipping delays due to the blocking of the Suez Canal earlier in the year and Covid of course, I was still expecting that the car would make it onto a ship pretty quickly. This was not to be and with each passing day I was again wondering whether I’d made the right decision. A problem exacerbated by seeing a few tidy examples of UK cars come and go on the sales sites here…and usually for less that I had paid. The car did finally make it onto a ship called the Sanderling Ace on Tuesday 26 Oct, 2021 (auction + 40days) and was scheduled to land in the UK on 16 Nov. The neat thing about the internet is that you can find pretty much anything these days, including daily tracking of international freight shipping! So as you could expect, I had the browser page open and refreshed it multiple times a day, pretty much every day. You could likely also imagine my frustration when the 16th of November came and went and the ship was still on the other side of the world to the UK. In fact, freight tracking had its next stop as Jeddah at that time. Cue a flurry of messages to Josh to ask ‘wtf’ but at the end of the day, there was not much he could do about it either other than to assure me the car was real and it was on the ship and the ship was indeed on its way! It felt like a very slow end to the year, where the clock seemed to stand still on the import journey. On Sunday 19 Dec, 2021 the Sanderling Ace landed in Zeebrugge where the car was taken off and would await transhipping to the UK. The New Year brought with it new adventure and on Tuesday 18 Jan, 2022 (auction + 132days) the car finally landed in Newcastle. I had assumed that from here on, the car would be in my hands within a few short weeks but it took almost a week for it to clear customs before Josh could collect it. From there, it made its way to Gorilla Imports where it would undergo a MOT and registration with the DVLA. And no surprise, this too was to be a rather lengthy process, largely driven by covid and a combination of understaffing and I suspect working from home at the DVLA. In the meantime, Josh was good enough to give the car a clean and take some photos and videos for me. In doing so, he also diagnosed that engine hesitation/vibration as a loose injector which once seated correctly, was fully resolved. I was finally able to let out a massive sigh of relief! The following days and weeks were rather eventful with no real news or updates forthcoming. I was however grateful that the car was still with Gorilla Imports, tucked up inside as the weather had been atrocious with one storm after another! On Friday 18 Mar, 2022 the car passed its MOT and finally, on Tue 3 May, 2022 (auction + 237days) Josh confirmed it was registered with the DVLA and ready for me to collect!! Ironically, my schedule was manic in May and I had zero free weekends to travel all the way up from London to Saltburn to collect it but with some brainstorming between Josh and I, we managed to find a mutually convenient date and time for collection. After almost 8mths, I was finally able to see, touch and drive my new Fairlady and it lived up to all my expectations (despite being a stock engined auto!). The 5+ hr drive home was amazing, the sun was out, the car drove perfectly and the traffic around me seemed to part as I approached. Fun & Games Unfortunately due to the time of my arrival home following collection, my wife and kids were not able to come out and see the car so I parked it up on the drive for the night. The following morning I took them out to see it. The girls (aged 1 and 4) had a hoot sitting in the rear bucket seats and I couldn’t wait to start it up so they could feel the exhaust burble underneath them. My memories of my last 300zx are fond though I probably spend as much time having to tinker and fix things as I’d spent driving it and so it seemed this car would continue that tradition, at least initially. On turning the ignition, the car turned over but refused to fire. I could see my 10yrs of previous 300zx ownership flash before my eyes, as well as images of my wife telling me not to repeat my past mistakes by buying another! The show and tell ended fairly abruptly and we went back inside where I’m sure I played with the kids amongst other things but really my mind was just going over all the possible things that might have gone wrong between my parking it up the night before and the morning. It was a pretty short list! I checked a few things but nothing stood out as being broken / out of place but upon turning over the engine once more (and for a little longer) it was my 4yrs old who asked me whether the car wasn’t working because it was leaking….? I jumped out pretty quickly to see a trail of fuel streaming down the drive. Fortunately AndrewG lives just around the corner and with his help a few days later we identified the exact source of the fuel leak and were able to sort it relatively easily. Future Plans Since then the car has been cleaned and driven about fairly locally but due to a busy schedule and terrible weather, I’ve not been on any longer drives just yet but hopefully that will improve over the summer months. In terms of plans for the car, aside from a full service asap, I’m planning for a manual conversion and a PowerZed rebuild sometime down the line but am in no particular rush for either. My focus is to keep the car OEM+, akin to a few others in the Club like AndrewG and JoelyP. Most of all is to share my love of the car and motoring in general with my kids so hoping for a much better ratio of driving:maintenance with this one!
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