Newman-Sharp-Nissan-300ZX-Race-Car
28 Feb

Paul Newman ’87 300ZX 2+2 Bob Sharp Race Car

I’ve been racing vintage Datsuns for a while now. It’s been fun running the Bobby Allison 510, a Bob Sharp 610 and a couple of BRE 2000 roadsters. The biggest car I’ve run so far has been the Fitzy 280ZX. But my latest car will be the most advanced and longest wheelbase car I’ve run so far. It’s a Bob Sharp-built Nissan 300ZX 2+2 that Paul Newman campaigned in 1988.

I say it’s a Nissan 300ZX, but it’s a Z car in name only. I think the roof and windshield are the only things you’d find on a stock Nissan. The rest of it is purpose-built for racing. It has a tube frame, big brakes, wide racing slicks and coolers everywhere. The engine’s radiators are split out to the sides, there’s a huge intercooler in the front, plus a transmission cooler and a diff cooler. You can even adjust the sway bars from a dial on the dashboard. Not that I even know which way I would want to adjust them.

CC EP502 WinterSpeed PV 2416 sm 600x337 Paul Newman 87 300ZX 2+2 Bob Sharp Race Car

The detail work and fabrication on this car are absolutely amazing. The welds on the aluminum plenum are works of art. There’s safety wire on everything that can possibly be safety wired. The original headrest is still in the car. It has cool red, white and blue stitching that reads, “PLN” for Paul Leonard Newman. And, yes, the bolts for the headrest are safety wired, too. The plumbing is made up of a king’s ransom worth of super-clean anodized aluminum fittings and braided hoses. This car is all business and about as technically advanced as you’re going to get in vintage racing.

You can tell how serious a race car is by how complicated it is to start. For example, all of my other vintage car start by getting in and pushing the starter button. This car, on the other hand, has a 13 step starting procedure. Great, one more thing for me to mess up, even though I printed out and laminated the directions.

CC EP502 WinterSpeed PV 2414 sm 600x337 Paul Newman 87 300ZX 2+2 Bob Sharp Race Car

The 300 is a huge leap up in terms of power compared to my little four-bangers. It’s got a turbocharged six-cylinder engine that makes well over twice the horsepower of anything I’ve raced before. Did I mention that it shoots flames out of the exhaust?

Everyone seems to think I should be scared because it’s so much more car. My only fear is that I’ll get too comfortable in it too quickly. Sure, it’s got 600 horsepower, but it’s going to have way better handling than I’m used to, as well. And it’ll have brakes that actually stop the car. Brakes? Now I’m getting spoiled.


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Category: Community, Racing

Comments (8)

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  1. Charles Collom says:

    Would like to know how much Nd where at.

    Thanks, Charles Collom 727-418-1314

  2. troy mack says:

    My father designed and built the V8 dual turbo intercooled motor that Paul drove for Bob Sharp around the same time period. Gene Crow was the crew chief and my father was the “engine man”. Seemed as though every system ie; brakes, transmission, aerodynamics, electrical and so on had a designated person to develope and manage it. That would explain the elaborate start sequence. The engine was built on a nissan cast iron block with aluminum heads that dad welded closed and completely changed the combustion chamber shape and dimensions. . . by hand for the prototype. Fun stuff.

  3. Greg Robb says:

    Having being on the build team for this, not sure of this story. This car saw very limited service in 1988.

    • Josh D says:

      You keep commenting how you were on the build team, yet don’t dispute any of the details of this story. Are you disputing that this car was A) raced in 1988 B) by Paul Newman or C) that Adam Corolla has bought and plans to drive it?

      • Greg Robb says:

        Good Evening,

        Well the answer is B. The car that Newman drove in 88 was built in 87. The frame was blue and it had only a single radiator. This car was built in 88 and did have a white powder coated frame, along with twin radiators. This car was quite late in being finished. Used once for the 88 SCCA Run-Offs for Scott Sharp. Sold and sent to New Zealand after that. Switched to Olds in 89

  4. Eric says:

    Hi,

    I own a 1987 Nissan 300ZX 2+2 with very limited wear and mileage. Considering making it my next project converting it to a historic race car and replicating the “Paul Newman” race car. Any tips on how I can obtain more information and pictures of the original race car? Happy for all help.

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