Tom Cruise’s Excellent 1984 Nissan Z Race Car Was Once Forgotten. Now You Can Buy It
Tom Cruise’s old Z almost ended up as a cube, but it was saved—and it looks amazing.
This Bring-a-Trailer listing grabbed my eye from the moment I saw it. A vivid primary-colored Planters Peanuts livery slapped onto the pinnacle of space-wedge '80s Japanese machines is the best way to get my attention, guaranteed. But it turns out that this isn't just any SCCA-prepped 1984 Nissan 300ZX, it's Tom Cruise's old race car, and it was rescued from the grave.
The current owner picked up the 300ZX in 2004 in complete disrepair; Bring a Trailer notes that it was "kept in a scrapyard for several years" before the current owner purchased it. It was originally owned and prepped for competition in the mid-1980s by Newman/Sharp Racing and was completed in the team's signature red/white/blue paint scheme. Cruise ended up behind the wheel because Paul Newman himself purportedly hooked him on racing while the pair filmed The Color of Money together and, by 1986, Cruise was campaigning this 300ZX in SCCA wheel-to-wheel racing in the Showroom Stock A class.
Unfortunately, Cruise enjoyed less success in his on-track career than he did in his on-screen one. He reportedly earned the nickname See Cruise Crash Again (SCCA) for his overly aggressive driving style. While he did win a few regionals early in his career, he was also known for using his brakes so hard they'd fade out (or fail entirely) before the end of races. He nonetheless kept at it for a few years, progressing up to a GT3 class 200SX at one point, even winning with that Nissan. Cruise directly applied the lessons of real-world racing to the silver screen in 1990 when he co-wrote Days of Thunder and drove one of the star cars himself for parts of the film. His real-world racing career appears to have ended sometime around that point, however, and apparently, his 300ZX was parked and eventually ended up in a junkyard.
Luckily for us, the story didn't end there, as the current owner commissioned a full bare-metal restoration with a perfect replica of Cruise's original race livery. In the ensuing years since its restoration, it's been driven very lightly, as the listing only notes 5,000 miles on the odometer and the photos (taken by Weird Car Twitter's excellent resident photographer Deerfella) show a mint-condition time capsule of a Z. The car still has a six-point cage and classically rad red-on-black vinyl seats, although the most noticeable and objectively funniest upgrade to the interior is the wooden block taped to the brake pedal. According to the seller, this modification was made so the 5-foot-7 Cruise could reach it more easily.