This SCCA-ready 1984 Nissan 300ZX race car is an eye-catcher. Every aspect of this racing classic is compelling; the colors, the Planters livery and all the preparation for the race will appeal to anyone who likes stupid old cars that you can’t really drive (me). That being said, the already cool Nissan Racer was a barn-style salvage that used to be Tom Cruise’s personal race car.
Did Tom Cruise really run?
The car was found wrecked in good condition, sitting in a junkyard, according to its Bring-a-Trailer listing. The Nissan was originally owned and built for the track by Newman/Sharp Racing in the 1980s. It also got the team’s signature red/white/blue paint scheme.
According to The Drive, like the car itself, Tom Cruise started up because Paul Newman himself turned it on during filming. The color of money. This friendship led Cruise to race this Nissan wheel-to-wheel in Stock A Class races.
Unlike his legendary friend, Tom Cruise was not the greatest actor-turned-runner the world has ever known. In fact, he quickly gained a reputation for being overly aggressive, crashing frequently and burning brakes. The Drive mentions that Cruise won some regional races in the early days. Despite his lack of success, Tom Cruise drove the Nissan 300ZX for years.
This time spent on the track influenced Days of Thunder, which he co-wrote, starred in, and did his stunts on. According to Drive, it was at some point in the filming of this movie that Cruise hung up the racing jersey and eventually put the Nissan in the junkyard, where the second owner would eventually find it.
What happened to the Nissan 300ZX after Tom Cruise raced it?
After buying the battered race car, its new owner knew what it meant and decided to commission a full restoration. The restoration removed all livery, original paint, rust and anything other than bare sheet metal.
He then had it repainted to perfectly recreate Tom Cruise’s racing livery, paint scheme and SCCA markings. Since the restoration was completed, the owner says he’s only driven it sparingly, putting 5,000 miles back on the clock.
The Nissan is now a stunning example of a beautiful 1980s race car. This car is attractive even without the Tom Cruise and Paul Newman connections. Something about road cars dressed in proper racing gear and livery from another decade is a delight.
The Nissan ZX still has a six-point roll cage and red-on-black vinyl seats, though the most noticeable and fun upgrade to the interior is the wooden block attached to the brake pedal. This isn’t a joke about Tom’s small stature; the photos show the lock on the pedal to make it more efficient for the previous owner.
Celebrity race cars are cool
While many may look forward to seeing the super elite try something as difficult as racing, I’ve always found it very humanizing. Rowan Atkinson, Paul Newman, James Dean, Steve McQueen and Tom Cruise share what leads us to articles like this one; a passion to see how close to death our love of cars can bring us. I’m kidding, more or less.
However, it is humanizing. He shows that these rich and super famous aliens among us still have regular human desires that they probably have to fight over with their friends, managers and associates. So go away, Tom. Get another race car and cook all the brakes you want, man.
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