This Bring-a-Trailer list caught my eye from the moment I saw it. A vivid, primary-colored Planters Peanuts livery set on the pinnacle of 1980s space-wedge Japanese machines is the best way to catch my eye, guaranteed. But it turns out 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 junkyard for several years” before the current owner purchased it. It was originally owned by Newman/Sharp Racing and prepped for competition in the mid-1980s and came complete with the team’s signature red/white/blue paint scheme. Cruise ended up behind the wheel because Paul Newman himself allegedly got him hooked on racing while the pair were filming 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 was less successful in his runway career than he was on screen. 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 faded (or failed altogether) before the end of races. He stuck with it for a few years though, progressing to a 200SX-class GT3 at one point, and even won in that Nissan. Cruise directly applied real-world racing lessons to the big screen in 1990 when he co-wrote stormy days and drove one of the star cars himself during parts of the film. However, his real-world racing career seems to have ended sometime around that point and apparently his 300ZX was parked and eventually ended up in a junkyard.
Fortunately for us, the story didn’t end there, as the current owner commissioned a complete restoration to a perfect replica of Cruise’s original racing livery. In the years since its restoration, it has been driven very lightly, listing only 5,000 miles on the odometer and photos (taken by the excellent Weird Car Twitter). Deerfella resident photographer) show a mint-condition time capsule of a Z. The car still has a six-point roll cage and classically radical red-on-black vinyl seats, though the most noticeable and objectively funniest upgrade to the interior is the glued-on wood block with adhesive tape to the brake pedal. According to the seller, this modification was made so that the 5-foot-7 Cruise could reach it more easily.