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

Community, Motorsports  /   /  By CarCast with Adam Carolla

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.

Paul Newman 1987 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.

Paul Newman 1987 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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14 Comments
 
  1. Charles Collom February 28, 2013 at 10:10 am Reply

    Would like to know how much Nd where at.

    Thanks, Charles Collom 727-418-1314

    • Derek Mau February 28, 2013 at 11:58 am Reply

      Charles,

      The Newman-Sharp 300ZX is a project car of Adam’s. Contact Adam Carolla for details, although my guess is that this car is not for sale – yet.

      • Greg Robb August 16, 2013 at 5:22 pm Reply

        Not sure on the accuracy of this story. I say that because I was on the build team for this car.

  2. troy mack March 3, 2013 at 9:25 pm Reply

    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 August 16, 2013 at 5:35 pm Reply

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

    • Josh D August 19, 2013 at 12:15 pm Reply

      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 August 19, 2013 at 6:37 pm Reply

        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 February 7, 2014 at 3:24 pm Reply

    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.

  5. Skip Panzarella April 30, 2014 at 12:32 pm Reply

    2015/2106 FOR SALE Newman’s most Iconic Champion Datsun 1979 280ZX
    Datsun/Nissan/Collector
    New engine Never Raced
    Skip Panzarella
    macs3333@yahoo.com
    Facebook Paul Newmanskip

  6. Russ Scholta March 24, 2015 at 4:44 pm Reply

    Will someone please tell me the name of the crew chief for Bob Sharp/Paul Newman in the ’70s. Thanks.

    • Skip August 22, 2016 at 12:23 pm Reply

      Gene Crow

  7. Rachel Steinberger March 31, 2015 at 10:44 pm Reply

    Russ,to answer your question,it was my grandfather Gene Crowe.

  8. Skip August 18, 2015 at 8:43 pm Reply

    Adam open WINNING NYC ……… Paul Newman Fans want the Academy to decide not you.

  9. MICHAEL BRASSARD March 5, 2016 at 11:15 am Reply

    HI—I HAVE A DRIVEABLE STREET LEGAL CLONECAR OR COPY OF THE #33 CAR THAT WAS SENT TO ALL THE NISSAN DEALERSHIPS IN A BOX TRUCK /.CAR CARRIER TO ADVERTIZE THE SPONSORSHIP OF CAR , LOOKS LIKE THE EXACT COPY INCLUDING WIDEBODY BBS WHEELS ALL THE ORIGINAL LOGOS AND DEACALS MOST HAND PAINTED , PLANTERS PEANUTS KONI SHOCKS # 33 ON BOTH DOORS/ NEWMAN SHARP RACING ON TOP OF WINDSHIELD PAUL NEWMANS NAME OVER DRIVERS DOOR BOB SHARP OVER PASSENGER DOOR ECT AND RED WHITE AND BLUE PAINT , STREET LEGAL WITH COMPLEATLY ORIGINAL INTERIOR AND DRIVETRAIN 580 ORIGINAL MILES , TRUCKED TO ALL DEALERS SHOWROOMS, LOOKS LIKE YOUR DRIVING THE ORIGINAL RACECAR ON THE ROAD , BOUGHT FROM LOCAL NISSAN DEALER BEFORE THEY WENT OUT OF BUSINESS, KNIGHTS NISSAN WEST WARWICK RHODE ISLAND. CONSIDERING SELLING IT , MY UNDERSTANDING THEY MADE 3 COPIES, THIS ONE CAME FROM THE NISSAN MUSEUM I WAS TOLD. IF INTERESTED CALL MICHAEL 401-263-1451. THANK YOU P.S. IF ANYONE HAS ANY INFO REGUARDING THESE COPIES PLEASE LET ME KNOW

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