This 1984 Nissan 300ZX SCCA-prepped race car is eye-catching. Every aspect of this vintage racer is appealing; the colors, the Planters livery, and all the race prep will get anyone who likes stupid old cars that you can’t really drive (me). That being said, the already cool Nissan racer was a barn-find-style rescue that used to be Tom Cruise’s personal race car.
Did Tom Cruise really race?
The car was found torn up good, sitting in a scrapyard, according to its Bring-a-Trailer listing. The Nissan was originally owned and built for the track by Newman/Sharp Racing in the ‘80s. It also got the team’s signature red/white/blue paint scheme.
According to The Drive, like the car itself, Tom Cruise got on track because Paul Newman himself turned him on to it while filming The Color of Money. This friendship led to Cruise running this Nissan wheel-to-wheel Stock A Class races.
Unlike his legendary friend, Tom Cruise wasn’t the best actor turned racer the world has ever known. In fact, he quickly gained a reputation for being overly aggressive, crashing often, and burning the hell out of his brakes. The Drive mentions that Cruise did win a few regional races in the early days. Despite his lack of success, Tom Cruise ran the Nissan 300ZX for years.
This time spent on track informed Days of Thunder, which he co-wrote, starred in, and did his stunts. According to the Drive, it was sometime around 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 banged-up racer, its new owner knew its significance and decided to commission a full restoration. The restoration stripped all of the livery, original paint, rust, and anything that wasn’t bare sheet metal.
He then had it repainted to perfectly recreate Tom Cruise’s race livery, paint scheme, and SCCA markings. Since the restoration was completed, the owner says he only drove it sparingly, putting 5,000 miles back on the clock.
The Nissan is now a stunning example of a beautiful ‘80s race car. This car is a looker even without Tom Cruise and Paul Newman connections. Something about road cars being dressed in proper racing equipment and livery from another decade is a treat.
The Nissan ZX still has a six-point cage and red-on-black vinyl seats, although the interior’s most noticeable and funniest upgrade is the wooden block taped to the brake pedal. This isn’t a joke at Tom’s small stature; photos show the block on the pedal to make it more effcient for its former owner.
Celebrity race cars are cool
While many might wait in anticipation to watch the super elite try something as difficult as racing, I have always found it very humanizing. Rowan Atkinson, Paul Newman, James Dean, Steve McQueen, and Tom Cruise all share that thing that brings us to articles like this; a passion for seeing how close our love for cars can get us to death. I’m kidding, sort of.
It is humanizing, though. It shows that these wealthy, super-famous aliens among us still have regular human desires that they probably have to fight their friends, managers, and partners about. So, go off, Tom. Getchu another race car and cook all the brakes you want, buddy.