It seems a bit contradictory to refer to any car that openly reveals its sporty nature a "sleeper." After all, the term is meant to suggest that an automobile of a humble outward appearance might just be packing some serious heat under the hood. If, on the other hand, your car struts around with a bit of flash, no one should be surprised if it has the performance to back up its looks. So, then, can a sports car ever truly be a sleeper?

Well, yes. Think about the Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7, a car nearly identical to its more "sedate" T, E and S-specification brethren, yet gifted with speed and agility that placed it among the very fastest road cars of its era. Or consider the original Chevy Camaro ZL-1, which to all the world appeared to be a base-model pony car, but thanks to careful ticking of the "C.O.P.O." option box came equipped with an all-aluminum 427 that turned it into a dominant quarter-mile monster.

And then, there's the Nissan Fairlady Z432. Aside from its JDM fender mirrors and right-hand drive position, there's little to distinguish it from your uncle's old 240Z that's rotting away on slot mags right now in south Jersey. Heck, even the name is a little girlie..."Fairlady," indeed. But look closer. See that "432" badge? That's the tell...that's how you know that you are in the presence of greatness.

The Fairlady Z432's secret sauce is under the hood: Nissan's legendary S20 straight-six, the same engine that powered the "hakosuka" Skyline GT-R to motorsports glory throughout the early '70s. With four-valve cylinder heads, triple carbs and twin cams (4, 3, 2...get it?) the S20 pumped out 160 horsepower, comparable to the output of a Porsche 911S or Toyota 2000GT (and far ahead of lesser rivals like the Alfa GTV). Only 420 Z432s were constructed, all for the Japanese home market. For this reason, the Z432 has remained rather obscure in the United States until recently, when interest in classic Japanese cars has surged. Now, it is one of the most coveted collector cars in the world.

With so few Z432s in existence, and with prices on the rise, the closest most people will come to owning one of these rare gems from Nissan is with a scale model replica. Thankfully, AUTOart's newly released 1:18-scale Fairlady Z432 is a beautiful specimen, featuring all the detail, fit and finish we've come to expect from the world's leading producer of premium-grade diecast model cars. A worthy addition to any collection of vintage sports car models, irrespective of their country of origin, the Nissan Fairlady Z432 by AUTOart is now available at Model Citizen.

Tags: Nissan

Leave a comment