Club Spotlight: Z31Atlanta, a classic Nissan Z club

Year-round warmth makes Atlanta the perfect city for sports car owners who hate to put away their cars for winter. Atlanta’s roads are rarely salted, making the city a haven for rust-free classic cars such as the first-generation Nissan 300ZX, referred to by Z enthusiasts as the Z31.

Z31Atlanta was started several years ago as a new place for 300ZX owners to talk shop. Today, the club has over 130 members on Facebook. Members join from all over Georgia and even neighboring states to celebrate a classic ’80s sportscar that is finally getting recognition.

“I never really knew about Z31s, nor did I know anything about cars up until about four or five years ago,” said Z31Atlanta founder Jonathan Eric Schoubert. “My mom owned a 1978 Datsun 280Z when she was younger, and she would always talk about how amazing it was to drive and how everyone loved it. One day, a buddy of mine showed up at my house in this wacky-looking car that he had just bought, and told me to hop in the driver’s seat and take it for a test drive. The very next week, I was signing a bill of sale for some guy on Craigslist and handing over a small lump of cash for a 1984 300ZX Turbo.”

Schoubert didn’t even tell his parents — he just showed up in the car, which he described in all-capitals as a “PIECE OF —-.” His mom was overjoyed. She kept calling it a 280Z. He kept calling it a beater. He tinkered to correct its vacuum leaks, miswired injectors and decades-old spark plugs, and after four months, it blew up.

“It devastated me,” Schoubert said. “I had completely fallen in love with the car, and then broken it immediately. I  found a guy who was willing to work on it, but he kept doing stupid things like not clamping fuel lines or forgetting to tighten my lugs. It sucked. I paid maybe four times the amount I paid for the car in s—- repairs.”

Information was scarce. The prominent Nissan Z club in the area wouldn’t even allow Z31s at the time. For some, the car hadn’t yet matured into a bona fide classic. It was clear he’d have to start working on it himself.

“I started posting in national Z groups looking for other people who owned Z31s,” Schoubert said. “That’s when I met Justin and Patrick.”

“I fell in love when I was in auto tech class back in high school,” said Z31Atlanta club administrator Patrick Elbaum. “There was an ’86 naturally aspirated that was our demo car. Once I found out there were turbo models, I started saving up until I got my first ’84 Turbo. I like the body lines; the old-school Japanese feel. The sound of the VG turbo.”

Pull-A-Part has three locations in the greater Atlanta area, and each seems to see a steady stream of first-generation Nissan 300ZX examples in great condition. Z31Atlanta members hunt the yard for rare parts, such as the shifter bezel, center console, badging and interior trim.

“In fact,” Z31Atlanta club administrator Justin Taylor said, “other than the engine itself, they don’t reproduce anything for these cars.”

That’s where Pull-A-Part’s Notify Me feature comes in handy. If your interest lies in a specific specialty vehicle, head over to PullAPart.com, select your local store, and use the Notify Me function to receive an email or text message as soon as your desired car hits the yard.

“I remember one guy, Gary,” Schoubert said. “He’s like, 65. I chased him into a gas station and basically stole his phone out of his hand and added him to our Facebook group, and told him if his car ever broke down, I would fix it. So, anyway, we just kept doing that, and now we have one of my favorite Facebook groups ever.”

Z31Atlanta will host a meet and greet at Lake Lanier near Atlanta on June 25. Event details are subject to change, but each attendee will receive a Pull-A-Part Free Admission Pass valid at any of our 25 used auto parts salvage yards nationwide. To find your local store or check salvage yard inventory, visit PullAPart.com.