Trying to buy a dog-friendly 4x4... and ending up in a Z31 Nissan 300ZX | Top Gear
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Trying to buy a dog-friendly 4x4... and ending up in a Z31 Nissan 300ZX

Mark’s search for an Pajero has led him down a very unique path

Published: 27 Mar 2023

Internationally renowned photographer Mark has been working with TG for many, many years. When not taking photos he’s buying inappropriate cars. Here he shares his addiction with the world…

I have a theory that my border collie is powered by an Eighties Atari games console. And not in a way which requires forceps and an emergency vet; but rather he appears to have no memory or save function.

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Because despite going out every morning for the past 11 years, at 6:45am a master reset is performed wiping all his previous memory. And, while rebooting, woof.exe is then executed continually until we finally leave the house.

Putting him in the car and driving somewhere new doesn’t fix the error either. However, the rumble of my E63 at 2,100rpm does at least cause him to lay down for a bit, and that allows me to go hunting for dog-spec 4x4s being used out in the wild. The best spot so far being a MkI Mitsubishi Pajero.

Having had no prior experience of any Japanese 4x4, I thought this Pajero was the best thing I’d ever clapped eyes on and immediately vowed to own one. So, for the duration of Christmas, my search history revolved around this or an 80 series Land Cruiser. And as much as I’d love a 60 or 70 series, it appears hipsters have ruined values on the 60s and global conflict the 70s.

There’s something uniquely cool about this era of JDM 4x4. But it’s also a very fine line to tread. For example, a three-door Pajero – unless an Evolution – looks like the kind of car a youth worker converts into a Zombie Apocalypse Vehicle despite living in the middle of Bedford. As for the five-door Wagon, well if that happens to be a Shogun made after 1995, you’re either very enthusiastic about selling caravans or you ram-raid cash machines at the weekend.

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What about something German or closer to home? I haven’t started a towing business since the weight limits changed so a VW Touareg is out the question. And my cholesterol is far too stable to own an early Range Rover currently.

No, it has to be Japanese. It has to be from the Eighties and it has to have a load of badly translated stickers down the side of it. Bonus points awarded for a spare tyre cover with an 8-bit drawing of some rocky terrain too.

A few days ago, the perfect solution turned up. But this wasn’t a Pajero or Land Cruiser. It was a six-cylinder Nissan, just not an Arab-spec Patrol being driven on two wheels. It is two-wheel drive however, and it’s from the Eighties. Yup, I’ve bought the famous off-roading Nissan Z31 300ZX.

I had every intention of starting 2023 different from other years, mainly because I now own 10 cars and only three actually work. But this is the danger of forced time off over Christmas, once the festivities are over it is bloody boring. And with my internet cookies firmly set to JDM, project and cheap it was only a matter of time until the inevitable happened.

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I have no idea what I’m going to do with this Z31 either, other than use it as a velour-covered soft play for my daughter. I can’t even pretend it was a planned purchase. It can’t even be driven because it lacks a clutch master cylinder.

More annoying than that is the fact I still really want a MkI Pajero Wagon. So, if anyone reading this happens to own one – and has always dreamt of a Z31 project with no clutch – it’s a niche request but please get in contact. I beg of you.

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