Article may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
The Nissan VG30DETT is a 3.0L V6 engine that was sold in the US from 1990 until 1996. It was available in the Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo in the United States. In Japan this engine was used in the popular Nissan Fairlady Z until the year 2000.
It is no surprise that the twin turbos made the VG30DETT a popular engine choice in the 300ZX compared to the non-turbocharged VG30DE engine which was also an option.
The VG30DETT was available in these cars:
- 1989-2000 Nissan Fairlady Z Twin Turbo
- 1990-1996 Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo
We can learn a lot about this engine just from its name. Nissan named each engine using a descriptive code of letters and numbers. In this case the “VG” represents the name of engine series.
The VG engine series was produced from 1983 to 2004. Prior to the VG series, Nissan’s engines were called the L series from 1967 until 1983. This particular engine began production in the United States in 1990 and was used until 1996. Eventually the VG series was replaced by the updated Nissan VQ engine in 1994 and is still in production today.
As we mentioned, the VG stands for the engine series but the other letters and numbers are meaningful, too.
The “30” in the engine name represents the displacement, which is 3.0L. The next letter, “D,” signifies that the valvetrain has dual overhead cams. We can tell that this engine used electronic fuel injection because the next letter is “E.”
Finally, the “TT” in the engine name represents the twin turbochargers. The Nissan VG30DE series engine with just one turbocharger is called the VG30DET.
What does VG30DETT stand for?
- VG: Name of engine series produced from 1983-2004
- 30: Displacement of 3.0L
- D: Dual Overhead Cam Valvetrain
- E: Electronic Fuel Injection
- TT: Twin Turbos
This engine was extremely popular because of it’s generous horsepower. When the Nissan 300ZX rolled of the production line in 1990 it produced 300 horsepower and 283 lb·ft of torque.
The Nissan Z-cars were so popular, in fact, that they became one of the best selling sports cars on the market with over one million sales in 1990.
Nissan even ran a commercial for the car during the 1990 Super Bowl which showed the 300ZX beating a motorcycle, LeMans race car and an airplane in a drag race. Sadly, the ad never aired again.
Nissan 300ZX Commercial (1990)
VG30DETT Performance Specs
Although this engine was based on the VG30DE non-turbocharged version, it was highly modified to handle the additional performance gains.
The bore and stroke was 87mm x 83mm with a compression ratio of 8.5:1.
Thanks to the custom designed twin Garrett T22/TB02 turbos and dual intercoolers, the VG30DETT produced 300 horsepower and 283 lb-ft of torque. The displacement was 3.0L (2,960cc) or 180 cubic inches.
Compare those specs to the popular muscle car of 1990: the Ford Mustang. The Mustang had a 5.0L (302 cubic inch) engine that produced only 225 horsepower and 300 ft-lb of torque!
That’s over 60 percent more displacement but 30 percent less horsepower than the VG30DETT. You can clearly see just how important those twin turbos were to the success of the 300ZX.
This engine had many great features to like about it. However it was the last engine produced by Nissan that featured four valves per cylinder, belt drive, dual overhead cams and a turbocharger. The popular Nissan RB20DET also had this configuration.
Head and Block Construction
The VG30DETT block was made out of iron and had aluminum heads. This made the engine sturdy enough to handle the extra horsepower created by the twin turbos. Many people on 300ZX forums like to claim that this engine is bullet-proof – meaning it will last a long time if you take care of it.
The valvetrain featured dual overhead camshafts (DOHC), variable valve timing (VVT), and Nissan’s Valve Timing Control System (NVCS). Variable valve timing is used to improve performance and increase fuel efficiency.
Since the engine is a V6 with dual overhead cams it actually has 4 camshafts (also called a quad-cam). There is a total of 24-valves with 4 valves per cylinder.
The VG30DETT is still a popular engine today because it was built to last and produced 300 horsepower with very few problems.
As we mentioned, the Nissan 300ZX had more horsepower than the 5.0L Ford Mustang produced in 1990. This is probably why it became the best selling sports car on the market during those years.
Unfortunately, the engine was only available in the United States until 1996. That means there is only a limited supply of engines available still on the road for collectors and performance junkies to restore.
If you happen to find one, let us know how your project goes. We always like to hear about our readers rides.