Model: Hot Wheels Nissan Z
Line: 2007 Mainline 152/180 – “All Stars” 20/24
(Find the Hot Wheels Nissan Z Top Secret on Ebay)
Alec Tam’s Nissan Z divides opinion. There are those who really aren’t fond of it, and there are legitimate reasons for that. It’s a bit of a wonky casting: the roof is too low, the wheels far too big and it’s just…. not quite right. But then there are those who love it, and I’m firmly amongst the latter category. And out of the many colourways, this is my favourite. And two words sum up why: Top Secret.
And if you don’t know what that means, then where have you been hiding for all this time?! Founded by Kazuhiko “Smokey” Nagata in 1991, the company have been building mega power, mega cool machinery for the best part of 3 decades. The name originates from when Nagata was working for the tuning company Trust in the late 80s. In his own words:
I was only allowed to make mufflers and work on turbos but I wanted more. I wanted to tune for top speed. So, after hours, I would work on my own projects at the shop. The bosses found out and weren’t happy, but turned a blind eye as they didn’t want to lose me. So it was our secret. Top secret.Kazuhiko Nagata, Top Gear Magazine.
Once he left Trust, “Smokey” quickly began building cars with one thing in mind: to be the fastest. Clad in the company’s iconic gold livery (because only winners get gold), a slew of tuned Skylines, Supras and later 350Zs, Porsches and Nissan GTRs spilled out of the workshop. In the pursuit of speed, engine swaps that made JDM fanboys choke became a common part of the firm’s remit, but by god did they work. In 1998 the UK magazine Max Power flew Nagata and his 1003bhp RB26 powered Supra to the UK for their Max Power Live show, and somewhere along the way the idea of attempting 200mph along the A1 main road came up. Nagata managed 194mph from a standing start before he was caught and arrested by British Police. The run was filmed by a crew from Option magazine and has become legendary. Later, another non JZ powered Supra hit insane speeds. This time a 5.0 1GZ-FE V12 from a Toyota Century powered the car to 220mph on Italy’s Nardo Ring, and then later 229mph through the 9km long Tokyo Aqua Line tunnel.
The Top Secret Nissan Z casting appeared in the Hot Wheels Mainline in 2007, and by then I was well aware of Smokey thanks to Max Power, J-Tuner and growing number of websites. When I saw their name on a Hot Wheels car, I had to have one. But… I never actually got one. The model evaded me on the pegs, and as the years went by, it slipped to the back of my mind. But recently I’ve been helping a friend sort through a relative’s HUGE diecast hoard that was left behind when he sadly passed away. Very kindly my friend allowed me to keep a few of the diecast we found, and needless to say when I came across this one, I knew exactly where it was going.
Instantly I’m back in my bedroom, a wide eyed teenager gawping over pictures of metallic gold beasts from a distant land. I’m so happy to have this. And I can look past the odd proportions and huge wheels. It’s a very cool diecast in it’s own right. The livery of the real Top Secret Fairlady is replicated perfectly, even down to the reverse script down the driver’s side (and yes, it’s RHD, meaning it’s a Fairlady Z and not a 350Z). The full size Top Secret Z features the company’s “Super G-Force Widebody Kit” and so does the diecast. It’s such a cool and clear indication that even before the Datsun 510 inspired JDM boom, that Hot Wheels were well in tune with Japanese tuning culture. And it’s something that you can still see in the lineup today with the HKS liveried models.
I doubt we’ll see another Top Secret gold car however, but can we get a bit of Lamley Hype for a properly under appreciated casting? To me this is a model that deserves to be up there with the more coveted Japanese cars in the Hot Wheels lineup. Now, I’m off to dig out my old copies of J-Tuner….