The People’s Champ: Kalvin Malli's 1990 Nissan 300ZX

The People’s Champ: Kalvin Malli's 1990 Nissan 300ZX
Kalvin Malli Takes Home the Title of Tuner Battlegrounds 7 Champion with his 1990 Nissan 300ZX

Kalvin Malli of MalliMotorworks is no stranger to building well-rounded cars for a variety of purposes. In addition to doing more engine swaps and modifications for friends and customers than he has done for himself, Malli had also built a 1990 Nissan 240SX with an RB20-swap which went on to climb high in the ranks of the Tuner Battlegrounds finals the year before he finally won. That building experience would pay off in spades as he assembled his next personal build, the 1990 Nissan 300ZX you see here - the same car which would take him to the top spot of Tuner Battlegrounds 7.

Malli’s love for the 300ZX platform runs as far back as he’s had his driver’s license. When he was searching online for his first car, he stumbled onto an ad for a twin-turbo 300ZX in pearl white. Despite the fact that he knew he couldn’t afford it, he asked the owner to bring it by so he could check it out. “This car pulled up, and my jaw was on the ground,” he says. “It was perfect in every way. It literally looked like it came fresh out of the factory.” The guy who owned the car was nice enough to ask Malli if he wanted to drive the car around the block, and from the first moment he let off the throttle and heard the BOVs chirp, he was hooked.

Malli went on to build several S13 240SX models - eight of them, in fact - before dabbling in a couple other projects until one day, when the time was right, he pulled the trigger on the platform that had eluded him for years. Almost immediately, he began modifying the car with a small budget and minimal working space in his parents’ 2-car garage. With a 2JZ from a Toyota Aristo, and a CD009 transmission, Malli had big plans. With some help from Brad at Swap Shop Garage, the Aristo harness was converted to work with the Z32 platform and his Haltech Elite ECU. The foundation was officially in place.

WIth his original intentions to build a modernized 2JZ-powered sports car that could maintain reliability while making great power on the street, Malli kept things pretty simple. Most engine and drivetrain modifications were chosen to either maintain reliability or boost power without going overboard. A Twisted Motion GTX3582R turbocharger mated to a Driftmotion turbo manifold and an HKS wastegate takes care of the added boost, bumping power to a respectable 500 whp. That tasteful minimalism continues throughout the entire build, and is most noticeably appreciated on the 300zx’s exterior. A simple front bumper from KBD, side skirts from Stillen, and Twin Z Design rear spats and diffuser make up the mix-matched kit at ground level, and a WINFactory replica wing and custom extensions on all sides go the distance in redefining the Z32 silhouette without drastically altering the car’s original essence. Some custom canards, fog light ducts, a molded hatch, and J-Spec tail lights go the distance in setting the car’s style apart. Sleek, clean, and looking like speed itself - the way the Z32 gods intended. Inside the cockpit, Malli went for a more exotic feel with his creature comforts. Leather Corbeau seats with Interior Innovations leather and suede seats covers hold driver and passengers in place, and a Nova Suede dash with red-stitching was made by hand to set the interior apart from any Z32 before it. LED lighting is found throughout the dash and interior for a clean and crisp look that suits the rest of the car perfectly with the glow from the Glowshift gauges. Of course, no modernized interior is complete without ample music listening power, so a Kenwood head unit serves as the source unit for a complete set of Skar speakers and matching 10-inch subwoofer.

Back when Malli’s car sat in the PASMAG booth at the 2019 SEMA show, the car was in an eye-catching OEM red, but once he finished moving from New York to Texas to open his own shop space, he got to thinking about that pearl white 300ZX that hooked him all those years ago. As soon as he had some free time to give his own car some attention, he wrapped the entire car in pearl white vinyl, emulating the very car that kicked off his passion.

These days, Malli stays extremely busy with MalliMotorworks. Despite that, he tells us he still intends to continue working on the 300ZX, and even though it was built as a reliable street car that could hold its ground at shows, he also intends to bring it to the track and properly beat on it. We can’t wait to see this thing unleashed. Kalvin’s work speaks for itself, so if you’re near Seguin, Texas, don’t hesitate to hit up MalliMotorworks if you need his help!

04 Kalvin Malli 1990 Nissan 300ZX pasmag tuner battlegrounds sema

Kalvin and his 300ZX are featured in PASMAG #161. CLICK HERE to order.

Photography by David Barnhouse (@shutter.studios.david)


ESSENTIALS

Owner: Kalvin Malli
Vehicle: 1990 Nissan 300ZX
Location: Seguin, TX
Engine: Toyota 2JZ-GTE VVTi 3.0L Turbocharged I6
Horsepower: 500 whp
Torque: 450 lb-ft

SOCIAL

Facebook: /kalvinmallikg
Instagram: @kalvin_malli

ENGINE

  • 2JZ-GTE VVTi engine swap
  • Twisted Motion GTX3582r
  • Driftmotion turbo manifold
  • HKS wastegate
  • GM Flex Fuel sensor
  • 825cc fuel injectors
  • Driftmotion drive-by-wire delete
  • Griffin Performance radiator
  • Dual fans
  • MAC EBC
  • FMIC
  • Custom piping
  • Oil cooler
  • Haltech (Elite 750 w/ pro tune, wideband controller)
  • GM Flex Fuel sensor
  • MAC EBC

EXHAUST

  • Custom (downpipe, 3-inch exhaust)
  • Vibrant Ultra Quiet resonator
  • 4-inch axle-back

DRIVETRAIN

  • CD009 transmission
  • Autosport Engineering (adapter plate, flywheel)
  • Competition Clutch Stage 4 clutch

WHEELS / TIRES / BRAKES

  • Enkei RPF1 wheels - 17x9 +22 (f/r)
  • Federal RS-RR tires - 255/40/17 (f/r)
  • Cadillac CTS-V Brembo brakes
  • StopTech brake pads

CHASSIS / SUSPENSION

  • Tein Flex Z coilovers
  • Adjustable rear arms

EXTERIOR

  • MalliMotorworks Gloss White vinyl wrap
  • KBD front bumper
  • Stillen side skirts
  • Twin Z Design (rear diffuser, rear spats, vented nose panel)
  • WINFactory rep rear wing
  • Custom (front lip, side splitters, rear valance, canards)
  • Rear wiper delete
  • 20% window tint
  • Custom (molded hatch, fog light ducts)
  • LED headlights
  • OEM J-Spec tail lights

INTERIOR

  • Corbeau seats
  • Nardi steering wheel
  • NRG (hub, quick-release)
  • Interior Innovations leather/suede OEM seat covers
  • Nova Suede Interior dash w/ red stitching
  • LED (interior lights, instrument cluster)
  • Glowshift gauges

AUDIO / MOBILE ELECTRONICS

  • Kenwood head unit
  • Skar (6.5-inch door speakers, 6.5-inch rear speakers 10-inch subwoofer)
  • Custom fitted subwoofer enclosure


PHOTO GALLERY

01 Kalvin Malli 1990 Nissan 300ZX pasmag tuner battlegrounds sema

02 Kalvin Malli 1990 Nissan 300ZX pasmag tuner battlegrounds sema

03 Kalvin Malli 1990 Nissan 300ZX pasmag tuner battlegrounds sema

06 Kalvin Malli 1990 Nissan 300ZX pasmag tuner battlegrounds sema

07 Kalvin Malli 1990 Nissan 300ZX pasmag tuner battlegrounds sema

08 Kalvin Malli 1990 Nissan 300ZX pasmag tuner battlegrounds sema

09 Kalvin Malli 1990 Nissan 300ZX pasmag tuner battlegrounds sema

10 Kalvin Malli 1990 Nissan 300ZX pasmag tuner battlegrounds sema

11 Kalvin Malli 1990 Nissan 300ZX pasmag tuner battlegrounds sema

12 Kalvin Malli 1990 Nissan 300ZX pasmag tuner battlegrounds sema

13 Kalvin Malli 1990 Nissan 300ZX pasmag tuner battlegrounds sema

14 Kalvin Malli 1990 Nissan 300ZX pasmag tuner battlegrounds sema

15 Kalvin Malli 1990 Nissan 300ZX pasmag tuner battlegrounds sema

16 Kalvin Malli 1990 Nissan 300ZX pasmag tuner battlegrounds sema

17 Kalvin Malli 1990 Nissan 300ZX pasmag tuner battlegrounds sema

18 Kalvin Malli 1990 Nissan 300ZX pasmag tuner battlegrounds sema

20 Kalvin Malli 1990 Nissan 300ZX pasmag tuner battlegrounds sema

21 Kalvin Malli 1990 Nissan 300ZX pasmag tuner battlegrounds sema

22 Kalvin Malli 1990 Nissan 300ZX pasmag tuner battlegrounds sema

23 Kalvin Malli 1990 Nissan 300ZX pasmag tuner battlegrounds sema

24 Kalvin Malli 1990 Nissan 300ZX pasmag tuner battlegrounds sema

25 Kalvin Malli 1990 Nissan 300ZX pasmag tuner battlegrounds sema

26 Kalvin Malli 1990 Nissan 300ZX pasmag tuner battlegrounds sema

27 Kalvin Malli 1990 Nissan 300ZX pasmag tuner battlegrounds sema

28 Kalvin Malli 1990 Nissan 300ZX pasmag tuner battlegrounds sema

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