This job is pretty easy, and doesn't require any step by step instructions, although I did include some tips near the end. This page is mainly just to show the pics and effect the JDM, or "Japanese Domestic Market" taillights had on my Z. This exterior body mod seems to have taken five years off the age of my car.
These taillights are the ones that were used on the Z car that was still sold in Japan after the car was discontinued in this country in 1996. The Japanese stopped making the Z32 all together in 1999.
I got my taillights through my local Nissan dealer, but the parts guy there drives a red 300ZX twin turbo like mine, so he gave me a good price.
The going rate these days seems to be anywhere between $160-$210 each, before shipping.
I did not replace my rear center panel with a JDM one because I already customized my center panel by removing the "300ZX" logo. That is part of the "badgeless" theme I keep with my car. The JDM center panel has a red 300ZX logo.
A couple of hints are worth mentioning. All the work is done from the inside of the hatch. The carpet and some of the interior trim pieces have to come out, up to but not including the the trim pieces that go over the rear speakers.
As long as the carpet is out of the car, that would be a good time to give it a thorough cleaning. The carpet can dry out while the job is being finished. I'm a big believer in this product for cleaning the carpets and interior upholstery. I wouldn't use it on leather seats.
I loosened, but did not have to remove the rear center panel in order to swap out the taillight panels. The studs on the back of the taillights are long and in tight quarters. The ideal tool for the job is a TALL 8mm socket and an extension. Since I did not have this socket, I ended up cutting one of the nuts off with a Dremel. The rest of the nuts came off fairly easy with my Gear Wrench, but the tall socket would have made the job quicker and easier.
Also, as per the factory service manual, I used a heat gun to soften the butyl sealant around the edges of the taillights for removal and installation. I applied the heat from inside the hatch, duh.
A hot summer day in the sun would probably accomplish nearly the same thing. Once the bolts are out, it takes some steady pressure to separate the old taillights from the body of the car. I pushed on the studs from the inside and pried with my fingertips on the outside of the hatch.
I used a putty knife to scrape off the big chunks of the old tarry butyl sealant, but I did not obsess (for a change) on removing every last remnant. The new sealant that came with the taillights is so thick that I really didn't see how it would matter if there was a tiny bit of the old stuff left on the car body. The end result was the same - a sharp new look.