We’d bet the farm that very, very few of you reading this now ever whiled away your childhoods dreaming of the day when you might be able to own a Nissan Sunny ZX Coupe. You might have thought them striking, granted, but, and with the best will in the world, Nissan’s angular late ‘80s Coupe take on its big selling Sunny hatchback was never the most coveted of cars when new.

Wind forward 30 odd years, and things are slightly different. OK, so the Sunny ZX Coupe hasn’t garnered the same kind of rabid, cult devotion as its older, rear-wheel drive predecessors (blame said drive layout and the lack of motorsport success, we imagine) but you can’t deny that the years have been very kind indeed to the car. Partly this is down to their being comparatively few similar looking cars left on our roads, with set-square penned designs having been all but routed by curved, organically shaped offerings designed with pedestrian safety in mind.

The Sunny as it currently sits: engine and ‘box in situ without chipping so much as a fleck of paint, and with the loom nearly ready to be threaded into place

But then Retropower has never been about convention or retreading the same old ground when it comes to building old cars. Put simply, if you have the passion and the means, we’ll gladly make your automotive dream a reality and this particular build is the best example of this in action.

The initial build was commenced approximately 18 months ago with much of the early work centred on the car’s most recognisable feature, its bodywork. The individual commissioning the car was at pains to point out that while he loved the ZX’s standard styling (indeed, that was what he most appreciated about it in the first place), he wanted to imbue it with some additional aggression, which in our eyes could mean one thing and one thing only – big, cavernous box arches!

A peek at the Sunny’s box arches from last year

Flash forward a few months and Stu had worked his magic on the Coupe, marking the end of an especially ambitious series of bodywork revisions. Those box arches are all steel, though getting the desired shape a profile saw us carve a mock-up from a large lump of foam, and the results rather speak for themselves. Custom fabrication work was also carried out on the front arches, the sills and both the front valances, and while we’ll leave it to you to judge its overall effectiveness, we have had several people comment that the end result looks a little like a truncated R32 Skyline (no bad thing in our book).

The shell was then painted in a colour first seen on the latest Mustang, Ford Magnetic Grey, after which the project was wheeled into the assembly hall.

With the engine in we’ve started assembling other elements of the Sunny’s running gear, namely driveshafts, hubs, suspension and, in time, brakes

That was a good year or so ago though, and we thought we’d mark a further period of frenetic work on the Sunny by bringing you right up to date with more recent tasks, not least the engine rebuild. Massive power and thus torque-steer was never on the cards for this car, and as such the owner agreed with us when we suggested that a moderately tweaked CA18DET would be an ideal power plant. We’ve since carefully rebuilt it, adding new or restored parts where required (not least the brand new turbo), and earlier this week carefully bolted it into the front of the Sunny.

With the engine and gearbox assembly fitted correctly and looking the part, we’ve been free to turn our attention to other aspects of the Sunny’s build, including engine bay ancillaries, wiring loom (which you’ll no doubt be able to see in some of these images) and chassis components. This is if anything the easy part – we’ve still to begin work on its custom interior, so watch this space for further updates as the summer progresses.

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