Meet Holley Industrial Designer Jon Payne

By: Todd Veney | 06/04/2019 < Back to Motor Life Home

You might say Jon Payne likes Nissan Zs. After getting rid of his first car – a rare 340 Magnum-powered '72 Dodge Charger with headers, glass packs, and Cragar Super Trick S/S wheels he wishes he still had – he got his first Z more than 30 years ago, a naturally aspirated '85 300ZX, and it's pretty much been a nonstop parade of the fast, sporty little machines ever since. "To me, they're 'Japanese hot rods,' " says Payne, 57, an industrial designer who joined the Holley Performance team just last month.

"I've always been a car guy," Payne said. "In high school, all my buddies had '69 Mach I Mustangs, '70 Challengers, early '70s Chargers, and cars like that. I wish I still had my first car, that Charger. I paid $1,200 for it, and now they're worth $70,000 or $80,000 in the right condition." Today, he drives this '16 370Z, a base model tricked out with enough special features to make it what he calls a cheater NISMO (Nissan Motorsport International Limited, Nissan's in-house performance and racing division).

"It's actually got more power than my '91 twin-turbo had," said Payne, who, in addition to the naturally aspirated '85 300ZX that started it all, has owned a turbocharged '85 300ZX, a naturally aspirated '90 300ZX, the twin-turbo '91 300ZX he still has, and a naturally aspirated '06 350Z. Payne's current driver has a long-runner cold-air intake and HKS coil-over shocks. "The filters are inside the front bumper, as far from the engine as they could be," he said. Down the road, he'll upgrade the 370Z's base-model brakes. "The rotors on these cars have a tendency to warp. I'll add bigger brakes with drilled and slotted rotors and maybe add a limited-slip differential."

In his new role, Payne does solid modeling for product-development projects. His first project: designing stamped valve covers for big-block and small-block Chevys. "This is a great place to work, and I'm doing something I really like to do," he said. "When I was in high school, a teacher told me to get into illustration and design. He said that art for art's sake is nice but not everybody can make a living doing just that. But whatever products are on the market, some artist had to design it and draw it before anyone could make it, and he was right."

 X  Roadkill Buick Sweepstakes
 X  Roadkill Buick Sweepstakes