The story gets its roots from the actual street racing that occurs on Tokyo's Shuto Expressway, one stretch of which is known as the "Wangan", literally meaning "bay side" (although it is generally used to refer to the freeway), the longest, straightest road in the entire country. Of course, there's also lots of traffic to contend with, including a fair number of heavy trucks. Because of this, the action is inherently hazardous, and wrecks are common. Blown engines are also a frequent hazard, especially with the extreme-high power engines.
One day, Akio Asakura, a high school student who is at his last year, is driving his friend's Fairlady Z (Z31) and is challenged by Tatsuya Shima, a doctor, in his black Porsche 911 (964), nicknamed the "BlackBird". With his friend who owns the Z31 in the passenger seat and two girls in the back, Akio pitifully tries to win, but is defeated. Determined to become faster, he goes to the junkyard because his mechanic friend who owns a Mazda RX7 (FC3S) tells him he saw a wrecked Fairlady just like Akio wanted. When he sees the damaged midnight blue Fairlady Z (S30) in the junkyard he remember seeing this car a few years ago with a nice girl in the passenger seat. Intrigued as to why such a classic Japanese performance vehicle is about to be junked, he convinces the junkyard owner to sell it to him, in spite of the fact that the junkyard owner was told by the previous owner's sister to scrap the car because it is cursed. He soon finds that the car is unnaturally fast due to a tuned L28 engine, bored and stroked to 3.1L and fitted with twin turbos, that produces unmeasurable amounts of horsepower (800hp). He also finds that the car's previous owner had the same first AND last name as Akio (Asakura Akio) and had died in a horrible crash on the Wangan. Every person who buys the Z and fixes it up ends up spinning out of control and crashing, as if the car is rebelling against it's driver. This gives the blue Z the nickname "The Devil Z". The manga follows Akio's various encounters with people on the Wangan, though the central plot revolves around his constant battle with the BlackBird for Wangan superiority.