Nissan 350Z: a Modder's Dream Car

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We're going to touch on one of my favorite sports cars here, the Nissan 350Z. Why the Nissan 350Z? If you slalom, autocross, drift, road race, or just enjoy driving, the 350Z is the continuation of a long line of affordable sports cars. Unlike many European sports cars that with each iteration becomes more unobtainable, Nissan has kept their Z-cars in a range that continues to sell well new and retains their value. While the new 370Z is their latest version, it's the plethora of aftermarket performance and appearance parts for the 350Z that has made it even more appealing to enthusiasts like me.

A new 370Z starts at $32,000, with the NISMO factory performance version going for $38,049, according to Truecar.com. A 350Z Enthusiast anywhere from 2 to 7 years old with less than 40,000 miles can be had in the $15-$20,000 range, with a manual or automatic. For less than half what the new Z runs, a clean one-owner 350Z can be found locally, if Truecar's search criteria is correct. Imagine how much fun you could have with a budget of $17-23K to spend on modifying it exactly like you want. A Vortech supercharger or GReddy turbo kit would be a great way to turn up the wick on the VQ35 motor, and Hotchkis, Tokico, and Eibach all offer suspension kits to help get the power to the ground. 3D Carbon or Carbon Creations offer some of the nicest body kits around, but when it comes to wheels and tires, HRE, Vertini, Rays, Weds and TSW are among those I'd recommend, with ultra performance tires from Falken, Yokohama, Nitto, Toyo, or BFGoodrich. There are other tires and wheels that would work, just as there are other body or suspension kits, but I mention those I've used over the years that have worked well and are easy to install. There's absolutely no substitute for quality, especially in a performance vehicle.

Besides looking over the manufacturers' sites, there are several magazines that cover Japanese sports cars including Nissan Sport, DSport, Turbo & High Tech Performance, Super Street, and Sport Compact Car. There are specific sites for Z-car enthusiasts and 350Zs, but one of the best places to see them up close is at a Hot Import Nights event (hotimportnights.com). Although there isn't an HIN event in our area at present, it's well worth a road trip to see what's new in the "tuner" world, especially with the NOPI series out of Atlanta folding a few years ago.

Next up: We'll cover the World of Wheels event in Chattanooga, and XS Power, a company that makes AGM racing and street performance batteries right here in Knoxville. Stay tuned! m

Got a cool car, a collection or an upcoming car show? E-mail me at spdnmotion@yahoo.com. Please allow at least two weeks in advance for your event to be posted.