The 350Z ownership experience

DSC00058_4b38ef221fccb-lightboxI’m the second owner of this 2003 Nissan 350Z coupe.  The original owner took delivery in November of 2002 and he had it for the first 68,267km.  Then I picked it up in July of 2006 as a three model year old vehicle and fulfilled my desire to have a sports car at the ripe old age of 23.  I had been selling Nissans for 2 years at that point at Barrie Nissan, when my Z came in on trade from a customer who had bought it there originally. I knew it was my car.

A quick test drive to make sure everything was in check and having one of our Master Technicians look over the car confirmed this.  However I needed to sell my one year old 2005 Nissan Altima SE-R first.  I lucked out only 12 hours after posting an ad for my car; I had found a buyer.  The car was a bit of a rarity with a 6 speed manual which helped my cause.

With my Altima SE-R sold and delivered to its proud new owner I took possession of my Zed.  Overall, the car was in great shape.  It had protective tape over the front bumper and across the front of the hood and front fenders.  The tape was a bit dull compared with the rest of the car so I made the decision that it had to come off.  It proved to be a pain to take off but with 67,000km and no stone chips on the blunt nose of the 350Z, it couldn’t look any better.

I also took the fact that the OEM spec Bridgestone RE040 tires were nearing the end of their life as an opportunity to enhance the appearance and handling of my Zed.  I fitted upgraded 19″ Ray’s forged wheels with wider Bridgestone RE050A tires measuring 245 and 275 section widths front and rear respectively.

Knowing the larger diameter wheel would give the car a taller look I ordered the Nismo S-Tune spring and shock kit for the car.  Higher rate springs, matching dampers and a 20mm ride height drop, not only balance the look but provide better handling to an already competent package.  Nismo is Nissan’s motor sport division so you can count on an extensive R&D program with all of their components.

The brake pads were in need of replacements so I turned to Nismo again for some upgraded pads.  I also replaced the rotors with some grooved discs from EBC although the OEM discs were still in good order.  Stainless steel brake lines and Motul RBF660 brake fluid rounded off my brake upgrade.

My Zed is missing the Brembo brake option and in place has 2-piston sliding calipers at the front and single piston units out back with vented discs all around.  Braking performance with the upgraded components is still impressive, although prolonged track use, I am sure, would likely result in a softer middle pedal.

Since then I haven’t made any changes or upgrades to the Zed.  I did switch to Redliine synthetic fluid in the transmission and differential back in October of 2007 just prior to the factory power-train warranty expiring.  Figuring it  would be a good plan to drain the factory fluid out and make sure there weren’t any metal filings or signs of any problems, there weren’t.

Back to the question at the beginning: How does a 7 year old 350Z feel today?  The answer?  Great!  I love this car. Every year, when I take it out of winter hibernation, it feels better then the last.  In the last couple of days I have pulled it out from under its cover and started my 4th full season with the car.  The car, as ever, feels balanced and the engine still pulls strong.  I am still amazed by how much attention the 350Z gets as well.  I must admit it is flattering to get a thumbs up or receive a compliment such as “Nice car!”.  I am sure the bright red paint job has something to do with it too.  It is nice to know that the 350Z’s edgy styling has aged gracefully and still looks modern on the roads today.

In the next few weeks I’ll be getting the Zed serviced. As well as an oil and filter change to start the season, I am swapping to a newer exhaust from a friend’s 350Z which has seen only 5,000km and looks a bit better then the one I have now (which in fairness, doesn’t look bad).  I will also use a fuel system cleaner that hooks up directly to the fuel system and runs through for a half hour.  Last season the plugs were changed and the car was given a tune up, so with the fuel system cleaned it should be running just as it did when new.

Keep posted as I’ll update shortly.

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Chris Caldwell