It's been three and a half decades since Datsun first astonished the world with their mass-appeal 240Z. With a few exceptions (perhaps most notably the Toyota 2000GT), this was truly the first accessible Japanese sports car. Also, the fact that it humbled cars double or even triple its price was almost just icing on the cake. The Z-car has been making waves ever since, when turbocharged or naturally aspirated.
24 PSIWhen the brawny 350Z came to life in 2003 as a base model that produced nearly the same power as the last-gen turbo model, it was an instant hit. With a low entry price, plenty of grunt and muscular looks, the car played a serious role in bringing Nissan back from a potential grave. Yet, for a select few, an essential ingredient was still missing: turbo power. Enter the Car V2 350Z shown on these pages.
First, a little history of Car V2. Located in Wilmington, Delaware, Car V2 established their reputation in the late '90s by catering to modern sports cars from Japan. Unfortunately, business came to an abrupt halt in 2003, when owners James Cusack and Jay Kang found their shop under four feet of water, with no flood insurance. Every car on the premises was destroyed, including two beloved shop cars.
However, all was not lost. Car V2 was able to scrape together the finances necessary to not only survive, but amazingly, to open a bigger, better shop in an entirely new location. Game on. Now all they needed was a new mascot to carry their torch. Their eyes fell squarely on the then-brand-new 350Z. They quickly snatched up a brand new 350Z and got to work. The legend of the twin turbo Z-Car would soon be reborn, and subsequently boosted into the stratosphere.
In late 2003, there were not many companies able to assist with engine parts for the VQ35 motor, at least not for forced induction applications. CP Pistons came to the rescue and supplied a set of low compression (8.5:1) heavy-duty pistons, and Crower was soon able to provide ProBillet rods. ARP offered tried-and-true fasteners to keep the cylinder heads and caps secure-even in the face of 25-plus pounds of boost. Aside from an overly complicated search for stock bottom-end bearings, things looked as though they were finally falling into place.
With the bottom end built to their satisfaction, it was time to work out the turbo system itself. They turned to Bob "The Builder" Cossaboom for his expertise in turbocharging naturally aspirated engines. Bob was happy to blueprint and assemble the system in-house at Car V2. In fact, Cossaboom states that he was so impressed with the stock VQ35 cylinder heads that he decided to leave them untouched and get to work on the turbo system itself.
Thanks to a brand-new GReddy twin-turbo system with front-mount intercooler, the Z had its first taste of forced induction with little hassle. Now sporting a pair of TD05H 18G turbochargers and a small boost jump to 9 psi, the Z was putting down hp and torque figures in the 400 range. Not bad at all. But being that their end goal was a touch more "optimistic" (say, 600+ bhp) than this setup could handle, they needed to start looking elsewhere for an engine management system, an appropriate fuel system, and of course, a clutch capable of putting that kind of power to the ground.
Based on how well RPS clutches worked for Car V2 in their MKIV Supras, the RPS Stage 3 setup (clutch, pressure plate and CYN-R-G flywheel) was sure to get the job done with ease. Luckily, the 350Z aftermarket was just starting to take off, and Car V2 was able to get their clutch needs taken care of with no hassle.
Fuel delivery was another story altogether, and would have been quite a pain had it not been for a trick fuel return and race-duty swirl tank. By eliminating the stock in-tank fuel pressure regulator, the setup from Altered Atmosphere Motorsports (AAM) combines 750cc injectors and billet fuel rails to get the motor properly fed. A Walbro GSS342 HP in-tank pump was used to feed the swirl tank, where a second external pump from Bosch sends the fuel to its final destination within the motor.
Controlling the fuel, as well as ignition, is a UTEC engine management system from TurboXS. Essentially a parallel "plug and play" setup designed to work alongside the stock ECU, the UTEC is rated for use with injectors as large as 1000 cc, and up to 45 psi of line pressure.
With the Z up and running again, the guys at Car V2 were surprised to discover that the GReddy wastegate created a slight bottleneck at around 18 psi, due to the 90-degree re-entry of the exhaust path. At saner boost levels, say 14 psi and below, the GReddy setup worked fine, but for their plans they needed AAM's help. By relocating the wastegates and replacing the turbo outlets with full 3" downpipes, the twin TD05's now had atmospheric outlets and the problem was solved. This also added a truly demonic soundtrack to the Z, like a jet at full song flying just overhead.
This layout has performed flawlessly, and the Z has been ripping up Car V2's dyno, routinely laying down 500 whp and 500 lb-ft of torque. Turning up the wick from 15 psi to 18 psi produces a jump to 565 whp and 576 lb-ft using 93 octane pump gas. For the truly insane, the use of C16 fuel allows an incredible 24 pounds of boost and lets this Z belt out 624 whp and 674 lb-ft of torque.
Most shocking of all is that all this power is achieved with a stock crankshaft and cylinder heads. The cams and throttle bodies have not been touched, and show no sign that they need to be. The car has been operating flawlessly, always starting on the first crank and spinning lean and clean every day. Aside from a pair of Ergo seats from Bride, and the obligatory handful of aftermarket gauges and meters, the Z is as comfortable as stock on the inside. The exterior, complete with the C-West carbon-fiber skirt kit, now sports a purposeful and aggressive appearance.
Keeping all this power in check is no easy task, but the massive rotors and 4-pot calipers found on StopTech's Big Brake kit are up to the task. The car's road manners are primarily controlled courtesy of Tein's Type Flex coilovers and Michelin Pilot Sport tires wrapped around some SF Challenge wheels from Volk Racing. The end result is a frighteningly powerful, yet daily-drivable, beast of a Z. It seems that through the good folks at Car V2, the twin turbo Z-car truly lives again, and it's a sight to behold.
Specs: 2003 nissan 350Z
624 whp, 674 lb-ft of torque
CP - XT Pro Prototype PistonsForged 8.5:1
Crower Billet Rods
ARP Head Studs / Main Studs
GReddy - Twin 18G Turbo System
Tial - 38mm External Waste Gates
AAM Waste Gate Relocation Kit
HKS - Type-II Racing Blowoff Valve
GReddy 3 Row Front Mount Intercooler
GReddy Oil Catch Tank
TurboXS - UTEC EMS and 4 BAR MAP Sensor
AAM - Return Fuel Rail System
Billet Fuel Rails
AAM- MaxFlow Big Pump Upgrade Race-Spec " Swirl Tank Fuel System
RC Engineering - 750cc Fuel Injectors
Aeromotive Fuel Pressure Regulator
AAM - 3" Race-Spec Downpipes
CarV2 - Custom 3" Y-Pipe
JIC-Magic - Single Sided 3" Race Exhaust
NGK - Iridium Spark Plugs
Hondata VQ35 Lower Plenum Heat Shield
Sun - Hyper Earth Grounding Kit
ARC Titanium Radiator Panel
RPS - Stage 3 Clutch
JIC-Magic Carbon-Fiber Strut Bar
StopTech - Big Brake Kit 355mm / 4 Pot F / R " Brake Kit
Tein - Type Flex Coilovers
Volk Racing - SF Challenge Wheels
Michelin - Pilot Sport Tires
C-West - Carbon-Fiber Skirt Body Kit
JDM Z33 Fairlady Smoke Side Markers
Blitz - FATT DC3 Turbo Timer
Blitz - SBC-ID Boost Controller
Blitz - Power Meter-ID
PLX - Wideband O2 Meter
Defi - 60mm Boost / EGT Gauges
Defi - Control Unit II
Bride - Ergo Seat / Harness