Very little introduction is needed here. Mine's is probably one of the best-known names in the Japanese aftermarket tuning scene. Over the last decade they've established themselves as master fettlers, building some of the most capable demonstration cars out there. Their aim is very simple, focusing on creating extremely balanced setups without getting carried away on power figures and over the top modifications. One look at any engine bay in the Mine's demo car fleet and this becomes more than evident, as everything looks almost factory. Instead of getting lost in the details, they just focus on the important things. So with this in mind we thought it would be a great idea to drop by their state-of-the-art facilities close to the historical city of Kamakura to check out one of their latest demo cars. Since its launch back in 2003, the 350Z has become an outright success-earning Nissan serious kudos around the world. Mine's has recently put the finishing touches on their demo Z33, a car we had the chance to sample first hand out on the Japanese roads.
When we pull up to the Mine's offices, the 350Z demo car is waiting for us in a quiet corner of the car park, washed and ready to go. It's extremely refreshing seeing such simplicity in the way a shop prepares its cars. There are no over-the-top body kits. There's just subtle carbon detailing, including: the glossy carbon front lip spoiler; the smoothly contoured side mirrors; and, of course, the latest product to hit the Mine's 350Z line-up, the adjustable rear carbon wing.
The aggressive Prodrive GC-101G 18-inch wheels add a touch of fierceness to the Z, but it's the Mine's logos scattered around the bodywork that tell the biggest story. It may look sedate on the outside, but we all know that the oily bits have received some serious work. Pop the hood, and as previously mentioned, we are confronted with a stock-looking engine bay. Only a direct carbon intake duct to the airbox hints that something might have been fettled with. But talking to Niikura-san, the president of Mine's, we discover that a lot of work has gone into this particular VQ35DE. The demo car runs what Mine's calls their "Stage II" engine, which pushes power to 320 ps at 6,540 rpm and torque to a very impressive 40.9 kgm at 4,500 rpm. To achieve these numbers the whole engine is taken apart. Work begins with the overhaul of the aluminum block, where waterways are cleaned up for optimal cooling. Next up, a set of high-compression pistons are mated to the stock connecting rods and balanced crank, which, together with the metal head gaskets, push the static compression ratio up to 11.5:1. The heads receive a thorough dose of port and polishing; and are finished off with 264 duration (10.25mm lift) camshafts. The unit is all sealed up and dropped into the engine bay of the 350Z. To help the engine efficiently expel exhaust gasses, Mine's has developed a high-flow header system built from high-quality stainless steel. The hot exhaust gasses then pass through the sports catalizers and on to the twin-exit VX titanium exhaust system. As we noted, the stock airbox is fed by a carbon air inlet, which in turn gets its air from the carbon air intake on the front bumper. Keeping a check on all engine parameters is the Mine's VX ROM ECU. Mine's prefers to use the factory ECU, due to its various safety parameters, and to solder in their mappable ROM chips, which are specifically set up for various states of tune. Handling the increased power and torque output is a Cusco Type RS limited slip differential, which has been finely tuned by the guys at Mine's.
At Mine's, great emphasis is always given to the so-called "footwork." By this, the Japanese mean the suspension and braking systems. This particular Z33 is fitted with some excellent equipment. Starting off in the suspension department, the newly released Ohlins DFV dampers (part of the Mine's ESTA full suspension kit) are mated to Eibach springs for a purely circuit-based setup. Keeping body roll under control are stiffer antiroll bars fitted fore and aft. The ride height, which is completely adjustable, has been set quite low but nothing too drastic for road use. Taking care of the braking is a set of Brembo F50 4-pot front calipers, which are joined by large slotted 2-piece rotors for optimal performance during even the most spirited laps around Tsukuba. Performance Friction pads guarantee little to no fade.
When you grab that huge aluminum door handle and swing the driver door open, you are greeted by a nice set of Recaro racing seats, an SPG for the driver and a more comfortable and reclinable SRIII Millennium for the passenger side. The only other modification in the interior is a set of Takata racing belts. Everything else, including the steering wheel, has been left untouched. As I begin to forcefully squeeze my somewhat hefty rear end into the Japanese-sized Recaro bucket seat I can't help but notice how low the seat is positioned compared to a stock 350Z. After a few adjustments of the mirrors, I twist the Nissan key. The 3.5L V6 sparks into life with a scream of revs before slowly settling to a smooth idle. The burble coming from the two titanium trumpets is creamy and almost muted, but feather the right pedal and that typical Mine's wail is never too far away. As I set off, I give a quick prod on the accelerator, just to wet my appetite. The Z shoots off in a surge of acceleration, showing an urgency more akin to cars pushing out twice the power. As the road clears, I floor the throttle-trying to juggle the monstrous wheelspin in first gear. As I grab second, the story doesn't change-the rear Bridgestone RE-01Rs just can't cope. I short shift into third and floor it. What happens next truly impresses me. The Mine's Z starts to pull effortlessly from around 3,500 rpm like there was a turbocharger helping things along! Those 40.9 kgm of torque begin to make sense, no matter what gear you're in, this thing just pulls. When you tap into all the available 8,000 rpm, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that the 320hp power output that Mine's quotes for its Stage II engine kit is substantially on the conservative side. I've driven naturally aspirated Z's with more than 350 hp and none felt as explosive as this Mine's 350Z. And, with those big Brembo calipers up front, the car feels just as impressive when shedding off speed. The suspension, despite the rock-solid settings, felt like it could actually be tolerated on the street, but, due to a lack of corners around the test-road, there was no chance to see what they could really do.
Mine's has done it again. This 350Z proves that the shop is still one of the best out there today. Their minimalist approach to tuning has earned them loyal followers and, at the same time, has proven that you don't need to go over-the-top to obtain great results.
Specs: MINE s 350Z
320 ps / 6,450 rpm, 40.9 kgm / 4,500 rpm
Mine's Stage II engine kitbr
Metal head gaskets (compression ratio 11.5:1)
Upgraded camshafts, 264 duration, 10.25mm liftbr
Forged pistons & piston ringsbr
15-row oil cooler kit
Stainless steel exhaust manifolds
Stainless steel center pipe
Silence VX titanium exhaust system
VX panel-type air filter
Mine's VX-ROM ECU
Cusco Type RS (modified by Mine's)
Suspensionbr />Mine's ESTA Suspension kit based on Ohlinsbr />DFV dampers (20 adjustments)
Mine's Eibach spring kit(11.6 kg/mm front, 10 kg/mm rear)
Mine's stabilizers (front & rear)
Brembo F50 front brake calipers355mm 2-piece slotted brake rotors
Mine's PFC circuit-spec brake pads
DOT 5.1 brake fluid
Mine's carbon Aero Mirror Type-II
Mine's carbon front lip spoiler
Mine's carbon front under diffuser
Mine's Multi-select rear wing
Mine's direct airbox air-scoop
Recaro SPG driver seat
Recaro SRIII Millennium passenger seat
Bridgestone Prodrive GC-010G 8.5"x18"(front), 9.5"x18" (rear)
Bridgestone Potenza RE-01R 255/35/18(front), 265/35/18 (rear)