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2008 Nissan Fairlady Z - Looks Can Be Deceiving

They May Not Appear To Be Crazy Powerful But Mine's Japan Has A Way Of Making Fast Cars Even Faster

Taro Koki
Aug 1, 2009
Photographer: Kyoshu Mizhohata

Mine's is the most famous GT-R tuner in the world but when Mine's head, Michizo Niikura, first saw the new 370Z he was impressed with the Porsche-esque styling. "After driving it for the first time, I obviously felt the lack in power compared to the GT-R but I really liked the good engine response typical to a well-built NA engine," says Niikura.

In building the Mine's 370Z(Z34), they first examined the chassis of the new Z car like they do with all of the vehicles they build. They noticed that although the exterior body styling is very similar to the old 350Z(Z33), the 370Z was a completely different animal. The platform, subframe and members are new designs. The length of the car has been shortened 2.5 inches and the wheelbase is 3.9 inches shorter as well. By shortening the wheelbase, Nissan was able to move the rear axle to the front to help the driver feel the movements of the car in a more linear way. The Z33 had an aluminum rear member but the Z34 has a steel rear member with a diagonal brace for more rigidity. The front frame was also built for more rigidity by improving the hoodridge, radiator core support, aluminum suspension member and triangle tower bars. The chassis lowers the engine 6 inches compared to the older Z to achieve a roll center closer to the ground.

The base chassis had improved so significantly that Mine's didn't have any problems following the Mine's concept of simple and clean tuning to achieve a better driver experience. No crazy mods were needed here since the chassis was already there and done. Nissan never intended the 370Z to be a super car but a sports coupe to enjoy sports driving on the track or on the streets. Mine's would only slightly enhance that intention... just a little bit so the car can lap Tsukuba circuit in just 1:06.712.

So when they set out to tune this car, they did not want to take away what was already working. Niikura says that was the trickiest part in building this car. The electronic control of the 370 is very advanced and feels Nissan has done a great job in setting up the entire package. So Mine's had to put in extra effort in examining and setting up the differentials, suspension kit and brakes. The total balance of this car is so delicate that one wrong modification can completely throw off the electronics and actually work against you. The GT-R has been known to be a delicate car in that sense but it seems like the 370Z is even further advanced. Niikura says there are quite a few stories about shops in Japan modding their new Zs and going straight into the wall or the ABS acting up at the tracks because they did not set up the car correctly.

Mine's uses Ohlins suspension to build their Mine's ESTA suspension kit for the new Z. They had to cautiously set up the suspension stroke and height of the car so as not to lose the fragile balance of the car. Mine's wanted to drop the car but did not want to compromise the bump stroke so it was made possible to lower the car without changing the preload on the springs. In contrary, the rear has less stroke so they made the rear shock absorbers adjustable and lengthened the rear re-bump 1/4 inch longer to put priority in keeping the tires on the surface when turning the car.

The streets in Japan are paved like a marble hotel lobby, but with the harsh road conditions here in the US, Niikura says that the set up with the diffs, suspension, brakes and tires will be even more of an issue here. All of this will be taken into account when building their demo car for the US market.

Mine's only changed the brakes to their own pads. The key again here was not to install pads that worked too good or too less. With the wrong set up, there was the risk that the ABS and traction control would not function properly.

Sstp_0908_11_z+2008_nissan_fairlady_z+carbon_fiber_air_inlets Photo 7/8   |   2008 Nissan Fairlady Z - Looks Can Be Deceiving

The original VX-ROM ECU is the brains to the 3.7L VQ37VHR engine that controls the 336hp and 270 lb.-ft. 5200rpm of torque, but they refuse to give out official data of their car at this point. Niikura also asserts that he never wants to get into the horsepower war, especially with this car, where driving feel is the most important factor. Installing only the Mine's Silence VX Titan exhaust, a 5hp increase was achieved. Add on the straight pipe and replace with the Mine's supercat, you gain another couple ponies. With all modifications complete, Niikura's opinion is that a 30hp increase is the limit to comfortably drive with this platform.

When asked what modifications will follow, the Mine's president told us about the secret big throttle kit project. The big throttle is to reach better response and is now being developed with a secret partner. The benefit would be that the user would not have to completely overhaul the engine. Just by modifying the intake, exhaust and combining it with the Mine's ECU, they expect to improve engine response to 3000 rpm and get more torque from the NA motor.

Sstp_0908_12_z+2008_nissan_fairlady_z+rear_diffuser_carbon Photo 8/8   |   2008 Nissan Fairlady Z - Looks Can Be Deceiving

A rear diff cooler and reinforced clutches were some of the other items still remaining on the tuning menu for this car. Cooling seems like a concern for the new Z as an oil cooler is a must if anyone is planning to hit the tracks with this car. Also a rear diff cooler is a necessity when putting your car through a stop and go pace consistently at the circuit. A carbon front lip spoiler and a carbon rear wing are the main aero parts on this silent-but-deadly car. Oh and don't forget the air scoop-shaped carbon antenna cover detail sitting on the roof. Bridgestone Potenza RE050s wrap the RAYS VR.G2 rims with 15mm spacers for the wider rear rims.

Whatever they say, all of Mine's cars that come out of their Yokosuka garage are blistering fast so I'm not so gullible to believe it when Niikura says, "Mine's goes for subtle grown-up tuning." Say that to the guy with the track car that just got his ass handed to him by the stock-looking Mine's 370Z.

Fast Facts
2008 Nissan Fairlady Z (Z34)
Owner Mine's Co., LTD
Hometown yokosuka, japan
Daily Grind nissan tuning specialist

Under The Hood VQ37HR; Mine's front pipe, Silence VX-Titan muffler, VX air filter and super catalyzer

Drivetrain 6-speed manual transmission

Brains Mine's VX-ROM

Power 336ps at 7000rpm; 270lb-ft at 5200rpm

Stiff Stuff Mine's ESTA professional edition suspension system

Rollers Rays VR.G2 20x9/20x10 wheels +30 offset; 15 mm rear spacers; Bridgestone Potenza RE050 255/35R20 and 285/30R20 tires

Stoppers Mine's Original Version street pads

Outside Mine's carbon front lip spoiler, carbon rear wing and air scoop-type carbon antenna cover

Inside Recaro SP-A seats

www bridgestone.com, mackinindustries.com (RAYS), mines-wave.com, recaro.com

By Taro Koki
14 Articles

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