Once you get bit by the tuner bug, it often turns into a full-blown case of Tuneritis, which in severe cases results in an empty bank account and a garage full of project cars. To outside observers, especially those lacking the all-important gearhead chromosome, this may seem like a kind of dementia. But for unapologetic tuner addicts like Steve Devers, it's a lifestyle he couldn't escape even if he wanted to (and he doesn't).
This Garden State native somehow managed to skip the IROC-Z stage of puberty that inflicts so many of his fellow New Jerseyites, instead getting his start in 2001 by spinning wrenches on a Honda CRX when he was just 16. Before he knew it, he'd built six different CRXs before graduating to Integras and then an IS300, a couple of GS300s, and a few G35 coupes. To date, Steve's built and sold more than 40 project cars of his own and has helped friends and customers build many more, all without using the terms "fugazi," "fabulicious," or "fist pump."
As Steve explains, "I've always focused on building cars that are clean and classy, basically how I felt they should have come from dealership. After someone approached me about my first build and offered me more money than expected, building cars became a lifestyle for me. I work on cars every single day. I'm basically a mobile car modification and performance store. I have tons of customers and friends who come to me, rather than local auto shops, because they can trust me and I take care of all their car needs. I'm a certified master audio installer part-time, but I find that audio is the last thing that motivates me."
He picked up this Track model '03 Daytona Blue Nissan 350Z three years ago, drawn to its Brembo brakes, black interior, and six-speed manual transmission. As Steve puts it, "I knew it was going to be a special build, one I might even keep for myself, and now three years later and with tons of modifications, it has become exactly what I envisioned if not better."
As you'd expect, Steve made virtually all the modifications to this Z with his own two hands. "The biggest challenge when building the Z would have to be its stance, especially since this has become such an overwhelming trend here in the U.S. and around the world. A project car isn't done these days until it's sitting perfect. Some get carried away and overdo things, thinking more is better, but that takes away from the performance of a vehicle, especially one like the 350Z. Basically my goal was to keep it classy and performance orientated yet still proper in the stance game."
To achieve his goals, Steve runs two different suspension setups. For the track, he bolts up a set of D2 coilovers to go along with SPC camber-adjustable control arms and Cusco sway bars. For show season, he swaps on a Universal Air setup with full ride height management via an onboard 3-gallon air tank. Completing the street sweeper look is a staggered set of 19-inch Magnesium Blue Volk Racing CE28N wheels, spaced to an ultra-aggressive -3 offset up front and -8 offset out back.
To give you an idea of how detail-oriented Steve is when he builds a car, instead of just having the Nismo V2 front bumper and Vertex side skirts paint-matched, he had his buddy Brian apply a fresh coat of Daytona Blue to the entire car, followed by wet-sanding and polishing to really make it pop. There are lot of other nice touches to the exterior package, too, including an '08 headlight upgrade, Seibon carbon hood, and carbon Z emblems, as well as a Top Secret carbon rear diffuser. With a dark tint and a rear wiper delete, there's just no denying that Steve's Z cuts a seriously sleek profile.
Far from just another slammed Z, this keeper of a Nissan has been given a serious upgrade in the power department, too, with a Vortech V2 supercharger kit. Other than the paintwork by his buddy Brian, the only other part of the build Steve didn't handle himself was tuning the ECU to handle the added boost pressure. For this he turned to RT Tuning, which dialed in revised fuel and ignition maps using Uprev's Osiris reflashing system. The end result is an impressive 424 ponies at the rear wheels-more than enough jam to silence the "it's just a show car" critics.
Steve's applied his appealing brand of show-and-go tuning to the interior of his Z as well, the "go" part handled nicely by a pair of Evo Limited Edition Recaro sports seats along with Takata harnesses mounted to a Sparco harness bar. The Personal steering wheel and NRG QR hub also add a high-performance look and feel. For some added bling, he's painted the rear panels Daytona Blue, and there's also a carbon-fiber dash kit in place along with Nismo floor mats and a titanium shift knob.
According to Steve, "The Z is a blast to drive, and it gets compliments everywhere I take it. I've kept the exhaust quiet so I can hear the bypass valve while shifting, and it sounds amazing." Not that he's finished building it. In fact, by the time you read this, you can be certain something's changed on this Z33, with future plans including a built motor and a twin turbo setup (though he has no complaints about the power and reliability of the Vortech kit). You also shouldn't be surprised if he's moved on to an M3 or GTR, both projects he's been considering for a while. Like we said, it's a lifestyle for Steve, and he couldn't stop building if he wanted to (and he doesn't).
Specs & Details
'03 Nissan 350Z Track
Engine 3.5L VQ35DE V6
Engine Modifications Vortech V2 polished supercharger kit; Turbonetics FMIC (upgraded from the smaller Vortech FMIC); Kinetix SSV intake manifold and high-flow cats; Walbro fuel pump; DeatschWerks 440cc fuel injectors; NGK spark plugs (1 step colder); custom polished intake pipe; custom 3'' SS exhaust w/ burnt Ti Motordyne tips; carbon-fiber cooling plate (painted Daytona Blue); Tein hood dampers; ARC aluminum underpanel and rad cap; JDM polished engine cover
Engine Management Uprev Osiris reflash by RT Tuning
Drivetrain ACT Stage 3 clutch kit
Wheels, Tires & Brakes 19x9.5" (f) and 19x10.5" (r) +12 offset Volk Racing CE28N wheels; 225/35R19 (f) and 245/35R19 (r) Nitto Extreme 555 tires; Brembo Gold BBK and cross-drilled and slotted rotors
Suspension D2 Sport coilovers (track); Universal Air w/ full management and 3-gallon tank (show); SPC control arms (f/r); Cusco sway bars (f/r) and strut bar (f)
Exterior Fresh Daytona Blue paint '08 headlights; custom shaved Nismo V2 front bumper; Vertex side skirts; Top Secret CF rear diffuser; custom rear splash guards; Seibon '08 CF hood; tinted glass; rear wiper delete; Show & Go plate; CF Z emblems
Interior Evo Limited Edition Recaro sport seats; Takata harnesses and shoulder pads; Sparco harness bar; CF dash kit; Nismo shift knob and floor mats; AEM boost and wide-band AFR gauges; Personal steering wheel; NRG QR hub; Pioneer double din head unit; rear panels painted Daytona Blue
Numbers 424 whp and 343 wtq w/ 3.12 pulley