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 |   |  2005 Nissan 350Z - Take the Money and Run
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2005 Nissan 350Z - Take the Money and Run

Further Adventures in High-Stakes Drifting

Micah Wright
Dec 16, 2019
Photographer: Alex Hamby

If cars are supposed to be mechanical representations of their owners, then it's only befitting this Nissan 350Z looks and acts the way it does. Owned, modified, and driven for the better part of the past decade by drift ace Rolando Alfaro, this car is one hell of a piece of work (as is its owner). We recently caught up with the talented driver after Gridlife South to hear all about his recent adventures and the car that has kept him going all these years.

2005 Nissan 350Z Carbon Crafting Rear Over Fenders 01 Photo 25/25   |   2005 Nissan 350Z - Take the Money and Run

To stress just how interesting this cat and his car are, let's point out that Rolando first learned to drive at the tender age of seven... in a a junker. Since then, he's owned everything from Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4 rocket ships to stealthy Nissan R32 Skyline sedans, and this: a badass Z33 with a brand-new identity and the credentials to match.

Some of you may recall Rolando's first feature in late 2016, when the car was still sporting a Nissan engine and trans, all wrapped up in 3M "Dragonfire" vinyl and rocking uber rare Blitz wheels. Covered in reflective graphics and loaded with drift-ready performance enhancements, it served its purpose well as a car with little to lose and a massive amount to gain in the drift game.

2005 Nissan 350Z LS2 V8 Swap Photo 25/25   |   2005 Nissan 350Z - Take the Money and Run

It was a glorious time to be in the drift scene, too. And, upon obtaining his Formula DRIFT PRO2 license in 2014, Rolando found himself fully immersed in the sport. However, proverbial wrenches were thrown, and both the car and Rolando's drifting career were benched shortly after our feature on his Z hit newsstands. With school and personal life taking precedence, Rolando admits that although a couple of builds occurred during his multiyear hiatus, he steered clear of pro driving. Burnt out and unsure as to what might come, both man and machine were ready for a new direction.

2005 Nissan 350Z Seibon HR Style Hood Photo 25/25   |   2005 Nissan 350Z - Take the Money and Run

However, still waters tend to run deep, and before long Rolando was back under the bonnet. A partnership with ISR Performance brought with it unexpected opportunities, and Rolando ditched the old VQ V-6 for LS engineering. With its outstanding price-to-play starting point and a seemingly bottomless barrel of aftermarket upgrades, the mildly modded GM V-8 was crammed into the Z. While Rolando's LS2 only makes 366 hp and 388 lb-ft of torque on pump gas, Rolando says these seemingly low numbers are nothing to fret over. His old VQ only had 255 ponies, and it outperformed an onslaught of vehicles packing more firepower.

2005 Nissan 350Z Steering Wheel Photo 25/25   |   2005 Nissan 350Z - Take the Money and Run

Being that Rolando's last LS swap was prone to cooling issues, a Chase Bays radiator was installed up front on this rebuild, complete with custom framerail mounts and a core support delete. With his setup sporting twin 2,500-cfm fans blowing cold and a water pump with multiple flow modifications dialed in, Rolando tells us he has yet to encounter any overheating issues after six events.

2005 Nissan 350Z JP Type N Side Skirts 02 Photo 25/25   |   2005 Nissan 350Z - Take the Money and Run

Building the car by himself meant a hefty investment in time was needed. It took Rolando more than a year to complete both performance and appearance swaps, with close friend Alex Hamby documenting everything. The same Mr. Hamby who captured all the photos for this feature also filmed the car's transformation in order to make an interlude between Rolando's High Stakes drift flick and its tire-shredding finale. Picking up where the first film left off, this intermission illustrates how Rolando proceeded to rip, strip, spray, and swap his 350Z after drifting into his garage to escape from the baddies.

With filming and rebuilding complete, Rolando now has both a roaring American V-8 and a sequel of sorts in his possession. Like a GTA or NFS chop-shop cut-scene without all the corny video effects or soundtrack, Rolando's Nissan 350Z has transformed in front of our very eyes. But please don't call it a resurrection... Its owner prefers to refer to it as more of a "new and improved" approach to 350Z galvanization.

2005 Nissan 350Z Zakustech Custom Louvers Photo 25/25   |   2005 Nissan 350Z - Take the Money and Run

Painted gloss black, with dark matte and reflective 3M vinyl graphics repping the original livery, Rolando's 350Z has returned for another helping of high-speed hijinks, this time with a big-ass V-8 up front. Although Rolando did not originally plan on returning to competitive driving, piloting his rebuilt 350Z in big-bash style events this year has rekindled his interest in the sport. Professional driving may not be as important as it once was, but the feeling Rolando gets every time he fires up his Z is impossible to underplay.

By Micah Wright
70 Articles
2005 Nissan 350Z - Take the Money and Run
Tuning Menu
Owner: Rolando Alfaro
Hometown: Kansas City, MO
Occupation: Automotive Branding Consultant/Entrepreneur
Instagram: @rolandoalfaro
Power: 366 hp; 388 lb-ft
Engine: GM LS2 V-8 engine swap; ISR Performance swap mounts, headers, Y-pipe, dual-tip exhaust; Aeromotive 340 Stealth fuel pump, fuel pressure regulator; Chase Bays radiator with custom mounts and twin 2,500-cfm fans, fuel line kit; various water pump flow mods
Drivetrain: CD009 transmission; ISR Performance transmission adapter kit, solid transmission mount; Driveshaft Shop one-piece steel driveshaft; Competition Clutch six-puck clutch; Chase Bays clutch line kit; Buddy Club short shifter; welded differential
Engine Management: GM powertrain control module with HPTuners; KC MAXX Performance custom tune; Wiring Specialties harness
Footwork & Chassis: SPL suspension arms, end links; solid aluminum bushings; Parts Shop Max Super Angle kit; gutted chassis; Formula DRIFT-spec rollcage; Stance D1-Spec coilovers
Brakes: Chase Bays brake booster eliminator, hydraulic handbrake; inBay brake line kit, handbrake line kit; Z33 Brembo calipers with secondary rears; Pro-Series secondary caliper bracket; EBC slotted and dimpled rotors, Blue Stuff pads
Wheels & Tires: 18x9.5 +12 front, 18x10.5 +12 rear Gram Lights 57DR wheels in Gun Blue; 235/40R18 front Federal RS-RR, 265/35R18 rear Kenda KR20 tires; ARP extended studs; Muteki SR48 lug nuts
Exterior: JP Type N front bumper and side skirts; Carbon Crafting rear over-fenders; Wings rear bumper; Seibon HR-style carbon-fiber hood, OEM-style carbon-fiber hatch; AeroCatch hood pins; Zakustech custom louvers; "Triple Black" color scheme (gloss black paint with matte and reflective Fleet Graphics livery)
Interior: AutoMeter ES Spek gauges; Buddy Club seats; Bridgemoto five-point camlock harnesses; Vertex T&E shift knob; NRG quick-release short hub; custom-flocked dash with custom switch panel; Torque Pro gauge display
Thanks: ISR Performance, Chase Bays, Stance Suspension, Fleet Graphics, Alex Hamby Visuals, Jay FabWerks, KC MAXX Performance, BADCALL



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