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2009 Nissan 370Z - Taming the White Dragon

After a Decade of Ups and Downs, Going Way Over the Top Never Felt So Good

Chad Burdette
Sep 3, 2019

The never-ending pursuit of the perfect, high-horsepower sports car is something Mike Mixon knows all too well, as his '09 Nissan 370Z, better known as "Project White Dragon," has been a decade-long mission. The result is one of the most savage Z cars in existence, producing a ridiculous amount of tire-shredding power.

2009 Nissan 370Z Zele Performance Front Bumper 01 Photo 22/22   |   2009 Nissan 370Z - Taming the White Dragon

When the Z34 chassis was first introduced by Nissan, aftermarket parts were extremely limited. Mike started with what was available, mostly suspension-related, including a set of sway bars and coilovers. At that point, it was clear that in order to move forward with a full build, he would have to work with some of the best manufacturers to develop future upgrades. After Mike partnered with the likes of GTM Performance, Zele Japan, Seibon Carbon, SPC Performance, Toyo Tires, and DTM Autobody, the car eventually made its debut at the 2011 SEMA Show sporting a pure, all-metal widebody designed by Mike himself, a built and stroked VQ engine, and twin Garrett GT3582R turbos pumping out a very impressive 886 hp to the rear wheels. The car was met with rave reviews from industry professionals and enthusiasts alike and earned Mike the coveted Gran Turismo award for "Best Asian Import."

Most people would have been content with a build of this caliber, but Mike has continued to refine, update, and upgrade the car ever since. While displaying at one of the nation's largest Nissan events, ZdayZ, a conversation with Tony Myerson, owner of Fast Intentions, produced a plan to reach Mike's new goal of more than 1,000 hp. To achieve this, Fast Intentions developed a twin-turbo package with massive, custom Xona Rotor turbos rated at 80 pounds per minute.

2009 Nissan 370Z RJM VQ Engine Photo 22/22   |   2009 Nissan 370Z - Taming the White Dragon

To help move the additional boost, Mike entrusted a local performance shop to install an RJM intake manifold conversion kit, which utilizes a GReddy R35 GT-R manifold. While this seemed to be the perfect recipe for four-digit horsepower numbers, the results were problematic. Unhappy with the performance and reliability, Mike decided to remove the car from the shop and take things into his own hands. After recruiting Chris Worelds from Final Letter Performance for assistance, he decided to start from scratch and remove the entire powertrain in his garage using basic hand tools. Its replacement would be a bulletproof 4.0L VQ based on RJM's closed-deck VQVHR powerplant. It's quite simply a beast motor that's been dry sleeved and equipped with a forged-billet crank, rods, and 10.5:1 Wiseco pistons and buttoned together with ARP hardware. Mike and Chris also took things a step further, deciding to O-ring the block and heads for extra security by combating any potential head gasket failures at higher boost levels. The cylinder heads were ported and fitted with larger valves before a set of Tomei 272 degree cams and a Supertech dual-valvespring setup were added to keep the engine happy up to 9,000 rpm. In addition, 2,000cc injectors and a Fore Innovations GT-R triple pump were added to feed the beast. This required some fabrication but was made to work using a custom siphon system. After the battery was relocated to the hatch, an Innovate flex fuel system was implemented in its place.

2009 Nissan 370Z Custom Subwoofer Enclosure Photo 22/22   |   2009 Nissan 370Z - Taming the White Dragon

Getting the power to the ground without a massive amount of carnage required significant drivetrain upgrades, which included an OS Giken triple-plate carbon-ceramic clutch and a carbon driveshaft. The rear differential was replaced with an automatic version that's equipped with an OS Giken 1.5-way diff and a taller final drive.

2009 Nissan 370Z Battle Aero Chassis Mounted Wing Photo 22/22   |   2009 Nissan 370Z - Taming the White Dragon

With all the heavy lifting finally behind him, Mike got the car on the dyno for the tuning process using an Ecutek RaceRom tuning package. The result is more than 900 whp on pump gas and four-digit horsepower on E98 race fuel. Mission accomplished.

2009 Nissan 370Z Status Racing Seats Photo 22/22   |   2009 Nissan 370Z - Taming the White Dragon

At this point, Mike became concerned about slowing the car down. A much-needed brake upgrade was in order, which consisted of Rolloface eight- and six-piston calipers with two-piece floating rotors. Those massive brakes are partially hidden by Work M1 3P wheels that measure 19x10 inches up front and 19x13 inches in the rear. Keeping the car firmly planted through any turns encountered is a long list of suspension upgrades from KW, SPC, and Hotchkis.

The interior is proof that despite the massive levels of power, this remains a true street car. Mike has retained all the creature comforts, with full in-car entertainment and even upgraded lighting. The only clue this is anything other than your average show car are the safety additions, like Switchback Racing's custom rollbar and Status Racing seats and harnesses.

2009 Nissan 370Z Zele Performance Rear Bumper Photo 22/22   |   2009 Nissan 370Z - Taming the White Dragon

After a 10-year stint with multiple revisions, Mike is finally happy with his White Dragon and has reached his 1,000hp goal, but we're sure he will continue to improve it as he sees fit. After all, is any build ever truly done?

By Chad Burdette
61 Articles
2009 Nissan 370Z - Taming the White Dragon
Tuning Menu
Owner: Mike Mixon
Hometown: Atlanta, GA
Occupation: Program Manager
Instagram: @bullitt5897
Engine: 4.0L RJM closed-deck long-block; O-ring and ported VVEL heads (+2mm intake/+4mm exhaust, reshaped domes); GT-R intake manifold conversion; LA Sleeves dry cylinder sleeves; Wiseco 10.5:1 96mm pistons; Carrillo rods, CA625 rod bolts; Brian Crower 92mm billet crank; King bearings; ATI Super Damper; Fast Intentions twin-turbo Stage 4+ kit; Xona Rotor 7864 turbo with TiAL 1.06 housings; ported GReddy GT-R intake manifold; ported EPS True 70mm throttle bodies; four-bar GT-R MAP sensor; 3-inch GTM stainless quad exhaust with 5-inch titanium tips; Aeromotive fuel filter; Radium fuel pulse dampers; ID2000 injectors; Fore Innovation fuel pressure regulator, 485-lph GT-R triple fuel pumps; Bosch 15-psi HOBB switch; Innovative flex fuel kit; HKS air/fuel and knock monitor
Drivetrain: OS Giken triple-disc clutch, flywheel, 1.5-way limited-slip differential; GTM HD concentric slave cylinder; carbon-fiber driveshaft; 3.36 auto final drive swap; Z1 extra capacity differential cover, billet motor mounts, solid differential bushings; Driveshaft Shop Pro 1000 rear axles
Engine Management: Ecutek RaceRom tuning package
Footwork & Chassis: KW V3 coilovers; SPC front adjustable control arms, camber bolts, toe arms; Hotchkis front and rear rear adjustable sway bars
Brakes: 16-inch front, 15-inch rear Rolloface custom big brake kit with eight-piston front, six-piston rear calipers; stainless steel lines
Wheels & Tires: 19x10 -27, 19x13 -29 Work M1 3P wheels; 245/35R19 front, 325/20R19 rear Toyo Proxes T1 Sport tires; custom titanium lug nuts
Exterior: Zele Performance aero kit; custom wideboy designed by Mike Mixon and built by DTM Autobody; AMS carbon-fiber hood; Aerocatch hood latches; Seibon carbon-fiber mirror caps, C pillars; Battle Aero chassis-mounted wing; painted taillights
Interior: Upholstery by JDM Coachworks and DarkDog Customs; Status Racing seats, harnesses; memory foam pads by DarkDog Customs; molded steering wheel; Switchback Racing four-point rollbar; titanium counter-weighted shift knob; Focal KRX3 three-way speakers; Hertz 10-inch subwoofers; Alpine four-channel and mono amps; MB Quart MX-1 components; custom rear deck and lighting

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