While the Nissan 350Z has become one of the most ubiquitous tuner cars on the road, not all of them are pushing 600-plus whp. However, the number of big-power Zs is on the rise. Recently, Turbo magazine's resident Midwest freelance correspondent, Isaac Mion, took just such a beast for a spin.
The Nissan's speedo read 135 mph as the two-ton white F-350 started to wander into our lane upon approach. The ensuing Billy-Bob avoidance technique brought us mere inches from the guardrail. Even with its EDFC set on the softest setting, the Tein Type Flex coil-overs dealt with the high-speed evasive maneuver with style and grace. The heavily modified Z went on to an easily obtained 160 mph before it was brought down to a more civilized speed. Logic and the thought of the owner's face if we had to tell him his 350Z had blown a tire during our test drive greatly influenced the decision to slow down.
Jason Purdum is a 34-year-old boost freak who is also the general manager of Boulder Nissan and the owner of this fine example of Nissan power. One of his first cars was a 300Z, which is one of the reasons he chose Nissan's rebirth of the legendary Z as his new modifying platform. Another reason for building the Z was the fact it could be parked in front of the dealership and draw in customers like bees to honey.
As you can see, the spec list for the engine is longer than a Monday morning in court. As a result the power can be quite punishing to the Nismo 1.5 LSD and other parts of the drivetrain. The majority of the vital parts in the engine have been upgraded or enlarged to deal with the newfound power from forced induction.
A stout set of legs is required to support the violent acceleration efforts provided by the heavily modified VQ35DE. The Tein coil-over kit along with the accompanying Nismo sway bars and the Stillen rear toe arms and camber adjusters help immensely with launches as do the beefier Level 5 rear axles from The Driveshaft Shop. The entire setup is tailored to provide equal prowess in the numerous canyons around Boulder and stoplight-to-stoplight sprints within the city limits.
When it came to the exterior, the catch phrase was 'not-so-subtle subtlety,' and the result is definitely in your face. A VeilSide Version III widebody kit ended up being basically the final addition to this project. Look closely and you'll see that the side skirts have been smoothed, eliminating the raised VeilSide logo. This is about the only smooth aspect of the kit's installation. When Purdum and his right-hand man throughout the project, 25-year-old Nissan parts manager Eric Stockton, screwed in the wheel arches, they ended up cracking them. On top of that, the rear bumper was cracked when it arrived. As it takes VeilSide kits longer to arrive than takes women to get ready on Friday nights, the decision was made to remold the entire kit where needed.
After the body fitment came to fruition they attacked the doors. The team had to fool around with different settings on the GT Factory kit in order to achieve the "straight up" look. As well as being different from other scissor-door kits, the GT Factory kit is stronger because the impact beam is welded to the hinge and the weight of the door rests there as opposed the front half of the door.
Speaking of strength, popping the fiberglass hood is like opening a gateway to power. To start with, the cylinders have been bored over .020 and now house CP low compression pistons (8.5:1) while the connecting rods are from Pauter, which came through with the hard to find items when the Z was in its infancy and few tuner parts were available. Stockton, the co-builder of the car and basically co-owner of this whip, drove it to the photo shoot and gets to drive it in anger with the drag slicks on during test-and-tune missions. He mentioned the installation of the GReddy twin-turbo kit had to be the most difficult modification on the Z. "The directions could have been a little bit better," Stockton said.
The turbos tucked under the wings of the V6 are not the standard 18Gs but are upgraded 20G units from Turbo Engineering Corporation (TEC). They have the same housing but the exhaust side has been clipped seven degrees to facilitate a freer flow. The intake side has been machined by TEC to accept the larger 20G compressor wheel.
Other originalities abound in this engine. For example, water methanol injection was installed right after the photo shoot while a custom return fuel system ensures enough fuel reaches the GReddy 720cc main and 650cc secondary injectors. Only closer inspection reveals the more efficient shape of the Crawford Z car Version IV plenum. The stock unit is taller towards the back while the Crawford unit is one size all around which promotes better flow.
While this engine may stand alone with its power, its computer does not. The Z employs a piggyback setup from GReddy. The e-Manage has had the mapping changed by Stockton and Purdum. At the same time, a GReddy Rebic IV runs the 720cc sub injectors, which remain in place after the previous 440cc injectors were swapped out. The GReddy PRofec e-01 is the in-cabin computer which can be used for an array of items such as changing boost or the engine speed when boost comes on. But Stockton notes they usually just go in there with a laptop. A Stillen grounding kit is used to ensure all the electronics are at optimal performance levels at all times.
While the engine bay is nice, the cabin is where we spent most of our time. Racing seats from Sparco held us firmly in place while GReddy readouts gauged the oil pressure and oil temp as we explored the winding switchbacks around Boulder. After finally finding the traction control switch, we were able to "calmly" drift the Z around the alpine corners, still slightly slick from a summer shower. The Z is incredibly balanced and flickable for a 3,500-pound car. With forced induction it becomes even more of an elated exercise in traction control. The Z tore into the endless undulating curves ascending the mountainside like an eager four-year-old into her birthday presents.
Whether the Boulder locals appreciated or despised the Nismo's rapid approach and disappearance remains to be seen. Either way, it appears that these guys from Boulder have their A-game on as their Nissan is a show-and-go machine of the nth degree.
2003 Nissan 350ZExteriorVeilSide Version III Full Body Kit (Widebody)
Wheels And TiresKinesis Wheels: Front 19 x 9, Rear 19 x 12Michelin Pilot Sports: Front 245/35/19, Rear 315/25/19
SuspensionTein Type Flex Coil-OversNismo Sway BarsStillen Rear Camber AdjustersStillen Rear Toes Arms
DrivetrainNismo L.S.DThe Driveshaft Shop Level 5 AxlesRouge Short ShifterATS Triple Disk Clutch
EnginePauter RodsCP Piston 8.5:1 Pistons (.020-over)Jim Wolf Technology Cam Set Titanium Valve RetainersCrawford Z Car Version IV PlenumRC 650CC InjectorsCustom Return Fuel SystemAeromotive A1000 Fuel PumpAeromotive Fuel Pressure RegulatorReddy Twin-Turbo Kit (upgraded to TD05-20G turbosReddy Front Mount IntercoolerReddy Type-R Blow-Off ValveRandom Technology Hi-Flow CatsStillen Dual ExhaustStillen Grounding KitReddy Iridium PlugsBlitz Aluminum RadiatorUnorthodox Racing Underdrive Pulley Set
ElectronicsReddy e-ManageReddy Rebic IVReddy 720cc Sub Injectors (2)Reddy PRofec e-01Reddy Fuel Pressure GaugeTechnosquare Reflashed ECUReddy Boost GaugeReddy EGT Gauge (2)Reddy Air/Fuel Gauge
InteriorSparco Milano Leather SeatsSparco 5-Point HarnessesKrik Racing Roll Bar Nismo Carbon Fiber Shift KnobPioneer 760-MP CD PlayerPioneer 6 Disc CD ChangerAlpine Type-R 10-inch Subwoofer