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How To Modify A Nissan 350Z The Right Way

How To Mod Your Nissan 350Z

When you think about cars, emotions run deep. Some cars evoke love because of the community surrounding them, while others attract criticism for the same reason. However, the automotive world has a few gems that have managed to straddle this divide. The Nissan 350Z is one such legend. The Nissan 350Z has solidified its place as a beloved sports car among enthusiasts. Its sleek design, reliable engine, and darn near perfect handling have made it a favorite on the road and even on the racetrack. While the stock 350Z already offers decent performance, there are several modifications you can make to take it to the next level. In this article, we will explore some aftermarket upgrades and performance modifications that can enhance your Nissan 350Z driving experience.

The Nissan 350Z and Its Roots

The story of the Nissan 350Z is compelling. The Nissan 300ZX, its predecessor, was the highest-selling Z car of all time. But like all good things, its price steadily climbed until the market gave a resounding “enough.” The 300ZX was a masterpiece — twin-turbo, V6, manual transmission, and a power capability rivaling the GTR. Yet, with its departure in 1996, Nissan had big shoes to fill. When the 350Z debuted, it stood out. Competitors like Toyota, Porsche, and BMW were exploring unique designs, some more successful than others. But Nissan? They crafted the 350Z with a fresh look, relying on the expertise of Ajay Panchal and Hidetaka Lijima.

The result? A sports car equipped with a 3.5 Liter, V6, naturally aspirated engine that was rear-wheel drive. It was designed for an authentic, analog experience, albeit with a touch of Y2K tech. Moreover, the 350Z was sensibly priced, leading to stellar sales in the U.S.

Warning when modifying your Nissan 350Z

There is an age old saying of “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” With the Nissan 350Z platform, there is no shortage of things you can do to the car; especially considering how popular the platform is. But just because a mod exists out there for it, doesn’t mean it’s any good. Be careful with trying to make popular platforms “stand out.” If this is your first build, most “stand out” attempts end up looking pretty….well, rough. Always remember to look at the whole build and then work backwards. This helps you achieve a better “full picture” view of when you’re building your car!

Modifying Your Nissan 350Z – The Basics

Want to skip the details and get a high level overview? Don’t worry, here’s the SparkNotes of what to invest in. Want more detail? Skip this part and go down a bit further:

  1. Engine: Depending on your model, you might have the VQ35DE or VQ35HR engine. The DE can handle basic tweaks, but don’t go overboard. Stick to an intake, plenum spacer (if you have an earlier model), exhaust, and maintenance items. The HR, on the other hand, offers more modification flexibility, especially when it comes to tuning. If you’re going to turbo; start with a HR.
  2. Aftermarket Wheels: Opt for straight spoke, mildly concave wheels with a modest lip. The larger lip, the “older” the wheels will typically look on the car. If you’re trying to for a heritage/old school JDM look, then go that way. If you want something more “missile” looking and sleek, go with heavy-concave wheels with no lip. Wheels like Work Meister, Work Kiwami, and Gram Lights offer fantastic options.

Example: Work Meister S1 3P black with polished lips

Example 2: 3piece Work vskf

  1. Aftermarket Lowering Springs / Coilovers : Don’t cheap out here. Fortune Auto 510’s ($1,799) are our #1 choice. Looking for something more budget? The Tein Basis Z Coilovers ($807) will get it done as well.  If you’re just looking for lowering springs; the best option are the H&R Sport Springs. Handle fantastic with a little drop without breaking the bank ($459).

How do coilovers work martiniworks

  1. Tires: With the 350Z, you can go for brands like Toyo, Nexen, Michelin, or Nitto. A thin sidewall ensures you maximize the car’s aesthetic appeal. Stick to a 35 series or lower (that’s the second tire number.)

  1. Aftermarket Exhaust: Want to avoid making your Z sound like a trumpet? Easy, buy an exhaust with resonators. Straight piping your 350Z is the worst thing you can do. If you want to buy something that improves performance, is name brand, and won’t leave you the laughing stock of the parking lot, snag the Borla true dual cat-back exhaust ($1,733) to start. It’s a solid option and you can research more about downpipes later down the road!
  2. Additional Mods: With a budget of around $6000, you can invest in H&R Lowering Springs, Konig Wheels, Nexen Tires, an Invidia Exhaust, AEM Intake, window tinting, cleaning materials for your headlights & taillights, Fortune Auto Coilovers, and an IRP short throw shifter. Add in forced induction, and you’re looking at another $10,000. Want special Japanese wheels? That’s around $2,500. If you want to stand out, be ready to invest $4,000 or more.

Aftermarket Exhaust for Nissan 350Z

Aftermarket exhaust modifications can enhance the driving experience of your Nissan 350Z. However, it is essential to choose the right system to avoid that dreaded “trumpet” sound that can occur if the exhaust is not done correctly. When modifying your exhaust, it is crucial to select a system that includes a resonator. This helps to reduce unwanted noise and maintain a solid exhaust tone. One popular option is the ISR Performance Circuit Spec Exhaust, priced at around $500. This cat-back exhaust system not only adds a deeper and more aggressive tone to your 350Z but also increases overall performance.

Another excellent choice is the Invidia Gemini Exhaust, which is priced at approximately $700. This dual exhaust system not only enhances the 350Z’s exhaust note but also provides noticeable power gains. Its high-quality craftsmanship ensures durability and a perfect fitment.

If you are looking for a higher quality option, the Borla Cat-back exhaust priced at around $1,700, is worth considering. This cat-back exhaust system offers a deep and sporty tone with quality metal that won’t rust after a season.

Catback exhausts are the most common type of aftermarket exhaust for the Nissan 350Z. While you can jump into the exhaust headers, y-pipes, and more, the goal here is to start it in steps. Once you found your cat-back exhaust of choice, install it and see how you like it. Listen for rasp, or other noises you do/don’t like, and then buy your aftermarket exhaust headers. This way you can  adjust your purchase to accommodate what you want more/less of. Too much rasp? Invest in a header that has high flow cats built in or a more restrictive exhaust. Catback too quiet? Go for an open pipe / catless header system that is completely free flowing! Buying separate helps you adjust the exhaust note so you get exactly what you want.

Aftermarket Intake for Nissan 350Z

The stock airbox and intake tubing on the 350Z can limit airflow and reduce engine power. You can increase power by replacing these components with an aftermarket intake. Choose a name brand system for best results. Popular options for the 350Z include the K&N 69 Series Typhoon intake system, priced at around $350, or the Injen SP Series intake system, priced at around $300. Both options offer improved airflow and noticeable power gains.

Installing an aftermarket intake on your Nissan 350Z is a relatively straightforward process that can be done at home with basic tools. Not only will this modification enhance the engine’s performance, but it will also improve the overall driving experience. So, if you’re looking to unleash the true potential of your 350Z, investing in an aftermarket intake is a worthwhile upgrade.

Aftermarket Coilovers for Nissan 350Z

When it comes to modifying your Nissan 350Z for optimal performance and handling, upgrading the suspension is a crucial step. The OEM suspension may not provide the desired ride height and handling characteristics that many enthusiasts crave. That’s where coilovers or lowering springs come into play. A coilover suspension is simply a replacement suspension part that typically gives you ride height adjustability, camber plates to dial in your fitment, and customization on damper behavior (do you want it to feel harsher or softer when you hit a bump?). A coilover swap is the most popular suspension mod for enhancing the suspension of the Nissan 350Z. Unlike lowering springs, which only change the height of the vehicle, coilovers allow for more customization and adjustability while allowing you to feel the “spirited driving” you’re looking to do.

Many enthusiasts prefer coilovers due to their versatility and superior performance benefits. They offer adjustable ride height, spring rate, and damping settings, allowing you to fine-tune your suspension to your specific needs. This makes them ideal for both daily driving and spirited track performance.

When it comes to choosing the right coilovers for your Nissan 350Z, there are several reputable brands to consider. Fortune Auto, H&R, BC Racing, and Tein are among the top choices, known for their quality craftsmanship and performance gains.

Price points for coilovers can vary depending on the brand and features. You can find options ranging from $800 to $2000, ensuring a wide range of choices to fit your budget.

Aftermarket Wheels for Nissan 350Z

For best fitment, a wheel diameter of 19 to 20 inches is recommended. This allows for a balance between aesthetics and performance. As for width, a range of 8.5 to 10.5 inches will provide stability and a wider tire contact patch. Offset is crucial for proper wheel fitment, and the ideal range for the 350Z is between +20 and +30.

Common Wheel Fitment Options:

19×9.5 & 19×10.5 +22 Wheels |  225/35R19 & 245/35/R19 Tires

18×9.5 +22 & 18×10.5 +15 Wheels | 255/35/R18 & 275/35/R18 Tires

18×9.5 +22 Wheels | 225/35/ZR18 Tires

Now that we’ve covered wheel specs, let’s explore some top brands and models for aftermarket wheels on the Nissan 350Z. At the higher end of the price spectrum, you can consider Enkei RPF1 or Volk TE37. Both brands offer lightweight construction and exceptional strength. For those on a tight budget, options like Konig Hypergram or Kansei KNP can deliver style and performance without breaking the bank.

Remember, when purchasing aftermarket wheels, it’s important to consider your specific needs and preferences. Take into account factors such as weight, durability, and finish options.

Aftermarket Performance Mods For The Nissan 350Z

From the engine bay to the stock brakes, you’re going to want to try changing every part of the engine once you realize just how many parts are out there. To start, we recommend focusing on things that 1) let the car breathe, 2) keep the car planted and 3) don’t require you to crack the head.

Strut Brace: Strut braces help keep your car planted and help remove bodyroll that you may encounter around a hard turn. For $200 or so, an aftermarket strut brace can help eliminate that completely.

ECU Tune: Typically exclusive to when you go forced induction, an ECU tune can help take the aftermarket modifications you’ve installed and maximize them to their full potential. While we typically advise you do this after intake, exhaust, forced induction, and more. Some individuals will claim this was their favorite mod as it “tightens” up how the car behaves in terms of power distribution, torque curve, and more!

Forced Induction: For those seeking maximum power gains, forced induction options such as turbocharging or supercharging can significantly increase horsepower and torque. However, these modifications require extensive engine modifications and should only be done by experienced professionals.

Upgraded Brakes: With increased power and performance, it’s crucial to have a braking system that can handle the added stress. Upgrading to high-performance brake pads, rotors, and stainless steel brake lines can greatly improve stopping power and reduce brake fade. This modification is especially important if you plan on driving the car hard; or on the track. We recommend EBC Brakes; but this landscape is huge and we recommend you chat with us via the help bubble to figure out what option is best for you.

Mistakes To Avoid When Modifying Your Nissan 350Z

There are some common mistakes that many people make when undertaking these modifications. Mostly because the community is so huge that people try to “Stand out.” The biggest thing we can say is that doing mods with quality vs. quantity will win out on this platform every single time. With that said, Let’s delve into the top 3 mistakes to avoid when modifying your Nissan 350Z.

1. Prioritizing Aesthetics over Functionality: It’s easy to get caught up in the appearance of your car, but don’t forget about performance. While aftermarket body kits and flashy paint jobs may turn heads, investing in performance modifications will give you tangible benefits on the road or track. Focus on parts that enhance power, handling, and braking. It’ll make you fall in love with the car more.

2. Skipping Proper Maintenance: Modifying your 350Z doesn’t mean neglecting regular maintenance. It’s crucial to keep up with oil changes, filter replacements, and regular check-ups to ensure optimum performance. Don’t overlook the basics in pursuit of aftermarket enhancements. You’ll end up with a cool car on the side of the road.

3. Overbuilding The Car: It’s easy to throw a supercharger, Cusco LSD, skinny tires, and an inline hydro into these cars and start sliding sideways on the night roads; but starting with the OEM platform and “working your way up” in power will make you a better driver; especially if you plan to use your car for track purposes. The 350Z packs a punch in its stock format (outside of its ugly stock fitment). With some wheels, tires, and suspension from MartiniWorks, you can have a 300hp car that can do just about anything!

Straight Pipe Exhaust – Trumpet Sound Nissan 350Z

Let’s get the elephant out of the room, you may have noticed that its exhaust note can sound a bit like a trumpet. While some may find it charming, others may want a deeper and more aggressive sound. Thankfully, there are aftermarket exhaust options that can help you modify the sound of your 350Z.

The trumpet-like sound is caused by the lack of resonators in the stock exhaust system. Resonators are designed to eliminate certain frequencies and reduce overall exhaust noise. Without them, the exhaust gases create a distinct trumpet-like sound. To modify this, you can consider installing a high-flow cats or purchasing a cat-back exhaust with resonators.

A straight pipe exhaust system completely removes the stock exhaust system, including the resonators. This modification provides a raw and aggressive sound, but it may not be street legal in some areas due to increased noise levels. You’re also guaranteed the trumpet noise.

Alternatively, you can choose a cat-back exhaust with resonators. These aftermarket systems replace the stock exhaust system from the catalytic converters to the rear mufflers, and often feature resonators that help reduce and modify the exhaust note. Many reputable brands, such as Borla Exhaust, offer cat-back exhaust systems specifically designed for the 350Z.

Before making any modifications, it’s important to consider how it may affect your daily driving and any legal limitations in your area. Additionally, keep in mind that modifying the exhaust system can result in changes to the engine’s performance characteristics and may require a tune.

Build Threads For Nissan 350Z

The best inspiration can be builds that were already completed. If you’re looking for help, check out our build threads which feature loads of modified Nissan 350Z’s. From track builds to drift cars, each Nissan 350Z has its own story and you can learn just how to modify your Nissan with our community. Looking for parts? Mod your car at MartiniWorks!

2006 Nissan 350z MartiniWorks

https://martiniworks.com/builds/2006-nissan-350z/

Nissan 350Z Build MartiniWorks

https://martiniworks.com/builds/2006-nissan-350z-2/

https://martiniworks.com/builds/rocket-bunny-350z/

Want us to write about another platform? Message us and we’ll get it done!

– Alex Martinez

IG: Alex.Martini__

Alex Martinez

My name is Alex, or Alex Martini (Alex.Martini__) and I love building unreliable cars. From track, road, drag and drift, there really isn't a motorsport I love. PS if you're reading this, just know that we've got some WILD builds coming for MartiniWorks that we're really excited to share with you :)