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How To Build A Nissan 350z For Street and Track

How To Build A Nissan 350z For Street and Track

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The Nissan 350Z (known as the Nissan Fairlady Z Z33 in Japan) is a two-seat sports car manufactured by Nissan Motors from 2002 t0 2009.  Sold first as a Coupe,  they eventually created the roadster model as well.  Several trim levels included Base, Enthusiast, Performance, Touring, and Track Editions.  The earlier model track editions included lightweight wheels and Brembo Brakes.  Eventually, later in production, they came with Akebono Brakes as did their successor model 370z.  Now that this model has been out for several years, the price of these has since made these much more affordable.   Because of their current price point, this makes it an ideal car to modify and for those more ambitious, turn into a competitive track day car!  The Purpose of this Blog is to share with you, how we would build a 350z that can perform equally well both on the street and track…using off the shelf parts sold here at NissanRaceShop.com.

What types of products do you recommend upgrading on the 350z to enhance its performance?

We get asked this question a lot, and figured it would be a good time to break it down as to which parts we recommend and why.    Of course, there is always more than one way to skin a cat, these are just a few of the bolt-on products available that will help take your project to the next level.   We base these recommendations on years of our experience with these parts with positive results.  Please feel free to use this as a basic guide in the building of your own current project.  Of course, if you have any questions, we are always happy to help you choose the right parts to fit your needs and budget!

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One of the best ways to improve the handling of any vehicle is by lowering the center of gravity and improving the effectiveness of your suspension system.   We will break this down into 3 sections: Coilovers, Lowering Springs, and Sway Bars.

Coilovers:  Short for “Coil Spring Over Shock”, consisting of the shock absorber with a coil spring encircling it.  With a coilover setup, the shock and spring are assembled as a unit before installation.  Coilovers are best known for the adjustability.  Ride Height and Pre-Load are usually set with a simple threaded spring perch similar to a nut.  Stiffness can be changed with the simple change of coil springs with different spring rates.  The use of Coilovers also allows for additional adjustments for Compression, Rebound, and the ability for Corner Balancing.

If we were to install a set of coiovers on our car, here’s what we would use:

Lowering Springs:  Lowering springs are an alternative and lower cost solution compared to Coilovers…but lack the customization.  Lowering springs are designed to work with your existing shocks/struts and lower the car according to the specifications of the company that produces them.  If you are merely looking for a lower stance, this is an excellent option that doesn’t break the bank.  These are the springs sets we would install on our 350z:

Sway Bars:  While Coilovers and Lowering springs reduce and control the amount of up/down motion when driving, the use of Anti-Sway Bars/Sway Bars/Stabilizer Bars will help with the reduction of Body Roll of your vehicle during hard cornering or over road irregularities.  If we were to install sway bars on our 350z, these are what we recommend:

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Too many focus on adding power and styling…and often neglect one of the most important aspects of a well rounded car – Braking.  All the power in the world, and the ability to turn on a dime means nothing if you are unable to stop your car from plowing into the family of six stopped on the road in front of you.  Sure, you can get crazy and spend a ton of money on a Big Brake kit for your 350z, but unless you are looking to break track records, these small upgrades can make all the difference in the world.

Brake Pads:  Not all pads are created equal.  Depending on the type of driving you do, choosing the right pad compound will make a huge difference.  Some pads have a good initial bite, but fade as the pads get hot…others take a little to warm up and then perform better under heat.  For a car built for the street and track, you want a good pad that can handle the heat and work well in most conditions.  An OEM pad will work great on the street, but once warmed up…could potentially be dangerous at the track!  Our Recommendations:

Track Pads

Street Pads

Stainless Steel Lines:  As the brake fluid gets hotter, your stock rubber brake lines have a tendancy to give you a mushy feel under braking…upgrading to a quality Stainless Steel Brake Line setup will result in a more consistent and firm brake feel even as the fluid temps rise.

Brake Fluid:  Stock brake fluid has a tendancy to boil quickly under hard braking…resulting in air bubbles in lines and a decrease in stopping power.  It is always best to upgrade to a brake fluid that won’t boil until a higher temperature is reached.  Our Recommended High Temp Brake Fluid:

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Cat-Back System:  Adding an aftermarket cat back exhaust can provide several benefits, the first of which is more power. Aftermarket exhaust systems are designed to be freer flowing than your stock exhaust, usually incorporating larger diameter piping and higher-grade mandrel bent tubing for a more laminar flow.  Second, installing a cat back exhaust can dramatically change the tone of the the exhaust system – usually louder and deeper, more aggressive sound.

HFC/Test Pipes:  The stock exhaust system and the catalytic converters are very restrictive.  Upgrading to a HFC (High Flow Cat) or Test Pipe (no Cat) will significantly remove the restrictions of the stock catalytic converters, resulting in more power.  Our Recommendations:

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Cold Air Intake:  Replacing the stock airbox system is one of the easiest ways of increasing power, torque, and fuel mileage.  Adding more air to the combustion mixture results in more power and uses less fuel to power itself.  This “combustion efficiency” results in an increase of horsepower and torque, using roughly the same amount of fuel. Put simply, if you add oxygen to a fire, you get a stronger fire. Cold Air Intake systems are designed to deliver more oxygen-rich cold air into the engine than a stock air intake tract.  We Recommend:

Intake Plenum Spacers:  One of the most inexpensive modifications you can do is add an intake plenum spacer.  This allows for more air volume inside the upper intake plenum, resulting in more power.  We recommend the use of the Motordyne Intake Plenum Spacers.  Basically, they come in two variations of thickness:  The 5/16 spacer is the most common and overall power gains in mid-range.   The 1/2 inch spacer results in more top end power.  They also have the option for Iso Thermal Barriers and Copper for those in.  Here are the available options:

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Front Splitter:  As you continue to increase you speeds, you will soon find the need for a front splitter.  This will help with front end downforce, minimizing the amount of front end lift without it.

Rear Spoiler/Wing:  Simply one of the easiest ways to add down-force to the rear of the car, is by the use of a rear wing (spoiler).  This will help stablize the rear end under high speeds and during cornering.  Most wings are adjustable to allow tuning while at the track.

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Aluminum Radiators:  All Aluminum radiators are the best way to improve cooling over the stock radiator.  Not only are they lighter, but the aluminum construction has eliminated the problems associated with plastic tanks and epoxy bonding to the radiator core.  Most importantly, the aluminum radiators are much stronger and more efficient that the OEM plastic radiators.  Our recommended radiators for the 350z:

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Wheels:  Other than the obvious reason of better looks, choosing the correct wheel can drastically change the way your vehicle feels and performs.  Choosing a wider wheel will allow you to utilize wider tires for a larger contact patch resulting in better road feel and traction.

For a Street Setup, we recommend 18×9.5 +15 up front and 18×10.5 +15 in the rear.

For a Track Setup, we recommend 18×10.5 +15 on all 4 corners.

We have done a lot of testing on wheels and found that these are the best bang for your buck: Lightweight, strong, and affordable

Tires:  Choosing the right tire can be a daunting task with the amount of variables to consider.   There are many different types of compounds and  sizes to consider.  Depending on the type of driving you do or what class you plan to run, will determine which tire you should use.  For the best overall performance of a street/track and staying within budget, we recommend going with something like these:

  • Zestino Gredge 07R (240 treadwear)
  • Hankook RS3 (200 treadwear)
  • Zestino 07RS (140 treadwear)
  • Toyo R888 (100 treadwear)
  • Nitto NT01 (100 treadwear)

Recommended Tire Size/Setups

Street Setup: 245 or 255/40/18 front with 275/40/18 in the rear

Street/Track Setup: 265/35/18 front with 285/35/18 in the rear

Track Setup: 275/35/18 square on all four corners

As always, there is always more than one way to accomplish the same results, these are just a few of the parts that we know are proven and reliable.  If you have any questions, or would like help choosing the right parts for your project car, we can help you find the right parts for your needs and budget!

Give us a call at 866-350-1005

*Wheel/Tire recommendations by Len Novak.

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