The Top 5 Nissan 350Z Mods. At this moment, the Nissan 350Z is considered a classic. I say this not because of its age, but because of its impact on the automotive industry. The 350Z, which was debuted in 2002, had a superb balance of qualities that made it an excellent daily driver as well as a weekend warrior. After all, that was the Nissan Z’s guiding principle.
The Nissan 350Z has the traditional two-door, front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout for a well-handling sports car. A Nissan VQ35DE 3.5L V6 engine (VQ35HR in late models) sits between the front wheels, capable of delivering 287-300 horsepower and 260-274 lb-ft of torque. The 350Z is not only powerful, but it is extremely light, weighing in at roughly 3,200 pounds.
While the 350Z delivers impressive performance out of the box, very few 350Z owners keep their cars in stock form. This is most likely due to the abundance of tempting performance-enhancing parts available to them these days. In the 20 years after its release, the 350Z has become a darling in numerous enthusiast communities and has received extensive aftermarket support.
The vast aftermarket culture that surrounds the 350Z might make customizing one seem overwhelming. It’s a case of information overload. In this article, we’ll assist limit down the options and recommend some of the top Nissan 350Z performance tweaks.
Overview of the Best Nissan 350Z Mods
When it comes to customizing a Nissan 350Z, we’ll mostly be concerned with two types of vehicle upgrades: handling mods and engine performance tweaks. While the 350Z has a good reputation as an all-arounder, it can certainly be improved in those two areas in particular. Suspension changes that allow the 350Z to corner flatter are extremely beneficial for performance driving situations.
It is widely accepted that adding forced induction to a VQ35DE or VQ35HR is the most effective technique to extract the greatest power from them. However, turbocharging or supercharging a 350Z is notoriously expensive, with most quality kits costing well into the five-figure range. As a result, we’ll concentrate on 350Z upgrades aimed toward naturally aspirated performance. If you want to learn more about turbocharging your 350Z, see our Ultimate 350Z Turbo Upgrade Guide. Here are the 350Z modifications we’ll be discussing:
- The Sway Bars
- Plenum Separator
Nissan 350Z Modifications – Coilover Upgrade
A decent pair of coilovers is one of the best handling-improving changes you can make to a 350Z, or any car for that matter. One of the primary complaints about the original 350Z chassis is its soft suspension and high ride height. While this makes the 350Z a good daily driver, it has a negative impact on its performance potential.
Coilovers are a complicated subject because they come in a variety of designs and sizes. Having said that, they all fulfill the same overall objective. In general, coilovers increase suspension stiffness above stock, allowing an automobile to run lower to the ground. This results in your 350Z cornering better because it has better touch with the road and a lower center of gravity. Coilovers allow you to alter the ride height of your vehicle by rotating an adjustment collar on the strut assembly.
Some higher-tier 350Z coilovers include features like as adjustable damping, which gives another layer of adjustability depending on your application. Damping is beneficial for a daily driver that also serves as a track day vehicle because it allows you to modify ride firmness on the fly. To soften or stiffen the ride, you normally adjust a knob clockwise or counterclockwise. For regular driving, adjust the coils to a mild setting to better handle road imperfections, or firmer and more planted when you go to the track.
Coilovers for Nissan 350Z versus Lowering Springs
If you’ve spent any time reading 350Z suspension forum discussions, you’ve almost likely come across the never-ending coilover vs lowering springs controversy. There should, in my opinion, be no argument because there is only one proper response. While lowering springs can help with the infamous 350Z wheel gap, they won’t deliver the same performance as a solid set of coils.
Lowering springs, unlike coilovers, are not height adjustable and utilise your vehicle’s standard struts rather than changing the complete suspension assembly. Lowering springs are typically shorter springs with a little higher spring rate than the conventional 350Z arrangement to produce a lower ride height. Having said that, they lack practically all of the customizability found in a pair of 350Z coilovers. However, because you are only replacing the springs, they are substantially less expensive.
Lowering springs may be a suitable option for someone who wants to lower their 350Z merely for aesthetic reasons. Because you can’t adjust ride height after the fact, it’s critical that if you go the lowering springs route, you do your research and find the right spring rate for your desired application.
Advantages of 350Z Coilovers
- Flatter cornering results in improved handling.
- Adjustable ride height / 1″ drop
- Damping can be adjusted in higher-end setups.
- improved performance on and off the track
- 350Z Coilover Set Recommendation
- Raceland Nissan 350Z Coilover Kit is the best budget kit.
- BC Racing BR Series 350Z Coilover Kit is the best mid-range kit.
The cost of a 350Z coilover package is one of the most important factors to consider. Fortunately, because the Z33 platform is so popular, there are decent solutions in a variety of pricing ranges. Raceland is the way to go if you’re looking for a low-cost alternative that will improve your Z’s appearance while also modestly enhancing performance over stock. Raceland is regarded for providing a high-quality product at an affordable price, as well as good customer service.
If you’re ready to spend a little more money, BC Racing is another company that offers a superb mid-range set with extra functionality. BC Racing 350Z coilovers include adjustable ride height from 1 to 5 inches, as well as 30-way adjustable damping and optional camber plates for more personalization. BC Racing is regarded for providing an excellent blend of pricing and performance for the majority of applications.
Sway Bar Upgrades for the Nissan 350Z
While coilovers will improve the handling characteristics of a stock 350Z, they aren’t the be-all and end-all solution to the Z33’s handling issues. better 350Z sway bars are another excellent mod for boosting handling, especially when combined with better suspension.
Upgraded sway bars can enhance overall chassis rigidity, save weight, and provide another degree of customization to your Z33 build. A sway bar’s purpose is to connect the left and right sides of a vehicle’s suspension, thereby preventing the torsion applied to the chassis when cornering. Upgraded sway bars resist torsion better than stock ones, resulting in less body roll.
Upgraded 350Z sway bars are lighter than factory ones, in addition to having higher torsional stiffness. Weight reduction is usually beneficial in a high-performance vehicle. Most aftermarket choices also offer a high degree of stiffness adjustability, making it simple to customize your Z.
350Z Upgraded Sway Bar Kit Recommendation
350Z Sport Sway Bar Kit by Hotchkis
One of the best aspects about replacing your sway bars is that it is a relatively inexpensive 350Z alteration that is rather simple to install. Some manufacturers, such as Hotchkis, offer a complete kit that includes front and rear adjustable sway bars, bushings, and brackets that are ready to install right away.
The Hotchkis kit has everything you’d expect in an aftermarket sway bar set. The front bar can be stiffened in four different ways, ranging from 22% stiffer than standard to 129% stiffer than stock. The rear bar is adjustable in three positions, ranging from 5% softer than stock to 78% stiffer than stock. They are also slightly lighter than the stock bars. No matter how you configure them, you’ll notice an immediate improvement in the handling of your 350Z.
Nissan 350Z Mods – Exhaust Upgrade
Another 350Z improvement that requires some thought is an improved exhaust. The Z33 chassis, like pretty much every other 350Z conversion, offers a plethora of aftermarket choices. Price, sound, and performance are the three most important factors to consider.
Cat-back exhausts are by far the most frequent style of exhaust installed on lightly modified Zs. Cat-back exhausts are precisely what their name implies. From the catalytic converter to the exhaust tip, they replace all stock exhaust components. This type of exhaust is often composed of stainless steel and is designed to improve exhaust gas flow out of the engine, resulting in somewhat increased power and significantly increased noise.
Aftermarket cat-back systems can vary significantly in terms of pipe diameter, tip diameter, and exit method. Some aftermarket 350Z exhausts are single-exit, but the most majority, like the standard exhaust, are dual-exit. The sound of an aftermarket 350Z exhaust is strongly influenced by the diameter of the exhaust piping and the type of muffler used.
Benefits of a 350Z Exhaust Upgrade
- More power/torque as a result of improved exhaust flow
- Gain of 10-20 horsepower / 10-25 lb-ft of torque
- improved exhaust tone
- Exhaust aesthetics have been improved.
Recommended 350Z Exhaust Upgrade
Exhaust System Stillen 350Z Full Cat-Back
While there are numerous systems to choose from, we recommend the Stillen 350Z Dual Exit Cat-Back system for performance 350Z exhaust. While it isn’t the loudest on the market, it improves the VQ35DE’s deep growl at high RPMs while reducing exhaust drone on the highway.
In terms of performance, it is largely agreed that Stillen’s estimates of 16 whp and 14 lb-ft gain are a little exaggerated. Power increases are expected to be closer to 10 whp and 14 lb-ft, which is still not terrible. The majority of the power is derived from the Stillen’s mandrel bent piping, which allows exhaust gas to exit more easily than the standard system. While the stainless steel construction of the Stillen does not significantly reduce weight, it is very sturdy and should last a long time under your Z.
The Stillen is priced in the middle of the pack. It’s not the cheapest option, but it’s also not the most expensive. It strikes a happy medium between price, performance, and sound. What more could you want?
Nissan 350Z Mods: Improved Intake
A performance intake is a fantastic choice for people searching for a low-cost Z33 Nissan 350Z performance upgrade. A performance intake can be regarded a wonderful starting point or the finishing touch to a well tuned design, depending on how you look at it. The goal of a performance intake upgrade is to improve engine ventilation over the stock system. In general, the performance of an enhanced intake scales with engine performance, as highly tuned engines are frequently throttled due to insufficient airflow.
Many members of the 350Z community believe that the factory 350Z airbox delivers adequate airflow for a stock configuration. If you’re on a tight budget, most Z33 owners recommend keeping the stock airbox but replacing it with a K&N drop-in filter. This improves the surface area of the filter and provides for enhanced breathability.
In general, the gains in horsepower and torque from a 350Z cold air intake are marginal. They are, however, a fantastic alternative for people searching for a low-cost mod that will modestly improve performance. In most cases, a nice 350Z intake may be found for a few hundred dollars. They are typically fairly simple to set up. The most power benefits from an intake are obtained when forced induction is used, but without it, you may expect power gains in the 3-6whp range and torque gains in the 2-4wtq region.
Benefits of 350Z Upgraded Intake
- Gains of 3-6 watts
- 2-4wtq increases
- improved airflow
- Engine noise on intake
- Enhanced throttle response
350Z Recommended Intake
Takeda 350Z Cold Air Intake aFe
If you want a little more performance than the original airbox or K&N drop-in filter can deliver, aFe’s Takeda intake system is the best value for money on the market. The installation is quite simple and can be completed by any novice. aFe claims 16whp and 19wtq increases, yet these figures are exaggerated and impractical.
The aFe intake, in addition to improving engine ventilation, has a washable filter that can be cleaned when it becomes dirty. The kit includes all of the tubing, filters, couplers, and hardware needed to get started right away.
Plenum Spacer Nissan 350Z Modifications
This modification is exclusive to Nissan 350Zs and Infiniti G35s equipped with the VQ35DE engine. The VQ35DE engine has a terrible plenum design that restricts airflow. The intake plenum is the section of the intake manifold that collects and distributes all of the air to the cylinders. It has “runners” that branch off of it to supply air to each cylinder. The space between the plenum and the first two runners on the VQ35DE is so small that it inhibits airflow and decreases power.
A plenum spacer lies between the upper and lower parts of the plenum and enhances the plenum’s air capacity. This boosts the airflow to the cylinders, resulting in higher power.
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The Advantages of a Nissan 350Z Plenum Spacer
- bone stock 8whp
- With intake, headers, and exhaust, you can get up to 15whp.
- increased airflow
- Reduced air intake temperatures
Plenum Spacer for Nissan 350Z Recommended
Plenum Spacer for the 350Z MotorDyne
MotorDyne has the best plenum spacer for the 350Z on the market. The spacer adds 5/16″ to the plenum and is the simplest kit to install when compared to other choices on the market. Installation should take no more than an hour and is simple enough for beginners. At $220, this mod offers the highest value per horsepower improvement of any 350Z mod. MotorDyne claims 11-13whp improvements, which we believe to be true.
Summary of the Top 5 Nissan 350Z Mods
The Nissan 350Z is an undeniably fantastic platform straight out of the box. It possesses all of the features of a fantastic sports car. While the Z33 is capable as is, it may be considerably improved with the correct performance tweaks.
We discussed both handling-improving and power-increasing improvements in this article. Because the 350Z is known for having a less-than-ideal suspension setup from the factory, coilovers and improved sway bars can considerably improve your Z’s cornering performance. Your 350Z will be able to corner flatter and have better road contact with a coilover/swaybar combo.
Without forced induction, it is difficult to extract significant more power from a stock VQ35DE. However, there are a number of worthwhile upgrades that will not break the bank, such as a turbo. An improved intake, exhaust, and plenum spacer will get you 30-40 more horsepower out of your Z. While this may not appear to be a significant difference, you will notice it. These three modifications will cost a fraction of the price of a turbo or supercharged kit.