Once upon a time, two Vipers and Corvette ago, I had a 2004 Nissan 350Z which was my garage queen project car. This car was my pride and joy, I put a lot of time, effort, and money into that car to make it the way I wanted. I thought it’d be interesting to go back and see all of the things I had done to the car to turn it from this:
My initial idea was that I wanted to make the car nice overall from all aspects…from performance, to suspension, to audio. Looking back now, the one aspect I didn’t really do enough was suspension, but that would have required dumping in a lot more money. So let’s take a look at what was done:
To start off, I went with some little modifications like a smaller antenna, removing emblems, and intake, etc. The original plan was keep the car naturally aspirated (meaning all-motor with no sort of forced induction like a turbo or a supercharger), which is why I got the intake. That changed over time, but we’ll get to that later.
I also wanted to have a carbon fiber/orange theme, I always thought that the orange matched a gunmetal sort of color really well. To kick that theme off, I installed a JIC front strut tower brace for tighter handling and a nice look under the hood. I also installed 15% tint all-around to give it a more refined orange/black look.
Next, I installed RS*R springs. This lowered the car slightly to give it a more aggressive stance, and help improve handling slightly. You can see the height difference in the springs here:
In the meantime, I was prepping for a show quality audio system installation by starting to amass parts for that:
We can see here I went with Polk/Momo amplifiers, and Inifity Kappa Perfect speakers/subs, along with a Pioneer Elite headunit which isn’t shown.
Next, I installed a grounding kit (which my company ActiveTuning actually sells). A grounding kit is one of those things that some people argue it does nothing, while others definitely notice benefits. With all of the audio work I was putting into the car, I decided to put it in. I went with orange wires to match the car.
Next thing on the list was a carbon fiber engine cover to help match the whole theme, as well as the Injen true dual exhaust. I went with the Injen for a couple reasons. One, it was true dual, and two, because I thought they were one of the best looking exhausts on the market for the 350Z. I do wish it would have been slightly louder, but it does give a nice tone with no raspyness.
Afterwards I installed taillight and side marker overlays on the rear of the car to match the lights with the tint and keep going with the orange/black theme. Some people hate these, some people love them…I personally love them. The guy that makes these, makes them for a bunch of cars, you can check out some of the work here…they call him Blue Batmobile.
The next mod was a big one, I put on 19″ Volk SF Challenge wheels, with a gunmetal face. The wheels were wrapped in Bridgestone Pole Position S03 tires. Even to this day, these are one of my favorite wheel designs. The wheels are forged, which makes them lighter and stronger compared to cast wheels…it also makes them more expensive. Expect to pay well over $3,000 for a similar package.
Later on in the same month, a friend and I drove the car out to Wisconsin to meet with my business partner and build/install the audio system. We spent a week designing, building, and installing everything. This included building/painting a fiberglassed sub box with a 12″ sub (never done before at the time for the Z), as well as an amp rack to house both amps. We also custom mounted a Xenarc touch-screen LCD into the cubby on the dash and ran wiring for what would soon be a custom PC integrated into everything. We even mounted a color camera behind the license plate so I could see behind me on the screen.
I wrote up more about the actual step-by-step process of building and installing the system here in case you’re interested.
Next up was the Seibon carbon fiber hood. This was my favorite hood design, with two gills put in for some venting.
Afterwards I installed Cobra carbon fiber seats, which really set the car off. The seats are pretty rare, mainly because they were expensive (Over $3,000 for the pair)…but they looked really nice, especially with the theme I was going for.
At this point I decided to switch from the gunmetal Volk wheels to gold. I got the same exact wheels, but in a different color to better match the car and stand out a little more:
By now I had decided that I was ready to put a twin turbo in the car. It was starting to look really good, and sound really good, but it was time to make it move. I ordered an APS twin turbo kit, and we were actually the first (that I believe) to do it without a lift and without pulling the motor out. We literally had the car on jack stands in my garage with pieces everywhere. It was a weekend of three or four friends working on it, with no sleep. Finally on a Sunday night, the beast roared. Once it was dyno tuned (conservatively may I add), it was pushing over 400 horsepower to the wheels:
Along with the turbo we installed a couple of gauges, including an AEM wideband and a Defi BF boost gauge in a 2-pillar pod:
Now it sounded good, looked good, and was fast…but it was time to make it stand out a little better. I ordered a Do-Luck body kit from Japan, and had it painted:
Unfortunately 2 days after painting I hit a huge rock in the road and damaged the kit pretty badly:
With all of the power, I had to make the car stop good. At the time I also had a Infiniti G35 coupe, which is built on the same platform as the 350Z. Luckily my G35 came with Brembo brakes from the Infiniti, so I ordered up some slotted Brembo rotors, and literally swapped the brakes onto the Z. With the orange Brembo rotors, the gold wheels, and the orange paint, it was looking real good:
The last thing I did was add a bunch of carbon fiber pieces to the interior of the car. This was all cosmetic stuff, but all real carbon fiber. There were dash pieces, rear strut covers, door side sills panels, and more. It gave everything a more complete look, and it was really ready for show.
Unfortunately I didn’t drive the car very much, and instead of letting sit in the garage and depreciate, I decided to finally sell it. Boy do I miss it.