The 350Z often struggled to convince the buying public in the face of the high-revving Honda S2000 and the balanced, sharp-handling Porsche Boxster, but it was a great car and makes a fantastic used buy
The Nissan 350Z was caught in a trap of Nissan’s own making. It looked great, like a sports car should, and it had a classic front-engined, rear-drive chassis and a characterful 3.5-litre V6. But, as enjoyable as it was, it never handled like a Boxster and it didn’t have a Porsche badge, so people turned their noses up at the Japanese contender.
In truth the 350Z never did quite capture the sharp-handling, feelsome ethic as the Porsche Boxster or offer 9000rpm like the Honda S2000, but that doesn’t make it redundant. Alex’s video last week delved into why the 350Z makes a great affordable alternative to a GT-R.
For anyone who gelled with its slow-in, fast-out junior muscle car manners it was an absolute gem. Here are some reasons why you really should want one in your life.
The standard exhaust doesn’t really make the most of the 3.5-litre V6’s throaty roar, but the purr is there. An aftermarket exhaust system can bring out the beast within, though, turning what was sometimes criticised as being too gentlemanly a sound into a world-bending howl at high revs.
Speaking of revs, the 350Z spins to 7000pm in the original and 7500rpm for the update. It wasn’t as free-revving as its key rivals out of the box, but it does still sound brilliant when maxed out to the limiter. Earlier cars, like this one, tailed off slightly in performance past 6000rpm, but 313bhp models from 2007 onwards just kept pulling.
Timeless coupe style
Apparently there are two types of people in the world: those who think the 350Z is a poised, neatly shaped and muscular coupe blessed with timeless lines and a certain classless quality, and those who are wrong. It looks fantastic for its age, with or without subtle modifications, and especially later ones.
If you do want to step into the modifications scene then the 350Z is an easy car to flatter your sense of taste. A wide variety of rims look the business under its arches, and most colour choices look totally at ease on the swooping body. It’s proof that, whether it’s really your thing or not, the old Nissan is a fine-looking machine.
While the Honda S2000 made do with a responsive but gutless four-cylinder and the Boxster was fitted with a high-revving (and glorious) flat-six, the 350Z got a V6 with altogether bigger biceps. A meaty 277bhp, then 296bhp, rising to 313bhp from 2007 thanks to a heavily modified engine, was teamed with up to 264lb ft for creamy pulling power in any gear.
That in-gear acceleration, where S2000 owners have to drop down two gears, is part of the Zed’s appeal, as is the way it pushes itself out of corners with such relentless torque. It was, and is, a defining feature of the car.
We’re seeing fewer and fewer of these around. There are only 165 for sale on Auto Trader in the UK at the time of writing, which, compared to 750 Boxsters, is an interesting barometer. Unless you live close to a dedicated owner you probably don’t often see them either, which should give the 350Z an extra appeal to some would-be buyers.
Colours like blue and orange are always highly sought-after, but silver and black look great too.
Loads of tuning and customisation options
The world is your oyster if you want to modify this car. Everything from wheels, body kits, bonnets, light clusters, spoilers, brakes, roll cages and even wide-arch body conversions are available. If you have a vision, the 350Z is one of those cars best suited to letting you achieve it. The fact that it’s so damn handsome will usually make whatever mods you put on it look great.
As for tuning, there are supercharger kits, single- and twin-turbo options if you want forced induction, but as Alex mentioned in last week’s video, simply installing a lightened flywheel can be all the car needs to feel a million dollars and release some extra ponies.
If you’re willing to take an early one with just over 100,000 miles, or an 80,000-mile Japanese import, there are a number of options for sale right now at less than £4000. That’s at least 277bhp of V6 mini-muscle car with bags of charm.
Spend a little more and you can bring the age down by a few years with a similar mileage and better condition. Around £5500 can buy an already modified one in good condition with around 80,000 miles covered. At the £6000 mark you start to find top-drawer examples with high miles but impeccable bodywork and service history. The newer 313bhp cars and convertibles are also an option by this point. Seriously tempting stuff.
Where do you stand? Are you a fan or do you hate the 350Z? If you own one, let us know your thoughts in the comments.