Ever since the Nissan 240Z rolled out of Hiratsuka back in 1969, the Z has been synonymous with Nissan sports car performance. The old Z had four-wheel independent suspension, rare in that day, twin side-draft carburetors and a curb weight of just 2,301 lbs. The 2.4 liter straight six cranked out 151 hp, which was far less than the Mustangs and Camaros of the day, but plenty enough to get the featherweight up to 60 in 8 seconds.
The 240Z became an instant classic and the Z hung on through the decades, flanked at different times by different numbers and letters, but always retaining the principles of a fun, surefooted, tossable sports car.
The Nissan 350Z coupe debuted in June of 2002 and ran until 2008, when it was succeeded by the 2009 370Z. By the time it completed its run, the 350Z’s VQ35HR V6 made 306 horsepower. But in 2005, the 3.5 V6 that gave the 350 its name, this one the VQ35DE, was only firing out 287 horsepower and 274 lb-ft of torque. The car had also become significantly heavier than the old 240, at 3,339 lbs, but in this millennium, what car isn’t too heavy?
Today we’re going to take your stock, base model, 2005 Nissan 350Z and add a few key parts to dramatically increase your power and acceleration, putting you right in the territory of those 07-08 models with their higher hp ratings. And we’ll start, as we always do, with a K&N cold air intake. We know we push K&Ns constantly, but we love this product for several reasons.
First, we like K&N’s business philosophy. They don’t want to just make decoration for your engine compartment. They want you to make more power. They don’t release a single intake to the public unless it increases horsepower. This 350Z Typhoon short ram intake, for example, adds an extra 8.17 horsepower. Second, we like the idea of million mile filters. K&N uses oiled cotton filters, rather than paper, so you can wash them out, re-oil them, and put them back on the intake. Finally, it’s just an easy install. You can install yours in about an hour, tops, with hand tools, in your driveway.
The other awesome thing about this intake kit in particular is that it makes use of the 350Z’s twin throttle bodies with an intake for each side. And when you crack the hood and see a pair of giant, cannonlike filters sitting there, you’re scientifically bound to smile.
Let’s move under the car for a moment. By the time the 350Z rolled around, it wasn’t just a pure, track-ready sports car like its predecessors. It had to please everyone, from the enthusiast to the salad eating retired hairdresser who opted for an automatic because she thought the Z was “just the cutest.” So Nissan choked that glorious V6 with a stuffy, quiet exhaust, which also stifled some of the horsepower.
Thankfully, we can turn again to our friends at Borla, who can not only wake up the slumbering V6 chorus, but can also free up all that captive horsepower again. In fact, if customers who have bolted up this Borla true dual cat-back exhaust system on the dyno have reported a gain of 23 horsepower. That’s a massive gain from a simple bolt-on kit.
And yes, it sounds amazing. Here’s proof.
Borla makes good stuff, too. Sure, you could buy a cheap system, but the drone will have you swapping it back out for the stock exhaust by the end of the day. Borla tunes their exhaust not just for performance, but for the perfect sound, like any other instrument. The result is a pleasant, drone-free tone that best represents the 3.5 V6 without rattling your teeth out of your head.
So we have all this power, but there’s something we can do to get more of that power to the pavement more quickly. This B&M precision short shifter gets you to your gear faster with a 30% reduction in throw, and the quicker the gear change, the quicker you can get back on the power. It’s one of those mods that works no matter what type of performance you need, both on the strip and track. The CAD-designed shifter has a spherical pivot bearing, too, so shifts are smooth.
With just a few simple parts that you can install yourself, we’ve given your Z a distinct edge over stock in the power department. But we’re not finished yet. On Thursday we’ll tackle the areas of handling, suspension, and brakes, because as we always say, power is nothing without control.
Click any of the links above to start shopping for your Nissan 350Z mods now.
Do you have an idea for the next vehicle to get the AutoMods treatment? Put it in the comments below, and if we pick it for our next reader-submitted entry, we’ll send you a $100 gift card to help out with your own AutoMods project. Just like we did for the guy who submitted this 350Z. We’ll announce the winner on Friday, March 27th at noon central. Good luck, and happy modding!
Andy Sheehan is a blogger, aspiring novelist, and relentless hoon. He plans to will his 2002 Subaru WRX Wagon to his firstborn, plans his daily commute around the swoop of its roads, and doesn’t plan to ever buy an automatic. A cool-car omnipath, he loves the common Mustang or Chevelle, but hunts for the weird and wonderful Velorexes and Cosmos of the autoverse. And when he can afford a garage, he’s going to turn an MX-5 into a race car.