To be honest, sports cars aren’t even about power. The most important characteristic of a sports car is cornering. Power comes second. The more power you can pack in while maintaining that cornering ability, the better, but once you lose control, you lose a significant aspect of the sports car identity. As a GT car, the Z has more power than smaller sports cars like the Mazda MX-5 or the Pontiac Solstice, and on Tuesday we added even more with a few simple mods. Now it’s time to make sure this thing can still take a corner. Soon we’ll have your Nissan 350Z handling like it’s on rails.
And we’ll start with stopping. Brakes are the unsung hero of performance. You think they’re just around to make sure you can stop, but they’re actually to make sure you can go for longer before stopping.
Stock brakes are often just flat, featureless discs. They get hot quickly and easily, and if you head too fast into a corner and mash the pedal, they’ll just overheat and fade, and you’ll stuff yourself into the tires. Thankfully, the mad scientists at Stop Tech have engineered their SportStop drilled rotors to solve that.
Stop Tech coats their rotors, everywhere the pads don’t touch, with some kind of top secret recipe they’ve dumbed down for us by calling it “E-coating.” This helps prevent rust. Rotors, like exhaust elements, are obviously high-heat parts, and heating tends to speed up the oxidation process. Let that rust through to your hubs and you could be in trouble. E-coating prevents all that.
Drilled rotors, as the name suggests, are drilled full of tiny holes to ventilate and cool the disc. This will keep the disc operating at optimal temperature for longer. If you take a look at Stop Tech’s rotors, you’ll notice that the holes follow a spiral pattern. That’s because SportStop series rotors are also ventilated discs. Each rotor is essentially two discs, sandwiching a series of vanes. These vanes are designed to channel air through the holes and through the center of the rotor, aiding in cooling.
Some cheap, poorly designed drilled and vented discs will drill right through the center vanes. This can lead to weak points, cracking, and inefficient airflow. Stop Tech’s rotors are only drilled between the vanes, thus the spiral pattern of the holes. Stop Tech has different part numbers for front left, rear left, front right, and rear right rotors, because the spiral pattern has a different direction left to right, and the rotors front to back are different sizes. And unlike with those junk rotors, Stop Tech’s holes are beveled, so there are no sharp edges to wear out your pads faster.
Speaking of pads, we’re recommending a set of these para-aramid Street Performance pads for both the front and the rear. Stop Tech uses something called positive molding, which is probably more than just pats on the back and words of encouragement, to make sure the pads retain the same density throughout. If you get a sub-par pad from another brand with a low-density spot, not only will this reduce your braking performance, it will also wear the rest of the pad faster.
Stop Tech pads are designed to produce very little dust and are divided to channel away dust and help cool the unit.
A great set of brakes isn’t the only thing that will improve your performance in the corners. Anything you can do to make your Z lower and tighter will allow you to remain more stable in the corners, carrying more speed in, and quickly accelerating out.
A set of Eibach lowering springs like their bestselling Pro-Kit will improve numerous areas of performance. Pro-Kit lowering springs will lower your Z an entire inch, and that’s a basically a mile when you’re talking about the car’s center of gravity. The lower the car’s CoG, the less its weight will shift in the corners, and the more stable it will be. The same goes for longitudinal motion, front to back. With a Pro-Kit installed, the car will dive less under braking, and squat less under acceleration, providing better launches.
So Eibach’s springs are stiffer and lower than stock, but that doesn’t mean they’re less comfortable. Eibach uses progressive rate springs, which means that the coils are not all the same distance from one another. When you’re just cruising along, the larger coils soak up road bumps just like your stock springs. But compress the larger coils under braking, acceleration, or cornering, and the smaller coils come to life, firming up the ride and improving your contact with the pavement. The Pro-Kit even makes your Z look better, eliminating wheel gap.
Another great way to make sure all your rubber stays on the pavement is with this sway bar kit from Hotchkis. Sway bars use torsional force to make sure one wheel doesn’t move around, forcing the other to do all the work. This will help prevent your car from shifting its weight, creating more stability in the corners. The kit includes all the brackets and bushings you need.
Speaking of bushings, upgrading your control arm bushings can go a long way toward improving your Z’s firmness. This kit from Energy Suspension will take care of that. Energy Suspension bushings are made of polyurethane, which is both stiffer and more durable than most stock bushings, which are often made of hard rubber. They do need to be greased periodically, but will provide a much firmer ride.
So we’ve given your 2005 Nissan 350Z more power and better control for that power, bringing it up to date with more modern Zs and maintaining Nissan’s original goal of creating a light, tossable GT sports car with plenty of power and great cornering ability.
Click on any of the links above to start shopping now for your own Z parts. Happy modding.
What car should AutoMods digitally upgrade next? Put your suggestion in the comments section below and if we pick it, you’ll win A HUNDRED BUCKS. Yep. A $100 StreetsideAuto.com gift card. We’ll announce the winner next Friday, March 27th, at noon central. Good luck!
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.