Back in the day, people were pretty set in their ways with what aftermarket parts to buy for their car. 10 years ago, it was 2006 and the cars that were making waves with car enthusiasts around the world were mostly the Honda S2000, Mazda MX-5 Miata, Ford Mustang, Subaru WRX & WRX STi, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, and the Nissan 350Z. Now, all of these cars have their own respective community and people can argue until the end of time as to which is better and which is faster, handle better, functions better, etc. etc. etc. Though all these cars are special in their own way, none quite extend its lineage and Japanese heritage quite like the Nissan 350Z. Being the 5th generation Z model to come after the previous 1996 Nissan 300zx, the release of the all new, improved Nissan 350Z (Z33) was a big deal. Over the years, plenty of manufacturers have developed products to make this car better and at this point, you might not know which aftermarket parts to purchase. Have no fear, ModBargains is here. Below we’ve compiled and listed the Best Mods for the Nissan 350Z.
Wheels for any car are just about as debatable as the glass being half full or half empty, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be. Choosing wheels for your Z really just depends on your personal preferences and the certain look you’re trying to go for. With that being said, the Forgestar F14 Wheels come in a multitude of colors and, upon order, can have custom sizes made specifically for your goals. In my honest opinion, having already owned a 350Z myself, I think the best wheel size choice would be 19 inch wheels, with a 9.5-11” wide, and an offset for both front/rear somewhere in the low 20s or high teens (depending on what kind of fitment you’re aiming for).
Now, I say that because they look the best on the 350Z as far as the entire side profile of the car. It’s very aggressive and gives the sleek lines of the Z more “mean”. This size wheel might sound a little daunting and quite large for such a low-profile sports car, but after seeing 19” wheels in numerous 350Z, I’ve come to realize that these are indeed the best sizes to fit the wheel well. They compliment the nature of the car, and look absolutely amazing in pictures from any angle. In case this makes no sense to you, the lingo for wheel fitments are as follows: ex. Front 19×10 et20 & Rear 19×11 et23. They’re definitely a great idea and does offer a more functional driving experience as far as frequent track time goes. Honestly, I would have two different sets of wheels for 2 different scenarios and environment; 18” wheels for the track/drift and 19” for daily driving/car shows. The decision is entirely up to you and completely dependent on the goals you have for your car.
As far as a wheel fitment that is a little less aggressive than a 19″ wheel, an 18″ wheel will look just as fantastic on the 350z as well as be better for track performance such as grip, time attack, and even my favorite motor sport, drifting. With all the new wheel brands and wheel styles there are out there these days, it’s very difficult to decide on which particular spoke design or wheel look or overall look you want. For as long as I’ve been into cars, just about 10 years or so, I’ve witnessed one look that has never faded away. The Miro Type 398 Wheels (available in silver or matte black have the simple, 6-spoke design that is merely timeless and look especially great on the Nissan 350Z. I would definitely consider these wheels for my Z (if I ever got another one) because they look awesome, they’re simple, lightweight and very, very strong. Perfect for sliding on asphalt of hitting the apex to shave off a few seconds.
If the Forgestar or Miro wheels aren’t exactly your cup of tea, I understand. Different people have different tastes and it’s totally normal. Another great option to really separate yourself from the other modified 350Zs are the Avant Garde M510. Available in 19 inches, these wheels are surely going to drop jaws and break necks. We don’t have any official ModBargains photos of the M510 wheels on a 350Z, however, if you do decide to be the very first person to have these wheels on your Z, you would definitely stand out and be unique. Send us photos, please!
I’m sure you’re wondering exactly what to do with a that wheel gap now that you have bought the perfect wheels. I’m also pretty sure that you’re rhetorically thinking to yourself “Damn! How cool would my car look if I just lowered it?”. It’s okay, we’ve all been there, and it definitely can be confusing. Because the 350Z has made its mark in the automotive world, there are plenty of routes to go when it comes to suspension upgrades. From my own personal experience, I’ve found that the BC BR-Type Coilovers are the most ideal suspension upgrade for your car. Coilovers are a spring + shock combination from the manufacturer designed to work together as one unit to provide the optimal suspension attributes to better the car’s handling for any environment.
If that scenario were to happen, you would have to upgrade your shocks anyway. With coilover suspension, especially if you have plans to “spiritedly” drive the car, the wiser decision in the long-run would be to replace the springs and the shocks at the same time with coilovers. With the BC BR-Type Coilovers come a 32-way adjustable dampening feature to fine tune the softness or stiffness of the driving feel per driver’s preference. For normal daily driving, it’s been said to run a dampening of 16 or less because that would provide a more comfortable ride over regular streets (and we all know that some streets aren’t as smooth as others).
If you’re looking to track/drift the car on an occasional or frequent basis, it’s been recommended to run a stiffer to provide more “road feel” as you sit in the car. Now, the level of comfort (softer dampening) or discomfort (stiffer dampening with that “bumpy” feeling) inside a car is entirely up to you. On my 350Z, I set it to be a little stiff because that’s what I prefer. I personally feel like feeling the road as you drive helps with your immediate driver response as far as handling goes. My old setup (both photos shown above) was 20 clicks from full soft in the front and 15 clicks from full soft in the rear. I had lowered my car just about 1.5″ both front and rear with at least 2 more inches of lowering availability to go.
With the major reduction in body roll, steering response increases and the car will feel more “flat & neutral” around every corner you turn hard into. It’s a major upgrade and one that should not be ignored. The shiny red car belongs to a good friend of mine, George Santana. He daily drives 2007 Nissan 350Z sitting with BC BR-Type Coilovers. He’s much lower than me.
As you can see, the BC BR-Type Coilovers also fit the convertible models of the Nissan 350Z. Definitely a different look, but still just as great to stare at as other modified Z cars. Below is another friend of mine, Vince Villamore, who runs his BC Coilovers at the “full-soft” dampening setting, which is zero clicks from soft. I’ve ridden in and driven his car all over the place and the comfort of full-soft dampening really shows. As a passenger, I’ve taken some pretty amazing naps during long drives.
Of course you could get springs such as the Eibach Pro-Kit Lowering Springs, which offer a limited drop and are much more affordable than a set of coilovers, however, just putting lowering springs on your stock shocks have the potential to wear out the shocks prematurely. Now that you’ve lowered the car, I’m almost positive you’ve contracted the “modify-my-car” virus and are looknig to improve the handling of your 350Z. Coilovers already immensely improve the handling characteristics of your car so if you think that’s more than enough, then cool man. BUT if you just want to take your suspension game to the next level, consider replacing and upgrading your factory sway bars with the Hotchkis Sport Sway Bars. Maybe you’re wondering “what the heck are sway bars and what do they do?” and you’re completely okay with thinking that because a lot of times they’re overlooked by many car enthusiasts. It kind of isn’t as necessary to upgrade as you might think, but if you do plan on bettering your car’s turning attitudes and handling characteristics, it’s a great idea. Sway bars reduce the amount of body roll to the car (in conjunction with the upgraded springs/shocks) so that you get the most into-the-ground, neutral feel in a corner. With grease-able polyurethane bushings, squeaky noise will be non-existent. Not only that, but the addition of sway bars will immediately decrease oversteer or increase understeer, depending on the setting on the bars themselves or on if you installed one bar or the other. Oversteer happens when you want to turn right/left and end up facing the opposite direction you originally were facing where as understeer is what happens when you’re turning right/left and continue traveling in a straight-ward direction. Having both occur can be both a good and a bad thing which, again, depends on what you want to do with the car (grip/drift/drag). Notice the photo above; see how there are three holes that say Stiff, Medium, and Soft? Those refer to the rate at which the stiffness is increased over the stock sway bar stiffness rating. Both the front and the rear sway bars are adjustable with three different settings, and the stiffness settings are as follows:
Front: 350Z & 03- 05 (35mm Tubular)
- Hole 1 (Soft) = 1525 lbs/in (22% Stiffer than stock)
- Hole 2 (Medium) = 1845 lbs/in (48% Stiffer than stock)
- Hole 3 (Stiff)= 2270 lbs/in (82% Stiffer than stock)
- Hole 4 (Stiffest)= 2855 lbs/in (129% Stiffer than stock)
Rear: 350Z & 03- 05 (24mm Tubular)
- Hole 1 (Soft) = 520 lbs/in (80% Stiffer than stock)
- Hole 2 (Medium) = 655 lbs/in (125% Stiffer than stock)
- Hole 3 (Stiff) = 840 lbs/in (185% Stiffer than stock)
Finally, another great option to include in your suspension upgrade list would be the SPL Pro Rear Camber Arms. The stock rear camber arms on the 350Z doesn’t quite give you as much play with setting a desire alignment after you [significantly] lower your car. Having these installed are entirely non-mandatory but they are something to think about if you’re planning on running aggressive fitment, fine-tuning your handling during track days, and need more camber to fit the super wide wheels you probably want to run. Other than using these to add more negative camber, these can help with reducing the uneven tire wear since lowering your car with aftermarket suspension does misalign your wheels. Uneven tire wear can be dangerous since the uneven-ness will cause your torque-y 350Z to lose traction more frequently. With precise adjustment and an increased range or camber, these camber arms will greatly improve the details in your Z’s handling.
Maybe you’re cool with the way the stock Calsonics exhaust sound on the 350Z, maybe you’re not. Just in case you ever decide to change your exhaust, which I’m sure you’re thinking about at this very moment, the ARK Performance GRIP Exhaust System for the Nissan 350Z is a magnificent upgrade not only for significant horsepower (+11 hp) & torque (+14 lb/ft) gains, increased flow of gases, but also looks fantastic from behind. It’s a fairly regular upgrade for any modified car to have so it is quite expected to have this in your list of mods for your car. This exhaust system is a full cat-back exhaust as it replaces the exhaust pipes behind the catalytic converter.
The ARK Performance GRIP Exhaust System is a full bolt-on, 2.5” diameter, T-304 stainless steel tubing, while also being right below the 93 decibel legal limit at 87 decibels. So, it’s loud enough for you and for everyone to notice but not loud enough to garner any negative attention, if you know what I mean. Unless you hear this exhaust on a Z in person, then you really can’t understand how great sounding this exhaust truly is. It’s loud [enough], and also provides a deeper, heavier, more aggressive tone to really beef up the 350Z.
Test Pipes / High Flow Cats
This next mod is considered a major, major upgrade for the Nissan 350Z as it yields the most significant difference in power, torque, and sound. If the addition of the exhaust and intake just isn’t enough power for you and you’re itching to add more power to your Fairlady Z, the Berk Test Pipes / High Flow Cats are the exemplary upgrade to squeeze every last bit of bolt-on power out of your car (before an ECU tune). The numbers of how much power isn’t exact, but trust me, its a HUGE increase. Results will vary with each car, especially if the car has an exhaust, intake, turbo, etc. Keep in mind that although this aftermarket part is awesome in every way and will provide your 350Z with crazy gains, it is in fact not C.A.R.B. legal and is intended for off-road use only (and by off-road, I mean the race track).
Another clear cut mod for the 350Z would be to upgrade the stock airbox because it is highly restrictive and blocks air that could easily sucked into the engine directly for immediate power and torque. A great option for an intake upgrade is the Injen Air Intake for the 2003-06 Nissan 350Z and the Injen Air Intake for he 2007-08 Nissan 350Z because it not only has dyno-proven horsepower gains of +12hp and torque gains of +14 lb/ft, provides better MPG, gives your car a much deeper growl in the mid-range (somewhere between the 3.5k – 5k RPM range), but is gloriously legal within the state of California! Inside the package comes with C.A.R.B. legal sticker to prove that it is in fact, legal.
Depending on which year 350Z you have determines the kind of intake you should purchase. The 2003 – 2006 models are referred to as the “DE” because its engine, the VQ35DE, is a single throttle body engine. That pretty means theres one intake and one hose that sucks in all the air for the engine. The 2007 – 2008 model 350Z are referred to as the “HR” because its engine, the VQ35HR, is a dual throttle body engine which means that there are two intakes and two hoses that suck in air for the engine. With this second throttle body, the VQ engine received an increase in horsepower and torque over it’s older brother and is known to be faster than the DE models. Lucky for you, we offer both versions of the intake. Figure out which model 350Z you drive, and you’d either be upgrading to the 2003 – 2006 DE’s Injen Air Intake or the 2007 – 2008 HR’s Injen Air Intake.
This upgrade seems like a subtle upgrade compared to a full bolt-on exhaust, but I assure you, its an upgrade that can drastically change the car’s performance and will benefit your smile and the car’s health in the long-run.
Upgrading your clutch + flywheel probably isnt something that ever crosses your mind because it doesn’t necessarily need to be changed, almost ever. Nevertheless, we’re all car people and at some point throughout our days, weeks, months, and even years of driving, we’ve had that passionate urge to just shift a little bit higher than 5000rpm. In that event, the stress added upon the stock clutch and flywheel is immense and therefore will wear them both out much sooner than the life of the car. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “Oh no…my clutch is slipping / starting to slip” from a buddy or a fellow car enthusiast. To wrap your head around what that phrase completely means, I’ll explain, in the simplest of terms, what a clutch is and how it works. A clutch is pretty much a spinning disk that is directly attached to the transmission’s input shaft which feeds power straight into the transmission itself. Two other spinning discs, which are attached to the engine’s crankshaft, clamp the clutch (power to the crank). When the entire clutch assembly is clamped tightly, all three disks spin together in unison to deliver power to the wheels aka “power to the wheels”. The transfer of power from the engine’s crankshaft to the wheels unfortunately surrenders an average of a 15-25% horsepower loss. This explains why people who dyno-test their car care specifically care about how much horsepower to the wheels their car produces as it is a true estimate of the power the car is putting on the ground. But with the Exedy Clutch and Flywheel, your Z will have improved clamping power and an increase in it’s raw torque. It’s an awesome upgrade as I had the Exedy OEM Replacment clutch on my 350Z. Immediately, I noticed a torque gain from complete stop to moving when I launched the car and I felt more “at one” with my car. It was as if the car and I had a better communication with each other, but mechanically.
These are pretty self-explanatory as I’m sure that at some point, after gaining all this power, that you’d want to eventually stop the car from moving. The stock brakes are plenty perfect for stopping power, but if you are considering taking your 350Z to the track, then a brake upgrade is a definite must! It might not sound like a significant upgrade, and might pale in awesomeness compared to upgrading your Z with and exhaust or test pipes, but with better brakes you can rest assured that your 350Z will stop exactly when you want it and much more precisely as well. The StopTech Street Performance Brake Pads are the most essential and functional upgrade for massively improving the rate of which you stop. Suited for both street use and mild track use, these StopTech brake pads utilize aggressive friction formulas which give the driver that certain “bite” that is generally needed for any type of driving. These brake pads provide a wide range of temperatures to deliver the same high-performance, high-quality stopping power you need whether you’re driving hard in cold, warm, or blazing hot weather. Braking has also never been quieter since StopTech’s high-performance brake pads have little to no brake noise as well as very low brake dust. If you got the extra cash, and want to further improve your braking performance, compliment your new brake pads with the StopTech Drilled/Slotted Break Rotors. I promise you that the combination of street/track brake pads with the drilled/slotted rotors will give you the most confidence in stopping EXACTLY when you need to to help you get better track times and save your self from crashing. The design of StopTech’s Drilled & Slotted Rotors look completely different than your normal, average rotor because they have certain perforations and indented slots to push out the brake dust your pads will generate as you’re braking hard. It’s definitely a must-have if you want to get a fuller performance out of 350Z.
So there you have it! With these mods on your Nissan 350Z, I promise that you’ll be ready to impress yourself and your friends at the track and at the show. If none of these mods appeal to you, you can check out other modifications for the 350Z here!
Our technicians at Mod Auto can help you along the way as well as we have our own performance shop right here at our La Habra, CA location! Aftermarket installations is a specialty of ours so don’t be embarrassed if you’re not too comfortable working on cars.
If you have any more questions or simply want to learn more about your Nissan 350Z and the modifications available for your car, don’t hesitate to call ModBargains directly! Our number is (714) 582-3330. By calling us, you can speak directly with one of our Modification Experts!
Story by Jaybee Valledor