Coupe and roadster built by Nissan. It was introduced in August 2002 and is the fifth generation of Nissan’s Z-car line, carrying the chassis designation Z33. In the Japanese market, the model is named “Fairlady Z”. The 350Z is Nissan’s first sports car in North America since the 1998 discontinuation of fourth-generation Z-car.
This section called “Concept” does not adequately cite its references or sources.
Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources.
This article has been tagged since February 2007.
After the Z32 was withdrawn from the U.S. market in 1996, Nissan initially attempted to keep the Z name alive by re-creating the 240Z the following year. The car was conceived by Nissan’s North American design team in their free time, and the concept was introduced in a four-state Road Show in July 1998 to various car media, dealers and employees. Yutaka Katayama, regarded as the “Father of the Z”, unveiled the Z concept sketch to the public when he received a motor industry award at the Ritz-Carlton hotel. The design, representing a modern vision of the 240Z, did not please the original 240Z designer Yoshihiko Matsuo, who compared it to the Bluebird and Leopard.
The first concept model was produced for the Detroit Motor Show for the following January then later at the Los Angeles Auto Expo. Nissan was unhappy with the first design. They felt that the original 200 bhp 2.4 L engine (known as the KA24DE) that was going to be assigned made the car more underpowered. They also felt that the car was considered too “retro” or too “backward” to resemble a futuristic 240Z, thus a redesign was under way. During a press conference in February 2000, President Carlos Ghosn gave the car the green light, as he felt the car would help to assist the company’s recovery.
The redesigned model, now known as the Z Concept, which was similar in body shape but with a redesigned front end, was unveiled at the Detroit Motor Show two years later. The car then underwent a minor redesign and was eventually assigned the VQ35DE engine, and the car became known as the 350Z. The car would break tradition by being the first Z not to be produced at the Shatai plant.
This section called “Models” does not adequately cite its references or sources.
Released on August 20, 2002, the 2003 350Z coupe was available in the U.S. in 5 trim packages, including the Base, Enthusiast, Performance, Touring, and Track Editions. In Europe only the Base version and a GT pack were sold. The GT pack had leather seats, Bose stereo system, and cruise control over the Base model. Nissan’s performance tuning division, Nismo, began producing modified versions of the car shortly after its introduction, although in the UK these were only available one year after the car was launched.
In 2004 Nissan introduced the 350Z roadster featuring an electrically retractable soft-top hood. The car came in 2 trim packages (Enthusiast and Touring) in the U.S. market, and the Base and GT packs in Europe.
In 2005 Nissan launched a 35th Anniversary edition, which featured options such as “Z” emblems and 5-spoke wheels. The 2005 35th Anniversary edition 6-speed manual and 2005 Track trims both produce 300 hp and 296 torque (224 kW). In addition, The 35th Anniversary and Track 350Z also included revised pistons and camshaft profiles, and a new type of control to the variable valve timing. Although there were increases in power, the changes lead to a decrease in peak torque in the vehicle.
Nissan also added the Grand Touring trim to the Roadster trim packages for 2005. Since the anniversary edition all 6-speed models produce 300 hp / 260 ft/lb (224 kW / 353 N/m).
For the 2007 model year, the 350Z was moderately revised. The VQ35DE V6 was replaced with a new 3.5 L VQ35HR V6. It produced 306 hp at 6800 rpm with 268 lb-ft at 4800 rpm. The front bumper, hood, and headlamps were also revised with the hood featuring a bulge reminiscent of the original 240Z. Trims levels were also narrowed down to 350Z , Enthusiast, Touring, and Grand Touring.
A limited runÂ called the Type-E was produced in Japan in order to meet homologation requirements to compete in the Super GT series. The Type-E featured a longer nose and rear overhang as well as a few extra aerodynamic aids.
The S-Tune GT was released by Nismo to celebrate its success in motorsport, particularly in the Super GT series. The S-Tune GT featured revised long nose bodywork as in the Type-E, a modified version of the VQ35DE engine called the S1 with more power (300 PS / 221 kW / 296 HP) and higher redline (7200 rpm), as well as a sportier Nismo suspension.
The R-Tune is the final step of the Nismo lineup, with further modifications including headers, cams, pulleys. The R-Tune voids the Nissan factory warranty, but gains significant horsepower, intended for track racers.
During the 2006 Goodwood Festival of Speed, Nissan Technical Centre Europe (NTCE) unveiled the 350Z GT-S concept.
The GT-S featured a unique radial flow supercharger (that could be turned on or off via a switch on the dashboard), raising engine output to 382.6 bhp and 424.8 Nm without modifications to the engine components. The car also featured new body kit for more cooling and downforce and wider 245 and 265/40/18 tires. No plans for production have been revealed, although there have been some hints that the package may be offered as an upgrade kit. The car has been tested favorably against its possible production rivals, the Porsche Cayman S and BMW Z4 M3.
Autocar reported rumors that Nissan was planning to release a 450Z coupe to rival the Porsche 911.
The car would feature a 4.5 L V8 engine, most likely a version of the VK45DE used in the Infiniti M45 and tuned to over 400 hp (300 kW), and all-wheel drive. The body would remain the same as that of the 350Z.
Another rumor is that the French brand Alpine (a manufacturer of Renault-powered sports cars) would be resurrected to offer a new car based on the platform of the 350Z, developed with the support of Porsche.
Since its introduction in 2002, it did not take long for drivers and teams to enter a Z33 for competition when B.J. Zacharias and Michiel Schuitemaker of Schuitemaker Motorsports helped the car to make its debut in the Grand-Am Cup Series at the start of the 2003 season, they have took a few podium finishes with Unitech Racing who is also the other team to field a Z33, bit effort was proved to be successful under the name of Playboy Racing scoring wins along with the other current Grand-Am entrant East Competition Promotorsport.
The 350Z replaced the Skyline GT-R as the car for Nissan’s factory and customer teams in the Super GT’s GT 500 class. The cars used are heavily modified and feature a longer nose and tail (requiring the production of the Type-E homologation special), carbon fiber bodywork, tube chassis and a new, race tuned VQ30DETT engine. In 2004, Nismo won the GT500 championship. The car, with slightly more pedestrian modifications also competes in the GT300 class (having started there even before the Skyline GT-Rs were replaced) by teams such as Endless Sports and Mola. In 2003 Hasemi Sports won the GT300 championship with the 350Z..
The Z33 also appears in the Japan’s Super Taikyu series, entered by C-West Labs. The British GT Championship also fields a privateer 350Z with an intention to enter the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2006.
The car is considered popular choice for amateurs and professionals in SCCA events, T.C Kline took third place in the 2003 Touring 2 category in 2003, having being one of three Z33 that made it into the SCCA T-2 runoffs. In the SCCA GT2 class, Jim Goughary took the title it the car’s debut season.
The car is used in import events and drifting, where in the latter, some drivers have started to use them in the D1 Grand Prix and Formula D series, with relatively limited results. However, at the 2006 D1GP exhibition event at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Tanner Foust became the first driver to score a perfect 100 points in a 350Z. In the non-Japanese domestic D1GP spinoff series, D1 Great Britain (D1GB), there are two Z33s that compete in the series.
Option magazine founder Daijiro Inada used an extensively modified 350Z, dubbed Option Stream Z to compete in the Silver State Classic Challenge.
The car is equipped with twin turbo-chargers and is bored to 3.8 L to produce over 800 bhp.
As the Z33 is popular in import drag racing, one Z33 fielded by Performance Motorsport in the NHRA Sports Compact series, with twin turbo claims to put out over 1700 bhp and achieved 8.33 quarter mile time with its best speed of 176.72 mph. In 2004, the tuner Dandy and magazine Option a Z33 entered a Z33 known as the Option Dandy 380Z with a donor engine from a wrecked Stream Z minus turbocharger producing 370 bhp, to compete in the F/GT class for unblown grand touring sport cars at the Bonneville Speed Week. The car could at best reach 151 mph.