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Update 1 – Background Story


Meet my new ride. A 2003 Nissan 350Z-Touring. Some of you might be thinking “That’s not new, I’ve seen that car before.” Close. I indeed had a 2003 Nissan 350Z up until last summer, which was silver as well. (For you Nissan purists, the old car was Silverstone Metallic, the new car is actually Chrome Silver Metallic) That car was sold early in the summer of 2014. This new one purchased July 2015.

To help you understand this project, lets take a trip down memory lane of my recent track car adventures. First, the attempt at a Mustang Cobra track car. V8 power and sound! Oh yeah! Not much else going on with a stock 130k mile Cobra. Ended up not being the “project” I wanted it to be.


Next purchase, the old 2003 350Z-Track edition. This was actually the second 350Z I purchased in my life. First one was a brand new from the dealer 2008, so I already knew I loved the 350Z. Now further into these track adventures, a fun RWD car was wanted, with balance and handling to start, something that the Cobra lacked in its mostly stock form. Didn’t really know where the 350Z project was going to lead, NASA TT? SCCA STU autox car? The car got DD’d, ice raced, autox’d, track driven, and drifted. So why was it sold? The GridLife competition bug bit. If you don’t know what GridLife is yet, check them out here:   GridLife 2014 was HOTTT. Temperatures reaching well over 90ºF on Sunday. Was it the heat? Was something starting to happen with the motor? Was it my imagination? The then nearly stock 110k mile, 287hp motor just seemed to lack some grunt and speed. All I could think was “Give me back a V8!“

So when you want a lot of power, a terrific handling car, competitive right out of the box stock, and doesn’t break the bank where do you turn? Like most people that want to go fast I turned to a Z06. Found this beautiful car shortly (maybe only days) after GridLife 2014 and went and bought it.

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If you’ve never driven a Z06 before, the smile on your face is directly proportional to the the distance you push down your right foot. It is terrific fun! This one had mildly modified engine, (aggressive cam, intake, long tube headers, x-pipe, and tune which resulted in 400 rwhp/375 lb-ft tq) but the rest of the car was stock. vette

The car was great fun on track. AutoX you could drive the whole course with your right foot if you wanted. Four hundred horsepower is plenty of power to get your adrenaline pumping on track. (Turned a 1:17 lap at the NASA Blackhawk Farms event)

So why in the world did I sell this Z06 in spring? Some people will understand. My guess is that you are the ones that might still have your first car you got when you were 16; owned a car for years and years; a project car that you’ve put blood, sweat, and tears into. You are someone that loves your car regardless if it isn’t the coolest, the fastest, the lowest, the loudest, etc. You just love what your car is. Lets label you a “Car Romantic.”

I’m a car romantic too. The Z06 wasn’t the car love of my life. I never felt the love for the car as a whole. You’ll hear lots of people say a Z06 interior sucks, the steering wheel sucks, the seats suck, and on and on. I didn’t have any particular gripes about any of that specifically, but I also didn’t think “Dang, this interior is cool.” The blacked out look of the Z06 looked great, but at the same time I didn’t find myself turning around to look at it while I walked away (to steal an idea from an internet meme). I did spend lots of time wrenching on the car with exhaust leaks, oil leaks, bad wheel bearings, and clutch problems. Could this have contributed to my indifference for it, sure. No one likes to spend more time fixing something than driving it. After all that though, I’d still get in and that right pedal sure would bring the smile back to my face.

The Z06 was sold in April 2015. So what next? Lets shoot for the moon. My dream car? Porsche 911 GT3. A dream that is…next. Well how about a “mini 911” Porsche Cayman? A first gen Cayman S can be had with a reasonable amount of miles for about $25k. Okay, that’s reasonable to me. So at this point my heart was set on getting a Porsche Cayman S. Maybe I’ll find one moderately track prepared by someone for a good deal. Well that dream died shortly after. At the first Milwaukee SCCA autox of the year, a gentlemen let me sit in his 2006 Cayman S with manual sport seats. I moved the seat back and hopped in. My knees were cramped between the steering wheel and dash. I tried to move the seat back further without success. My heart sank. My 6’2” body was just not going to fit in a first gen Cayman.

Months passed as I tried to come up with a replacement track car. Many ideas passed but none seemed to really be 100% what I was after. Then it struck me one day. What if I could take my favorite car I’ve owned to date, a 350Z, but add my favorite motor from the Corvette. Not long before we were at the May GridLife 2015 event, sitting in the paddock as the drifters took to the track. We heard this great sounding V8. We turn around and driving by was not a Corvette or a muscle car, but a black 350Z drift car and I thought “Man, that would be cool.” At the time I didn’t put much thought or effort into a V8 350Z, thinking that sounded like a lot of work, and a lot of time to complete such a project. After some research, I came to find out that there were actually companies that were now making complete swap kits to put an LS motor into a 350Z. I read the two or three swap threads I could find on forums. It really did not seem that bad. Pictures of the motor looked like it almost belonged in there. One project was completed in just a few months. That’s when I realized, I’m doing this.

To be continued…


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