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  1. #1
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    What to look for when looking for a 350Z?

    So, I've had enough of taking the RX-7 to be fixed all the time, and I want something newer and more reliable. But I don't think I'm going to commit to a new Supra just yet.

    I think the Z33 looks really attractive - from all accounts they're fairly reliable and robust. I think I want a newer HR model (2007-08) with the bonnet bulge, apparently it's not just a bit more power but also a sweeter engine and slightly lighter control weights. Plus newer car, lower mileage, likely less maintenance needed. The downside is higher annual tax on cars first registered since 23rd March 2006 (up from £325 to £570). But if it saves one maintenance bill a year, it balances out, plus a nicer drive.

    I get the impression rust is not a major problem, the W-brace and other parts underneath go rusty, but it's rare for structural rust to take hold (?)
    Engines seem robust, but apparently there's an oil gasket in the HR engine that is likely to fail eventually, and needs fairly involved replacement with an upgraded part.

    The Rays alloys seem common, and presumably are good news, being forged. Unsure what exactly the GT pack includes, and how much I want a car with one.

    Oh, and I want a car in a colour other than the black that all three of my cars have been (!).

    Am possibly going to look at this dealer car Saturday https://www.autotrader.co.uk/classif...=NISSAN&page=2
    and this private one Sunday https://www.autotrader.co.uk/classif...#vehicle-check

  2. #2
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    My workmate had an auto one, and it seemed relatively robust, other than a bunch of niggly electrical hiccups (central locking, window switches and stuff, as best I recall).

    She hated the fuel economy though, as it was her only car, and she has a pretty decent commute distance. So she's now rolling in a Prius. But if it's a toy, then fuel economy is likely to feature less in your list.

  3. #3
    As you know I think they're great cars. Not as nimble-feeling as an FD. More of a GT car with good feel and grip. But you can change it to be significantly more agile and balanced (see below).

    The HR engine is definitely preferred. It has more power at the top end and a higher redline (7500RPM), with no compromise in torque down low. I really enjoy this engine! I had an ECU tune on mine, which had a high-rev map where I could rev out to 7800RPM safely. My tuner recommended not hanging out above 7500RPM on the regular, but for the occasional autox where I needed the extra 300rpm in 2nd gear, it was perfect.

    The 2003-4 cars (in the US) had a good engine that's a little more driveable/linear at part throttle low RPM, but with a 'mere' 6500RPM redline, and some of them burn oil by now. The 2005-6 engines (in the US) had a 7000RPM redline and had an oil consumption issue (not all of them, but enough) that Nissan had to fix. In my opinion, the only downsides of the HR are 30lbs of extra weight up front, the gasket you mentioned, and the plastic slave cylinder that lives inside the bellhousing. That said, the early cars are still just about as much fun to me. The powerband is so wide, the torque plateau so huge, that on the street the extra top end RPM doesn't really make a difference (and you gotta be doing something silly to be there anyway).

    The gasket you mention is a lot of work to get to. But once it's replaced with the upgraded gasket, it's not likely to ever be an issue again. And because the 350Z has a real oil pressure gauge in the dash, you can tell when this gasket goes bad. It usually happens between 70k-100k miles. I did this job in my garage, it took quite a long time. The good news is Nissan/Renault used excellent metallurgy and long-lived plastics for the mechanical bits, so they're actually fairly easy to work on in general.

    The concentric slave cylinder (CSC) can be fixed a couple different ways. You can buy a metal replacement (aftermarket). Or you can buy a kit that relocates the slave cylinder back outside the bellhousing like the earlier cars. My HR kept the stock CSC and it was fine through ~80k miles. I have a feeling this failure may be slightly overblown on the internet. But it's something to be aware of.

    Traction control is defeatable with a single press of the button. However, the cars with stability control (optional) also need a bit of tomfoolery to completely disable this function. IIRC it involves unplugging the yaw sensor under the center console. Not something you can switch back and forth easily. I don't know if the UK spec differs, but my 2007 Enthusiast package had traction control but no stability control. The TC is pretty worthless anyhow (I think it's actually dangerous on these cars because it kills all engine power for what seems like forever, the instant it thinks there might be a hint of tire slip happening in the future). But the Enthusiast includes such luxuries as Cruise Control and audio control buttons on the steering wheel, as well as HomeLink, so I thought it was worth it for a dual-purpose car to live with having to press the TC button. I eventually bought an aftermarket module that would remember my last TC setting every time I started the car. By default, the cars switch TC on every time you start them.

    I know nothing about rust...

    IIRC, the dual mass flywheel is not a serviceable item, so clutch replacement jobs are not cheap since you have to buy a fancy new flywheel. Consider clutch age or recent replacement in your value factoring.

    Front radius rod (sometimes called traction rod) bushings are prone to tear over time. If the car feels funny at the front end, check these. https://pbase.com/bryanh/image/164219836

    The rear differential carrier bushing in the subframe is a common failure point, too. Nissan used a soft, fluid-filled bushing that cracks and leaks out. It's easy to see if this is happening by looking under the car from the back. Nissan will not sell you the bushing unless you buy an entire subframe, so best bet is aftermarket. Whiteline, Prothane, whatever. Some companies also sell solid metal bushings, but I wouldn't do this on a street car.

    Window regulators/motors can occasionally go out or get finicky. Wasn't a problem on mine.

    On the HR cars, the interior door pull plastics will scratch if you look at them funny. And a few other interior spots. You could use this as a bit of a bargaining tool if you see it on a car you are interested in. Replacement parts will do the same thing. My solution for the door pulls was to do a matte, textured (or "3D") carbon-look vinyl wrap, which I also extended to the steering wheel plastic. I was happy with the way it came out:

    https://pbase.com/bryanh/image/165015194
    https://pbase.com/bryanh/image/165015196
    https://pbase.com/bryanh/image/165015197

    If you plan to track it:
    1) Invest in real brakes. Even the optional Brembos don't have enough thermal capacity for real track work when stock. I am not sure if upgrading the pads, fluid, going to slotted rotors, and adding brake cooling ducts is sufficient. It may be for some tracks like Brands Indy that are easier on brakes.
    2) Add an oil cooler.
    3) Think about a differential cooler.
    4) And for fun/performance, go to a square wheel/tire package, run a stiffer front sway bar, put in a LSD that actually works, and add negative camber to the front end (via aftermarket upper control arms). This transforms the car into something much more balanced. Going stiffer on the springs makes it more nimble as well. The stock shocks are actually not horrible for body motion control, but they don't offer the smoothest ride. They seem to have a decent amount of low speed compression damping, particularly at the rear.

    Mostly they are, indeed, pretty robust. After the MR2, it is my second favorite car I've owned.

    https://pbase.com/bryanh/image/167437683
    https://pbase.com/bryanh/image/167437508

  4. #4
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    Thank you so much :thumbs: great, super-valuable info

  5. #5
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    So, I'm intending to view these two cars tomorrow
    https://www.autotrader.co.uk/classif...01904237251469 - Private owner, red, 50k miles, non-GT, £7995
    https://www.autotrader.co.uk/classif...01909112100105 - Dealer, dark blue, 57k miles, GT, £9695

    As far as the oil gasket goes, it seems that the cars advertised as having had that changed are the enthusiast cars like https://www.350z-uk.com/topic/122846...midnight-blue/ , which also tend to have quite a few other mods. Which is fine, but I'm quite attracted by the ease and cheapness of insuring a bog-standard UK market car, after years of ringing round for modified imports. I did a few quotes; stock £250, a few mods £450, the kind of mods that blue car has £750 pa. Having said that, if I want to track it I'd end up modding it like that anyway, as Cuda says...

  6. #6
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    Update.. the Northern Ireland car's 'Full Service History' appears to include a most recent service at 20,000 miles .... in 2011

    Update2.. claiming an oil & filter change at a local garage 2 years ago. Meh, I'm thinking of paying for an inspection that will include an oil analysis, this should cover it. It's done tiny mileage in the last few years so probably fine. (100 miles in the last year between MoT roadworthiness tests).
    Last edited by samoht; September 22nd, 2019 at 03:16 PM.

  7. #7
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    So, the blue car was a little bit disappointing. Just quite a few door dings, a few rusty stonechips, a 2yr gap in the service history. And oil pressure reading barely 10psi at hot idle.


    It drove really nicely, smooth and quiet, the engine is indeed lovely on these. Clutch felt slightly high, unsure if I just wasn't used to it, and brakes took a shove, but possibly only in comparison to the CL5+ pads I'm used to on the FD.
    None of the above is damning, but at the same time the blue car is pretty strong money, and it doesn't feel a top-notch car.

    The red car had 25mm spacers and tinted windows, and looked great. The main downsides are rust just starting to appear inside the rear arches - probably could be fixed fairly easily if addressed now - and really heavy road rash on the bonnet and front wings, I've never noticed a car with so many white specks flecking the paintwork. And it also had warm idle oil pressure of 10psi - I didn't grab a pic but I think it was pretty much identical to the blue car. I can forgive the red car more as it's a fair bit cheaper, and it's a private sale from a guy who clearly loves it and has owned it seven years, and has the promise of a full Nissan service history (albeit he needs to ask the garage to produce it).



    The red car's manual seats felt to sit me a bit lower than the blue GT car's leather electric seats - is this a known difference? I'm leaning away from the GT pack anyway I think. And yes I found seat height adjustments (front and back of the seat) and had them both at their lowest.


    So - blue car, no, too expensive for condition, patchy history, and oil question mark. Red car - maybe.

    I really like the way the Z drives, feels connected, supple in a slightly big-car way, the engine is a peach, instantly responsive and powerful throughout the rev range and a nice, if muted, noise at full chat. I definitely want to buy a Z, but probably not one of the two I saw today.

    However - I've now spied another Z. One owner from new, 25,000 miles, dark blue, full Nissan service history, £7,500. Sounds good, right? The only little hurdle is that it's in Craigavon, which is over the water in Northern Ireland. But it seems like it's worth a trip for a car that I can't see how I could lose money on. The owner has agreed to hold it for a week and email me the service history and MoT certificates, then I'll arrange an RAC inspection, and if it all checks out then I'll fly over with the money and buy it. Wish me luck!

    https://www.autotrader.co.uk/classif...01909202457672
    Last edited by samoht; September 24th, 2019 at 12:47 PM. Reason: Fix images

  8. #8
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    Is there any particular reason you are keen on the 350, but not on the 370?

  9. #9
    The pictures aren't working for me.

    The oil pressure should read, at minimum, when warmed up, 14psi at idle and 43psi at 2000rpm. If you test drive a car with readings at or below these minimums, strongly suspect the oil galley gasket. A 5-pound part that takes probably 20 hours of labor to replace. If you don't fancy doing this work or paying to have it done, I think your best bet is a car that has had it done already with the updated gasket. They are all very likely to fail, so even a car that hasn't had the problem yet is going to have it. I know for Infinitis, some of them had it done under warranty work and the dealer procedure was to replace the entire rear timing cover assembly (which included the updated gaskets). So if you see a receipt for that, with no mention of the word "gasket," it's the same end result fix.

    Clutch pedal travel is a little bit long compared to some sports cars, and the self-adjusting clutches do tend to find a higher bite point in the pedal travel. I found my HR a little more normal feeling than my DE, but I did get used to it after a couple months. Because the revs don't drop quickly between shifts, on the street there's no reason to rush the shift so the long clutch pedal travel is no big deal to me. There's a brilliant fix for this, though, with all kinds of adjustability built into it. I haven't used it but have heard a lot of glowing reviews. https://www.rjmperformance.com/350z-...edal-kits.html

    Interesting how your insurance (or reg?) goes up based on the level of modification the car has.

    Brakes should be able to feel great. My DE had average-feeling brakes until the day I replaced the discs. With the same old pads (not super ideal but you can get away with this sometimes), the pedal firmed up very nicely. I was really surprised by this, actually. In theory, the calipers hold the pads against the disc regardless of an old disc being a few fractions of a mm thinner than a new disc. Only other thing I can figure is the old discs were glazed or something. [Edit - neither of my Zs had the Brembos]

    I am not certain whether there's a difference in seat cushion height between manual and power seats. It would not surprise me, as this is indeed the case in the BMW world. Both my Zs had manual cloth seats (or a racing seat ). I will say the 2007 G35 sedan I sat in, with its power leather seat, sat me up much higher than my Zs did. Both cars are based on the same platform, but I can't be certain they didn't make other changes for the sedan.

    Glad you like the cars. I think they're a bit under-appreciated myself. They have a reputation here for mainly being owned by kids who drift them into curbs and generally rat them out. So they don't get the respect they deserve for being a darn good car that happens to be affordable. But I guess that's why the kids are drawn to them - it's a lot of speed for not much money. IIRC, Nissan targeted M3 performance at the time, but for under $30k USD when new. They didn't quite reach M3 performance with the DE at $26k USD in 2003, but the HR is darrn close I think.

    The engine note gets very sweet with just moderate changes to the exhaust. My DE had a muffler just barely smaller than stock, made by Dynomax or Magnaflow or something, and it was perfect for a daily driver - quiet at idle and slow acceleration, but just enough tunefulness at harder acceleration to be interesting. Probably too quiet for a track car though. My HR had a very loud exhaust on it, pretty racy from the headers through high flow cats and all the way back. Great for the track, not so great at 5am in the neighborhood, or anytime there were any police nearby.

    One more thing I remembered: check the hatch, make sure it pops up enough to get your fingers underneath it to lift it up. Some cars the hatch stays down even when released, requiring you to squeeze your fingers underneath *while* pressing the hatch release button. This makes one-handed operation very difficult. To my knowledge there's no permanent fix for this. My DE car did it, my HR did not, but HR cars can suffer the same issue.

    Additional tidbit: the stock HR intakes are quite good as is. So are the stock exhaust manifolds. Nissan really got this engine right (aside from one lousy gasket ).
    Last edited by CudaMan; September 23rd, 2019 at 08:44 AM.

  10. #10
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    I've tried to fix the images, hopefully they'll now appear. That'll teach me not to double-check every image-bearing post in an incognito window!

    Thanks a lot for the useful info, especially about the clutch and everything, good to know that's normal.
    I had a browse and I did find people on the forums saying the cloth manual seats sit you lower than the leather electric ones, which makes sense of my gut feeling.

    I checked the boots and both the cars I saw needed the double-hand operation you describe, apparently you can pad the springs halfway up the opening to make it pop up better initially, unsure how long that lasts though.


    As far as the 370Z goes, quite a few people have made that suggestion, and I admit I was surprised to see the early Z34s down under £9k, overlapping with the Z33s. I'm not really feeling them, though. The 350Z has confident styling - every idea is carried through fully to its logical conclusion. The 370Z just feels a bit disjointed and hunched up to me. The 350Z HR engine got rave reviews when it came out, where the 370Z motor is described as effective but harsh and unenthusiastic. The 350Zs all got improved handling/ride for the European launch - the UK Nissan Technical Centre did a European chassis setup which was then adopted globally. The 370Z, as I understand it, was considered a bit unresolved - there is some suggestion that some models had a better chassis setup, but last I checked I wasn't really able to pin down which. The 370Z has, as mentioned, engine overheating issues on track - unsure if I'll track this car, but I may, so the fewer mods needed the better. And finally, I'd probably rather be shopping at the top end of the Z33 market than the bottom end of the Z34 one (and I understand Z34s up to 2011/12 have the same oil gasket issue as HR Z33s). I have a gut feeling that nice 350Zs will start to slow down their depreciation, so may work out better financially if I decide to sell it for a Supra in a few years. I appreciate the 370Z has the shorter wheelbase that makes it a true coupé (ie from couper, to cut), but overall I'm more keen on seeking out a nice example of the older car.

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