The Nissan 350Z. Since our initial test of the 350Z Track edition we’ve
received more emails about this car that any other we’ve covered in
It’s a car with an absolutely monumental following.
So it’s a little baffling why so few people modify their 350s. Well, John
Gaffney of Queensland wasn’t afraid to give
it a go - and here are the results of his mods...
“I bought my 350Z Track spec a couple of months ago because I like the look
of it and its performance – but mainly its looks,” says John.
“In standard form it has good response and torque – it’s the sort of car you
can be lazy with and drive in a gear that’s too high.”
In factory guise, the 350Z’s VQ35DE engine is rated at 206kW and 363Nm, at
6200 and 4800 rpm respectively. The all-alloy 3.5 litre six boasts DOHC, 4 valve
heads with continuously variable inlet cam timing and direct-fire ignition. Its
10.3:1 compression ratio means 95+ RON fuel is recommended.
But, like any mass produced vehicle, its performance is compromised by its
conservative exhaust and ECU tune.
John took his still-smelling-new 350Z to Bob Romano Performance after having
good experiences there with other cars (John also owns an Audi A4 Quattro that’s
been elevated from 110 to 165kW at the wheels).
Chris Romano says the 350Z is an impressive bit of gear in standard form, but
basic exhaust, air intake and management upgrades provide good gains.
John’s car has a replacement exhaust from the heads back. A custom pair of
headers feed into a parallel front pipes with an X pipe joining each side. The
twin pipes then merge into a single, large diameter pipe before again separating
into dual pipes toward the rear. A single high-flow cat and twin canon-style
mufflers are fitted to John’s car. Note that the tips are cut at an angle to
suit the style of the car – a nice touch.
Chris says a lot of development was put into the headers.
“We tried six different designs and we settled on a design that gives the
best overall spread of torque – a happy compromise between top-end and everyday
torque,” he says.
“We hope to be constructing the headers with a jig very soon.”
According to Chris, the factory headers have particularly small primary
diameter. Replacing the stock manifolds with a good pair of aftermarket jobs is
said to double the power gain normally seen when a cat-back system is fitted.
In other words, it’s worthwhile going all the way with the exhaust.
The only other hardware mod to John’s car is the fitment of an aftermarket
panel filter. The lower half of the airbox is also modified to flow a larger
volume of cool induction air.
“The UniChip brings the exhaust and intake mods together,” says Chris.
He explains that the factory mixtures fluctuate through the top two-thirds of
the rev range and, once the UniChip is wired in, this can be ironed out. Top-end
mixtures are also leaned out to enhance power. Ignition timing is also revised
over the entire range, with special attention to improving response at light
Note that Chris recommends filling the tank with 98 RON fuel once the vehicle
is modified. At minimum, a bottle of octane booster should be added to the tank
whenever you’re forced to use normal unleaded.
On the Romano Dyno Dynamics chassis dyno, these mods saw peak power increase
from 151kW to 174kW at the wheels. That’s a gain of 15 percent, so – assuming
the factory quoted power is correct – you’re looking at around 237kW at the
In addition to the 15 percent power gain, this graph shows a strong increase
in torque all through the rev range – up to 20 percent. This graph shows the
standard power and torque curves in red, while the modified curves are in blue.
Note that these runs were conducted in fourth gear and in Shootout Mode.
On the road, John says the 350Z is now much more throttle responsive and
‘fatter’ through the mid range. Top-end performance is also noticeably improved
– so much so that John is hoping to run a low 13 second quarter mile.
The exhaust is resonance-free and – although much louder than stock – it’s
“I don’t hear it at all while at cruise,” says John.
So what’s the cost, you ask?
Well, Bob Romano Performance charges AUD$4250 for the new headers/exhaust and
UniChip fitment and tuning. The replacement air filter and airbox mod adds an
extra AUD$200, bringing the total up to AUD$4450. This isn’t a bad price
considering how much more difficult it is to extract more power from a NA engine
compared to a turbo. John is very happy with the result and has no further plans
for mechanical modifications.
The only other mod John has made is a new set of wheels’n’tyres.
“I don’t really like the look of the standard 18s. They let the car down,”
The guards are now filled by polished G.MAX rims measuring 19 x 8.5 at the
front and 19 x 9.5 at the rear. Note that John says it was a challenge to find
wheels that would clear the Track spec Brembo calipers. Tyres are 245/35 and
275/30 Falken Azenis.
“The Falkens are a great tyre,” says John.
“I still haven’t found their limits.”
Interestingly, the step up to 19s and extra low profile rubber hasn’t caused
much extra bump harshness.
“I’m really happy with the car now,” says John.
“I’ll probably hold onto it and see if there’s anything better that appears
on the market in a couple of years.”
Bob Romano Performance
+61 7 3395 8255