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Nissan 350Z: Buying guide and review (2003-2009)

Nissan 350Z: Buying guide and review (2003-2009) Classic and Performance Car
Nissan 350Z Nissan 350Z Nissan 350Z Nissan 350Z Nissan 350Z Nissan 350Z Nissan 350Z Nissan 350Z Nissan 350Z Nissan 350Z
It’s 15 years since Nissan launched the 350Z. Who today would launch a small coupe with a brawny, 276bhp 3.5-litre V6, manual gearbox and indulgent rear-wheel drive, all for the price of a basic TT? 
In fact, the 350Z was launched first in Japan and the US, and it was a year later, in the late summer of 2003, that we finally got the European-spec model, its suspension reworked by the team at the Nissan Technical Centre Europe, based at Cranfield, Bedfordshire. So good was this setup that Nissan adopted it for all Zs from that point forward.
In the UK it was keenly priced at £24,000 for the basic model, though most buyers forked out the extra £2500 for the GT Pack, which included an uprated Bose hi-fi, cruise control and electrically adjustable heated leather seats. A further £1000 added the Z’s signature forged 18-inch Rays alloys, which not only looked good but saved 4kg per corner.
In March 2005 the Roadster arrived, and three months later came the limited-edition GT4. It boasted an extra 20bhp, lifting peak power to 296bhp, and though peak torque was slightly down, it had a flatter torque curve, so it felt more muscular through the rev-range. For £29,500 you also got a colour choice of black or retina-searing Ultra Yellow Pearl, unique Rays alloys and (full nostalgia-mode engaged) a gift-box containing a PlayStation 2 console and a copy of Gran Turismo 4. Just 176 were sold in the UK, but the uprated engine was carried over to the regular Z for the 2006 model year. 
The biggest round of changes, though, came for 2007. The V6 was re-engineered, the new HR (for High Response) unit revving to a heady 7500rpm and feeling good for every one of its 309bhp – we recorded 0-60mph in 5.5sec. The process of reducing the weighting of the steering, clutch and gearshift that began with the 2006 car was also continued, making this the sweetest of the lot.
As more new cars are powered by small-capacity turbo engines joined to paddleshift gearboxes, a big, lusty, naturally aspirated V6 driving the rear wheels through a manual ’box is surely only going to seem more appealing. There are too many Zeds around for values ever to really fly, but well-cared-for cars are edging upwards. Here’s how to bag a good one.

Performance and specs

Nissan 350Z HR

Engine  V6, 3498cc 
Power 309bhp @ 6800rpm
Torque 264lb ft @ 4800rpm
Transmission Six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive, LSD
0-60mph 5.5seconds
Top speed 155mph (limited) 
Insurance group   47
Fuel consumption  24.0mpg
Price when new  £26,795

Dimensions and weight

Wheelbase            2650mm
Length 4313mm
Width 1816mm
Height 1334mm
Weight 1532kg

Common problems

• The original engine is known as the DE. This was revised in 2006, when the power went from 276 to 296bhp, then comprehensively re-engineered to make the 309bhp HR version that ran from 2007.
• Scott Fairman at Abbey Motorsport says the HR was greatly improved, both in terms of performance and robustness. The main issue with the early engine is that it burns oil. Because the catalytic converters do such a good job, you might not spot smoke from the exhausts, but check anyway.
• The piston rings are the weak spot. By the time the oil light comes on, damage has probably been done. Abbey is gearing up to supply complete exchange engines, the cost expected to be £4000-5000. Most Z engines burn at least some oil, so the first thing to check is the oil level and, if you’re buying privately, quiz the owner.
• Exhausts split near the junctions with the cats, so listen for blowing. A replacement back-section can be a grand or more.
• The biggest service is at 54,000 miles and costs around £500.
• Clicking from the rear axle is a common issue with the driveshaft joints. It shouldn’t require replacements – many owners have found that unbolting the shafts, greasing the splines with heavy-duty grease and torquing the nuts back up cures it. It’s a fairly simple task that a competent home mechanic can do, or a quick job for a specialist.
• Clutch replacement is likely to be one of the major expenses you’ll face – a clutch kit and flywheel are around £600, with labour adding a couple of hundred to that, so beware any juddering or slipping. With typical use they should last around 40,000 miles.
• Knocking from the front suspension almost certainly means the bushes in the lower compression arms need replacement. It’s a common issue. Genuine Nissan bushes are around £250 per side, plus about an hour or so’s labour, but many owners take the opportunity to upgrade to poly bushes, which last longer and also sharpen the handling.
• If the car is fitted with OEM 18in wheels, the tyres should be 225/45 front and 245/45 rear, evenly worn across the tread. Most experts recommend sticking with the OE Bridgestones.
• No serious rust issues as yet. Check the A-pillar and around the edges of the windscreen for any signs of rust, which could indicate a bodged windscreen replacement.
• Check the doors don’t drop when you open them. Conversely, the windows should drop slightly on opening. On the coupe, check the hatchback opens cleanly and the struts support it easily – and that the boot is completely dry. If the fuel-filler cap doesn’t ping open, it could mean an actuator has failed. Also check the headlight lenses are clear.

• Interiors are fairly hard-wearing – only the driver’s seat bolster might show much wear – so be suspicious of a tatty cabin. Check all the warning lights go out – ABS and airbag lights could require costly rectification.

Owners clubs, forums and websites

• 350z-uk.com – 350Z and 370Z Owners Club
• nissansportz.com – Performance Nissan owners club
• abbeymotorsport.co.uk – Japanese car specialists
• kaizermotor.co.uk – Nissan specialst

The rivals

Between £4000 and £5000 gets you a pristine 222bhp first-gen TT quattro. A little more buys the excellent 237bhp Sport, or if you want even more brawn, the 247bhp 3.2-litre V6 quattro.
As with the 350Z, the Z4 is available in both coupe and roadster forms. The 3.0 version has 261bhp and pleasing – if not completely thrilling – rear-wheel-drive dynamics. From around £8000.
In some ways the closest modern equivalent to the 350Z, the GT86 and its Subaru cousin have less power (197bhp) but a similar driver-focused ethos and rear-wheel drive. From around £11,000.

Summary and prices

It’s possible to pick up a Z for as little as £4000, but this end of the market is largely populated by imports, modified cars and autos. Good UK cars start at around £5000 privately, with those from dealers from around £6000 for high-milers.
A really pristine low-miler with just one or two owners is anything from £8000 to as much as £10,000 – more for a GT4. And remember, you pay less road tax (currently £305) for a car registered before 23 March 2006. After that date, it’s a hefty £535.
Words: Peter Tomalin 
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Last updated: 16th May 2017
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Nissan 350Z
5495 19995 GBP
  • Nissan 350 Z

    £6,495 £6,495

    Air Conditioning, Bluetooth, Comms Pack, Full Leather, Satellite Navigation, Adjustable Steering Column, Multi-function Steering Wheel, Power Steering, Traction Control, Trip Computer, Electric Front Windows, Electric Mirrors, Bose, CD Player, Radio, Steering Wheel Audio Controls, ABS, Air Bag, Alarm, Central Locking, Remote Central Locking, Colour Coded Body, Metallic Paintwork, Alloy wheels, Service history Here at BMH Cars we are delighted to offer you this stunning example of a Nissan 350Z in sunburst orange. The vehicle comes with a host of extras such as Forged Alloys recently powder coated, mishimoto induction kit, new brakes, new belts, steering wheel, seats, iridium plugs, exhaust system, rear torsion bar. This vehicle has been wonderfully looked after. Everything that has needed to be done on the car has been. If you're looking for a nicely upgraded and well looked after Nissan 350Z Coupe, then look no further. Probably the best example of a 350Z around. For more information or to book a test drive please ring on 01386 423611.

    • Mileage: 84200 mi
    • Engine size: 3498
    For sale
    £6,495 £6,495
    BMH Cars Limited
  • Nissan 350 Z

    £19,995 £19,995

    Climate Control, ABS, Multiple Airbags, Anti-Theft System, Central Locking, Electric Mirrors, Electric Windows, CD Player, Traction Control, Stability Control, Power Steering, Full Leather, Heated Seats, 18'' Alloys, Full service history This is a stunning example of this Nissan 350Z GT4 Special EditionOnly 174 cars were produced of this model.(100 in Kuros Black and 74 in Ultra Yellow).This is No.This car was purchased new for my wife from Nissan in 2005 and has covered just 500 Miles!![Yes FIVE HUNDRED).It comes in Kuros Black with Full Black Leather and has the uprated 298 BHP Engine.The vehicle has a comprehesive specification including Power Steering,Remote Central Locking and Alarm,Electric Windows and Mirrors,Climate Control,Heated Seats,CD and Alloys.This is a unique opportunity to purchase a very rare car that is as new condition.You will not find another like it!!

    • Mileage: 500 mi
    • Engine size: 3498
    For sale
    £19,995 £19,995
  • Nissan 350 Z

    £6,495 £6,495

    Air Conditioning, Climate Control, ABS, Multiple Airbags, Stability Control, Traction Control, Power Steering, Parking Sensors, Multi-function Steering Wheel, Adjustable Steering Column, Height Adjustable Seat, Lumbar Adjustment, Retractable Headrests, Heated Seats, Full Leather, Front Centre Armrest, Electric Seats, Remote Central Locking, Remote Alarm, Colour Coded Body, Rear Spoiler, Radio Cassette, CD Player, Electric Windows, Electric Mirrors, Alloy wheels, Service history A truly Iconic sports coupe - GT PACK - Stored in garage by previous owner who has covered only 33 miles since last MOT and has therefore reluctantly decided to sell - Only 4000 miles covered since New Clutch Fitted - To be sold with NEW MOT - Three year WARRANTY available.

    • Mileage: 80870 mi
    • Engine size: 3498
    For sale
    £6,495 £6,495