350ZR» An Unofficial
350Z Roadster Resource
"Adventure is inconvenience properly perceived." — Llewellyn Thomas
"Places to go, things to do, Porsches to pass..." — 350Z showroom banner
"Think of it as a high-performance park bench with a mechanical beauty far exceeding any external good looks." — the author
Thanks for stopping by, and happy Zing!
Last revised on 06/04/2005 at 21 months and 15,400 miles from purchase.
New for 2004, the ^Nissan 350Z roadster added the joy of open-air touring to the 350Z coupe, an award-winning marque with the performance and mechanicals of a sports car commanding twice the price. The result was and is an affordable performance roadster fun to drive at any speed.
Naturally, something has to give in such an equation, and Nissan once again wisely chose to make most of the conspicuous sacrifices in the cabin. The rather Spartan interior remains tasteful, comfortable and highly functional from a driver's standpoint but offers little glitz. No matter — the cabin's forgotten with a nudge of the accelerator or a confident jump into a favorite turn. The musical rise of the exhaust note, the gentle stir of the cockpit air, the steady show of torque by the muscular 3.5L V-6, the car's firm grip on both road and driver, the gratifying short-throw snicks through the 6-speed gearbox — these are all the accompaniments needed give the 350ZR experience a proper framing.
Creative manufacturing strategies are reported to have yielded additional Z economies. For example, moving the glove box behind the passenger seat simplified the assembly line by reducing parts bin differences for left- and right-hand drive versions. Personally, I'd rather have the glove box in the usual place, but in its current location, it's become big enough to lock away a brief case. If that's the kind of trade-off required to achieve the 350Z's enviable performance/cost ratio, I'm all for it.
This first-things-first philosophy has guided the evolution of the Z line since the original, market-shattering Datsun 240Z. After a 5-year hiatus, the latest reincarnation of the legendary Z-car— the widely acclaimed 350Z featured here— gives the concept its most refined and exhilarating expression to date.
The Welch explorer Llewellyn Thomas once remarked that "adventure is inconvenience properly perceived." In the grand scheme of things, the 350Z roadster's inconveniences are small, but it manages to deliver adventure to burn all the same.
The automotive press has lavished praise on the 350Z like no other Z before it. Road & Track editor Mike Monticello didn't mince words when he said in the November, 2003 issue, "In case you've been hiding under a rock with the salamanders lately, there is this new sports car from Nissan that is proving to one of the best of all time. Period." This from a magazine that spends much of its time covering Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Lotuses, Porches and Corvettes.
For weeks, we'd been on the fence — the gorgeous and highly capable ^Infiniti G35 Sport Coupe 6MT had recently caught my eye, but the better ventilated and more athletic 350Z roadster had just hit the dealerships. For once, I was the one talking practicality and lower cost, which in this case happened to favor the G35. But Kathy kept pointing me back to the pure joy of open-air motoring. Once you're addicted, the top-down experience is hard to give up for any coupe — even for a G35 with a generous sunroof. Either way, we were resigned to the fact that we'd have to order one of these rare catches to meet our specs, which first and foremost called for a manual transmission, a hard-to-find G35 option.
We were still decidedly undecided when the ^Nissan dealer who'd been helping us fantasize about the roadster called with a excited heads-up one Saturday morning in August, 2003: An unexpected and, miracle of miracles, unclaimed black touring roadster had just rolled off the delivery truck. We rushed over for a look before it disappeared, just to say that we'd seen a roadster in the flesh before ordering one. (From our test drive of a 350Z coupe, we knew that the mechanicals wouldn't disappoint.) On the way down, we reminded ourselves of all the fuss and bother it took to keep previously owned black cars presentable. Never again, we said.
Never, that is, until we saw the car. One look was all it took — the fluid black body, the simple but elegant black interior, the confident burnt orange seat accents, the ventilated seat backs, the exhaust note and the promise of nothing but sky overhead on 18 seconds' notice. Having more or less settled on silverstone or Pikes Peak white, we would never have thought to order the color scheme in front of us now, but there it was, and no one on the lot could take their eyes off it, Kathy and I included. Having beaten all other roadster seekers to the scene, we snapped it up. And suffered not even a nanosecond of buyer's remorse thereafter.
If our teenage kids had ever once thought of their parental units as "cool" prior to that day, they certainly never let on. But they lost their cool when we pulled up unannounced in the new roadster. Suddenly, it became OK to be seen with the old man. You have to take it any way you can get it. (In fact, that's one of my top 10 reasons for owning the car.)
The 350Z roadster is our 6th Z-car in nearly 30 years. All memories of our last Z-less episode, thankfully some 25 years ago now, have been thoroughly repressed. We skipped the 260Z and the 1979-1983 300ZX series for various reasons but have otherwise sampled the entire Z line-up:
We parted friends with each and every one of them — especially the 1990 T-top pictured above.
From our perspective, the Z philosophy still works, and the Z-cars themselves just keep getting better and better. The 350Z is at once the most capable and refined Z-car we've driven and the most true to the spirit of the original 240Z. (Data point: A single-owner 1971 240Z still passes most of the newer models on Z club track days.) The venerable twin-turbo Z32s might be able to outrun it on a long straight, but they can't out-corner it, and they certainly can't outclass it.
Family, work and driving my own 2004 350ZR leave no time for tracking subsequent model changes, and I've made no attempt to do so here. According to several sources, 2005 brought a few new options and packages and a slightly higher price to the roadster (see ^Nissan's official 350Z site for details) but no significant changes to the car itself. Specifically, the 2004 and 2005 bodies and engines are identical. The 2 roadster options I would have added — all-season tires and Brembo brakes (if not a Track version) — didn't materialize in 2005.
What the future might bring is anybody's guess. Nissan always holds their cards close to their chest. As each new model year approaches, predictions and purported inside scoops flood the 350Z forums, but reliable advance information remains elusive. The dealers seem to be the last to know.
I hope you find 350ZR» useful. I certainly could have used something like it when we purchased our roadster. The content here focuses on the roadster because I lack first-hand knowledge of the coupe, but much of it applies equally to both, especially for the 2004 model year.
I have no desire to fuel the tiresome roadster vs. coupe debates that periodically erupt on Z-related forums. Each configuration has its pros and cons, and which appeals more is largely a matter of personal taste. In any event, the coupe and roadster are far more alike than they are different, as the Coupe and Roadster Together gallery attests.
Please bear in mind that I'm a just fellow Z enthusiast with a web page editor — not an automotive expert, not a Nissan insider, not a vendor. I have no relationship with Nissan other than as a 30-year customer; nor do I have any inside line on Nissan's plans for current or future models. No inducements or considerations have been received for any of the products mentioned here; nor do I have a stake in them.
Unless otherwise noted, all opinions and observations expressed here are my own, but I think you'll find that I've done my homework on factual matters. Resources tapped in the making of 350ZR» include
That said, if you find anything controversial, incomplete, or just plain wrong, I'd love to hear about it at email@example.com. I'm also willing to field e-questions on a last-resort basis at that address. If you're still empty-handed after trying the 350ZR» keyword search page and investing your own time searching the information-rich forums at ^350ZFrenzy.com and ^350ZMotoring.com and the internet's many other online Z resources, drop me a line. Naturally, my family, work and projects have first dibs on my time, but I'll try to get back to you if I think I can help.
BTW, links leading to external sites are prefixed with a carat, like so: ^Nissan North America
Thank you for stopping by, and happy Zing!
NB: This is strictly a non-commercial site. Nothing is bought or sold here. Unsolicited commercial e-mails (UCEs) sent to any cliffshade.com address will be forwarded to the proper authorities.
What do you get when you cross over 30 years of popularity with a large, avid and loyal fan-base? An internet chock-full of Z-related material, of course. Your search engine should have no trouble finding the Z information you need, but I'll share a few of my favorite Z-links here.
Note: The "^" carat prefix denotes a link leading to an external site.
350ZR» All material © Jeremy McCreary unless otherwise credited. Comments and corrections to firstname.lastname@example.org.