The 350Z (2003-2008) not only upheld the Z’s legacy of affordable performance, but it took it to a level which surpassed that of the previous Z. From the powerful naturally-aspirated 3.5-liter V6 to the precisely tuned suspension, this Z car changed the face of the game forever. In this guide we’ll point out the key things to look for when buying a used 2003-2008 Nissan 350Z.
First, determine the model year and trim level the seller has. There were several differences between models over the years and not all of them can be identified just by looking for a badge on the trunk. From 2003-2004, all 350Z models made 287 horsepower and 274 lb-ft of torque. Starting in 2005, the 300-horsepower RevUp engine was introduced and continued to be used until 2006. The 2007-2008 350Z produced even more power but slightly less torque, at 306 horsepower and 268 lb-ft of torque. The coupe was offered in five trim levels including the base model, Enthusiast, Performance, Touring and Track Edition. The main differences between these are mostly aesthetic, with some equipped with larger wheels or sportier-looking aero pieces. The Track Edition models from 2003-2004, however, got 18-inch forged alloy wheels manufactured by RAYS Engineering, a set of big front brakes supplied by Brembo and a viscous limited slip differential, making them some of the most sought-after by enthusiasts.
When inspecting a used 350Z, be sure to look at the tires. Early models equipped with Bridgestones experienced “feathering” on the front tires. This is a condition that causes parts of the tread to wear faster than others (usually seen on the inner edge of the tire). This is caused partially by improper wheel alignment, but can also be attributed to the tread composition of the OEM Bridgestone tires. Still, non-OEM tires may also show the same signs of uneven wear.
Rev the engine to check responsiveness. Listen for any strange noises (pings, ticking sounds, etc.). It’s also a good idea to make certain the seller always used premium grade fuel in the car. If not, there may be internal damage from detonation.
During your test drive, pay special attention to how the transmission shifts. Does the clutch pedal feel mushy? Do all the gears engage smoothly? Does it grind going into reverse? If you determine that the clutch is on its way out, remember to take that into account if you decide to make an offer on the car.
By following this guide, you should be able to identify and purchase a cream-of-the-crop example of one of the world’s most iconic sports cars.