How To Build A 350Z Drift Car

First, an introduction; my name is Rich Spohr and I am the owner of www.AZDRiFT.com and www.350ZmotorSports.com

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I have been drifting my 2003 350Z for going on 3 years now and have learned quite a bit along the way.  This article is designed to help new drifters learm what works and what doesnt when it comes to modding your car.

I began drifting in late 2006 with a mostly stock Enthusiast model 350Z which comes with a factory VLSD differential.  The only mod I had at the time was a set of Eibach lowering springs.

My first ever event was at SouthWest International Raceway in Tucson, AZ.  The course was set up in a massive parking lot and was a 3rd gear entry into a long sweeping left turn.  Needless to say, it was a very rough day.  Having seen a bit of drifting and bieng from Chicago where we regularly “snow drifted” I figured it would be easy.  Wrong.

The first thing I noticed aside from my total lack of skill was that the car was very sloppy in turns, it had a ton of body roll and understeered like crazy.  This got me to researching sway bars.  There are many brands out there but two stood out to me: Hotchkis and Stillen.  Both were 3 way adjustable which was good, but the Stillens were over $125 cheaper, which was key. 

The next thing I noticed was the car could use more top end power to get thru the long 2nd and 3rd gear sweepers.  The budget wouldnt allow for a turbo or supercharger at the time so I found that test pipes gave a nice gain for only $150 or so.

Over the next 2 years I entered as many events as I could.  I realized that seat time was the best mod I could invest in to become a better driver.  I got to know alot of the old pro’s from my area and rode along with them all I could.  I found that the best way for me to learn was watching the hand and footwork of better drivers.

Once I had enough seat time under my belt to realize I was serious about drifting and wanted to make the car a true drift car I started spending money on the things that needed to be improved…

Hands down, the best investment I made in the car was my Nismo 1.5 way differential.  The Nismo transformed the car.  It became easy to get the car sideways and very predictable as well.  The stock VLSD is fine for beginning, but it will either break as mine did or you will outgrow it fast.

The next major shortfall of the 350Z was the lack of steering angle.  I had several professionally licensed drifters take my car out on different courses and they all struggled to keep the car sliding.  This was fortunately a very simple inexpensive fix: Tein Extended Tie Rods.  Under $200 delivered and removal of the bump stops cured the angle problem.

The next step was coilovers.  Like everyone else, I wanted some sexy Tein Super Drifts but the $1800 wasnt in the budget.  After riding in and driving a bunch of different setups, I chose KSport Kontrol Pro’s$900 delivered got me a set of Kontrol Pro’s with 10k-12k spring rates and unlike most other similar priced models the KSports were TRUE Coilovers.  No spring.shock combo in the rear.

The above mods took me from a struggling drifter to the point where I was ready to compete with some of the best drifters in the South West.  In order to compete however, I needed a couple more things…

I needed a roll cage with door bars, so I fabbed one up as simply and inexpensive as I could.  I ran the main hoop behind the seats and welded in 6″x6″ plates to attach the tube.  From there, I ran two bars back into the strut tower in the rear.  For the door bars, I ran tube from the main hoop forward to the spot where the “dead pedal” was in the floor.  Another plate was welded in there to attach both sides.

Now, I had the ability to lower the car which of course made my camber way off.  This was cured with $389 Kinetix A-arms in the front and $150 350Z MotorSports camber rods in the rear.

One of the most annoying things I ran into was the excessive wheel hop I got when launching the car.  This was cured with a 350Z MotorSports solid aluminum diff mount.  For $89.95 I managed to fix a very annoying problem.

Finally, I added a $200 KSport hydraulic e-brake.  I ran the lines to the rear brakes only and got a set of drilled slotted rotors and Hawk Pads for the rears.

That about sums up the mod list so far.  I think the above proves that the 350Z can be modded inexpensively to become a very capable drift car and I can tell you from first hand experience that no other car feels as well balanced and performs as well as the 350Z on the drift course.

For more info and parts, please visit my site @ www.350zMotorSports.com  All the parts we carry have been track tested. 

For more immediate help or if you have questions, feel free to give me a ring @ 480-829-4908

 

Thanks for reading and best of luck to you.

 

Rich Spohr

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4 Responses to “How To Build A 350Z Drift Car”

  1. Matthew Hibbing Says:

    I have a 2005 35th anniversary 350Z and I would like to know what it would take to make it driftable. and where you would recommend to take classes and also where I could compete and get better. Thanks and I look forward to hearing from you soon. thanks. Matt.

    • 350zmotorsports Says:

      Just give ma a call, happy to help. Start with the diff. then stiffen the suspension all you can. local events are best. dont street drift it.

      Soft front, stiff rear on the sways.

  2. This is very interesting. Besides for a slight order change and the addition of a couple non-essential parts, this is exactly how my Z has taken shape.

    Only thing I personally believe in is driver comfort which means a seat and harnesses along with a steering wheel.

  3. Brian, saw your page…very nice. I agree on the seat/steering wheel thing too. I only have the steering wheel so far, but am in the market for a good seat now.

    Good to see another Z getting sideways.

    Rich

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