Living With A Sports Car – Nissan 350Z Part I



Living with a sports car is something that every car enthusiast aspires to experience. Admit it. Despite this, since we don’t have Laguna Seca in our backyards, most of us are relegated to driving vehicles that are “practical” and “make sense”. For some, this can mean driving a Corolla. For others, a minivan.

But while you might be driving a 1994 VW Golf, you really, really want to drive a Caterham Se7en as a daily driver. You’re already imagining all the Stop Light GP’s you’re going to win; the track-days you’ll attend; the heads you’ll turn; the women you will turn into giddy schoolgirls.

If only you had the means to do it, you would. But that’s usually about as far as your thought process goes. Have you ever wondered why your local aristocrats drive Porsche Cayenne Turbo’s and not KTM X-Bow’s? It’s probably because of practicality and compromise. So the question is: are the sacrifices of living with a sports car worth it? As your CarEnvy editor, I’ve plunked down my own money to find out. It’s a hard job, but someone has to do it.

I’ve been driving a 2002 Mazda Protege5 for the last 3.5 years. Nothing fancy, but it carried my golf clubs, my skis, my gym bag, and even a few friends. The short-throw shifter kit and the cold-air intake were an homage to the sports cars out there that I wished were mine.

Well, I was driving the P5, until this last week when I bought a 2003 Nissan 350Z. It’s silver, it has the 6-speed manual, it has 19″ Axis wheels, it has only 54,000 km, and the best part? It cost only eighteen and a half thousand loonies.

So what is it like to live with a 287 hp coupe seven days a week?

Well first, there’s the firm ride, but you needn’t have developed the Special Theory of Relativity in 3 months to figure that one out. The 350Z is a sports car, but it is by no means a no-frills track-day special a la Ariel Atom. Yes, the visibility is crap, the sounds lound, the ride harsh, and the space compromises significant, but it still has a full windshield, a roof, heated leather seats, a radio, cruise control, and a trunk that can apparently fit two sets of golf clubs. Although I have yet to confirm that last one, there’s at least enough space for a weekend’s worth of bags.

Obviously, most car enthusiasts (myself included) would be willing to live with these compromises in exchange for the blood-hungry cry of the VQ35 crescendoing at 6,500 rpm. And that’s exactly what I’ve done for the summer of ’09. Bryan Adams, it’s been 40 years, let’s go.

Stay tuned as I accustom myself and my driving to this fine example of the venerable Z34.