"I'll tell you," related Second Unit Director Terry Leonard, "this 350Z is the toughest car I've ever seen. I mean we can't destroy it." It's good that the 350Z was so tough, because as the mount of the story's antagonist-the "Drift King," or D.K.-the squadron of 350Zs playing this part were beaten harder and asked to do wilder things than any other vehicle in the movie. And despite what Leonard said, they destroyed plenty of them.
The heart of the Drift King's 350Z (at least for two of the eleven used in the film, including the one SCC and InsideLine.com tested) is the familiar APS twin-turbo system heaving boost into the VQ35DE, 3.5-liter, DOHC, 24-valve V-6 engine. Throw in APS' turbo-back exhaust system and some Magnaflow mufflers and the result should be about 450 horsepower. What "should be" and "what is" are two different things however, and this 350Z whacked out 430.3 horsepower at 5950 rpm on the chassis dyno. Torque production, for those of you looking to bulldoze a new driveway with a 350Z, peaked at 413.3 lb-ft at 4950 rpm.
To make use of that thump, King's machine runs a 2-way NISMO limited-slip differential behind the stock six-speed manual transmission. And that diff in turn feeds a pair of 285/30R19 Toyo Proxes T1R rear tires on VeilSide Andrew EVO 19x11-inch wheels with custom black spokes. The tires up front are 245/35R19 T1Rs on 19x9-inch versions of the same wheels. There are Brembo brakes all around, and the car has been lowered over RS*R springs.
Aesthetically, the big change is a VeilSide Version 3 widebody kit with a VeilSide carbon-fiber hood held down by Speedway Engineering (a little NASCAR touch) hood pins. Ganador carbon-fiber side mirrors and "Ghostlight" graphics from Scarab graphics complete the package. Inside there are Sparco EVO L seats, Sparco belts, and a Safety 21 rollcage. There's also a NOS nitrous bottle aboard, but for looks not juice.
For a car that's had its hide whipped and every part of its drivetrain abused, this thing was still a beast. It whomped from 0 to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds and plowed through the quarter-mile in 13.2 seconds at a wicked 114.79 mph. If this thing hooked more effectively on launch it would have been deep into the 12s-look at that trap speed! That's serious horsepower.
On the test day, Dennis McCarthy's crew also brought along a dented and bruised version of the 350Z so that Millen and Faust could pound it and one of the similarly abused '67 Mustangs together for grins and photos. Of course the Z was an order of magnitude more maneuverable than that ancient pony car, but it was startling to watch was how easily it punched into and moved the Mustang around; it was like watching an athletic welterweight push an old, flabby heavyweight around the boxing ring. It was also awesomely refreshing to have cars around that came pre-wrecked; there was no way for us to get in trouble for doing damage.
Except for the fact that this 350Z started life as a JDM right-hand-drive machine, it's pretty close to a perfect example of a built and brutal sport compact. But because it and its duplicates are JDM 350Zs, Universal Studios will soon face a dilemma: Do they go through the legal hassle of trying to keep these cars? Do they put them on a boat back to Japan intact? Or do they find a quiet wrecking yard somewhere around Palmdale, have a big machine chew them up, and send them back to Asia in little pieces?
Drift King Nissan 350Z Twin TurboEngine
Engine Code: VQ35DE
Type: 3498cc V-6, aluminum block and headExternal Modifications: APS twin turbo, stainless steel manifold, exhaust and downpipe, Magnaflow mufflers, NOS
Layout: Longitudinal front engine, rear-wheel driveDrivetrain Mods: 2-way Nismo LSD, 3.538:1 final drive
Front: RS*R springs
Rear: RS*R springs
Front: Stock Brembo
Rear: Stock Brembo
Wheels: VeilSide Andrew EVO, 19x9-in. (F), 19x11-in. (R)
Tires: Toyo Proxes T1R, 245/35ZR19 (F), 285/30ZR19 (R)
Body: VeilSide 350Z widebody Version 3, VeilSide CF hood, Speedway Engineering hood pins, Ganador CF mirrors, Scarab custom graphics
Sparco EVO L seats, steering wheel, and 4-point harness, Safety 21 rollcage