Cars we love: buying a second-hand Nissan 350Z
Finding a car that’s a genuine thrill to drive – but that also costs sensible money – is hard. But Nissan’s 350Z is right at the head of that rare breed, writes Ray Castle of motors.co.uk.
It arrived eight years back, every inch a fully formed sports-car classic. The 350 harked back to the 240Z from three decades earlier, a car now revered by auto fans. It took everything of the best from back then– a beautiful shape, rear-wheel-drive, two seats, power and terrific responses – and updated it.
Nissan did a bang-on job, right first time. No surprise then that it became a hit pretty much instantly. And a chief reason for that was Nissan’s ability to build cars that run trouble-free and last. Unlike some of the competition, owning a 350Z need be scarcely more trouble than running a Micra.
How much should I pay?
The earliest 350Zs are by now seven years old (although you might find one that’s older, and has been imported from Japan when second-hand). But, because there’s still demand for used ones, you can expect to pay £8000 for one of these first cars. For that you should get a car that has covered, say, 70,000 miles, has a fully documented service history and two owners.
Find an extra £2000 to tip your spending into five figures and you’ll see a car a couple of years younger and showing fewer miles: 50,000 is a useful working limit.
From there, adding extra cash gets a younger fresher car: £13,500 is what you’d pay for a 57-reg, one-owner example that’s covered 32,000 miles, while £17,000 gets you a 58-reg car that’s covered half as many miles.
Two years back Nissan updated the car and, reflecting the changes and a bigger engine, renamed it the 370Z. These are now turning up as used cars in quantity but prices are high – there’s not too much about below £20,000, making the 350Z the one to go for – at least for now.
Which model is best?
There’s just one engine choice and one model. Choice comes in the extras owners chose from new and also a ‘GT’ pack that added heated leather seats and an upgraded stereo. Standard spec for the car included Xenon headlamps, Brembo brakes, climate controlled air conditioning and cruise control.
We’ve already mentioned cars brought here second-hand, having started life in Japan. These are often cheaper than similar UK-market cars and tempt for that reason. With these, there’ll be no service history (or if there is, it’ll be in Japanese – obviously) and you’ll need to satisfy themselves that it’s road-legal for the UK. The speedo should show miles per hour, not kphs and it should have a UK-spec fog lamp. Other problems may include Japan-spec tyres which aren’t suited to our rainy, pothole-dotted roads and diagnostic systems that your local garage won’t be able to ‘read’.
From 2005, a (cloth-roofed) Roadster joined the pack. It’s slower than the tin-topped 350Z, scarcer second-hand and dearer, too. Despite all that, its handsome looks and promise of sun-in-the-hair driving may seduce you.
Where should I buy?
Beat a path to your Nissan dealer’s door. You may see cheaper 350Zs elsewhere but a franchised showroom is where we’d go for a good choice, backed by the make’s Approved Used Scheme. This scheme pre-checks cars before they’re sold and includes at least a year’s warranty. That said, an independent car dealer specialising in 350Zs would be well worth a visit, too. The 350Z’s not to everyone’s taste so few fetch up on car supermarket sales lots and much the same holds true for general car dealers.
Scouting through the private used-car ads could turn up a cared-for gem of a car, but remember that you’ve less protection in law buying this way than you would from a garage.
What should I watch for?
All we’re told suggests that is a rugged, dependable car. A tough, non-turbo V6 engine helps, as does the simplicity of trad-style rear-wheel drive. The 350Z’s built to be driven keenly and thrives on it. But the balance to that is that it needs to be scrupulously maintained. Look for cars that come with a folder-ful of receipts for servicing. They should also be riding on Bridgestone tyres, as fitted to the car from new. And, because of the high levels of grip and traction they must provide, a matching set is a must-have.
Otherwise, remember that 3.5 V6 power and rear-wheel drive can be risky in experienced hands and that a fair few cars will have been crashed. Check gaps between panels, which should be nigh-on perfect. If they’re not – and the paint texture or shade varies across the car – walk away. A professional pre-purchase inspection is a particularly wise idea.
For more great car buying advice and to view and buy new and second-hand cars, click on to motors.co.uk. Surf the web using your mobile phone? Go to http://mobile.motors.co.uk/ or text ‘motors’ to 65056 and we’ll send you a link. If you’ve an iPhone, you can download the motors.co.uk app for free. Go to the ‘utilities’ section of the iTunes store.