Junkyard Find: 2003 Nissan 350Z Coupe

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

These days, I find many discarded Nissan Z-Cars from the 280Z through 300ZX eras, with the occasional 240Z or 260Z thrown in to add variety. 350Zs, though, have retained sufficient value to evade the high-inventory-turnover self-service yards where I get most of my Junkyard Finds… until now. Just as BMW Z3s and Mazda RX-8s began showing up in these yards a couple of years back, the 350Z’s time in the U-Wrench-It yards has come.

Here’s the first (but not the last) of the 350Zs to appear in my local U-Pull-&-Pay yard in Denver.

All the front body components have been removed, and I can’t tell if we’re looking at a crash victim with bent components removed for repairs that never happened or a huge score for a 350Z-owning junkyard shopper. The airbags aren’t deployed, but that doesn’t rule out a crashed-into-while-parked scenario.

The 350Z’s tiny quarter window is just the right size for a Paul Walker memorial sticker.

The ’03 350Z got 287 horsepower out of its VQ35 engine. Like nearly all cars that are 100 times more fun with a manual transmission, this one has an automatic.

This car’s final owner appears to have been a local hockey fan.

Before bargain-crazed junkyard shoppers went all Z-Car Black Friday on this Nissan, the interior was pretty nice. Once I start seeing more of these cars in places like this, I’ll have a better sense of what dooms them to this fate.

The VQ family of Nissan V6s went into so many cars and trucks from the factory (and can be swapped into plenty of vehicles never so equipped) that a high-output example like this ought to attract some junkyard buyers. I didn’t look underneath for connecting rods dangling through raggedy oil-pan holes, but that sort of problem may be the reason this engine is still here.

Words fail.

The Japanese-market counterpart to that commercial gets more into Nissan history.





Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Cimarron typeR Cimarron typeR on Oct 22, 2018

    Not sure if I get the LS 350z swap, 2 seat LS V8s already exist in a cheap platform, the used Corvette. Especially because the 350z was never really considered a lightweight

  • Bkrell Bkrell on Oct 26, 2018

    That Paul Walker sticker though....

    • JimC2 JimC2 on Oct 26, 2018

      Heh. It's sorta ricer meets redneck. A lot of folks in the Deep South sure love their rolling memorial window stickers (which to me, seems like a strange way to honor your late friends, family, and people you admire/NASCAR drivers, but it doesn't do any harm and it's a free country, so...).

  • Varezhka The biggest underlying issue of Mitsubishi Motors was that for most of its history the commercial vehicles division was where all the profit was being made, subsidizing the passenger vehicle division losses. Just like Isuzu.And because it was a runt of a giant conglomerate who mainly operated B2G and B2B, it never got the attention it needed to really succeed. So when Daimler came in early 2000s and took away the money making Mitsubishi-Fuso commercial division, it was screwed.Right now it's living off of its legacy user base in SE Asia, while its new parent Nissan is sucking away at its remaining engineering expertise in EV and kei cars. I'd love to see the upcoming US market Delica, so crossing fingers they will last that long.
  • ToolGuy A deep-dive of the TTAC Podcast Archives gleans some valuable insight here.
  • Tassos I heard the same clueless, bigoted BULLSHEET about the Chinese brands, 40 years ago about the Japanese Brands, and more recently about the Koreans.If the Japanese and the Koreans have succeeded in the US market, at the expense of losers such as Fiat, Alfa, Peugeot, and the Domestics,there is ZERO DOUBT in my mind, that if the Chinese want to succeed here, THEY WILL. No matter what one or two bigots do about it.PS try to distinguish between the hard working CHINESE PEOPLE and their GOVERNMENT once in your miserable lives.
  • 28-Cars-Later I guess Santa showed up with bales of cash for Mitsu this past Christmas.
  • Lou_BC I was looking at an extended warranty for my truck. The F&I guy was trying to sell me on the idea by telling me how his wife's Cadillac had 2 infotainment failures costing $4,600 dollars each and how it was very common in all of their products. These idiots can't build a reliable vehicle and they want me to trust them with the vehicle "taking over" for me.
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