Junkyard Find: 2003 Nissan 350Z Coupe

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 2003 nissan 350z coupe

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.

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3 of 38 comments
  • 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...).

  • Tassos SNAAB shot itself in the foot when it BASTARDIZED its unique brand by BADGE ENGINEERING its vehicles with GOD DAMNED GM, OPEL, CHEVY, LANCIA and who knows what other automotive RIFF RAFF. I know of no Saab Enthusiast (they do exist) who felt sorry when the stupid maker went BANKRUPT.
  • 28-Cars-Later Example is located in Coldwater Michigan, so..." needs work -- including new brakes."Brakes, brake lines, probably fuel lines. Probably should hit the master cylinder too unless there are seal only kits for it."It has an automatic transmission."Likely needs a new one of those as well."an exhaust leak"Add an exhaust to the list."an inaccurate speedo."Wow and TMU to boot!These days five to six bills isn't too horrible but this example could turn into a headache really quick due to parts availability. The right buyer for this is a small time tradesman, the HVAC guy who was just leaving my house is rolling a late P80 Volvo 850 sedan in manual which he treats like a truck. Said he'd love a wagon if he ever came across one... if you're local to Coldwater Michigan this is a nice work beater. Annual inspection/registration tax probably costs nearly as much as the car.
  • 2ACL Amazing price, but that's (IMO) a reflection of the interest in an old 2.0T repmobile made interesting only by being a wagon. The Epsilon 9-3 was a sanitized take on the Saab formula. That's not to say it lacks interesting variants, but this isn't one of them. If it had a stick, maybe. But this generation's automatics are sealed and known to become temperamental if not serviced. If the owner can't provide proof of regular servicing, run.
  • Tassos The 3 lt turbodiesel should be FAR, FAR more efficient than the 6.2. ANything that walks would be more efficient than the 6.2. Are you kidding me?The 3 lt turbodiesel in my 4,000 lb+, 208 HP, 400+ LBFT E320 Bluetecs is more efficient than even the 2.2 lt ICE with its meager 125 HP in my 1990, only 2,822 lbs, Accord Coupe 5 speed LX. 100%. I have the full detailed records to prove it beyond any doubt. I consistently get over 35 MPG HWY, which I never got with the Accord (usuallt 32-33 tops)The big question is, will GM ask $5k more for the diesel than for the gas version, as usual? Mercedes only asked $1k m ore for the diesel, $51k vs $50k for the gas back then, which you would recover in just ONE YEAR of average miles driven.
  • Cprescott Lucid has the right idea about building cars - I agree that these have a presence to them and certainly make all Teslas look like cheap golf carts with doors in comparison. I hope Lucid survives because they actually build luxurious products and not pretenders like Tesla.