666: the number of the beast. If you thought the Nissan 370Z was evil enough in standard form, look what happens when you strap a couple of turbos to it…
There are certain cars that are characterised by being all-motor from the factory; the Ford Mustang 5.0, the Honda S2000, the Porsche 911 GT3, the AE86 Toyota Corolla – machines whose engines are so fabulously skilful in naturally-aspirated guise, they feel no need for forced induction. Of course, the old saying that ‘less is more’ is entirely down to personal taste. If less is more, imagine how much more you’d have if you followed the ‘more is even more’ route. Yeah? There’s no point messing about, power is power. Strapping turbos to these unsuspecting engines will make colourful and emotive things happen. No matter what people tell you, more is more. That’s what the word means.
The Nissan 370Z is one of those traditionally all-motor creations that we so revere. It comes from the factory with a muscular 3.7-litre V6 which, in European spec, kicks out 326bhp while making amusing growling noises. There’s a lot to love here. It’s the typical sports car formula – small footprint, big engine up front, drive to the rear, way more power than you need to shove you up the road like someone’s jammed an Exocet missile up your cornchute. But that’s not enough for some people. Why settle for simply going hilariously fast, when you could be going so fast that your eyeballs actually start to bleed? That’s the path Thomas Nguyen has taken here with his tuned Nissan 370Z, and that pair of whistlin’ snails certainly seems to be working out well for him.
“This all started around seven years ago,” he explains. “I had a real thing for 350Zs back then, so I bought one with the intention of building it up into a big-power project. Unfortunately I made the mistake of letting someone else drive my car, and he spun out and totalled it. He left me hanging with no help, and I could only afford liability on the car at the time, so I was forced to sell the wrecked chassis and motor and collect what I could.” That’s a fairly shitty turn of events, but Thomas isn’t the sort of guy to let his dreams die simply because some other ham-fisted goon can’t handle the horsepower. So after the red mist had cleared, and he’d regrouped and saved up the necessary funds, Thomas bought himself a 2010-model 370Z so the merry dance could begin anew.
This is a logical evolutionary step, but what a lot of people don’t realise is that the 370Z is a wholly different car to its 350Z predecessor – it wasn’t just a case of increasingly displacement by 200cc and swapping the badges, pretty much every part of the car was redesigned or upgraded. The new model had a shorter wheelbase and a wider rear track, copious aluminium chassis components, forged control arms, big Akebono brakes, the works. Lighter, stiffer, more powerful, better. The ideal next-gen base for Thomas’s project.
“At first I had much to learn about how cars work, and which parts did what, and what goes where,” he admits. “So I didn’t mess with the car too much to begin with, but I did have my trials and errors from buying cheap parts or replica stuff. I learned my lessons one mistake at a time!”
This is an eminently sensible way to go about things, rather than rushing in like the proverbial bull in the pottery wholesaler, and first-hand mistakes teach you valuable lessons about prudence. Step by step, Thomas was learning everything he could about his car, admirably improving his knowledge base before forging on with the real power mods.
“Finally I realised the right path I wanted to take,” he says, “and was lucky enough to have Z1 Motorsports practically down the street from me. They helped me out with sourcing my twin-turbo setup and installing the kit, as well as pointing me in the right direction with what supporting mods I needed in order to have the car safe and reliable. So I owe thanks to the team at Z1 Motorsports, they have been there every time I needed them!”
The turbo kit is from AAM Competition, a company who magically deliver huge power without noticeable lag along with proper OEM fitment (how do they do that?!), and it comprises a pair of Borg Warner EFR 6758 turbos, tubular manifolds, downpipes, and a sodding great intercooler. Thomas has augmented all of this with vastly uprated fuelling to suit, a ported intake manifold, AAM intakes, a free-flowing Tomei exhaust system and substantially strengthened transmission. The upshot of all of this is a mighty, devilish 666bhp at the rear wheels. Which is ridiculous, frankly, and must keep his palms moist all the time. Fantastic.
Those rear wheels need a decent contact patch to help deploy all of these rampaging horses, as you might imagine, so you may be unsurprised (albeit extremely impressed) to learn that the rear wheels measure a whopping 13×19”; the fronts aren’t shy either, at 11×19”. They’re WORK Meister S13Ps, and their mile-deep dishes and fat spokes suit the chunky styling of the Zed down to a tee.
…which brings us to the next stage of the car’s evolution. You see, having sorted the car’s function, Thomas was very keen to address the form.
“A few years down the road, Aimgain came out with the widebody kit and I had to have it!” he recalls. “So I contacted Bulletproof Automotive since I’d ordered through them before and they’re known for obtaining rare JDM parts – Varis, Aimgain, Voltex and so on. Communication is key when you’re ordering such expensive parts from overseas, and this company is one of the best places I’ve found to do business with. For most of the easier-to-get parts like wheels and carbon fibre pieces I deal with Showstoppers GA – very honest guy, and always beats prices for me. He’s helped me out with a few sets of WORK wheels I’ve ordered and always comes through for me!”
The muscular little coupe is now aggressively wide thanks to that Aimgain kit, and also wears a carbon vented bonnet, Aerojacket duckbill, custom skirts, Amuse rear bumper and all manner of other tricks, all of which is artfully slathered in a custom top-secret shade of paint that Thomas reckons was inspired by Ford’s Avalanche Grey.
“I built this car to be my reliable street car,” he says, which – given the satanic horsepower figure – is a pretty heroic standpoint. “I didn’t want to build the car for strictly one purpose, I wanted something that’s ready for whatever you throw at it, whether it’s a show, track day, or just to cruise on Sunday. When you invest that much time and money into an object, the best thing you can do with it is to enjoy it. Just take it out, and drive it.”
We couldn’t agree more. Fast cars are for driving. So is he happy with 666bhp and those wide hips that won’t quit, or has the modding bug burrowed too deep into his brain? “I think it’s pretty much perfect as it is now,” he reasons. “I’ve got a couple of other projects on the go, and it’s good to know when to stop.”
Wise sentiment indeed. Thomas has already sidled in alongside the devil with this one. Best to keep him on-side, eh?
TECH SPEC NISSAN 370Z
Custom paint – inspired by Ford Avalanche Grey, Aimgain front bumper with canards and Type 1 lip, Aimgain widebody fender flares, custom sideskirt extensions, retrofit headlights, VIS carbon fibre vented bonnet, Evo-R carbon fibre door handles, Evo-R carbon fibre mirrors, Aerojacket duckbill, Amuse rear bumper, JDM rear brake light
VQ37VHR 3.7-litre V6, AAM Competition twin-turbo conversion – 2x Borg Warner EFR 6758 turbos, integrated CRV and wastegates, AAM intercooler and piping, AAM cast iron tubular manifolds, AAM downpipes, CJM stage 1.5 fuel return system, DeatschWerks 1,000cc injectors, Aeromotive 340 fuel pump, Tomei Expreme Ti non-resonated exhaust system, Z1 motor mounts, ported intake manifold, AAM intakes, Z1 Performance clutch kit, 6-paddle race disc, lightweight flywheel, Z1 CSC elimination kit, short-shift, 666whp, 561lb.ft at 15psi
11×19” -30 (front) and 13×19” -50 (rear) WORK Meister S13P wheels, 275/35 Toyo Proxes (f) and 345/30 Toyo R888 (r), Project Kics lugnuts, Air Lift Performance struts and 3P management, SPC camber arms, SPL toe bolts and arms, Whiteline bushes, Nismo anti-roll bars, Amuse rear strut brace, Akebono BBK, Z1 drilled and slotted discs, Hawk brake pads, stainless brake lines
Status Racing Ring GTX seats, Planted seat rails, Takata harnesses, HKS boost controller, Tanabe boost/AFR gauges, NRG hub and quick-tilt system, Vertex steering wheel, titanium gearknob, Valentine One radar, double-DIN audio
Many thanks to the Z1 Motorsports team! And also Bulletproof Automotive, Showstoppers USA, and everyone else that makes the experience worth it.
Words Dan Bevis Photos Mike Kuhn