Clutching at strawZ…

The 350z is awesome. That is really all I have to say.

On arriving home from work one sunny Friday afternoon I was greeted by the sight of my new car. Tatty, drift spec and clearly a little abused. None of that mattered. I jumped in and went for a spin. It needed some work and a little love but the power of the under-stressed 3.5l V6 was a game changer for me, the girl of many Fiestas.

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“Drift? What do you mean Drift?” – Shawn Boswell Tokyo Drift

According to some of my American friends, Tokyo Drift was the inspiration for their 350z car choice and having only properly drifted on the Playstation I was keen to get skidding in the Z (safely on privately owned land – of course). However, I would have to exercise patience as we had a new flywheel and clutch to fit first. We are the embodiment of low budget car tinkering and therefore we do not have the luxury of a ramp, pit or lift. We didn’t even have the luxury of a low entry jack. After a medium amount of faff the car was on axle stands and we whipped the gearbox out. We took this opportunity to remove the interior and give it a good clean, mainly in an attempt to remove nicotine stains and used tissues kindly donated the previous owner. New dual mass flywheel and clutch installed and we were away. Well sort of.

Judder Judder Judder

There is a lot written about the infamous 350z clutch judder, but I am convinced that mine does it worse than all. My Z judders so badly that it feels like the floor panels are going to fall out and “Danger to manifold” is about to flash up on my dash. It juddered badly after we fitted the new dual mass flywheel and new clutch. It must be the dual mass flywheel, it must be faulty. Up on the axle stands again, gearbox out again, racing flywheel installed. Now, personally I think the racing flywheel improves the feel of the Z plus it revs up much quicker thus allowing for success at the traffic light grand prix. However, it did not cure the judder.

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You put your gearbox in. Take your gearbox out. In. Out. In. Out…

Within a few weeks of putting the racing flywheel back in we encountered more serious issues. Not only was it still juddering but it started to crunch into fifth gear, and then first gear. One does not simply replace the synchro on a 6 speed Nissan manual box. After getting a few quotes varying from a cowboys’ estimate of £1000 (if we transferred them the full amount now they would pick it up and fix it in a week – uh sure) right up to £2500, we decided a second hand gearbox was the way to go. A day trip to Yorkshire and we had our box plus some interior trim I had been keen to get. Now we were ready to take the gearbox out for the third time in under 6 months.

The first drive with the new box was exciting. I had made sure I had followed all advice from the forum guru’s, molyslip and Nissan’s own specialist gearbox oil. After a month of driving the Freelander it was awesome to be back in the Z. The new box worked perfectly, selecting gears is no problem and I don’t have to have the music loud to drown out the crunchy noises. However, the damn thing still judders…

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