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All The Way To The Top - 370z Story

If you were able to make it down to Lydden Hill last weekend or tune in on the livestream you will likely already know that Team Japspeed driver Shane Lynch supercharged his way to 2nd place on the podium in the brand new Japspeed Nissan V8 370z! A car 18 months in the making and a journey which all started late 2014 culminating in the performance we saw at 8th-9th April at Lydden Hill. Here we look back at the build from the very beginning.


In the competitive drift scene it is all too easy to fall into the trap of constantly playing catch up. Our trio of S15s and Subaru have been hugely successful in competition over the past 10 years however in 2015 we felt the time had come to build a new flagship car ahead of the coming season.

Fast forward and it wasn’t long before we had our base for the new car back at HQ – an extremely low mileage Z34 Nissan 370Z!


Unlike today drift cars weren't always stripped out track weapons but road cars modified for the track. As such we decided that retaining a sizeable portion of the original interior would be a neat little detail in an otherwise stripped-out car.


Following a thorough tear down and test fit of the forged VH45 V8 engine (which would later be supercharged rather than twin turbo as it was in the S15) along with the Quaife QBE69G sequential box it would be mated with.


With the V8 powerplant set to sit snugly within the available space it was time for the 370z to be thermally cleaned, rinsed, derusted, coated and baked to remove moisture before it was time for a pivotal part of any drift build – the rollcage, which would be taken care of by Shaun Woods at SW Motorsports.


We spent a great deal of time focusing on the small details with this build and key to this is the amount of time spent on ensuring the shell was up to the job. With the car returns from SW Motorsports; rollcage in place as well as engine, gearbox, rear subframe and radiator all test fitted we set about seam welding the body to further strengthen the shell and ensure optimum rigidity.


As with a number of elements on this build certain elements required a great deal more design and planning than you may otherwise anticipate….not to mention a whole host of specially fabricated custom parts. This is especially evident in the suspension setup of the car. Enter Robbie and Steven from the highly acclaimed Track Day Performance of Ireland who (using a highly complex 3D modelling arm) measured the space within the 370z’s wheel well to try and determine how much room there was to work with our chosen wheel and tyre size. These measurements would be used to specially develop a complete front steering package, similar to the highly competitive kits that they have produced for other Nissans in the past.


Meanwhile, having had the car electrostatically primered ready for painting it was time to decide on that all-important colour choice. We went with a nice silver for the interior and the underside - nothing too bright and in-your-face but not too dark so as to hide some of the finer qualities of the fabrication.


The build began almost as soon as the 2014 drift season came to a close and we’d been working tirelessly to build this car solidly from the ground up however it was always intended that the 370z would be unveiled at the Autosport International Show 2015. That deadline was fast approaching – With work on the shell complete and with the due date only a few weeks away we had to get to work on making the car look presentable.


One of the key features of this build is the modifications to the subframe. Most notably that the rear diff bushes don’t feature an upper collar – this allows up to raise the subframe a whole 15mm and press it right up against the underside of the car. Great for ensuring everything stays in check when we slam the car and Shane hits the power on track!


With function very much taking priority over form on this car as we start to prepare the look of the car it became important to spend time on the finer details – such as the front slam panel which is water cut from a single piece of 10mm thick aluminium!


Similarly Robbie and Steven have done an incredible job on the front suspension package they created for this car. Replacing both the front upper and lower arms along with the uprights and steering arms the suspension kit is a work of engineering art. CNC machined from billet aluminium the execution is flawless and the build quality second-to-none.


In standard form the 370z is a reasonably heavy car, which is why we’ve paid attention to reduce the overall weight as much as possible during this build. One such opportunity was the windows which allowed us to easily remove some excess weight by replacing them with polycarbonate items from Plastics4Performance.


With weight loss on our minds we turned our attention to the body panels and specifically the bonnet and bootlid which were soon replaced with carbon fibre equivalents – thanks to the team at Seibon Carbon.


With aftermarket parts thin on the ground here in the UK and with strict criteria for the spec of this car we found it difficult to source coilovers which would be suitable for our needs. Enter AST Suspension – a specialist performance suspension company based in the Netherlands. With all of their products designed and manufactured in-house, they were the perfect guys to go to with our specific requirements.


Featuring three-way adjustment (single speed compression control and high and low speed rebound control) and external reservoirs they offer a lot more adjustment than the majority of coilovers used in the drift scene, features that will no doubt prove invaluable when dialling in the car to suit the tricky track conditions we see all so often in the UK.


With the suspension and bodywork starting to take shape it was time to address another key area: the wiring loom. We could have all the fancy parts in the world but they wouldn't mean a thing if the electronics controlling them won't talk to each other and, due to some of the complex features we wanted to include (along with the MoTeC M130 ECU) we employed the services of the guys at HCI Systems.


HCI contacted us early on during the build process and came to visit our workshop to assess our needs for the car. They suggested the use of their HCI Powerbox, a unique piece of kit that sees use in many performance cars (including all production Pagani Zondas along with an array of race teams running Ferraris, Porsches and Audis) that does away with the need for any fuses or relays in the car. This has been located below the false floor where the rear seat bench once sat.


With the car assembled it was time for paint we'd chosen a subtle and classy shade of gun metal grey with which to form the backdrop for the vinyl that will soon adorn the car.


With the need for the fuel tank to sit in the rear seat bench we contacted AH Fabrications to make us up a bespoke item to suit the car. We've used AH in the past for the fuel tank that we installed in the V8 S15 during last year's rebuild and, having been mightily impressed with their work last time round, it was a no-brainer to get in touch with them once again. The downside of locating the tank where we had chosen was that it'd be incredibly difficult to top up in a hurry at an event.


Enter an ATL Fast Fuel Coupling - a fitting that would allow us to fuel up the 370 from the outside without having to clamber inside to reach the tank.

At this stage the Autosport deadline was looming heavily over us and while we were disappointed to learn that we wouldn't have the time to have the car running under its own steam in time for the event, we were determined to have it looking its best and make that all important first impression.


With the fully forged VH45 that is destined for the 370Z still located at TDP's headquarters as it endures a massive overhaul, for display purposes we fitted one of our older VH45s in order to test-fit the new components and so visitors at Autosport could get a glimpse of how the finished product was going to look.

With the car now in one piece and looking presentable, it was time to roll it around the workshop and take some quality pictures before treating it to an array of sponsor stickers.


With the shoot complete we set about applying the necessary sponsor vinyls for Autosport, all of which were supplied by our friends at Voodoo Vinyls.


While the car was to be treated to a much more extensive wrap and livery before it saw competition use, with the limited time we had we were left with little choice but to leave the car looking relatively saner for the show.


With the stickers applied there was nothing left to do other than load up the car the following morning and head of to the Birmingham NEC where it would be officially unveiled by Shane Lynch on the Maxxis Tyres stand the following day.


If you were at Autosport International we hope you enjoyed checking the car out - judging by the overwhelming response a lot of you were very impressed!

Although the car was now technically complete we didn’t feel it right to rush things forward in order to be able to get the car out competing at the British Drift Championship and throughout 2015 our engineering team at HQ spent many a long day fine tuning and adjusting small details.


Perhaps the most instantly noticeable change took place on the exterior ahead of unveiling the finished build on the world stage amongst some of the biggest names in the drifting community. That could only mean one thing – our supercharged VH45 V8 370Z was going to Gatebil 2015!


Its fair to say the 370z was attracting plenty of attention throughout 2015 despite not being in competition just yet. Our friends at Banzai Magazine paid a visit to HQ to check out the car up close and feature the car in the magazine.


Although the car didn’t make an appearance in BDC until 2016 Shane was keen to return to an event he’d always been fond of – Gymkhana Grid! Making the journey down to Santa Pod Raceway the 370z would compete alongside an impressive grid of highly skilled drivers (with a fair few famous faces amongst them) including the Hoonigan MK2 Escort.


With the car still very much under development and adjustments being made to the setup constantly, the 370z still travelled up and down the UK primarily as show car throughout 2015. Such events included the famous CarFest North event hosted by BBC’s Chris Evans to the slightly more modest Ultimate Stance show towards the end of the year.


Returning to the Autosport International Show 2016 – 12 months after its original unveiling the Team Japspeed 370z wowed crowds once again on the Maxxis Tyres stand before taking to the track only a few months later.


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