We all love a Miata but I’ve considered that someday soon i’m going to desire driving the winter months in more comfort. This means the Miata is either going to need a companion or it’s going to have to make room for some ‘compromise’ of a car. I know the compromise I want, a 911, but its just not in the picture right now, so what about alternatives?

Been mooching a Mini Cooper from a relative on days when I need a wee bit more space and my time with that fwd car has convinced me that although I can be entertained sufficiently by its flickable chassis, and perfect inputs, I still prefer me some rwd.

I don’t need or want to maintain two rwd sports cars, now so what about ditching the Miata for a Z, while the 911 stays a favorited cl saved search? Unfortunately I have some bias against the 350Z. In my youth I hastily deemed the ass end styling lazy, and didn’t really take the time to pay the reviews much attention, at the time I was a fanboy of another brand, don’t remember which.

So lets give the Z a clean slate and see how it stacks up. A decent used 350z comes in around 10k which puts it in e36 m3 territory as well as some other tasty offerings from the Germans, but I’ve been down that road before, and it’s time for a change.


e36 M3350Z
Power240287
Weight33003600
Ratio.07/1.08/1
Balance50/50ish53/47
LayoutFRMR

On paper we have the makings of another depreciation windfall for us second hand enthusiasts, but will its greater utility vs my Miata make up for what will likely be a loss of fun?

As Tiff said and my chart above so beautifully illustrated, ‘it certainly has all the right ingredients’ and he continues by claiming the handling to be ‘far far better than the dull Audi TT’, that’s unfair I picked that just to rag on the under-steering among us but its hard to argue with this gem, ‘your almost getting 911 performance for half the price’. That’s the type of hyperbole that has me on the edge of my seat, ready to throw the Miata on CL and ‘compromise’. Something must spoil this party?

No spoilers as forum member idrm350 over at 350z-Tech point out its a fairly enjoyable ownership experience. Obviously the car is not without problems, and early models were perceived to be more susceptible to ‘first buyer abuse’, a term I’m conveniently coining to mean a ‘new’ sports car brought out ‘new thing’ buyers who maybe didn’t consider the long term.

It’s not just owners of the car who are fans, EVO magazine offered a short buyers guide which summarized the early car like this:

What’s remarkable about the 350Z is that the car guys were allowed to do justice to the project. Rather than the V6 being rich and silky and refined, it was loud and gargling and snarly, the way sports cars used to be. The six-speed gearbox’s shift could have slid delicately and effortlessly around the gate; instead it required real heft, while the lever vibrated and zizzed in the old-fashioned way. Nissan’s engineers were perfectly capable of giving the Zed all the grip of a Velcro factory, yet they opted to sacrifice lateral G bragging rights for a chassis that slid and drifted and entertained in well-balanced fashion.

This is starting to become an exercise in confirmation bias, I have not been entirely forthcoming, this wouldn’t be my first Z. Back in the mid 2000’s I spotted a gem of a Z out of Dallas, built to be competitive in the Improved Touring, my brother a friend and I bought it on impulse. We then decided like many a ‘racer’, that we would improve what didn’t need improving and spent more time tinkering than we did driving. The car was still a joy at any point during its time ‘continuously improving’ during our ownership.

My history with the Z may be the very thing keeping me from owning its reincarnate, like parental history, I may just be incapable of seeing this car without seeing the car I once owned. Worse yet for the 350z, its replacing a legend in my own mind, the Miata.

Someone come with some advice that soothes? Tell me the Z will please!