SP Rides: Adding American Muscle
BY MICHAEL KITCHENS
Year, make, model: 2003 Nissan 350Z
Owner: Gavin Dixon
Occupation: Parts manager
Hobbies: Cars, family, RC
Color: Monterey Blue
Engine: Modified LS1 V8 swap with tons of parts, custom and tucked wiring harnesses
Exterior: Full Rocket Bunny kit
Interior: Cusco Roll cage, NSMO Recaro seats, Takata harnesses
Suspension: Parts Shop Max coilovers combined with Airlift suspension
Wheels, brakes, tires: 19-inch Work Equips (11 front, 13 rear), Akebono BBK all the way around including dual rear caliper setup with hydro e-brake Toyo R888s
Gavin Dixon has been a long-time fan of the lifted truck scene. He’s owned quite a few lifted examples and even uses one as a daily driver. It wasn’t until a friend, Steven Bolosan, rolled up in an LS1-powered 240 that his interest in sports cars piqued. A V8 powered import car? It defied expectations and is a surprising combo to anyone within aural distance of it.
But a 240 wasn’t the plan. Dixon wanted to be different and just so happened to work at Nissan. The 350Z platform became the natural choice due to his familiarity with it. This was the beginning of the mad experiment between Dixon and Bolosan that resulted in this 2003 Nissan 350Z build.
A little while after the discussion, Bolosan happened on a 350Z that was down and out and looking to part out. This ride was trashed. It was essentially a rolling chassis that had to be towed. What began next was a two-and-a-half months from-the-ground-up build. Yes, you read that right, less than three months! With SPOCOM on the horizon, the frenetic pace was essential to the build.
The first thing that happened was the disassembly of the vehicle — that included yanking the old VQ out and respraying the engine bay with a 370Z color — Monterey Blue. An LS1 was sourced and built to exacting standards with a plethora of parts and then installed. The result looks practically OEM. It fits wonderfully and looks like the Z was built with it in mind. All of the wiring harnesses were tucked and sorted and the appropriate dress components were included which have resulted in an impressive feat of mad science.
The interior was sourced just before this and has been refreshed to a very clean look using all of the original gauges from the already well-mannered stock version including the oil and volts. Sexy NISMO Recaro seats were sourced as well as Takata harnesses to complete the interior redo.
At this point, the car was a patched and two-tone bonded burgundy mess exterior-wise, but it ran. In fact, it was scary.
“We took it out for a road test and this thing was crazy. The third to fourth gear shift had me scrambling to find something to hold onto,” Dixon said.
However, one look at this ride as it stands today and you cannot miss the incredible LED-lit, wide-body Rocket Bunny love it now exhibits. The entire kit was installed by Dixon and Bolosan — aggressively styled and featuring Airlift suspension paired to some of the dankest 19-inch Work Equips with 11s in front and 13s in the rear. These polished wheels feature Toyo R888s wrapped all around and are inherently massive with a huge footprint.
This ride is properly well-sorted, and reliable and Dixon is pleased beyond measure. Let’s not joke around — this 350Z was given a new life with good old American muscle. The ride features an exhaust cutout, which allows the growl to go from mild, mannered to absolutely wild and manic. The throaty roar that emanates from this car is unbelievable. This is a 350Z? Nope. This is “’Murica.”