Brent Metro's Stroked Z Flexes 777 whpAt first glance, Brent Metro's Nissan 350Z portrays a decidedly The Fast and the Furious aura. With its mural-ladened body and Lambo doors, one would be well within reason to call the Z a showstopper. With a 183mph top speed, this ride's beauty is much more than skin-deep. A fully boosted, bored, and stroked VQ35DE provides the thrust for this intensely modified, yet uniquely balanced, drop-top.
Elevating a car to this level takes monumental commitment, not to mention perseverance; Brent's nerves were tested, as his road to the promised land was strewn with potholes. "I have had a number of issues in trying to get a solid engine build," Brent says. "While planning the first build we researched a number of new techniques, like cryo treating the entire engine and all internal parts, as well as thermal coatings for the engine, turbos, and all related hot parts. Unfortunately, the first shop took too long and misplaced some of my custom-treated parts, and we had to rush the build. This led to catastrophic failure within a month and less than 2,000 miles."
"I then went with a new shop, Forged Performance, out of Marietta, Ga. The plan called for a custom 4.2L stroker and Stage 4 heads from GT Motorsports to reduce turbo lag and produce more power with less boost. Unfortunately, this has led to some major overheating issues and new cooling methods have been devised. Running hot is still a large challenge that we are working on," Brent says.
The stroked rotating assembly features GT Motorsports' spec Arias pistons, billet chromoly rods, and a billet chromoly crank. The block now sports a 100mm bore and a 90mm stroke. The heads feature serious porting, 1.5mm oversized Ferrea valves, and titanium retainers. Brent runs GT Motorsports' 256-degree intake cams and 264-degree exhaust cams.
A GReddy twin-turbo kit with TD06 turbos modified with Garrett ball bearing center sections handles the boost generated. Fueling is key to making big power safely and Brent has this base covered with 1,000cc HKS injectors and a complete rail-to-pump fuel setup from CJ Motorsports. An HKS F-CON V-Pro, working in tandem with an HKS EVC boost controller, was tuned by Forged Performance. The tuning scheme features three separate programs/boost levels: 550 whp at 13 psi with 89 octane, 630 whp at 14.5 psi on 93 octane and 777 whp at 20 psi on C18 race fuel. Brent employs a Spearco water/methanol injection kit solely for its intercooling effects on long, full-throttle top-speed attacks.
With big power comes big driveline stress, so Brent fortified his running gear with Drive Shaft Shop Level 5 axles with reinforced outer CV joints, an ATS carbon 1.5-way limited-slip differential, a Nismo differential cooler, and an ATS carbon-plate clutch.
The scope and depth of modification found in, on, and within Brent's Z is staggering, and the Virginia native is quick to point out his faves. "I have to say I love my clutch," he says. "The Carbonetics tripledisc clutch is like butter. I have driven a number of my friend's modified clutches and they all require someone tell you how it engages. The Carbonetics is like stock and anyone can drive it."
"My Cobra Misano seats are definitely one of my favorite things," Brent added. "They are one of the most comfortable seats I have ridden in, while at the same time they provide enough bolster to keep you in your seat in hard driving ... with the assistance of the four-point harnesses of course."
"One of my earliest mods was the suspension," Brent says. "I have since changed it out, and I am really happy with the mono-tube TEIN Flex's I've recently installed. They have been in for one rally and the Tail of the Dragon event and they handle the twisties with aplomb and at the same time, in my opinion, are very suitable for the street."
"One of the best experiences was ... we got the car ready for ZDayZ, held on the Tail of the Dragon, in Fontana Village, N.C.," he says. "I drove the car hard in the Dragon's famous tight hairpin turns. I could definitely tell the rear was locking in the tight turns, but afterward, people a few cars behind me said they could see the rear wheel locking, and at times could see the outside wheel lifting in the middle of the turn. I don't think the car has ever handled so well, it gave me a lot more confidence in the car and its ability to handle whatever I throw at it."
Looking to the future, Brent feels he's had his fill of the show circuit. "While it has been fun, I would like to drive the car more. I am planning on making the car lighter, so a large amount of the stereo gear will have to go. The trunk will probably get gutted and, depending on the work involved, I will look into having the doors returned back to stock hinges and swapped for carbon-fiber doors. I have the cage for side protection," Brent says. "Ultimately, I would like to get the car on the track and get a better feel for how the overall package handles at a closer to stock weight."
With the Z's expansive 4.2 liters of displacement, the roadster could be called a 420Z and despite any long resume of mods, cars are meant to be driven-the harder the better.
Trials And Tribulations Of The Aka Rally"I have taken this car on two cross-country rallies (AKA Rallies), and have truly experienced what it is to enjoy all the hard work I have put into the car. But with that enjoyment comes a lot of heartache-all the rushing to meet deadlines, constant concerns over all the parts fitting/working together, and, of course, the setbacks along the way.
"During the first rally my stock engine gave up the ghost on the way out to the starting point in Las Vegas. It was a fiasco.
"For the second AKA Rally we drove to Salt Lake City to start the rally the day after running the car on the Salt Flats. After driving all day with the group, and trying to avoid any unnecessary contact with the various local law enforcement personal, we were running late and about six miles from the final checkpoint for the night when it happened. Out of nowhere I saw a lump in the road and bam-a whole lot of drama and I lost all throttle response. I hit a raccoon at a high speed. I was able to discern that the raccoon had blown a foot hole in my front bumper, bounced around under the car, busting my passenger rear CV joint, stripping the ribs off the axle, and then tearing my rear bumper almost completely off.
"We had the car towed to the next town and, to my amazement, the following morning I discovered there was not a shop within 50 miles that could do an axle swap for me. Apparently every auto shop was booked for weeks out. After going through the entire phone book I found a small foreign shop that was willing to do the work, but the owner had to have the replacement parts within 24 hours because he was going on vacation in two days. I managed to get Forged Performance to overnight me a replacement Drive Shaft Shop Level 5 axle. This owner/technician had never worked on a Nissan and had never even seen a 350Z. It was pretty amazing but once we got the part, I was back on the road in 90 minutes.
"With my front and rear bumpers looking like something out of a Sanford and Son wrecking yard with all the blue tape holding them on, I drove for 22 straight hours to catch the group. I arrived one hour before they were scheduled to start that day's drive. I managed to get 30 minutes of sleep and a quick shower before hopping back in the car and driving for another seven hours. Needless to say, I had enough Red Bull and various energy drinks in me to wire a horse.
"The activity for that day was karting and I wound up passing out during the driver briefing. I completely lost like fours hours of my life on the floor in a briefing room. Ah, the memories."
GReddy twin turbo (TD06 exhaust-60 Trim with Ceramic Garrett ball bearing cartridge)
Polished front-mount intercooler
HKS 1,000cc injectors
HKS F-Con Pro v3.2 engine management system (with pressure and temp sensor harnesses)
HKS pressure, air temp and air/fuel knock amp sensors
HKS electronic boost controller (EVC with monitor)
HKS DLI twin power ignition amplifier
CJM Stage 1 fuel system (aluminum rails with lines) and Walbro 255lph in-tank fuel pump
Spearco water/methanol injection kit
ESS 2.3L AFF, 3 Zone fire suppression system
Bosch external fuel pump with surge tank
Oil pan spacer with -AN stainless return lines
Custom dual 3-inch exhaust with titanium-tip mufflers, 3-inch down pipes, and open dumps
Forged Performance solid motor mounts
Forged Performance F-Con tuning and setup of boost controller with three boost settings
Innovate LC-1 WBO2 52mm wideband O2 sensor and harness
GReddy 3kg/cm2 pressure sensor and harness
GReddy radiator and oil filler cap
APS Tough Boy strut bar
GTSPEC cooling plate
Samco hoses (blue)
Fluidyne oil cooler (DB-30816-STD) 28x3 and 5x3.5 with stainless hoses and connectors
Koyo 53mm radiator
SPAL HP electric fans with custom aluminum fan shroud
Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator, with two (-6 AN) inlet ports
ARC chrome under panel tray
NISMO short shifter
DEI Cry02 System with 5-pound tank and intercooler sprayer
Spearco water/methanol injection kit with custom reservoir
Jet-Hot coating: exhaust manifolds and turbine housing
Chrome turbo piping
Black powdercoated valve and timing covers
Optima Yellow Top battery
Arias/GTM extreme duty pistons (90mm stroke x 100mm bore)
GTM 4340 billet chromoly steel crank
GTM 4340 billet chromoly steel connecting rods with ARP rod bolts (90mm stroke)
GTM race bearings
Darton MID sleeves
ARP 2000 12mm head studs (with Timeserts)
Cometic head gasket
GT Motorsports Stage 4 head (ported, polished, resurfaced, and five-angle radius valve grind)
Ferrea +1.5mm stainless steel valves
Ferrea dual titanium springs (titanium retainers, locators, keepers)
GT Motorsports turbo-spec camshaft (intake 256, exhaust 264, lift 0.423 inch, overlap 18)
Nissan Pathfinder cooling modification
DriveShaftShop Level 5 axles with reinforced outer CV joints
ATS carbon 1.5-way, limited-slip differential (clutch type)
ATS triple carbon plate clutch 1,350kg, (soft-type) with aluminum clutch cover and lightweight carbon flywheel
NISMO differential cooling case
752 LB-FT Of Torque
An Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator keeps the 1,000cc HKS injectors in check.
A GReddy twin-turbo kit with TD06 turbos modified with Garrett ball bearing center section
The block now sports a 100mm bore and 90mm stroke.