The Nissan 370Z featured in Fast Five is a throwback to the first The Fast and the Furious. You know, back when import tuner cars kind of mattered.
Now close your eyes and imagine yourself back in time... one, two, three years ago. You're getting sleepy and it's suddenly a full decade back. Now open your eyes and it's 2001! In particular it's June 22, a mere week after Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal's Los Angeles Lakers beat Allen Iverson's Philadelphia 76ers for the NBA title. Kobe and Shaq forever!
Travel Back to 2001
As you walk down the street you notice a couple of people talking on flip phones — maybe someday you'll get a cell phone, too. You pass a full-service Dean Witter stock brokerage... Apple is selling for just under $10 a share and Steve Jobs has this lunatic idea about opening retail stores. Only a fool would buy Apple! Clearly, Microsoft owns the future.
Just then a Honda Civic rips by with a fart-can muffler the size of your head hanging below its rear bumper. Cool car! Hey, you know, neon undercarriage lighting is pretty neat. So you head to the newsstand and try to find the right magazine to read up about it. There's Turbo and Sport Compact Car and dozens upon dozens more. It's so difficult to make a decision! So you go to the movies.
The Fast and the Furious sounds good. All right, it's all about import street racers. Wicked. There's a bunch of Civics and Integras and RX-7s and even a totally radical Mitsubishi Eclipse! Man, this movie is all about you!
Then... snap! You're suddenly back in 2011. Turbo and Sport Compact Car are dead doorknobs. Apple shares, after a stock split, are $330 each. Your damned smartphone won't leave you alone. Kobe and Shaq aren't even on speaking terms. And four sequels later, the Japanese tuner imports in Fast Five are down to this 370Z, a Subaru WRX and a Toyota Supra. All are automotive supporting actors.
And, oh yeah, you're a decade older.
Stock of Stockers
"The 370Z is a great car," explains Fast Five's Picture Car Coordinator Dennis McCarthy. "It's built tough and you can bounce it off other cars all day with no problem. It has plenty of power so you don't need to do much to them mechanically. They drift great. They're not a GT-R or something exotic, so the audience can still kind of relate to it. And it looks cool."
A total of three duplicate 370Zs were built for use in the film. Simplifying the builds for McCarthy's crew was that all of them were left mechanically stock. Yeah, that's a Turbonetics intercooler under the front bumper but it's not cooling anything. And there's a NOS nitrous bottle under the rear hatch, too. It's not hooked to anything either.
The few changes made included a locked rear differential to facilitate some drifting and the fitment of Advan 20-by-8-inch front and 20-by-10-inch rear wheels inside Continental 245/35R20 front and 295/30R20 rear tires.
To get the low-down 2001 look, the 370Zs were each fitted with body kits mixing up Nismo and C-West panels. The carbon-fiber hood and trailing tail spoiler are both slick pieces.
Inside, the front seats have been replaced with OMP racing buckets, Takata seatbelts hold in anyone not already suffocating between the seat bolsters, and the steering wheel is from NRG Innovations. Otherwise, the cockpit is as Nissan intended it.
That's about it.
It Drives How It Drives
Except for the fact that the seats are agonizingly narrow, this 370Z drives like what it is. And what that is, is pretty much a stock 370Z. Which is no bad thing.
That means the 3.7-liter VQ37VHR V6 delivers 332 horsepower in a seamless ribbon of thrust. That means the chassis is among the most responsive available on any car carrying a five-figure price tag. And that means the speed-sensitive steering is precise, quick and accurate.
The only difference between the Fast Five 370Z and a standard one is that the locked differential makes it easier to drift. Which is cool at the Streets of Willow. But it would probably be a hassle in everyday driving where you don't want to go tail-out around every corner.
Beyond Fast Five
Super-dreamy Paul Walker, who stars in Fast Five, works with, races with and, it's rumored, has invested a few of his movie bucks into the AE Performance shop and that's one reason why its name made it onto the 370Z's doors. Not a bad piece of publicity for the small company based in Valencia, California.
All three of the 370Zs used for the film survived and one of them, it's further rumored, wound up as a gift for Walker. It's likely over at AE Performance as you read this, on the verge of becoming the car it pretended to be in the film.
NBC Universal loaned Edmunds.com this vehicle for evaluation.