We narrowed down the search to the last two years of the 350z (2003-2008), which have the more robust 3.5l engine and make about 20 more hosepower than the earlier 3.5l engines. We also wanted a manual transmission for better longevity with track or autocross use. Since this isn't going to be another Lemons car, it needed to be in pretty good condition inside and out...oh and still fit in the budget!
The winner came to us from its previous owner in Greenville, SC. It previously lived primarily in Georgia, so its free from that pesky northern rust. Its a 2008, Touring trim, with only 105,000 miles. Our friend, Nick at ProAuto in Columbia helped me give the car a full inspection on the lift and us enough confidence to buy it. Its not free from issues, but considering its age and mileage (and price) its pretty good! Unlike many of the cars we looked at it still has a clean title too!
The next step is helping Alicia practice with her manual transmission and get a bit more comfortable. We may find an autocross or track event in the fall when South Carolina cools off. No modifications other than new tires and a 100k mile tune-up are planned. It debuted at Columbia Cars and Coffee this Saturday and I'm really enjoying driving her around in it while I can.