Owners: Francois Schuster. Shop name: Thundersport
When it comes to building cars, Francois Schuster is no rookie. Over the years, he has built many amazing cars, including the 1932 Ford Coupe and the 1956 Chevy Bel Air. As part of Thundersport, Francois decided to try his hand at something different. He wanted to put an LS motor into something a bit more modern. But with the cost of Corvettes and new American cars in South Africa, he decided to go for something completely different, namely a 2005 Nissan Z350.
Francois explains that this build was done for the following reasons. Namely, the first reason was to accept a challenge because it was said that I won’t be able to do this conversion without cutting and modifying either the body, the harness and/or the gauges. The second reason was to show the younger generation that you don’t need an old car or a 4×4 vehicle to fit an LS motor into it.
Lastly, I have always loved the 350z shape. Seeing that the corvettes are too expensive, this conversation comes close to being a Corvette with an LS2. The goal was to make the car look completely stock, even with the bonnet open, I wanted people to think it was still stock.
Francois purchased this 350z from a guy in Klerksdorp. He didn’t want to sell her at first as it was his pride and joy. It took like a month to negotiate with him. Once they agreed, Francois flew up to Lanseria, where he met the owner and drove the Z350 back with the stock 350z motor. Once home Francois started collecting everything he needed to get the Z350 converted to an LS.
The LS Conversion
The plan was originally to do the conversion with an LS 1 Motor. However, Francois decided to go with a more powerful LS2 instead. When it came down to the installation of the motor, Francois said it wasn’t that difficult. Some adjustments had to be made like he had to offset the coil rails by about 10 mm and make an aluminium adaptor to turn the oil filter onto its side. Other major changes were the shortening of the prop shaft and the changing of the exhaust.
The gearbox from the Z350 is extremely strong, so I decided to keep it in the car. All it took was a custom 10mm Ali Adapter put into place to get them to work together.
The biggest question surrounding the build was the ECU. Can you get the OEM gauge cluster to work with the Chevy ECU? Well, the answer is yes, I did. The original Nissan gauges all work, my harness and interface module take care of that. My harness plugs into the Nissan harness with NO cutting of the OEM harness at all. With my integrated module, there are no error lights on the dash, but you don’t keep the traction control function. But when the wheels are spinning the traction control light will come on so that you at least know the wheels are spinning.
The conversation took Francois 4 months. However, keep in mind that he did this in his spare time. This is a service that Thundersport will be offering from now on.
So what was the result you may ask? A whopping 394hp on the back wheels in a motor that can be played with for days.
The LS2 has so many options for increased power, so the sky is the limit on where this thing can go.
As for how it works in the Nissan? Perfection!!
The best part was when I first started up the LS2 motor in the Nissan to see if everything works.
I’m so happy with the result, it’s how Nissan should have made them. And she has a lot more horsepower on the rear wheels than a stock 350z.
When we asked people’s reaction to the build, lots of people thought that it came out of the factory that way. Those who looked closer were very impressed and couldn’t believe that it can be done.
Besides the LS2 motor, Francois hasn’t done much to the Z350, “I changed the rear anti-sway bar to the 370z sway bar as it’s a little bit thicker”. With the added horsepower, I just wanted to strengthen the back a bit more.
Francois would like to thank: Thundersport, my dad, family and friends who supported me whilst taking up this challenge. All this was done to prove a point.
We then asked Francois what was next and he said he was not sure. The Nissan is now on the market, ready to go to a tire-smoking, adrenalin junky that wants something different. Priced at R400 000-00 we are sure that it will sell fast!
Photos by Chevai Stance king