By Wes Stinson
Feel free to contact me with any questions about any of the things on this article.
So, you want to make your Q better? You want to make it faster, handle better, and make it look sharper. Despite what you may think, it is much easier than you think.
This is based primarily on the 1st generation Q45, as there are very few things you can do to the 2nd and 3rd generation that are not mainstream (wheels, window tint, stereo, etc)
Personally, I like sleepers. That is what makes the Q so great, no one expects that this car is going to be fast, hell; very few people even know what they are and what they are capable of.
Here is an abstract of what you can do to enhance your Q45’s drive train performance. Each subject will be broken down further below. There are more things that you can do, but I only recommend what I would do to my car!
* NICO ECU
* IPT Transmission (similar but superior to Level Ten in my opinion)
* Precision Industries Billet Torque Converter
* 4.08 Rear Gears
* Stillen/Jim Wolf Nitrous
* Carbon Fiber Driveshaft
NICO ECU – Estimated Cost- $105-$195, depending on options.
The NICO ECU is simply a reprogrammed engine computer for the 90-95 Q45 (currently 96+ cars are not covered). This enhances drivability, and should drop the Q45’s ¼ mile times from low to mid 15s, to high 14s. The NICO ECU gives 30HP proven on the dyno, and has no effect on fuel economy (it may result in higher fuel economy!) or emissions. The engine redlines at 7400 RPM instead of the factory 6900 (which is very safe and does not harm the engine). The best way I can describe it for daily driving is that it makes the dead spots in the Qs driving experience much less dead, and as you approach high RPM’s the car just pulls like a bat out of hell!
As some may know, JWT (Jim Wolf Technology) makes an ECU for the Q45, and our ECU consistently outperforms JWT’s ECU. Not to mention, our ECU costs about $500 less than JWT’s with more performance. This modification is by far the best modification you can do for the money.
If you are interested in one of these ECU’s, please send me an email at email@example.com with any questions BEFORE you buy!
Upgraded Transmission – Estimated cost around $3500, depending on options.
There are 2 places in the country that specialize in rebuilding Nissan automatic transmissions: Level Ten and IPT (Import Performance Transmission). This is really only a necessary modification if you plan on running big power. If you want the snappier shifting that these upgraded transmissions give, you can simply buy a shift kit, which consists of a valve body and solenoids. Your transmission will last longer and the shift kit is less than $500. This mod does not really improve the car’s performance as far as reducing ¼ mile times, but it will allow the car to handle more power, as the Q45’s weakest link in the drive train is by far the transmission.
PLEASE NOTE THAT YOU NEED TO PUT AN EXTERNAL TRANS COOLER ON YOUR Q45 REGARDLESS OF YEAR, MILEAGE, OR ANYTHING!
Billet Torque Converter – Cost is roughly $700
This is best complimented by the upgraded transmission shown above. The billet torque converter has a higher stall speed, which increases low end acceleration. Places can rebuild your stock torque converter for slightly cheaper; however they will not last as long, and are not nearly as efficient. High end power will decrease marginally.
4.08 rear end – Cost Varies
The Q45 is equipped stock with a 3.54 differential LSD. You can increase to 4.08 gears and greatly improve the Q45’s acceleration. Currently the only way to have this is to have them custom built, using Nissan ring and pinion gears. Most 4×4 shops can handle this with some light fabrication, however it’s not a job for the typical mechanic. The Skyline 4.08 will work as well, but requires professional swapping of the input flange (and the depth of the flange nut determines pinion depth).
However new avenues are being explored. Please check back for updates!
This is one thing that Y33 (97-01 Q45) owners can appreciate. A 300ZX 4.08 differential from 90-96 will bolt right in!
Nitrous – Around $1000
JWT/Stillen (Stillen sells and rebadges the JWT setup) sells a nitrous kit. Basically, it is a simple 100 dry shot NOS brand kit that is ECU controlled. The NICO ECU does not currently support a nitrous program; however it is currently under development. I have the JWT nitrous setup on my Q and it is very safe and effective. You will probably want to upgrade the transmission to handle the extra power reliably.
Supercharger – Cost around $3500
Despite popular opinion, there is a developed Q45 supercharger, however if you are seriously interested you MUST contact me, and I will give you the details you need. It is an Eaton roots type setup that runs around 6-7lbs of boost, with or without water injection. Please contact me if you are serious about the setup, the supercharger has not been recently installed on Q45s, but it was done in the late 90s with phenomenal results. It is a proven setup, it does work, and someone simply needs to step up to the plate to do it.
Carbon Fiber Driveshaft – $1200
ACPT makes a carbon fiber driveshaft that will decrease ¼ mile times by about .1 to .2 seconds. Please contact ACPT for more information.
Currently there is only one aftermarket bolt-on exhaust for the Q45 (www.BRMexhaust.com). However the stock Q45 pipes are very large for an engine of its size and you can simply weld in new mufflers for the sound you want. Dynomax makes a great dual in dual out muffler that sounds great.
Headers are currently being developed for the Q45, please check back later.
Suspension and Brakes
Believe it or not, the Q can be modified the most to the suspension and brakes .Here is an overview of what you can do to the Q45s suspension and brakes.
* Polyurethane bushings for the differential, sub frame, steering rack, and sway bars.
* Adjustable front tension rods and upper links
* Rear suspension components
* Tokico Blue Shocks
* Eibach (discontinued) or California Custom Springs
* 300ZX brakes
* Q45a 20mm rear sway bar
* Front Strut Tower Brace
PLEASE NOTE: Most of these suspension modifications will not do much good unless you have good tires. Please, before doing any of this stuff; get yourself a good set of tires.
Pretty much all of the bushings for a 300ZX will fit on the Q45. You can order polyurethane bushings for the differential, rear sub frame, steering rack, and sway bars. The differential, sub frame, and steering rack are all the same as the 300ZX. The sway bar END LINKS are the same as the 300ZX, however the support bushings are different. The specs for the Q45 sway bars are as follows, the measurement is the diameter. Standard Q45s come with a 29mm front sway bar and no rear sway bar. Q45t’s come with a 28mm front sway bar and a 16mm rear sway bar. Q45a’s come with a 28mm front sway bar and 20mm rear sway bar.
300ZX suspension components and are adjustable will fit into the Q45. The most common things in the front would be the upper control arms (upper links) and the tension rods. SPL (splparts.com) sells these for the Z32 and they bolt right into the Q45. Same goes for the rear as well. The benefit to doing this is that there is less play since there are no bushings (simply bearings) and it results in tighter steering. Plus, you can get your Q’s alignment into perfect specs with these.
Most people know about the Tokico blue shocks for the 90-96 Q45. They are the way to go for shocks, they are about 15% stiffer than the factory but ride is very similar and cost much less. The ride is still very plush with the Tokico shocks and stock springs.
California Custom Springs
I can get you a set of California custom 2in drop springs. They are not for sale anywhere else; please contact me if you are interested. They drop the car 2 inches, which makes it look just great. It is what I currently have on my Q. I had the Eibach springs before, and the car handles AND rides better compared to the Eibachs. They are a progressive spring, so they really tighten up when you start to take turns fast. They are a great mod to your cars looks and handling, it gets rid of that awful body lean the stock Q45s are known for.
300ZX (Z32) Brakes
The 300ZX brakes are a great mod to do. I have done them on my Q45, and I can answer any questions you have. You will want the 30mm versions for your Q. They use a 4 piston fixed caliper instead of the 2 piston sliding caliper. They look great behind your wheels and provide you much better stopping. Not to mention, they are cheaper than stock brakes. Rotors are about 2/3s of the cost, and there is a lot of high performance, yet inexpensive pad options for the Z32 calipers.
You can also bolt on the Brembo brakes from the G35 and 350Z cars, but they are more expensive and harder to source. Z32 brakes are the way to go.
Note: The calipers will not clear the factory 15s without spacers, you can install spacers easily for about $100, or you can buy a set of wheels that clear the 300ZX brakes. Most 350Z, G35, and 300ZX wheels will clear. You will want to run a 15mm spacer with the factory wheels. For my winter wheels, I have a set of spacers so that I can run my 15s.
Q45a Sway Bar -$278 from Infiniti of Scottsdale, cheaper in a wrecking yard
The Q45a came with a 20mm rear sway bar. This modification will really make your Q understeer much less. It is a great modification for the money, and probably the best thing you can do for the Q’s suspension assuming you have good shocks and tires.
The Front Strut Tower Brace, currently manufactured by Jeff Williams is a very easy bolt on modification that you can install in minutes. It runs between the 2 front strut towers, and the point is to make them stay apart, making the front feel much stiffer. It really makes the Q feel much more confident around corners.