Fairlady Z vs 350Z – What’s The Difference?

In this edition of Car Facts we are taking a look at the Fairlady Z vs 350Z to determine what the differences are between these two cars.

The Nissan 350Z is one of the most popular Japanese performance cars of the past 20 years; enthusiasts love it for its “purity” due to rear wheel drive, manual gearbox (although automatic options were available) and strong naturally-aspirated motor.

We have a Nissan 350Z buyer’s guide on our site that you should check out if you are interested in learning more about the history of this great car, as well as how to buy yourself a good example.

You might have seen a few people talk about the “Fairlady Z” as being very similar to the 350Z, so in this article we will look at the similarities and differences of these two cars.

Fairlady Z versus 350Z – What Is The Same? What Is Different?

The main difference between the Fairlady Z and the 350Z is easy to understand.

The Fairlady Z is the Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) name for the 350Z. Basically, cars sold outside of Japan were sold as the 350Z, whereas those sold inside Japan on the domestic market were badged as Fairlady Z.

Beyond the badging differences, there are some other differences between the Fairlady Z and the 350Z, although this depends on exactly which trim level you buy.

For example:

  • All Fairlady Zs are Right Hand Drive – if you see an LHD Fairlady Z, then it is a rebadged 350Z
  • Earlier JDM models comply (on paper) with Japan’s self-imposed 276hp limit; by the end of production the reported HP figures were closer to American cars, as Japanese manufacturers had started to abandon the pretence of that HP limit.
  • There are some differences in terms of available trims and add-ons, for example Fairladys were available with leather and Brembo brakes (which apparently wasn’t available on US-market 350Zs, where Track edition models had cloth seats only – but this information was hard to verify)
  • There may be some other subtle differences e.g. in terms of interior lighting options, headlight washers etc.

The 350Z and Fairlady Z are practically the same vehicle, with some subtle differences (beyond badging and the side of the steering wheel)

If you know much about the Japanese Domestic Market, then you’ll know that it is not all that uncommon for cars to be sold in Japan with one name, and then exported under another (learn more about the meaning and history of JDM here). Sometimes the only reall difference between a JDM and export version of a given car is the badge – as is the case with the 350Z – whereas sometimes you can get substantial modifications to one underlying platform, e.g. the Lexus IS350 versus the Toyota Crown Athlete.

Rebadged 350Zs

Because the Fairlady Z was the JDM version of the 350Z, any left hand drive 350Z you see in America will be (as far as we can tell) a rebadged 350Z.

JDM enthusiasts will sometimes take off the 350Z badging and replace it with Fairlady Z badging.

In markets with high numbers of used Japanese imports – such as New Zealand where we are based – it is entirely possible to buy either a genuine Fairlady Z or a 350Z, and sometimes sellers will use the names interchangeably.

For example, here is a Fairlady Z (used import from Japan) currently for sale in New Zealand at the time of writing:

Although Fairlady is the Japanese name, because there are a number of Japanese import vehicles in NZ it is possible to buy a “Fairlady Z” as opposed to a “350Z”

And here is an NZ-new 350Z:

Where Does The Fairlady Name Come From? What About The “Z”?

You might be interested in learning a bit more about where the Fairlady name actually comes from.

We have a specific article on the origins and meaning of the Fairlady name, which dates back to the mid-20th Century when Nissan was first getting into the production of sports cars.

Long story short, a key Nissan employee was inspired by a musical and decided to use the title of that musical as the basis of the naming for an upcoming sports car – the rest, as they say, is history.

The story of the origins of the Fairlady name is quite interesting, so make sure you give that article a read.

We also have a specific edition of Car Facts on the meaning of “Z” on Nissan sports cars, so give that a look as well if you are interested in learning more about Nissan’s naming conventions.

Conclusion – 350Z vs Fairlady Z

Long story short, the Fairlady Z and 350Z are basically the same car. The difference is that the Fairlady Z is the Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) version of the car, whereas the export version e.g. as sold in the United States was the 350Z.

The obvious issue of steering wheel location aside, the rest of the cars are almost identical. However, there are some subtle differences in terms of trim levels and available specs, so if you’re looking at buying a Fairlady Z make sure you do your homework on exactly what “goodies” are included with your potential purchase.

If you are thinking of buying a 350Z or Fairlady Z, then read our buyer’s guide here.

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