Steve Smuts – finalist in the Nissan GT Academy Middle East – and his Z33 Nissan 350Z.[Not a valid template]
Steve Smuts bought a Nissan 350Z and it wasn’t half bad. Unfortunately, the other half was a steaming turd in need of some serious polishing. For most folk this would mean that you had been conned out of your money, sold something that was ‘not as advertised’ and had the wool firmly pulled over your peepers. Steve Smuts, however, has a bit of the Kimi Räikkönen about him – in more ways than one – and knows what he is doing.
Steve had wanted a Z33 for almost ten years after sighting a factory fresh ‘Le Mans Sunset’ example in all its burnt orange loveliness back in 2003. The 350Z he ended up buying was not quite so sweet and ripe but he knew it was far from a lemon. Steve’s new project was a 2006 base model, American spec Z which had been the unfortunate recipient of a front end smash. The front end had been professionally rebuilt but aesthetically, it was a mess.
This Fairlady Z wasn’t looking so fair. A disaster of white wrap clung to the Z33 which was accented by carbon ‘fibber’ vinyl stuck to bonnet and wing mirrors. Probably best not to mention too much about the state of the interior although Steve’s description of “Edward Scissor Hands dragging his claws around the soft rubber pieces” certainly paints a less than pretty picture of the previous owner.
If cars are an extension of us, our tastes and our personalities, then the previous dude who owned this car was trippin’ on ‘shrooms. Fortunately, Steve has a bit of positive OCD in his makeup and the interior panels were pulled and hit with satin black for a factory look where possible or just binned and replaced. The white wrap got itself removed permanently revealing beautiful OEM blue that was glad to see sunlight again. The patchwork, faux-carbon sticky stuff still remains on the bonnet and mirrors as ‘what lies beneath’ is a can of worms needing tackled at a later date.
Aesthetics are one thing but Smuts ain’t no schmuck who is solely concerned with appearance. Out of thousands of competitors in the Nissan GT Academy Middle East, Steve Smuts was one of the final eight who qualified and was whisked off to Silverstone for the final stages of the competition. He holds a UK National Race License and has driven GT-Rs and 370Zs (and a Nissan Leaf) on track and has received tuition from top class instructors including Rob Barff. He also kicked my ass on Gran Turismo which, more than anything, proves he has the skillz. His approach to tuning his Z33 is therefore a mature, well thought out process rather than going straight in and harnessing a few more horses to the engine.
New parts include a JWT Popcharger intake, SPC front and rear camber arms and rear toe bolts, Hotchkis sway bar kit, Z1 Motorsports Solid Aluminum Motor Mounts, AMS Lightweight Pulley set, Momentum solid transmission mounts, SPL solid differential bushings, Z1 stainless steel clutch line/performance street clutch/lightweight flywheel and Wilwood heavy duty clutch master cylinder, Stoptech stainless steel brake lines and, last but most definitely not least, a Quaiffe differential for giggles. Plenty of other parts are on the shopping list but it is clear that setting up the car properly is priority number one before chasing extra power.
There is a clear direction and singularity of purpose in Steve’s build of this Z which is brought home by the Sparco Evo seat, 6-point Sparco harness and Sparco harness bar to tie it all together. Steve has saved this Fairlady’s honour to lay down some Nitto NT05 rubber on track next season. UAE AutoX and the ESL Time Attack are going to be attacked with some Z action as well as putting that Quaiffe to good use in the street category of Drift UAE.
Determination to follow a career in professional racing is a hard path to follow in the UAE unless you are rolling in Dirham. However, Steve Smuts has a bit of the Kimi Räikkönen about him and he knows what he is doing. Hell, the guy can even polish a turd.