The Nissan VQ35DE and VQ35HR in the 350z are both great engines. They deliver great NA performance, power, and sounds. VQ35 engines are also easy to upgrade and mod for more power. Among one of the best upgrades includes a set of Nissan 350Z headers. It’s a great power mod that also comes with plenty of other benefits. In this guide, we discuss the best 350z headers along with benefits, hp gains, cost, and more.
*This guide is relevant to all Z33 350z models with the VQ35DE and HR engines. Always double check fitment, though. Some headers only fit the DE engine while other may only fit the HR. Many 350z headers do fit both engines. We may also refer to the 350Z as the Z33.
What Are 350z Headers?
Headers simply refer to the exhaust manifold of an engine. The word headers is typically only used to describe aftermarket or upgraded exhaust manifolds. Anyways, the exhaust manifold bolts directly to the exhaust ports of the engine. It’s the first part of the bolt-on exhaust system.
Exhaust manifolds or headers simply help exhaust gases flow out of the engine, through the cats, and eventually out of the tailpipe. Due to the location it’s generally the single most important part of the exhaust.
On the surface that’s really all there is to headers or exhaust manifolds. They’re a simple part of the exhaust, but play a very important role. In the next section we’ll dive into long-tube headers, benefits, power gains, and more. Afterwards, we list a few of the best Nissan 350z headers.
Nissan Z33 Long-tube Headers
There are two primary types of headers you may come across – shorty or long-tube. A long-tube header design simply has longer individual tubes before merging into a common collector (as pictured at the beginning of the article). 350z long-tube headers promote faster exhaust gas flow and better scavenging. Therefore, they also reduce exhaust gas reversion.
350z long-tube headers are the best option for performance. They will lead to the biggest reductions in back-pressure and exhaust gas reversion. If power is the end goal then long-tube headers are the way to go. The only downside is that they’re a bit more challenging to install and may require O2 sensor extension harnesses.
Benefits of 350z Header Upgrades
With the basics out of the way let’s discuss some benefits of Nissan 350z headers. Of course, many are in the market for headers due to the power gains. It’s not the only upside with aftermarket headers, though. Several benefits of 350Z header upgrades include:
- 5-20 horsepower
- 5-15 torque
- Reduce back-pressure
- Lower EGT’s
- Improved exhaust sounds
A set of 350z headers can offer hp gains of roughly 5-20 horsepower and 5-15 torque. We’ll circle back to the power gains topic in a couple moments. There’s quite a bit to discuss when it comes to the numerous other benefits of header upgrades.
Reducing back-pressure is one of the primary goals with headers. Factory 350z exhaust manifolds are great for emissions and their intended purpose. However, they create a lot of back-pressure which hurts performance and overall engine health.
This is because back-pressure slows exhaust gas flow and traps heat in and around the engine. Again, it increases exhaust gas reversion which is the process of exhaust gases getting back into the combustion chamber. Headers increase exhaust gas flow and reduce exhaust temps.
Lastly, you’ll notice a louder, more aggressive exhaust note with a set of headers. With an otherwise stock exhaust the sounds usually aren’t overly intrusive. It’s mostly louder on cold starts or under heavy throttle. Be careful if you intend to modify any other portions of the exhaust as things may get too loud very quickly.
Nissan 350Z Headers HP Gains
Alright. We quickly touched on rough 350z headers hp gains above. We’ll expand a little bit here, but it’s always hard to provide power gains. It can vary on many factors such as different dynos, other mods, tuning, conditions, etc. 10-20 horsepower and 5-15 torque are good rough estimates for 350z header horsepower gains.
Some may see more power while others see less. There are a couple main things to consider, though. Long-tube headers with a cat delete will provide the biggest gains. With proper tuning to account for the headers upgrade you’ll probably see gains on the higher end. Those sticking with high-flow or OEM cats and shorty headers should expect on the lower-end.
Regardless, 350z exhaust manifold upgrades remain among the best bang for your buck mods. Without serious mods like boring, stroking, or forced induction it’s hard to find better power mods that a set of headers. It’s an easy bolt-on mod that delivers impressive results.
Catless vs High-Flow Cats
This topic ties into the long-tube vs shorty headers discussion. Long-tube headers will delete your catalytic converters. Your car will not pass emissions testing or inspections without cats. It’s also illegal for street-use. Shorty headers leave the OEM cat-pipes in place, so you’re still emissions legal.
However, you won’t reap the full benefits of 350z headers upgrades with the restrictive stock cats in place. You can delete them all together or opt for high-flow cat upgrades. This provides a good middle ground of performance and possibly remaining emissions legal.
Best Nissan 350Z Headers
The above is a good starting point to understand what headers are and the many benefits they offer for the 350z. Now, it’s time to dive into some of the best Nissan 350Z header upgrades. Please note – this is far from an exhaustive list, and tons of good options exist. We simply don’t have time to cover every possible headers set around.
Instead, we’re focusing on a few of our favorite 350z headers for different budgets and setups. We’ll list a couple 350z long-tube headers as well as some shorty options. Without further ado, let’s jump in and discuss some of the best Nissan headers.
1) Nissan 350Z Tomei Expreme Headers
Fits: All 350z models (extra parts for 07-08)
This list is in no particular order, but first up are the Tomei Expreme exhaust headers. They’re a popular option on the 350z and it’s a great product overall. However, they’re far from the cheapest headers around with a price tag of $891. It’s especially expensive for a set of shorty headers.
350Z Tomei headers are popular for a reason, though. They deliver an excellent balance of quality, performance, and sound. If you’re looking for a top of the line option then Tomei is a good choice. We think the price is a bit aggressive, and would likely opt for something more budget friendly that delivers similar results.
2) DC Sports Ceramic Header Upgrade
Buy Here: 350z DC Sports Headers
The DC sports headers are a nice choice for shorty headers at a solid price point. The above link is to an Amazon Prime product listing. There are some mixed reviews, but it’s mostly positive. Fortunately, Amazon makes returns easy if there are any issues with the product. It may be worth the chance to save the $200-300+ compared to many other headers.
Anyways, there’s not much else to say about the DC Sports 350z headers specifically. Keep in mind – these shorty options do not delete or replace the OEM cats with higher flowing options. To reap the full performance benefits you may consider high-flow cats or going with long-tube headers. The next few 350z exhaust manifold options we discuss will be long-tube ones.
3) Nissan 350z ISR Long-Tube Headers
Price: $742.5 – 832.5
Fits: All 350Z’s
Firing up some long-tube headers we really like the ISR 350z headers. They start at $742.50 for just the headers, and you may need the O2 harness for an extra $90 (for 2002-2004 Z’s). These long-tube headers are made from stainless steel and utilize a design that helps retain low-end performance while maximizing top-end power.
They’re a quality set of headers at a reasonable price point. Ultimately, headers are pretty simple metal pipes. It’s hard to go wrong as long as the design maximizes performance and fitment and quality are good. These ISR 350z long-tube headers certainly deliver on all points.
4) Z33 PPE Long-Tube Header Upgrade
It’s not easy to come across the PPE long-tube headers. They can be tough to find and the price tag is pretty aggressive. However, many 350z owners with the PPE headers have great experiences with them. Much like the option above they’re made from 304 stainless steel. The design overall is pretty similar.
Again, headers are pretty simple. We think the price is a little too high for a set of 350z headers. However, the quality and proven results of PPE long-tube header speak for themselves. If you want a quality brand with a proven history then check out the PPE headers. Otherwise, stick with some more budget friendly options.
Nissan 350Z Headers Upgrade Summary
Headers are among the best bolt-on mods for naturally aspirated 350Z’s. A set of headers offer solid hp gains while also offering a number of other benefits. Outside of horsepower gains you’ll also get some awesome aggressive exhaust sounds. Otherwise, the reduction in back-pressure and EGT’s is a good thing for engine health.
Most will likely see horsepower gains around 8-15hp and similar torque. It depends on many factors such as other mods and header designs. If you value performance over all else then you should consider long-tube headers. Shorty headers can be a good option too, but the biggest power gains will come from deleting the cat or moving to high-flow cats.
Tomei makes some popular, quality Nissan 350Z headers. They’re a bit pricey so those on a budget may consider the DC Sports option. For long-tube, ISR makes some great looking headers at a very fair price point. PPE is a good choice too, but they’re pretty expensive so that may scare most away. Regardless, a 350z exhaust manifold is a great upgrade to extract more power from the VQ35 engines.
What’s your experience with Nissan 350z headers? Are you considering any?
Leave a comment and let us know!