Rebuilding a Nissan R200 Differential to Be More Drift Happy With Z1 Motorsports! Part 1- Installation

Rebuilding a Nissan R200 Differential to Be More Drift Happy With Z1 Motorsports!- Part 1

by Rathyna Gomer

Many of you have been keeping up with the steady progress of Project STurdteen! In addition to that project, I have a ProAm LS-powered 350z that I compete with and is my main drift build. During the off-season, George Kilada (a.k.a “Habibi”) from Habibi Motorsports did a killer job in building my Z into a reliable, competitive competition car!

Recently, I took my 350Z drift car out to a practice event at Irwindale’s Thursday Night Drift. As I was coming out of a turn, I clutch-kicked in third gear, and heard a BOOM, stopping the car right in its tracks. Upon inspection, we discovered that my diff had fallen out of place! The bolt holding my differential to the subframe snapped, causing the diff to fall coming completely out of the car, which then caused my driveshaft to explode at the u-joint. Fun stuff.

This all ended up being a blessing in disguise because I was in desperate need of rebuilding my diff for competitive purposes. In the 350z platform, the final drive gear ratio is a 3.50 which had been handicapping me significantly during competitions. Sensei Mike Kojima has been monumental in setting up my Z this year and one of the biggest changes was dialing in more grip.

Having sticky Zestino Gredge 07RS tires all around, in addition to a proper alignment and suspension settings, made it very difficult to get the car to stay drifting without fighting to straighten up in third gear. When I was on a looser setup, I had no problem spinning third, but I also had minimal traction and it was difficult to keep up in tandem battles when following. It also made my car a slow easy target in lead runs.

Once I had more grip, it was very frustrating because I would run out of gear in most courses in 2nd, and the car would bog out in 3rd. Basically, with more grip, my car was going too fast for second gear and too slow to be in the powerband in third.

Addressing this problem, we enlisted the help of Z1 Motorsports. Z1 is one of the best places to get anything Nissan/Infiniti related. To get me more competitive for the types of tracks I would typically be competing on, we decided on a 4.10 final drive to replace the stock 3.50 ratio in the 350Z’s R200 differential. Here are the steps we took to rebuild my differential with the Z1’s very complete kit.


The first step was that I needed a replacement for the stock differential cover. When my diff fell out of the car at Irwindale, it was because the stud in the stock differential cover broke out of the back cover. This caused a cascade of additional broken items, resulting in my diff lying on the ground surrounded by a bunch of broken parts.

Z1 Motorsports came to the rescue with their high-capacity differential cover. Not only does the Z1 Motorsports’ differential cover hold more gear lube, it also has more cooling capacity, and the boss that failed on my car is reinforced on the new Z1 part!


On the side, you can see an extra bung in the case you want to run a cooler return line.

The extra bung can also be used to mount a below the fluid level diff temperature sensor belove the fill level port.

Here you can see the baffling for the vent, which keeps the oil from shooting out underside g-forces when cornering.

On the left side of the cover interior, you can see where the mounting stud boss is internally reinforced as well. With internal and external buttressing, the mounting stud boss is much less likely to break off and cause a catastrophic failure like it did on my car with the weak stock cover.


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