Family Generations: Ryan Lee’s 2003 Nissan 350z Touring
Whether it was sports, homework, or learning how to ride a bike, chances are your father was by your side, teaching you what you know today; passing down lessons and tradition is how families extend love and knowledge to their younger generation. Up in the Pacific Northwest in Everett, Washington, that father-son relationship was more than early Sunday morning football sessions in the backyard; it was Dad’s prize possession sitting beautifully in the garage.
Before Ryan Lee was born, his father bought home the first production of the Datsun 260z in 1978. It was his very first sports car and the beau of the z-line captured the family’s heart for years to come. Years later in 2003, his father picked up a magazine with the first concept of the Nissan 350z gracing the cover and in no time at all, the newest member of the Z lineup found a spot in their garage.
Like Dad’s Datsun, the fresh concept 350z was nestled safely away in the comfort of the garage during the first few years with the exception of once-in-a-blue-moon drives to hit a couple of turns. It wasn’t until Ryan graduated college in 2010 that the car rode the asphalt. As any beginner car enthusiast, Ryan began to make small changes and adjustments to the car with what he could afford. “There was always the thought of modifying the car but it was just the act of actually spending the money and doing the work.”
One of Ryan’s first modifications to the 350z was its wheels. The first set to replace the already impressively-designed stock wheels were 19” Axis Hiros, a popular set for Z’s showcasing a slight dish to set things off with a simple five spoke design. When the time came to purchase a different set of wheels, Ryan shifted from basics to luxury. After investigating what other 350z enthusiasts had contributed to the game of wheels and fitment, Ryan searched for something that has not been presented before. A few weeks later, a set of Weds Kranze LXZ wheels were delivered and fitted immaculately on the Z. It was quite possibly the first set of Kranze LXZ wheels on a 350z body, with 19×10 -2 in the front and 19×11.5 -7 in the rear.
Despite having the first set of Kranze LXZ’s on a Z, it’s suspension was one to take note of as well. With a custom Universal Air setup featuring Accuair’s E-Level air management system, Ryan’s creativity and solitary plan was a success. “Most people do not go with an air setup on this chassis. I was trying to differentiate myself from everyone else.” As most modified 350z’s are typically static on coilover suspension, Ryan went against the grain and turned to air suspension to accommodate the luxury “VIP” style wheels.
Gazing at the 350z from afar, you may not be able to point out the slight but effective exterior modifications that has been carefully installed. With the idea of keeping the car as clean looking as possible, Ryan chose an Aerosync front bumper, which are known to sit low but still share similarities with the stock bumper. Keeping the lines clean, Ryan added Nismo Aero skirts and valences which matched the flow of the bodyline. The exquisite design of the two canisters in the HKS Titanium high-power exhaust finished the car off nicely, with undeniably distinctive rumbles.
When Ryan isn’t working in the garage with his father, he is busy running his own company, Cake Face Clothing. Cake Face Clothing evolved out of the car scene in the Northwest through car meets and drift events and is now a brand most popular for its graphic tees, sweatshirts, and hoodies. Having the majority of its supporters in the large drift scene in Washington, you are prone to see Cake Face’s booth at events, sponsoring different cars and getting involved in the car community. With Cake Face being in its first generation for Ryan, he hopes to have it passed down to his own younger generation when the time comes.
Many of us strive to be unique in many aspects of our car-shaped canvases to set us apart from the rest but subtle enough to have commonality that unites us into the community. Whether it’s an overall theme or simply a choice in wheels that distinguishes your idea from the next, your perception is where originality stems from. For Ryan, having an aired out 350z sitting on VIP-style wheels is a bit out of the norm in the local drifting community, but the ties he has with his father keeps him firmly rooted. Taking early lessons of his father’s generation Z at a young age and now combining that knowledge with his own, Ryan has strengthened the Z heritage this family adores so much.