Keiron Berndt is a hard Speedhunter to pin down. He criss-crosses the United States jumping from photoshoot to photoshoot in a madcap effort to catch ‘em all, and the results of his pre-Covid-19 exploits have become the subjects of our last few collaborations.
If there was ever to be a theme among Keiron’s most recent subjects, that theme would be simplicity. Each car has had modifications that could serve as the drop cap to an epic story or the last letter to a short poem. None of the cars have been built with copious amounts of money either; they’ve existed within the realm of attainability for the ‘average’ auto enthusiast. This isn’t to downplay the owners’ efforts or their cars; quite the contrary. It’s intended to applaud them. Let me explain…
As much as I love writing about cars that make me reconsider every single life choice I’ve made thus far, I appreciate the ones that seem tangible. Because working within your means and still putting together a project that looks cohesive and works is an art.
Lee Zheng admits to becoming a car guy somewhat later in life than perhaps the majority of us. There was no familial influence, instead video games served as an entry point, bolstered by an enduring movie series that may or may not have lost its way. Drawn to Nissan’s family of vehicles, this 370Z Nismo is the successor to Lee’s previous vehicle, a G35 coupe.
Lee admits to making a few missteps with the Infiniti, but at the same time it provided a great starting point for a new modifier. One of the most important lessons that Lee learned is that it’s more beneficial to be patient and purchase what you truly want, rather than rush to a substitute. Quality components are typically worth the price of admission in their fit, finish, construction and aesthetic longevity.
Take the Carbon Signal V2 front fenders Lee’s Z now wears. For what they are, the aftermarket pieces are rather understated. They nearly exist in the realm of a factory sport option rather than a third party addition.
Unmissable are the black with gold accented Work Meister S1 3-piece wheels tucked into the fenders.
Lee chose Air Lift Performance air suspension for many of the same reasons Paddy did with Project GTI. He didn’t want to gradually distribute pieces of his carbon lip kit, side blades, and rear diffuser onto entry ways and speed bumps all over Massachusetts, but also needed a suspension system that would perform in spirited driving scenarios. The 370Z Nismo is a 350hp performance car after all.
To that end, Lee has found the Air Lift 3P suspension system to be fun when he wants it to be, and practical when it has to be. Whether it’s been quick trips to the store or a road trip to the Tail of the Dragon across the Tennessee/North Carolina state line, the bags have done both admirably.
Over the years, Lee has developed a fairly healthy obsession for small JDM accessories, and deep dives into various Japanese auctions have netted a few select pieces for the Z. There’s a Tommykaira Hebi Bebi shift knob, a Top Secret fuel cap, and between blacked-out headlights is a rare Purple Turtle emblem – another Tommykaira item.
Lee is also on the look out for a Top Secret titanium strut bar, but with only a small number known to exist he might be waiting a little bit longer. In the meantime, the original bar remains above an engine that’s also largely stock.
Small modifications have been made to the VQ37VHR 3.7-liter DOHC 24-valve V6 in order for it to breathe better, and it sings better too thanks to Berk high-flow cats and an HKS Hi-Power stainless steel exhaust system.
Inside, Bride Zeta II Low Max seats provide a pop of color for the mostly black and white car, and they’re flanked by classic green Takata Racing belts attached to a TrackArt harness bar.
Lee does plan to step up the Nissan ladder to a GT-R one day, but after getting his Z to a place he’s happy with, for now he’s just going to enjoy it. And with a such a clean build that seamlessly fuses performance and style, who could blame him for wanting to do that.
Photos by Keiron Berndt