Nissan Safari Rally Z harks back to rally roots

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Nissan has built an off-road spec Z sports car with custom KW suspension, chassis protection and an uprated 3.0-litre V6.

With oddball creations like the Porsche 911 Dakar and Lamborghini Huracán Sterrato emerging through the dust in 2023, off-road sports cars are on trend this year – and Nissan is joining the party with a rally-inspired Z sports car. Built as a one-off rather than a series production car, the new model is officially called the Safari Rally Z and pays tribute to the Datsun 240Z that won the 1971 East African Safari Rally – one of the toughest events on the calendar.

The Z’s classical long-bonnet proportions draw heavily from its forefather, and the rally modifications – including a red and black livery, bonnet-mounted light pods and a 17-inch wheel and tyre package – have been designed to evoke the 240Z competition car as driven by Edgar Herrmann in period.

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The changes are more than skin deep, however. Comprehensive hardware revisions have been applied to deal with the rough and tumble of a desert stage, centred around custom KW Safari coilovers.

These raise the Z’s ride height by two inches and work with Nismo-developed suspension components to offer newfound capability off-road. Chunky Yokohama Geolander M/T tyres have been chosen to supplement this.

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The Safari Rally Z also gets a front guard and skid plate to protect the chassis and powertrain, the latter featuring an upgraded 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 driving through a six-speed manual transmission. Generating more than 300kW, extra power has been liberated through the use of a cold-air intake, a Nismo exhaust and a software tune by AMS.

In contrast to the barebones cabin of the 240Z, the tribute car has a fully furnished interior with the steering wheel, dashboard and door panels carried over from the standard Z. Nissan has mounted timing gear and a map holder to the dash, as well as Recaro Pole Position bucket sets and a four-point harness for competition.

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The Safari Rally Z goes on display at SEMA this year, and while the one-off doesn’t represent a production model, it offers a tantalising look at what a more accessible 911 Dakar-style coupe could look like.

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