In 1971, a Datsun 240Z rally car won the East African Safari Rally and looked kick-ass doing it. To honor that beautiful desert runner, Nissan is bringing a Safari Rally Z Tribute car to SEMA, which will run from October 31 through November 3. As someone who’s fully a member of the “Rally All the Cars” camp, I fully support this build and pray Nissan does something unthinkable and puts it into production.
This Nissan Rally Z Tribute is the work of Tommy Pike and his South Carolina-based team at Tommy Pike Customs, who built it for Nissan to display at SEMA, alongside the rest of the brand’s concepts. However, it isn’t just an auto show stage car; this off-roading Z has the mechanical upgrades to handle some real-deal Safari driving.
Its ride height is raised two inches thanks to a custom KW Safari suspension and Nismo parts. That higher ride height allows it to fit 17×7.5-inch Nismo Safari prototype wheels and Yokohama Geolandar M/T G003 tires. A front bumper guard and skid plate protect some of its belly, rally lights mounted to its hood and front bumper provide nighttime desert illumination, and custom Recaro Pole Position seats—with four-point harnesses—keep its passengers safe and snug. It’s unclear if Nissan will use this Safari Rally Z Tribute for anything other than auto show eye candy but, if it does, it seems like it can handle much more.
The 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 gets a cold-air intake, a cat-back exhaust, and a twin-disc clutch and flywheel for its manual transmission. Nissan claims it makes more than the stock Z’s 400 horsepower, but doesn’t say exactly how much.
Tommy Pike Customs did a great job making the new Z look just like the ’71 rally winner, with an almost identical paint job and sponsorship livery. Obviously, it’s almost impossible to beat the looks of the original 240Z, as it was such a perfectly designed car from the beginning, but Tommy Pike and Nissan should be applauded for bringing the world a fitting tribute.
One of the original sponsors for the 1971 240Z rally car was Seiko. To celebrate that partnership, Seiko and Nissan partnered up again to make the limited-edition Seiko Safari Z watch, which will debut alongside the Safari Z Tribute at SEMA. The watch is made to look like the original sponsorship graphics, has a black/red/blue NATO strap, uses a caliber 6N52 quartz movement, and will be limited to just 240 units.
I know Nissan will never actually produce this Safari Z, as it’s having a hard enough time selling regular Zs. However, with both Porsche and Lamborghini building rally versions of their own sports cars, we all know what Nissan’s next move should be.
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