Nissan Juke Concept Pays Homage To Rally-Winning 240Z

The Juke Rally Tribute Concept celebrates the 240Z’s East Africa Rally victory 50 years ago. 

For reasons beyond reasonable comprehension, Nissan seems to have always harboured a weird affinity in modifying the Juke. First came the idea of stuffing the GT-R’s powertrain under this compact crossover, that hence spawned the insane Juke-R; and now the Japanese automaker has instead decided to soup the Juke up for rallying, with this rather neat looking concept here. 

Though there is actually more to that, as this Juke Rally Tribute also pays homage to Nissan winning the 1971 East African Safari Rally with its 240Z sports car half a century ago. And yes, the Japanese automaker was just about as mad as they were then as they are now. 

Decked out in the same red and black livery as the rally-fied (and rally-winning) 240Z, the Juke Rally Tribute Concept also sports a set of beefy off-road tires under its massively-flared bolt-on wheel arches and a pair of LED spotlights on the hood to further ape the look of the Japanese sports car it pays tribute to. In a bid to further improve its off-road capabilities too, this mildly-lifted Nissan compact crossover features a beefier skid plate up front, a rectangular LED light bar on the roof, as well as a redesigned bumper (with twin central exit exhaust tips) round its rear. 

Continuing on the subject of what lies round the rear, the more eye-catching add-on here would perhaps be the two spare tires jutting out of where the rear windshield should be. It is unfortunate to think however that these spare tires will unlikely ever be used, as the Juke Rally Tribute currently only exists as renderings at present moment, and is most probably not to be seeing the light of day anytime soon. 

Hence the reason why therefore that Nissan has yet elaborated further on the (presumably stripped-out and rally-ready) interior of the Juke Rally Tribute Concept. A similarly vague response too has been given by the automaker in regards to the supposedly hybrid powertrain that is envisioned to lie under the hood, but it should nevertheless be more potent than the 210 PS 2.4-liter straight-six that 240Z won the rally with. 

Now speaking more about this rally race that occurred 50 years ago, Nissan’s victory then still remains a high point in the Japanese automaker’s motorsports career to this day. That is because not only did the winning #11 240Z driven by Edgar Herrmann with navigator Hans Schüller beat out various Porsches, Lancias and even the odd Range Rover, the two other 240Zs that were entered also came home 2nd and 7th respectively in this gruelling rally. 

In fact, Nissan’s East African Safari Rally victory in 1971 was actually the second consecutive year of success by the Japanese automaker. Having won it also the year prior with the same Edgar Herrmann and Hans Schüller driver-navigator combo, though this time having been behind the wheel of a Bluebird 1600 SSS.  

Getting back to the Juke Rally Tribute however, it is somewhat strange that Nissan decided to rally-fy its Juke, especially seeing as it already has an all-new Z car in the works currently. One could only hope then that this upcoming Z will get a similar rally treatment sometime down the line too. 

PRESS RELEASE: To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Nissan’s victory in the East Africa Rally in the iconic 240Z Nissan has released sketches which show what a contemporary Nissan rally car based on the JUKE would look like.

The images of Nissan’s JUKE Rally Tribute Concept are released to coincide with the first day of the legendary Safari Rally Kenya as part of the World Rally Championship calendar in 19 years.

The production JUKE is a natural starting point for the design of the JUKE Rally Tribute Concept thanks to its robust and raised stance on the road, with short front and rear overhangs which naturally endow it with exceptional agility and strong potential off-road performance.

With enlarged wheels arches to accommodate the tailor-made off-road tyres, the vehicle’s stance is now more imposing, while the additional lights mounted on the hood and roof underlines the JUKE Rally Tribute Concept’s credentials as a competitive off-roader.

The JUKE Rally Tribute Concept’s black hood and black wheels are a visual homage to the 1971 240Z that competed in the East African Rally. And those same cues also served as inspiration for the Gripz concept car which Nissan presented at Frankfurt Motor Show in 2015, which in turn influenced the design of the production JUKE which was introduced in 2019.

As part of Nissan’s commitment to the electrification of its range, the JUKE Rally Tribute Concept’s powertrain would be an electric hybrid powertrain, allowing greater efficiency as well as offering additional instant torque to enhance its performance in all conditions.

Coralie Musy, Vice President, Brand and Customer Experience, Nissan Automotive Europe, said: “The JUKE Rally Tribute Concept celebrates an iconic moment in Nissan’s heritage, with the participation and victory of the legendary 240Z in the East African Rally in 1971. As well as celebrating that victory, it reflects Nissan’s pioneering history in crossovers, striking design and electrified powertrains. We’re delighted to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the victory of that remarkable achievement with these striking images.”

“Nissan is currently writing an exciting chapter of its history as we are in the middle of renewing our range of crossovers in Europe. The replacement of the first generation of the pioneering and iconic JUKE was introduced in late 2019 and is proving extremely popular with customers. We have also just launched the third generation of the benchmark and newly electrified Qashqai in Europe, while the rugged X-Trail Crossover will follow next year,” she added.

In 1971, the legendary 240Z that took the victory of the gruelling East African Safari Rally was driven by Edgar Herrmann with navigator Hans Schüller. Indeed, the rally was a resounding success for the brand, with the 240Zs coming home in second and seventh positions. Furthermore, the victory represented the brand’s second consecutive victory in the rally.

The low-slung 240Z was powered by a 2.4 litre straight six cylinder engine, producing 210PS, with power sent to the rear wheels. The victorious car was restored to good order in 2013 and is part of Nissan’s heritage collection which is housed in Zama, close to Nissan global headquarters in the Kanagawa prefecture of Japan.

Joshua Chin

Automotive journalist. Professional work on and Personal writing found at Instagram: @driveeveryday

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