Nissan Z Safari Rally Tribute Pays Homage To Rally-Winning 240Z

This Z concept is specifically inspired by the 240Z that won the 1971 East African Safari Rally. 

A couple of years ago, Nissan has debuted a one-off Juke concept that paid homage to the 240Z that won the 1971 and 1973 East African Safari Rally. And while the Japanese automaker did do quite a good job in sprucing up its compact crossover for this occasion, it did however feel like a missed opportunity for them not to have used the then-newly launched Z to celebrate its own spiritual predecessor. 

Well three years on from the rally-fied Juke, it seems that Nissan has finally got around to doing the same thing with the correct car this time round. So say hello the Z Safari Rally Tribute, which has recently been revealed at the 2023 SEMA show. 

Built by Tommy Pike Customs with a look inspired by the 240Z that won the 1971 East African Safari Rally, this new Z nets the same dark red body and a black bonnet colour scheme as the car it commemorates. Similar to its rally-winning predecessor too are the bonnet-mounted auxiliary light pods, though there are now also to be additional NISMO Off Road LED lights too on the lower bumper and the base of its A-pillars of this modern tribute car for extra illumination.

Much like the car it pays homage to as well, this new Z has further been jacked up slightly and has netted some chunky off road tyres beneath its raised suspension. A mix of custom KW Safari and NISMO suspension parts has raised the coupe’s ride height by a good 2 inches, which helped accommodate the 17-inch prototype NISMO Safari wheels that are shod in dirt-ready Yokohama GEOLANDAR M/T G003 tires. Also featured on this Nissan are And if those extra two inches of ground clearance still wasn’t enough to avoid some of the larger bumps while off-road, there is a new front bumper guard and skid plate present to prevent the Z from any major mechanical mishap.

Moving conveniently onto said mechanicals meanwhile, the stock twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 on this Z has been breathed on slightly with an AMS tune to over 400 horsepower. There are also a bounty of NISMO parts installed within the engine bay too, which includes a street-spec twin-disc clutch and flywheel, cold-air intake, carbon-fibre engine cover and 2.25-inch cat-back exhaust. A NISMO strut tower brace and a set of Tommy Pike Customs brakes complete the performance mods made to this rally-homage.

As for its interior, the Safari Rally Z Tribute features custom Recaro Pole Position seats and a bespoke integrated harness mounting bar right behind it. Other little touches within include the passenger-side dashboard features a map of the East African Safari Rally course and some retro timing equipment, which Nissan conveniently segues to its introduction of a limited-edition Seiko Safari Z watch that pays homage to the Seiko sponsorship graphics on the original race-winning 240Z rally car. 

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, with Nissan having won it also the year prior too with the same Edgar Herrmann and Hans Schüller driver-navigator combo, though this time having been behind the wheel of a Bluebird 1600 SSS.  

The Nissan Safari Rally Z Tribute will be on display at the Japanese automaker’s stand at SEMA alongside its other concept vehicles, as well as the original rally-winning 240Z that comes on loan from its current collector owner. The 2023 SEMA show runs from the October 31st to November 3rd in Las Vegas, United States. 

Joshua Chin

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

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