Nissan built the R381 race car, affectionately known as the Monster Bird, specifically to prevent the equally monstrous Toyota 7 from winning the Japan Grand Prix. At last year’s NISMO Festival Nissan took the car out for a spin around Fuji Speedway, mixing it up with modern SuperGT R35s and even a tour bus filled with lucky fans. It was all captured with on-board cameras in a video Nissan released today.
If the engine sounds familiar, that’s because it’s a 450-horsepower small block Chevy V8, built at Mooneyes Japan. Nissan’s own in-house engine wouldn’t be ready until the following year when the R382 debuted with a 600-horsepower V12, but the project was a success, in that they managed to hold off a Toyota win with the help of Hakosuka works driver Moto Kitano at the wheel.
Fuji Speedway is different these days — and in fact cars like the R381 ran counter-clockwise back in the day for safety — and Nissan no longer runs the R381 at full tilt, but it’s still a thrill to be strapped into a wing on wheels with little to no safety equipment.