Nissan has revealed a new enthusiast-oriented Z variant ahead of the 2018 SEMA show. With the 400-horsepower 370Z Project Clubsport 23, Nissan is considering offering an official tuning package for the Z. The company intends to use this year’s SEMA to gauge interest in the “builder’s kit” to be offered at Nissan dealers, one that includes modern performance and retro styling modifications to goose some excitement out of the aging Z platform.
Nissan says that the goal of the Clubsport 23, was to “create a vehicle that owners could duplicate themselves using Nissan Motorsports or aftermarket parts,” but warns that what you see at SEMA this week “might be significantly different months from now as parts for the vehicle are continuously developed.” Just like a “project car [that] would not seem out of place in the parking lot of any weekend gathering of Datsun and Nissan Z-car enthusiasts,” the Project Clubsport 23 “is an ongoing parts development platform.”
Perhaps the most significant change is the VR30DDTT engine, swapped from an Infiniti Q50/Q60 Red Sport 400. Though down 0.7 liters from the stock VQ37VHR, it gains 50 horsepower over the 370Z NISMO thanks to the VR30’s twin-turbo setup. Power is channeled through a clutch and flywheel pack developed by MA Motorsports of Baltimore, a 6-speed manual, and NISMO carbon-disc 2-way LSD.
We appreciate the styling cues that throw back to the Datsun 240Z, like the Gloss Burnt Orange color and diamond-stitching interior. And of course, the “23” in the name is an inside joke referring to the racing number favored by Nissan — in Japanese, two is pronounced ni and three is pronounced san.
The rest of the mods read like any weekend wrencher’s to-do list — cold air intake, blow-off valves, coilovers, Sparco seats and harness, and exhaust, (which exits out the rear fascia). Z1 Motorsports out of Atlanta developed 2-piece brake rotors, stainless lines, radiator and intercooler for the kit, and Rays supplied 18 x 10.5 wheels.
Though we are all eager to see a new Z continue its lineage, it’s great to see Nissan making greater efforts to support enthusiasts and shadetree tuners. Next year will be the 50th anniversary of the Z, and hopefully we will have some good news about the sports car icon.