Last June, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Datsun 240Z’s victory at the 1971 Safari Rally, Nissan Europe imagined a Juke homage to the original. Despite convincing Photoshop renders, the car was not actually built. However, due to “overwhelmingly positive reaction” to the concept images, they went ahead and actually built it.
Why use a Juke when the new Z is sitting right there? Unfortunately, the new Z isn’t going to be sold in Europe due to emissions restrictions. Nissan USA could probably build one, but how many Americans know or give a crap about the Safari Rally? Also, Europe has a strange fascination with the Juke.
The only Juke we’ve ever driven that we thought was fun was the bonkers GT-R drivetrain-swapped Juke R, and that was the brain child of someone from across the Atlantic. Based on casual observation, Jukes seem to be very common in many European countries as well. We appreciate its funky design, kind of like a Datsun Cherry for the modern era, even if the Juke’s driving dynamics leave something to be desired (and yes, we count the 215-horsepower Juke NISMO RS in that).
In any case, no matter what you think of the road Juke, the one-off concept is a surprisingly convincing tribute to the 240Z. Slapping a vintage paint scheme on a modern car doesn’t always work, but Nissan managed to get the livery right despite the Juke’s oddball proportions.
Part of that is using vintage Seiko, Dunlop, and Shell logos as well. Nissan says they’ve even filled the tank with Shell biofuels. Massive light pods on the hood, now LED, recreate one of the rally Z’s most distinctive features, and doesn’t look out of place on the already alien-like Juke.
The spare tires jutting from the glass-less trunklid was something the Z didn’t have; here they give off the vibe of a Baja or Dakar racer. The original Z didn’t have fender flares, either, but they look at home on the Juke.
Changes to the Juke are minimal compared to what the rally Zs endured. The Zs were almost entirely different cars from production. The Juke makes do with some skid plates, long-travel suspension, and knobby 265/70 R16 tires. A hydraulic reverse-mount handbrake helps out in tight turns.
Cabin-wise, a roll cage and four-point harnesses have been added for safety. An intercom system with microphones affixed to the seats help driver and navigator communicate. The buttons and volume knobs, as well as the switches for the driving lamps are all integrated nicely into the Juke’s existing console shapes.
In the end, the likelihood of this Juke actually rallying is probably zero. On the other hand, if it reminds people that the 240Z was a hero in not just road racing, but rallying too, it was worth the effort. Based on the plethora of images (there were several times more photos supplied than at the launch of actual production cars), carefully staged to look like a recreation of the Safari Rally, it’s clear that Nissan cared about this project.
Additional Video and Images:
Images courtesy of Nissan.