Nissan builds Safari Z tribute to Datsun 240Z rally car

We’ve grown pretty bored of the “safari” build trend that seems, inexplicably, to be still going strong. However, Nissan has built a car that actually deserves to be safari’d due to historical precedent. The Datsun 240Z actually did race in the real Safari Rally in the 1970s, so a modern tribute just makes sense.

In 1970 and 1971, Nissan won back-to-back runnings of the Safari Rally, a race that spanned over 3,800 miles across a mostly unpaved, multi-day course in East Africa. In 1970 Nissan won with a 510 Bluebird SSS, and in 1971 they repeated the feat with a 240Z. We’ve written in-depth on some of the rally Z-cars from that era, which were closer to a Z432-R than a Datsun 240Z.

In contrast, the Safari RZ34 is merely a show car, built to catch eyes at the 2023 SEMA Show. It has a 2-inch lift courtesy of KW suspension and a slew of NISMO suspension bits such as adjustable upper control arms, outer tie rod ends, front & rear end-links, rear mid-links, rear traction arms, and a strut tower brace.

Under the hood, AMS has tuned the engine, but no horsepower figure was given. Nissan says that it’s over 400 horsepower, which is good because that’s the stock output of the VR30DDTT. Additional showcasing of NISMO gear include a cold air intake, heat exchanger, carbon fiber engine cover, and street-spec twin-disc clutch and flywheel. Power exits through a cat-back exhaust etched with an obligatory NISMO logo at the tip.

Perhaps most interesting are the prototype NISMO Safari wheels. The design is reminiscent of the Kobe-Seiko rally wheels found on the rally cars, except these are in a modern 17x 7.5J+30 size and fitment with a 5×114.3 lug pattern. On the Z show car, they’re wrapped in 225/65-17 Yokohama Geolandar G003 M/T tires, which are the same ones we have on our FJ60 Land Cruiser shop truck. We can confirm that they offer a very quiet and comfortable on-street ride, which is perfect for something like this Z. Nissan even put a fifth spare in the back hatch, just like the original rally car.

Nissan is also issuing a limited edition Safari Z watch made by Seiko, which was a sponsor on the original rally Z-cars. The watches will be limited to 240 individually numbered pieces. They will go on sale Oct 31 at this website.

As SEMA builds go, this is a pretty clever one. It’s outrageous, it’s a great showcase for a new model, and it capitalizes on a popular but nonsensical automotive trend. But then it one-ups all the trend followers with a car that has roots firmly planted in the origins of said trend.

Additional Images:

Images courtesy of Nissan.

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6 Responses to Nissan builds Safari Z tribute to Datsun 240Z rally car

  1. pete240z says:

    I have to admit Nissan stepped outside the box with this one – this is pretty cool. NOW if we can only buy a Z near that $41k base price………..?

    • Ben Hsu says:

      The dealer markups have really been hurting the Z. Not to mention there’s still a microchip shortage. Japan has not been able to order a new Z since summer 2022, as they are sending anything they can build to the US.

  2. matt says:

    “popular but nonsensical automotive trend”

    i’m glad you said it.

  3. steve n says:

    wonder what happened to my post from this morning?

    Something to do with the build trend that needs these type safari cars to be driven hard and put away wet, the “patina” only adds to the experience.

    And only other thing missing is that this car should have a full spec legal cage and safety equipment to get this car entered in the 2024 ARA US rally series. Real competition, you know!

  4. CycoPablo says:

    “Power exits through a cat-back exhaust”

    I think I found your problem sir.

  5. pete240z says:

    I was on the fence with the watch – not sure the band is all business like for an old man.

    Screw it, here’s my credit card. I LOVE THE WATCH!

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