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The Nissan Safari Rally Z is what an affordable Porsche 911 Dakar could look like

Nissan has built an off-road spec Z sports car with custom KW suspension, chassis protection and an uprated 3-litre V6

With oddball creations like the Porsche 911 Dakar and Lamborghini Huracán Sterrato emerging through the dust in 2023, off-road sports cars are on trend this year – and Nissan is joining the party with a rally-inspired Z sports car. Built as a one-off rather than a series production car, the new model is officially called the Safari Rally Z and pays tribute to the Datsun 240Z that won the 1971 East African Safari Rally – one of the toughest events on the calendar.

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The Z’s classical long-bonnet proportions draw heavily from its forefather, and the rally modifications – including a red and black livery, bonnet-mounted light pods and a 17-inch wheel and tyre package – have been designed to evoke the 240Z competition car as driven by Edgar Herrmann in period. 

The changes are more than skin deep, however. Comprehensive hardware revisions have been applied to deal with the rough and tumble of a desert stage, centred around custom KW Safari coilovers.

These raise the Z’s ride height by two inches and work with Nismo-developed suspension components to offer newfound capability off road. Chunky Yokohama Geolander M/T tyres have been chosen to supplement this. 

The Safari Rally Z also gets a front guard and skid plate to protect the chassis and powertrain, the latter featuring an upgraded 3-litre twin-turbo V6 driving through a six-speed manual gearbox. Generating more than 400bhp, extra power has been liberated through the use of a cold-air intake, a Nismo exhaust and a software tune by AMS. 

In contrast to the barebones cabin of the 240Z, the tribute car has a fully furnished interior with the steering wheel, dashboard and door panels carried over from the standard Z. Nissan has mounted timing gear and a map holder to the dash, as well as Recaro Pole Position bucket sets and a four-point harness for competition. 

The Safari Rally Z goes on display at SEMA this year, and while the one-off doesn’t represent a production model, it offers a tantalising look at what a more accessible 911 Dakar-style coupe could look like. For overseas buyers anyway, since there are still no plans to sell the Z in Europe.

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