Nissan takes on the Z Sports Car with special design from SEMA
- The Nissan Safari Rally Z Tribute celebrates the Datsun 240Z that won the 1971 East African Safari Rally.
- Built by Tommy Pike Customs, the Z features a two-inch lift thanks to improved suspension and aggressive Yokohama Geolandar M/T G003 tires.
- The V-6 was tuned to over 400 horsepower. The modified Z also has a rear exhaust, cold air intake, dual-disc clutch and flywheel.
Off-roaders have risen in popularity as trucks and SUVs dominate the market, with automakers launching new subbrands — Subaru with the Wilderness and Honda with TrailSport, for example — to bolster their crossovers. The go-anywhere enthusiasm extended to sports cars as well, with Porsche and Lamborghini creating the 911 Dakar and Huracan Sterato, respectively. At the 2023 SEMA Show, which opens this week in Las Vegas, Nissan is showing its own take on this trend with the Safari Rally Z Tribute, designed by Tommy Pike Customs.
The Tribute pays homage to the rally-spec Datsun 240Z that triumphed in the 3,800-mile East African Safari Rally in 1971, and which Nissan had previously honored with a Juke-based concept two years earlier. Nissan commissioned the build from South Carolina-based Tommy Pike Customs, which built a Leaf-powered 1987 Sunny pickup and a wooden wagon-inspired Ariya at last year’s SEMA show. The modified Z sports car will be placed next to a replica of the Datsun 240Z Safari.
Tommy Pike Customs has given the sharply styled sports car some major upgrades. The Tribute’s chassis sits 2.0 inches higher thanks to a custom KW Safari suspension system, which also includes adjustable upper control arms, a tower strut, and other components from Nissan’s NISMO in-house tuner. Unique black 17.0-inch wheels are wrapped in thick Yokohama Geolander M/T G003 225/65 tires.
The oil trim is protected by a front bumper guard and skid plate, while a large array of auxiliary LED lights emanating from the front fascia provide additional visibility in dark or dusty conditions. Inside, the Z features a roll bar with four-point safety belts that keep the driver firmly seated in the Recaro bucket seats.
The V-6 has also been tuned by AMS Performance, pushing output beyond the stock 400 horsepower, though Nissan hasn’t exactly specified how much has been improved. Other goodies under the hood include a cold air intake, carbon fiber hood, heat exchanger, dual-disc clutch and flywheel.
Tommy Pike Customs also added a cat-shaped exhaust with a laser-etched NISMO badge. The look is completed by a livery that mimics the original rally car, albeit with the number “23” on the doors instead of the number “11” that the 1971 car wore.
While we doubt the off-road Z has any chance of production, we hope some of these parts will be offered by Nissan for DIYers who want to create their own Rally.
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Associate news editor
Caleb Miller started blogging about cars when he was 13 years old, and fulfilled his dream of writing for a car magazine after graduating from Carnegie Mellon University. Car and driver a team. He loves exotic and obscure cars, aims to one day own something exotic like a Nissan S Cargo, and is an avid motorsport fan.