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Nissan is set to make a big splash at the 2021 SEMA show with a bevy of modified cars. The rides tick boxes in both the off-road and motorsports columns, with a dash of rally history and a bit of star power mixed in.
Leading the charge is the modified Datsun 240Z belonging to actor Sung Kang of Fast & Furious fame. This is a new 240Z build, not to be confused with the low-down Fugu Z that Kang brought to SEMA several years ago. Instead, this Z rides high, a tribute to the Datsun 240Z that won the 1971 East African Safari Rally half a century ago.
In fact, Nissan took the top two podium spots that year, both in 240Zs, in one of the toughest rally races in the world. A total of 107 cars entered the four-day trek across the unpaved wilds of the African continent, but only 32 finished.
Kang's car is finished in a black-on-red livery similar to that which adorned the famous rally machines. Under the hood lies a L24 Nissan inline-six appropriate for the year, but one that has been stroked to 2.8-liters (up from the original 2.4) with triple Weber carbs and custom exhaust work. Kang's car also rides on 16-inch wheels that are remakes of the Kobe Seiko 4-spokes fitted to the original Safari racer.
Continuing with the off-road theme are two overlanding concepts based on slightly newer Nissans. A new Pathfinder-based adventure rig is outfitted with a 2-inch suspension lift, 18-inch wheels and driving lamps, all part of Nismo's off-road parts lineup. Nissan also added a third-party slide-out kitchen box/sleeping platform for that full overland experience.
A 2022 Frontier-based overlander is even more hard-core. It wears a slew of new Nismo parts, including a heavy-duty bumper, two pairs of auxiliary lights, exhaust system, bed rack, and the obligatory rooftop tent. Nismo also supplied the 2-inch suspension lift, which upgrades the shocks springs and wheels. It even boasts a solar panel to power an on-board fridge and air compressor.
In that same vein, Nissan will also be displaying the recent Rebelle Rally Frontier that wrapped Nissan's modern mid-size pickup with the livery of Nissan's 1980s race trucks. The 2023 Nissan Z will also make its first SEMA appearance.
Last but not least, there's something called the Altimaniac, a rear-wheel-drive drift machine (roughly) based on Nissan's sensible mid-size sedan. Instead of its ingenious VC-Turbo engine, though, it's powered by 2,000-horsepower turbo V6 from a Nissan GT-R. That power is fed through a six-speed sequential transmission. What's more, instead of a single bucket for the driver, this car has been fitted with four carbon-fiber Recaros so three friends can enjoy the sideways ride.
Nissan has long been a favorite of customizers and racers, but their portfolio has lacked some much-needed excitement over the past decade or so. With a freshened lineup that includes a sports car that stirs the enthusiast's soul, it looks like Nissan is getting back on track.
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